France’s ‘clean air’ scheme – what you need to know
Thinking of visiting France this year? Before you do, here’s what you need to know about France’s new ‘clean air’ stickers – make sure that you have one!
If you want to take your caravan / motorhome to France this year, you could be fined up to €135 (around £117) if you do not have a ‘clean air’ sticker displayed when you drive through particular French cities.
This regulation applies to vehicles of all nationalities, so even the locals must have a sticker too when travelling through these cities. But the question is, which cities does this affect?
Currently, this new scheme is in effect in Paris, Lyon and Grenoble. However, over 20 other French towns have voiced their interest in implementing the scheme in the upcoming years.
What does this mean?
The ‘clean air’ stickers categorise vehicles depending on the emissions standard that they meet. These stickers are colour-coded. Green stickers indicate the ‘greenest’ cars, and black for the heaviest polluters.
Normally, every vehicle that displays one of these stickers will be able to drive in the three cities where the regulation applies. However, on certain days when the pollution levels are particularly high, the local authorities can ban vehicles with very high emissions.
Therefore, the greener your tow car is, the better your chances are of driving through the city centre, even when the air quality is low.
How can I ensure that I’m covered?
The RAC have said that a period of grace will be given to British drivers till the end of March, during which the need for the stickers (also referred to as vignettes) will not be enforced. So, if you are already travelling and haven’t bought a vignette for your vehicle, there’s no need to worry just yet.
For UK drivers, it is already possible to purchase a sticker from the English-language version of the government website. You will need to know the emissions standard of your car, which should be available in your owner’s handbook. Alternatively, you can look at the table on this page on the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders website.
Stickers cost around £3.50 from the official government website but be careful as there are some third-party websites that are selling the stickers at a higher price.
So, remember that whilst leniency will be shown between now and the end of March, after that driving your vehicle without a sticker in Paris, Lyon and Grenoble will make you liable for a fine. It could be as £59 or as high as £117.