Car stickers for fighting pollution in Paris

By | Category: Travel news
Eiffel Tower enveloped in smog

The Eiffel Tower seen through the smog in Paris a week or so ago

Last week Paris was covered with a grey, pollution fog. With no wind it stayed a few days, and the Mayor of Paris and the French government decided to use the odd and even registration plates rule.

On odd days only odd number plates cars were allowed in Paris and about 40 towns around. Next day it was the turn of those drivers with even plates and so on. It was a big mess during these days and the system was quite unfair, even if public transport was totally free in that huge zone.

So the Environment Ministry announced on December 5th that a new system that they had been working on for a few months would come into force on January 16th. It applies to all drivers.

It was not too difficult to get the broad outline of the project, but with such a short deadline, a lot of decisions still must be made. Do foreign cars will have to apply for a sticker? How do you get one? I asked the press office of the minister last week and it refused to answer questions about it.

Briefly, a series of six stickers called “Crit’Air” have been created to classify all motor vehicles, including motorbikes. Based on the age of the car and on the type of energy used (electricity, gas, fuel or petrol) a specific sticker bearing a number from 0 to 5 should be displayed on the windscreen. 0 is for electric cars and 5 is for highest polluting cars.

Note that cars over 20 years are not eligible. The sticker is permanent and the price is around the equivalent of £4.

Applying for such a sticker is voluntary, but in some places it could be compulsory. In fact the law allows any local administration, in fact any mayor, to create special zones called ZCR (meaning restricted traffic zones) where they could ban cars with a too high sticker. That will be the case in Paris and in Grenoble. All cars in these cities will need to have their own sticker. Other large French towns and cities are considering similar rules.

From next January 16th the whole of Paris, excluding the Paris ring road (peripherique) will ban all old cars (over 20 years old) Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm.

From July 2017, the same thing will happen to all cars with the sticker number 5. So all cars in Paris will have to wear a sticker to avoid a fine.

And in case of high pollution days like last week, the ban could also concern stickers 4, 3 or even 2. That will be a more fair system than the odd and even rule, only “clean” cars being allowed in the heart of big cities during pollution peaks.

If you live outside France

First of all, if you come to Paris during a weekend or if you go to France avoiding the centre of Paris, there is no need to buy a sticker. Only those of you driving in the centre will need one. Assume that the peripherique is the border; within it drivers need a sticker; outside and you probably don’t at the moment

Those travelling to the centre of Paris should consider leaving your car in a parking lot and using the metro, buses or even taxis. These are all much more affordable than in London.

For those renting a car in France, the car will have its own sticker, and because those cars are generally very new, the number on the sticker will be very low. That will give you an unlimited access to Paris.

French car owners can only get their sticker by internet. For foreigners, authorities have said that an English-language website will be available from early January.

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