Jeff Steiner's Americans in France.
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DrivingFrench Highway System (Autoroute)

The French have a very good system of highways called the Autoroute. The Autoroute is a network of over 7000 kilometers/4200 miles of roads. The map below gives you an idea of where the Autoroute goes in France. Like most transportation in France, it works on the hub system with Paris as the center. This can make it difficult if you want to go from the southeast of France to the southwest, as I and my wife did for our honeymoon. For just about all of the Autoroute, you have to pay a toll; in my experience, the tolls for the Autoroute are more expensive than in the US.

One thing that impresses me about the Autoroute is the amount of rest stops and service stations, called Aires in French. They seem to be about every 20 kilometers/12 miles, and have anything from gas stations and restaurants to picnic areas with open space for children to play in. They tend to be well kept with clean bathrooms. Before you enter an Aire, the sign announcing it will most times list the services it provides along with a distance to the next Aire providing those same services. If you can, avoid buying gas on the Autoroute as it is much more expensive than if bought at a gas station in a city or town. The cheapest place to by gas in France generally is at supermarkets.

Every 2 kilometers/1.25 miles there is an emergency phone, marked S.O.S that you can use if you break down or have an accident. Don't call if you run out of gas as you will get a ticket.

Tolls are either a flat rate paid as you enter the Autoroute or based on how far your drive. When you pay based on distance, you take a ticket at the station where you enter the Autoroute. When you exit, you give the ticket to the attendant at the exit station, and your toll will be determined. You can pay with either cash or credit card. Don't lose your ticket as you will pay the maximum toll.

A6 Autoroute that goes from Paris to Lyon.

See a video of driving along the A40 Autoroute.

See a video of driving along the A41 Autoroute.

See a video of getting on and exiting a French Autoroute.

There is a web site for the Autoroute here.


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