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Car bans and €750 fines – how France’s new low-emission zones will work

France's environment minister has announced a major extension of 'low-emission zones' that will see certain types of vehicle banned from town and city centres by 2025. Here's how it will work.

Car bans and €750 fines - how France's new low-emission zones will work
French police check a vehicle's Crit'Air sticker. Photo by JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / AFP

Environment minister Christophe Béchu has announced a major expansion of the zones à faibles émissions (low-emission zones) known as ZFE.


These zones already exist in 11 French cities – Paris, Lyon, Grenoble, Aix-Marseille, Nice, Toulon, Toulouse, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Rouen and Reims – but by the end of 2025 they will be compulsory for any town that has more than 150,000 inhabitants. In total this will be around 40 towns and cities.

In addition to this, local authorities in smaller towns can create ZFEs, if they want.

It’s worth noting that these zones can apply to the whole metropole – the city, suburbs and surrounding smaller towns – for example, the Paris zone includes the city itself and three surrounding départements of Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Hauts-de-Seine. 


The system is already up and running in 11 cities, and will be expanded to others by the end of 2025.

In addition to this, enforcement will be stepped up with camera monitoring and fines of up to €750 – this will begin happening in the second half of 2024.


The system works via the Crit’Air stickers – this is a sticker that every vehicle entering a ZFE must display, it assigns the vehicle a number based on how polluting it is from 0 (electric vehicles) to 5 (older diesel vehicles).

The Crit’Air sticker must be displayed in the windscreen. Photo by JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / AFP

Vehicles with 4 and 5 stickers are then banned from certain areas (usually the city centre) or limited to certain times. The exact details of the restrictions are up to local authorities, who have the power to extend the limits – for example Paris intends to also ban Crit’Air 3 vehicles by July 2023. 

Cities can also impose temporary extra restrictions when pollution levels spike, which usually happens in summer.

If you’re entering a ZFE you will see signs that look like this:

This sign tells drivers that only vehicles with Crit’Air 0, 1, 2 and 3 are allowed.

Or announcements on matrix signs like this:

This signs says that Crit’Air 3, 4 and 5 vehicles plus Non-Classified (ie those that don’t have the sticker) are banned. Photos by ALAIN JOCARD / AFP

These mandatory stickers are required for all vehicles, including those with a non-French registration, and must be ordered in advance of your trip – click HERE for details of ordering.

How is this checked?

At present enforcement of ZFEs is patchy and depends on police making traffic stops. However Béchu announced that automated systems will be brought in to monitor the system and issue fines.

Full details of exactly how this will work are yet to be revealed, but it’s likely that this will involve remote cameras, similar to enforcement systems in cities like London. 

And the fines?

At present the fine for breaching Crit’Air rules – either driving in a ZFE without a Crit’Air sticker or entering an area where your vehicle is not allowed – is €68. However this will become a Class 4 traffic offence, which has a maximum fine of €750.

The new fine levels will be levied from the second half of 2024, although several local authorities have said they will have an ‘education’ period, where drivers will be warned about the new rules before beginning to issue fines. 

Are there exceptions?

There are exceptions to the vehicle bans, including cars with a disabled sticker, emergency vehicles, vintage cars and, in some areas, cars registered to essential workers such as healthcare staff.

The environment ministry says the full list of exemptions will be released “in due course”.

Financial aid

One of the biggest criticisms of ZFE is that they unfairly target the worst off, who are more likely to own older, more polluting vehicles.

There is financial aid available to residents of France (you do not need to be a French citizen) to trade in their old cars for newer, less polluting models including electric cars – more HERE

Why is the government doing this?

ZFEs are intended to reduce air pollution in towns and cities, by banning the most-polluting vehicles. They can exist alongside other local authority backed schemes such as pedestrianising city centres.

The levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air of several French cities, including Paris, Marseille and Lyon, exceed safe levels and in early October the government was fined €10million for failing to hit its own targets to improve air quality.

“More than 40,000 deaths per year in our country are directly related to this poor air quality. One of the ways of improving this is the low-emission zones,” said Béchu.

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For members


Olympics prep means travel trouble for Paris commuters this summer

A summer of discontent and delays is in store for anyone using the Metro or RER services in Paris, as the capital steps up preparations for next year's Olympics.

Olympics prep means travel trouble for Paris commuters this summer

Line closures and maintenance delays are routine in Paris in the summer, when passenger numbers are down because many people are away on holiday. But the amount of work is higher than normal this year, with improvements planned on almost every major line in and out of the capital.

Île-de-France Mobilités will announce all the disruptions for the coming summer later this month. However, the schedules for certain major routes, such as the RER A, B, C and Metro lines, are already known. 

Here’s what we know and what we don’t know about line closures in the coming weeks and months:


Line 4 

Closed between Vavin and Bagneux-Lucie-Aubrac stations from June 9th to 11th inclusive. 

Line 11 

Closed on the following Sundays: July 9th, July 30th and August 27th for work on the extension to Rosny-sous-Bois. As it has since February, the line will close at 10pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until the end of September. 

Line 14

No service between Mairie-de-Saint-Ouen and Olympiades, from July 29th to August 11th.


Europe’s busiest railway line will be closed from Nation and Val-de-Fontenay and Fontenay-sous-Bois stations from August 9th to 18th; and between Cergy-le-Haut and Conflans-Fin-d’Oise stations from August 5th to 20th.

RER B North

No trains Between Gare-du-Nord and Aulnay-sous-Bois on the weekends of June 3rd and 4th, and June 10th and 11th, in either direction.

The line will be closed between Gare-du-Nord and Mitry-Claye on August 12th, 13th and 14th. 

Between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Aéroport – Charles-de-Gaulle 2, a further closure is scheduled for the weekend of August 19th and 20th. 

On September 23rd and 24th, the section between Aulnay-sous-Bois and Mitry-Claye will not be served.

Replacement buses will be in operation, but users are warned to expect delays.

RER B South

Between Fontaine-Michalon and Massy-Palaiseau, from July 14th to July 21st, then from August 5th to August 20th, traffic will be halted to carry out modernisation work on the Chartres and Gallardon bridges. 

All trains will terminate at Fontaine-Michalon and Massy-Palaiseau. A replacement bus will serve Massy-Palaiseau, Massy-Verrières, Les Baconnets and Fontaine-Michalon stations.

From July 22nd to August 4th, traffic will be interrupted to allow completion of the Massy-Valenton-Ouest project between La Croix de Berny and Massy-Palaiseau, and to continue work on the Chartres and Gallardon bridges. 

All trains will terminate at La Croix-de-Berny and Massy-Palaiseau. A shuttle bus will serve the remaining stations.

The branch between Bourg-la-Reine and Robinson will be closed from July 22nd to August 25th inclusive. All trains will terminate at Bourg-la-Reine. Substitutions will be made at Bourg-la-Reine, Sceaux, Fontenay-aux-Roses and Robinson stations.


The Austerlitz – Javel – Henri-Martin section will be closed from July 15th to August 26th.

no trains will run between Massy and Pont-de-Rungis, either, during the replacement of the Gallardon rail bridge in Massy, and for the Massy southern rail bypass project.

Works to be confirmed

Dates for works on RER lines E, D and Transilien (lines H, K, L, N and P) have yet to be confirmed.


The driverless Orlyval shuttle service from Antony station to the airport, will be out of service on July 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th for maintenance work.