Autoroutes of France

Sign used denote the start of an Autoroute

The autoroute (French: [otoʁut] (listen), highway or motorway) system in France consists largely of toll roads (76% of the total). It is a network of 11,882 km (7,383 mi) of motorways as of 2014. On road signs, autoroute destinations are shown in blue, while destinations reached through a combination of autoroutes are shown with an added autoroute logo. Toll autoroutes are signalled with the word péage (toll or toll plaza).

Map of French autoroutes in 2012
The French autoroute A1
A French motorway.
Source: Observatoire national interministériel de la sécurité routière.[1]


Network length (Privately managed & national statistics)
Source ASFA.,[2] ASFA 2018;[3] Eurostat (road_if_motorwa serie)

Numbering schemeEdit

Unlike other motorway systems, there is no systematic numbering system, but there is a clustering of Autoroute numbers based on region.

A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, A10, A13, A14, A15, A16 radiate clockwise from Paris with A2, A11, and A12 branching from A1, A10, and A13, respectively. A7 begins in Lyon, where A6 ends. A8 and A9 begin from the A7.

The 20s are found in northern France. The 30s are found in eastern France. The 40s are found near the Alps. The 50s are in the southeast, near the French Riviera. The 60s are found in southern France. The 70s are found in the centre of the country. The 80s are found in western France.

Named routesEdit

Autoroutes are often given a name, even if these are not very used:

  • A1 is the autoroute du Nord (Northern motorway).
  • A4 is the autoroute de l'Est (Eastern motorway).
  • A6 and A7 are autoroutes du Soleil (Motorways of the Sun), as both lead from northern France to the sunny beach resorts of southern France.
  • A8 is named La provençale as it cross the geographical region of Provence.
  • A9 is named La Languedocienne as it crosses the geographic region of Languedoc
  • A10 is named L'Aquitaine because it leads to Bordeaux and the region Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
  • A11 is named L'Oceane because it leads to the Atlantic Ocean (Nantes)
  • A13 is named the autoroute de Normandie as it traverses the region Normandy.
  • A16 is named L'Européenne (the European) because it connects Paris with several European destinations such as the Belgium–France border, as well as Calais, which is connected with England.
  • A20 is named L'occitane as it leads to the region Occitanie in south-west France.
  • A21 is named the rocade minière (mining road) because it crosses the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, the largest mining stub in France.
  • A26 is named the autoroute des Anglais (motorway of the English) as it connects Calais, the main point of arrival for cars and lorries from the UK, before continuing to Troyes, and through the Champagne region, whose wines are loved by the British. In addition it passes near the sites of the most famous battles fought by the British Army in World War I, such as Arras, Cambrai and the Somme and not far from Ypres and Mons in Belgium. It also passes sites of earlier UK interest such as Crecy and The Field of the Cloth of Gold.
  • A35 is called l'Alsacienne or autoroute des Cigognes (Storks' motorways)as it passes only through the historical region of Alsace, for whom storks are a cultural symbol
  • A36 is called la Comtoise after the region Franche Comté
  • A40 is named the autoroute blanche (white motorway) as it connects the French winter resort towns and the Alps.
  • The A61 and A62 are named autoroute des deux mers (the two seas motorway) because these roads connect the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea from Bordeaux via Toulouse to Narbonne.
  • A68 is called autoroute du Pastel because it leads to Albi and to the Lauragais where woad was cultivated to produce pastel.
  • A71 is called L'Arverne.
  • A75 is called La Méridienne.
  • A77 is called Autoroute de l'Arbre.
  • A84 is called Autoroute des Estuaires. It is part of the main route between Belgium and Spain, avoiding Paris.
  • A104, one of Paris's beltways, is also known as La Francilienne because it circles the region of Ile-de-France.


The status of motorways in France has been the subject of debate through years, from their construction until recently. Originally, the autoroutes were built by private companies mandated by the French government and followed strict construction rules as described below. They are operated and maintained by mixed companies held in part by private interests and in part by the state. Those companies hold concessions, which means that autoroutes belong to the French state and their administration to semi-private companies. Vinci controls around 4,380 km (2,720 mi) of motorway. The different companies are as follows:

Only in the Brittany region do most of the autoroutes belong to the government. They are operated by the regional council and are free from tolls.

Privately managed
Source ASFA[2]

Safety on French autoroutesEdit

Motorway Speed LimitsEdit

France has the following speed limits for limited access roads classified as motorways:

  • Under normal conditions - 130 km/h (80 mph)
  • In rain or wet road conditions - 110 km/h (70 mph)
  • In heavy fog or snowy/icy conditions - 50 km/h (30 mph)

Limited access roads classified as express roads have lower speed limit (90 or 110 km/h, 55 or 70 mph).

In normal conditions, there is a minimum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) in the leftmost lane. There is no minimum speed on the others lanes, however the speed must be adapted to the conditions and not constitute a hazard by being too low.

Safe designEdit

Dynamic information panel used on the French Autoroute.

The autoroutes are designed to increase driver safety and allow for higher speed limits (130 km/h or 80 mph) than on regular roads (80 km/h or 50 mph) without increasing the risk of accidents.

The safety features include:

  • one way driving: the lanes driving in the opposite direction are separated by at least a crash barrier designed to resist the oblique impact of a car at up to 180 km/h (110 mph); there are no intersecting roads but overpasses and underpasses;
  • wider carriageways, with at least 2 (often 3) lanes driving in the same direction, with a larger turning radius - some recently built autoroutes have one-lane-only sections; for privately operated motorways, in 2017, the proportion is 6800 km (74%) in 2x2 lanes, 2252 km (25%) in 2x3 lanes, 84 km (1%) in 2x4 lanes.[2] Each lane is 3.5m wide.[4]
  • long entrance and exit ramps or slip roads to get in or out of the autoroute without disturbing the traffic;
  • an emergency lane, where it is forbidden to drive (except for emergency services), to park (except in case of emergency) and to walk;[5] Since 2000, new emergency lanes on newly built motorways should be 2.5m wide (or 3m if there are more than 2000 trucks a day). According to the 2000 standard, the emergency lane must be included in a 10m wide (8.5m for sections limited to 110 km/h) security zone without obstacles (in case the security zone includes an upwards slope, it is limited to the line where the slope reaches a height of 3m).[4]
  • presence of emergency call boxes every 2 km (1.2 mi) on each side, that allow to call for help with the possibility to locate the call; some call boxes have flashing light that warn when there is a problem ahead;
  • rest areas (aire de repos, i.e. car park with public toilets) every 10 km (6.2 mi) (4–6 minutes of driving) and service areas (aire de service with a least a gas station) every 40 km (25 mi) (20–30 minutes of driving) - on most recently built autoroutes these distances may be longer, up to 30/60km;
  • regularly patrolling security services, to clear any obstacle and protect drivers in trouble (usually a breakdown or a flat tyre) with appropriate warning signs and beacons;
  • dynamic information panels that warn about possible difficulties ahead (e.g. accident, roadworks, traffic jam);
  • a radio station (107.7 MHz in FM) provides traffic information bulletins every 15 minutes (with a report in English in certain areas) and breaking news for emergencies;
  • on heavy traffic days (e.g. beginning and end of school holidays), specific information and recreation events may be organised in rest areas;
  • radars automatiques (speed cameras) are installed in many locations, and announced by a specific road sign.

Safety resultsEdit

Fatalities on motorways have decreased between 2002 and 2016.

Source ASFA[6][7]

Fatalities accidents scenarioEdit

On French motorways, in 2016, 121 fatal accidents are direct/initial accidents representing 82% of fatal accidents, 16 (11%) fatal accidents occurs after a previous accident, and 10 (7%) fatal accidents occur after an incident.[7]

Three scenarios catch two-thirds of initial accidents:[7]

  • A01 simple collision of two vehicle without direction change
  • A06 crash on protection system such as safety traffic barrier
  • A05 loss of vehicle control

Fatalities and accidents remaining factorsEdit

Most of fatalities occur by night.

Fatal accident by Light condition Fatal accident cause
Source Sécurité routière[8] Source ASFA[2]

Several factor of accidents are more highly probable by night in proportion to the traffic, although inattentiveness remains risky during the day.

Influence of time on the risk of accident (% of accidents divided by % of traffic)
Source ASFA[7]

Young driversEdit

Young drivers between 18 and 34 years old represent 19% of motorway drivers, but they are overrepresented in fatal motor vehicle collisions[6] and are involved in more than half of fatal accidents.[6]

Involvement of young drivers in 2016, in fatal accidents
young drivers in dangerous manoeuvre young drivers in inattentiveness young drivers in excessive speeding
Source ASFA[6]


Although pedestrians are forbidden on motorways in conformity with the Vienna Convention, they are still sometimes killed on motorways.

In case a vehicle on a carriage cannot move, motorways safety rules remains applicable: it is forbidden for a pedestrian to travel on the motorway by article 421-2 from the "Code de la route" law.[9] For this reason, in case of accident or breakdown, it is advised to turn on hazard warning lights, wear high-visibility clothing, and go in a safer place such as the other side from the traffic barrier where there is no traffic. Since 2008, it is clarified that warning triangles are no longer mandatory when they would endanger the driver of the disabled vehicle.[10]

Pedestrians killed in 2016
Place where pedestrians are killed Reason for pedestrian presence
Source ASFA


Toll barrier in Hordain (north of France), on autoroute A2

The toll roads were granted as concessions to mixed-economy corporations; the free roads are directly administered by the national government. Tolls are either based on a flat-rate for access to the road or on the distance driven. The latter case is the most common for long distances; users take a ticket from an automatic machine when they enter the autoroute, and pay according to the distance when exiting; toll booths accept multiple payment methods.

In 2005, the Villepin government proposed a controversial plan to sell all of the state's holdings in autoroute companies to private investors. Critics contend that the price announced is well below the profit forecasts for these companies, and thus that the government sacrifices the future to solve current budgetary problems.[11]

Mode of payment
Source ASFA[2][3]

List of AutoroutesEdit

Number Length (km) Length (mi) Southern or western terminus Northern or eastern terminus Route name Formed Removed Notes
  A 1 211 131 Paris (Porte de la Chapelle) Lille Autoroute du Nord 01954-01-011954 current Part of E 15 / E 17 / E 19
  A 2 77.6 48.2 Combles Belgium Part of E 19
  A 3 18.4 11.4 Paris (Porte de Bagnolet) Gonesse 01969-01-011969 current Part of E 15
  A 4 482 300 Paris (Porte de Bercy) Strasbourg Autoroute de l'Est 01970-01-011970 current Part of E 25 / E 50
  A 5 225 140 Vert-Saint-Denis (Seine-et-Marne) Langres 01983-01-011983 current Part of E 17 / E 54
  A 6 466.3 289.7 Lyon Paris Autoroute du Sud, Autoroute du Soleil 01960-01-011960 current Part of E 15 / E 21 / E 60
  A 7 312 194 Marseille Lyon Autoroute du Soleil 01951-01-011951 current Part of E 15 / E 80 / E 714
  A 8 224 139 La Fare-les-Oliviers Italy La Provençale 01961-01-011961 current Part of E 74 / E 80
  A 9 280 170 Spain Orange La Languedocienne, La Catalane 01960-01-011960 current Part of E 15 / E 80
  A 10 557 346 Bordeaux Rungis L'Aquitaine 01960-01-011960 current Part of E 5
  A 11 347 216 Nantes Ponthévrard L'Océane 01966-01-011966 current Part of E 50 / E 60 / E 501
  A 12 8.5 5.3 Trappes Rocquencourt Autoroute de Bretagne 01950-01-011950 current
  A 13 226 140 Caen (Porte de Paris) Paris (Porte d'Auteuil) Autoroute de Normandie 01940-01-011940 current Part of E 5 / E 46
  A 14 21.7 13.5 La Défense Orgeval 01996-01-011996 current
  A 15 24 15 Gennevilliers Cergy 01974-01-011974 current
  A 16 319 198 L'Isle-Adam Belgium L'Européenne 01991-01-011991 current Part of E 40 / E 44 / E 401 / E 402
  A 19 131 81 Orléans (A10 at Artenay) Sens L'Éco Autoroute 01993-01-011993 current Part of E 511
  A 20 428 266 Montauban Vierzon L'Occitane 01992-01-011992 current Part of E 9
  A 21 58.9 36.6 Aix-Noulette Douchy-les-Mines Rocade Minière 01971-01-011971 current
  A 22 15.8 9.8 Villeneuve-d'Ascq Belgium Autoroute du Nord 01972-01-011972 current Part of E 17
  A 23 42.7 26.5 Lesquin Trith-Saint-Léger 01978-01-011978 current
  A 24 Amiens Belgium 01980-01-011980 02011-01-012011 Proposed, but never built
  A 25 62.7 39.0 Lesquin Dunkirk 01963-01-011963 current Part of E 42
  A 26 395 245 Troyes Calais Autoroute des Anglais 01976-01-011976 current Part of E 15 / E 17 / E 50
  A 27 13.7 8.5 Lesquin Belgium 01973-01-011973 current Part of E 42
  A 28 366.5 227.7 Abbeville Tours Autoroute des Estuaires 02005-01-012005 current Part of E 44 / E 402 / E 502
  A 29 183 114 Le Havre Saint-Quentin 01995-01-011995 current Part of E 44 / E 402
  A 30 Uckange Crusnes
  A 31 Beaune Luxembourg
  A 32 Freyming-Merlebach Germany
  A 33 Nancy Hudiviller Local autoroute around Nancy
  A 34 Reims Belgium
  A 35 Lauterbourg Switzerland (Basel)
  A 36 Ladoix-Serrigny Germany La Comtoise
  A 38 Pouilly-en-Auxois Dijon
  A 39 Dijon Bourg-en-Bresse Autoroute Verte
  A 40 Mâcon Mont Blanc Tunnel Autoroute Blanche, Autoroute des Titans Part of E62
  A 41 Switzerland(Geneva) Grenoble
  A 42 Lyon Bourg-en-Bresse Part of E611
  A 43 Lyon Italy
  A 44 Bypassing Lyon to the west
  A 45 Lyon Saint-Étienne
  A 46 Anse Givors (bypassing Lyon by east)
  A 47 Lyon Saint-Étienne Part of E70
  A 48 Lyon Grenoble
  A 49 Grenoble Valence
  A 50 Marseille Toulon
  A 51 Marseille Grenoble, Val de Durance
  A 52 A8 A50 Great ring of Marseilles
  A 54 Nîmes Salon Sud (link with A7)
  A 55 Martigues Marseille
  A 56 Link between A54 and A55 from Salon to Fos freight port proposed  
  A 57 Toulon Vidauban, link with A8
  A 61 Toulouse Narbonne Autoroute des Deux Mers Part of E80
  A 62 Bordeaux Toulouse Autoroute des Deux Mers Part of E72
  A 63 Bordeaux Spain Autoroute de la Côte Basque Part of E05/E70
  A 64 Toulouse Bayonne La Pyrénéenne Part of E80
  A 65 Bordeaux Pau Part of E7
  A 66 Toulouse Pamiers Part of E9
  A 68 Toulouse Albi
  A 71 Orléans (A10) Clermont-Ferrand (A75) L'Arverne
  A 72 Saint-Étienne Clermont-Ferrand
  A 75 Clermont-Ferrand Béziers (A0) La Méridienne
  A 77 Poligny (A6) Challuy Autoroute de l'Arbre
  A 81 94.8 58.9 Le Mans Le Gravelle 01982-01-011982 current
  A 83 152.5 94.8 Nantes Niort 02001-01-012001 current
  A 84 170.5 105.9 Caen (Porte de Bretagne) Rennes Autoroute des Estuaires 02003-01-012003 current Part of E 3 / E 46 / E 401
  A 85 270 170 Angers Vierzon 01997-01-011997 current
  A 86 80.1 49.8 Paris orbital 02009-01-012009 current
  A 87 129 80 Angers La Roche-sur-Yon 02002-01-012002 current
  A 88 117.7 73.1 Caen (Porte d'Espagne) Sees 02010-01-012010 current
  A 89 544 338 Lyon Bordeaux 01991-01-011991 current Part of E 70
  A 500 A50 Monaco
  A 507 Ring of Marseilles proposed  
  A 516 Marseilles Aix-en-Provence
  A 520 A52 Auriol
  A 557 One-direction ring of Marseilles downtown


A13 in the outskirts of Caen

Radio coverageEdit

The complete coverage map of FM 107.7.

The FM 107.7 radio coverage is available in 2017 on 8902 kilometres of the (ASFA) network.[3] This is list of highways that are updated in 107.7 FM every 15 minutes, live 24/7 (if the highway is said alone, it means that the station covers all around it):

Sanef 107.7 (1850km)Edit

  • A1: Roissy-en-France - Carvin
  • A2: A1 - Hordain
  • A16: L'Isle-d'Adam - Boulogne-sur-Mer
  • A26: Calais - Saint-Quentin
  • A29: Neufchâtel-en-Bray - Saint-Quentin
  • A13: Orgeval - Caen
  • A14: Carrières-sur-Seine - Orgeval
  • A29: (Beuzeville - Saint-Saëns; outside Normandy)
  • A132
  • A139
  • A154
  • A813

Autoroute INFO (2487km)Edit

Centre-Est (live from Dijon)
  • A5: Lieusant - Langres
  • A6: Fleury-en-Bière - Limonest
  • A19: Courtenay - Sens
  • A26: northern Troyes - southern Troyes
  • A31: Beaune - Toul
  • A36: Beaune - Mulhouse
  • A39: Dijon - Bourg-en-Bresse
  • A40: Mâcon - Bellegarde
  • A46: Anse - Vaulx-en-Velin
  • A71: Bourges - Clermont-Ferrand
  • A77: A6 - Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire
  • A105
  • A311
  • A391
  • A406
  • A411
  • A430
  • A714
Rhône-Alpes (live from Chambéry)
  • A40: Bellegarde - Le Fayet
  • A41: Genève - Chambéry - Grenoble
  • A42: Bourg-en-Bresse - Vaulx-en-Velin
  • A43: Saint-Priest - Chambéry - Tunnel du Fréjus
  • A48: Bourgoin-Jallieu - Saint-Égrève
  • A49
  • A51: Le Pont de Claix - Col du Fau


99% of the privately managed network is protected by natural fencing.[3]

Privately managed motorways have 1764 wildlife crossing structures.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bilan de l'accidentalité de l'année 2015
  2. ^ a b c d e[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ a b c d e[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ a b "DTecITM- Maintenance" (PDF).
  5. ^ by definition motorways are forbidden to pedestrians
  6. ^ a b c d[bare URL PDF]
  7. ^ a b c d[bare URL PDF]
  8. ^ "État de l'insécurité routière | Observatoire national interministériel de la sécurité routière".
  9. ^ Code de la route : Chapitre Ier : Autoroutes. (Articles R421-1 à R421-10), retrieved 6 August 2022, I.-L'accès des autoroutes est interdit à la circulation :
  10. ^ "Gilet et triangle de sécurité".
  11. ^ Press release of 12-14-2005 Archived November 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit

  Media related to Autoroutes in France at Wikimedia Commons