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Télépéage - Version 2
#1
This is an updated version of an earlier post, drawing together the many comments that came out of the discussion thread:

I've just been asked again how an English motorist can take advantage of télépéage. I thought I'd post my answer here, in case it helps anyone else.

   

The French motorways are usually toll roads. The amounts you have to pay are not a round number; Calais to Paris or Rheims costs €20.20 at the moment. So you're either trying to find the right change, on the wrong side of the car, or you're using a credit card for each transaction. Depending on your route through France, you may not just be paying the once; sometimes you have to pay for the stage you've just driven, then pay again a bit later on. Our recent French holiday to the south of Burgundy involved paying 3 times each way - 6 transactions in total. The other inconvenience is the queues. A lot of traffic travels on the French motorway network, and that creates a bottle-neck at the gares de péage, the pay stations.

There is an answer to this, and it's called télépéage. Similar to the gadgets you can get for the Severn Bridge, the Dartford Crossing or the M6 Toll, this is a small electronic transponder that you attach to your windscreen just behind the rear-view mirror. As you approach the barriers, a device by the barrier can read your gadget, extract the account details from it. You are let through, without having to stop, and you get billed later. Surprisingly, even lots of French cars don't seem to use them, but they speed up and simplify the journey considerably. This no longer needs to be a little secret kept by the French.

There are three ways to do it.
  1. The cheapest way is to deal directly with the French. The company APRR run the motorways to the south and east of Paris. They will let you have a toll reader from them, and bill it to an English credit card; most other French motorway companies won't do that. Whenever you get a télépéage gadget from one French motorway company, it works throughout France, so it's just a matter of finding a company that will let the English have one. APRR is your friend at that point. They charge you a (refundable if you return it) €11 for the gadget; they then charge you €1.60 per month, but only for those months when you use it. Other than that, you pay the same tolls as the cash price. There's no charge when you don't use it. You sign up at http://www.aprr.fr/fr/souscrire_telepeage_liber_t. But you need a little French to do it!
  2. The not quite so cheap way is to use one of two companies who act as intermediaries.
    • Sanef, the company that operates the motorways in the North-East of France, have set up a UK subsidiary company called Sanef Tolling. You get English language customer support. They allow you to obtain a Sanef transponder, but be billed by Direct Debit in Sterling from a UK bank. They charge you €10 + VAT to send you the device - that's a fee not a deposit. They charge a €20 deposit that you get back if you return the deivce. The actual road tolls cost no more than they do in France, but you pay between €6 and €16 per year (again, +VAT) as a recurring account fee. Sanef Tolling have kindly offered a €5 discount off the first invoice for new customers who sign up by clicking on one of the links in this article.
    • Toll Tickets is a German company, again with an English language website and customer support. They also offer similar services for other European countries. They charge you €7.90 to send you the device, and you don't get that money back - again, it's a fee rather than a deposit. You then have two choices.
      1. If you wish to keep the device long-term, there is an annual fee of €35 and they add 7% to the toll charges.
      2. If you want the device just for one trip, there is no monthly or annual fee, but the surcharge rises to 9%. Be careful though, as they start charging €0.25 per day after the first 21 days.
So the second and third options cost more, but you can deal with them in English — It's up to you.

Let me summarise:

CompanyAPRRToll TicketsSanef Tolling
Operate out of:FranceGermanyUK
Customer service in:FrenchEnglishEnglish
Pay in:£*
Deposit for Device€11n/a€20
Initial Fee for Devicen/a€4.50€12
Annual Fee€0.00€35.00n/a€7.20**
Monthly Fee€1.60n/a€0.00 †€6 (max €12 p.a.)
Added Charge for each Toll0%7%9%0%

* Converted into Pounds Sterling during invoicing.
** Per account - if you have more than one tag on your account, this fee is charged once.
† There is no monthly fee as such, and the device is free for up to 21 days. After 21 days the fee is €0.25 per day - the pricing is designed for those who only keep the tag for the duration of their trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these providers; I'm just a member of the public passing on my experiences in the hope it helps others. The answers I give below are based on my personal experience, or on comments left on my previous post. I cannot guarantee these answers!

Q1: How do I enter my UK postcode on the website for APRR?
A1: Updated 2016: The You used to have to put a fake postcode in (people used 62100 successfully). They now take British addresses, but you may need to put your postcode without a space.

Q2: APRR's website seems to reject my English credit card.
A2: I imagine that could be for a number of reasons; even English websites can reject a card. Someone reported that they could not get the payment to go through at the weekend, but succeeded when they retried during normal business hours. That may help.

Q3a: What do I order with a roofbox?
A3a: A roofbox may take the height of your car to over 2m, but the car remains a Class 1 vehicle. At the toll station, you head for a telepeage enabled lane that does not have a height restriction. It's your responsibility to make sure the badge you have covers the vehicle you're driving.

Q3b: How do they know that my car, with its roofbox, is only Class 1?
QAb: Automated cameras carefully measure vehicles passing through the lines that have no height restriction. Check your statement, as very rarely mistakes get made and cars with roofboxes get charged as Class 2. If this happens, contact your tag issuer to resolve this - the excess can be refunded. (Both Toll Tickets and Sanef Tolling will take this up with the French companies on your behalf).

Q3c: How about towing a caravan?
A3c: A caravan would make you a Class 2 user; you apply for a Class 1 tag anyway, and you will be charged at the Class 2 rate, which is usually a fixed multiple of the Class 1 charge.

Q4: Do I need to activate my transponder in any way before I use it for the first time?
A4: I don't know about Toll Tickets. You do with Sanef Tolling. My personal experience of buying directly from APRR is that it works straight away.

Q5: How do I fasten it to my windscreen?
A5: Simply follow the instructions you receive with the device. In case the French is not clear to you, however, this may help:

Step 1: Use the alcohol wipe they've given you to clean the area of the windscreen where the device will go. Usually this is behind the central rear-view mirror. Heated windscreens usually have an area here that is not heated to help with this kind of gadget. (In the instruction book I got, that's "Figure A" on page 4).

Step 2: Take the plastic clip. If the actual gadget is attached to the plastic clip, just slide it off. In fact, you may wish to practice sliding the gadget on and off the clip a few times - it's a little stiff, but easy when you've got the knack. There is a self-adhesive strip on the back of the clip. Peel off the backing.

Step 3: Stick the clip onto the inside of the windscreen, in the area you just cleaned. Leave alone for 5 minutes or so to make sure it's well and truly stuck.

Step 4: Slide the gadget onto the clip you've just attached.

Step 5: Put car on ferry / shuttle and go.

Q6: How do I change the credit card APRR uses to bill me?
A6: Although there is an area of their website where you can log in to your account, one thing you can't do there is change your card details. They advise e-mailing them the new details; that is not something I would advise because e-mail is very insecure - anyone can read it in transit.

The other approach is to telephone them. The number is +33 325303241. Either talk to them in French, or ask them if there is someone there who speaks English and they'll hand you over to their relevant colleague who can help you in English. They charge your new card (I think it's) €2 to test it works, but they then refund that test payment about a month later. At least, that's what happened for me.

Q7: Does my telepeage tag work on the Spanish motorways?
A7: Sorry, but no. The French motorway networks all collaborate on this, but other European countries each operate their own system. Toll Tickets can also obtain tags for other countries.

Q8: What does the leaflet that came with the device mean, when it says I need an "RIB"?
A8: Don't worry about that. Unless they change their policy, APRR are happy to take an English credit card to take your monthly payments from. They send a leaflet inviting you to take out a prélèvement (equivalent of Direct Debit), and you'd need to send them a copy of your RIB (piece of paper with your French bank details on) to do so. But as that's only applicable to those with French bank accounts, most British users will stay with their credit card. They're only inviting you to pay by direct debit, you don't have to.

Q9: I enjoy the experience of jumping the queues in the other traffic lanes, and of seeing the staff at the gares de peage rushing out to warn me that I'm in the wrong lane only for the barrier to open. Is that wrong?
A9: Not at all - that's all part of it! Enjoy your holiday in France! Lots of French people don't seem to use them, but they speed up and simplify the journey considerably. This no longer needs to be a little secret kept by the French!
Reply
#2
I have just obtained a tag from http://www.saneftolling.co.uk which arrived in 2 days.

I am now wondering where to mount it as the black dotted area around the rear view mirror on my Alfa Romeo Giulietta is not wide enough to take the tag with its long axis horizontal. I have not yet managed to find out if I have an athermic windscreen; if I haven't then it doesn't matter. Otherwise can I mount the tag with its long axis vertical or attach it to the plastic housing which hides the rain sensor electronics?

Any helpful comments will be gratefully received.
Reply
#3
My instinct is that it wouldn't matter if you mounted it vertically. (Just be careful that you don't prevent yourself from being to slide the tag out of the self-adhesive mount). The toll stations don't scan a barcode, they pick up a radio signal that contains a unique identifier. That should mean that it doesn't matter which way round the tag is rotated.

In your shoes, I'd ring Sanef Tolling given their selling point is their English customer service. Please come back here to let us know how you get on (on the phone to them and/or in France) - there'll be others who would benefit from hearing what you do and how it works for you.
Reply
#4
I use Chrome browser and it has an automatic translation facility which is pretty good and helps if you are using APRR.

The downside I had with APRR was that the confirmation managed to scramble my address pretty badly, not showing my postal town or post code - so I will be interested to see if the gadget actually arrives. It may just be the way they format their acknowledgements.
Reply
#5
Let us know whether it comes... As you say, hopefully it will just be the acknowledgement e-mail that was unclear.
Reply
#6
Thank you for your really helpful blog. I have attached my toll thingy this eve and ready to set off and have a trial run for two days in France before the big journey in the summer hols. They accepted my debit card details so I hope payments will just ping out of my bank account here in the uk! Here goes......
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#7
Can you tell me if the telepeage gadget can be moved between cars? The car we travel in varies depending on how much luggage we have, and I don't want to pay for 2 seperate devices. 

 
Reply
#8
Claire,

As I understand things, the device is issued for you not for the car. When I signed up directly with APRR, they never asked me for a Vehicle Reg Number.

If you get a device from one of the third-party companies I mention, it's possible they have a policy of one device per car - you'd have to ask them when you sign up (and then come back here to tell the rest of us what you discover!)
Reply
#9
I had done some more digging and it seems that you actually get 2 clips with an SANEF device, enabling you to use it in 2 cars. You can then buy extra clips if you need to. See&nbsp;<a href="http://www.saneftolling.co.uk/support/faq">http://www.saneftolling.co.uk/support/faq</a>&nbsp;.

Unfortunately despite lots of searching and translating of the APRR site, I can't find out how many clips are initially provided with their device. Maybe you could let me know how many arrived with yours?&nbsp;
Reply
#10
I only got the one from APRR. That said, I have a tag for the Dartford Crossing, and they're interchangeable. That gave me a second clip.
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