Crit'Air and clean air zones

High pollution levels are a particular issue in some of the larger urban areas across France. These often peak during the summer season, where warm weather and no winds can result in dangerous levels of smog forming.

In order to help combat this issue, the French government has introduced clean air zones across the country, whish imposes a ban on the most polluting vehicles from urban centres. Some are permanent, whilst the majority are implemented when air pollution hits a certain level.

In order to comply with the emissions regulations, all vehicles being driven within a clean air zone must display a Crit'Air vignette in their windscreen. This small states which category the vehicle is assigned to, depending on their emissions (and consequently their age):

           
Petrol & other fuels -   -   1997 - 2005   2006 - 2010   2011 - present   Zero emission
Diesel 1997 - 2000   2001 - 2005   2006 - 2010   2011 - present   -   -

Vehicles registered before 1997 do not qualify for Crit'Air, and so are automatically banned when any restriction is imposed. They are also permanently banned from the centre of Paris.

Any vehicle that enters a clean air zone withouth a Crit'Air sticker on display is liable to a fine of between €68 and €135, which will also apply to any foreign vehicles that are caught.

You can apply for your Crit'Air sticker from the official website. The sticker costs €3.11 plus postage. It does take a couple of weeks for you to get your sticker, but you will be emailed a pdf receipt, which you can display in your windscreen should you not receive it in time.

 

Clean Air Zone locations

Permanent Zones - Zones à faibles émissions (ZFE)

Zone Permitted categories Times of operation
Paris Inner
(within Boulevard Périphérique)
E, 1, 2, 3 8am - 8pm weekdays (cars)
8am - 8pm daily (buses, trucks)
Paris Outer
(within A86 motorway)
E, 1, 2, 3, 4 8am - 8pm weekdays (cars)
8am - 8pm daily (buses, trucks)
Métropole Grenoble - Alpes E, 1, 2, 3 applies 24/7
Grand Lyon E, 1, 2, 3 applies 24/7
     
Further zones are planned to be implemented between now and 2022

Additionally, some towns will have permanent prohibitions situated in the very centre. These are signposted thus, this example stating that traffic is prohibited, except (sauf) categories E, 1, 2 and 3:

 

Temporary Zones - Zones de Protection de l’Air (ZPA)
There are a number of areas where Crit'Air applies on a flexible basis, depending on local pollution levels:

Annecy Grenoble Puy de Dôme
Arve Valley Haute Savoie Pyrénées Atlantiques
Chambery Hérault Rennes
Côte d'Or Isère Savoie
Creuse Lille Strasbourg
Deux Sèvres Loiret Toulouse
Drôme Lyon Vendée
Eure et Loir Maine et Loire Vienne
Gers Marseille  
Gironde Paris Central  

Local reports will advise of when these are in operation, and are updated on the free Green Zones app. Where they overlap with a permanent zone, ZPAs will always take precident as restrictions will be tighter than under normal conditions.