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. Fines increase to as much as €750 from 2024 when camera based enforcement is introduced.


Clean Air Zone locations

Permanent Zones - Zones à faibles émissions (ZFE)

  Cars and motorcycles  Vans, lorries and buses
Paris Métropole (8am - 8pm)
Aix - Marseille - Provence Métropole
Grenoble - Alpes Métropole
Grand Lyon Métropole
Montpellier Métropole
Nice - Côte d’Azur Métropole
Rouen - Normandie Métropole
Saint-Etienne Métropole no restrictions 
Strasbourg Eurométropole
Toulouse Métropole

Further cities will be added to this list, as around 30 are required to introduce ZFE areas before 2025.

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. Some are in the same regions as the permanent zones listed above, but may cover a larger area or involve tighter restrictions.

Bouches-du-Rhone [Marseille] Gers  [Auch] Puy-de-Dôme [Clermont-Ferrand]
Chambery Gironde [Bordeaux] Pyrénées-Atlantiques [Pau]
Côte-d'Or [Dijon] Haute Savoie [Annecy] Rennes
Creuse [Guéret] Hérault [Montpellier] Savoie [Chambery]
Deux-Sèvres [Niort] Isère Vallée de l’Arve
Drôme [Valence] Loiret [Orléans] Vendée [La Roche-sur-Yon]
Eure et Loir [Chartres] Maine et Loire [Angers] Vienne [Poitiers]

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.


Applying for a sticker

You can apply for your Crit'Air sticker from the official website. Ordering the sticker is quite easy, and should only take about 5 minutes.

You'll also need to take a photo or scan of your vehicle's registration document, as this will need to be uploaded to the site - it confirms the vehicle's details and is used to ensure you receive the correct sticker.

Don't fall for unofficial sites claiming they can offer a faster service, or do the job for you! They will probably charge a lot more and there's no guarantee you'll receive your sticker.

The sticker costs €3.11 plus postage, and is valid for the lifetime of the vehicle. 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.