Late hol­i­day clas­sic car driv­ers face French fines

Classics Monthly - - Fuel | News, Insight And Opinion -

The re­cent Euro­pean heat­wave has seen France ramp up its anti-pol­lu­tion re­stric­tions, caus­ing ma­jor con­fu­sion for mo­torists who don’t know if their clas­sic cars are ex­empt or not. Road­trip­ping Bri­tish late hol­i­day­mak­ers risk a fine if they drive in re­stricted ar­eas with­out the cor­rect vi­gnette sticker, or face hav­ing to avoid them al­to­gether if their ve­hi­cle doesn’t qual­ify.

The emer­gency low emis­sion zones are known as ZPAs and are in ad­di­tion to per­ma­nent low emis­sion zones (ZCRs) found in the cen­tral ar­eas of places like Paris, Lyon, Greno­ble and Strasbourg. The Crit’Air sys­tem places ve­hi­cles into six cat­e­gories based on their emis­sions, rang­ing from the clean­est elec­tric or hy­dro­gen-pow­ered cars (ef­fec­tively Crit’Air Class 0), to the dirt­i­est, which are given a Crit’Air Class 5 sticker. Driv­ers us­ing the low emis­sions zones must dis­play a vi­gnette, or risk a fine of €68 (£61) for cars caught with­out one, ris­ing to €180 (£161) if not paid within 45 days. Fines can also be levied for ig­nor­ing emer­gency pol­lu­tion re­stric­tions.

The snag is that petrol cars, vans and mo­torhomes firstreg­is­tered be­fore 1997 and diesels prior to 2001 don’t qual­ify for a sticker, mean­ing they can­not be driven if re­stric­tions have been ap­plied. In Paris, cars over 30 years old are al­lowed in pro­vid­ing they can prove their ‘oldtimer’ sta­tus. There’s no spe­cific cat­e­gory for ‘old­timers’ when ap­ply­ing for a vi­gnette on­line, so it looks like ap­ply­ing for dis­pen­sa­tion via email or show­ing doc­u­ments could be the only way out at present.

The 30-year ex­cep­tion does not ap­ply across the whole coun­try. In Greno­ble and Lyon for ex­am­ple, there are no ex­cep­tions for vin­tage cars at present. To fur­ther en­hance the con­fu­sion, the ZPA zones are not sign­posted and the daily sta­tus of each zone is not ac­ces­si­ble to for­eign­ers through the press or the ra­dio. In such cases, driv­ers can re­sort to a Green-Zones app or sim­i­lar for their smart phone show­ing the cur­rent state of a ZPA or ZCR zone and which Crit’Air vi­gnette cat­e­gories are al­lowed ac­cess.

If you do have a mod­ern clas­sic or an­other ve­hi­cle that can qual­ify for a vi­gnette, the good news is that they cost just € 3.11 plus postage if or­dered from aboard. Ap­par­ently there are third-party web­sites sell­ing vignettes at in­flated prices, so watch out for th­ese. The of­fi­cial web­site can be found at www. cer­ti­fi­cat-air.gouv.fr/en

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