Ah Paris – the city of light, love – and the Crit'Air pollution sticker. From March 31, in order to enjoy the French capital's many delights by car during weekdays, you will need to obtain a Crit'Air pollution sticker for your car.
Crit'Air is a new system which categorises cars in terms of how polluting they are. There are six sticker types, ranging from the green sticker for zero-emission electric cars, up to the grey/blue '5' sticker for the most polluting vehicles. From March 31st you will need to have one of these stickers on your car in order to drive in Paris between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday.
Owners of non-French vehicles can buy an anti-pollution sticker on the official site for 4.80 euros, including postage.
Beware of numerous websites selling stickers for inflated fees. Some of these are charging almost 30 euros - more than six times the official price.
The ‘boulevard périphérique’ – the ring road that marks out Paris proper – can be used without a sticker. Many UK drivers take this route when heading to southern parts of France. But if you venture inside this road, you will need a sticker. Be careful when using your sat-nav – they have been known to direct motorists into the 18km tunnel beneath the city; such a detour would also require a sticker.
The red sign below means you are entering the Crit'Air zone; the black one appears when you leave it.
French police have been told to be lenient in the early days of the system, but the official fines are €68 (£58.63) for cars and €138 (£119) for lorries. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is clear she wants to improve the poor air quality of the capital – so police are likely to strictly enforce the rules in the coming months.
Police will enforce the system manually, in contrast to London's Congestion Charge, which uses cameras to monitor vehicles.
If your car was registered before 1996 you won’t be given a sticker, because your car won’t be allowed in the city at all between 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday.
CRIT’AIR GREEN VEHICLES (GREEN AND WHITE STICKER)
Only for 100% electric or hydrogen vehicles.
CRIT’AIR 1 (PURPLE STICKER)
Plug-in hybrid cars and Euro 5 and 6 petrol CARS (registered from 1 January 2011).
CRIT’AIR 2 (YELLOW STICKER)
Euro 4 petrol cars (registered between 1 January 2006 - 31 December 2010) and Euro 5 and 6 diesel models (registered from 1 January 2011).
CRIT’AIR 3 (ORANGE STICKER)
Euro 2 and 3 petrol models (registered from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2005); Euro 4 diesel cars (registered between 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2010).
CRIT’AIR 4 (DARK RED STICKER)
Euro 3 diesel models registered between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2005.
CRIT’AIR 5 (DARK GREY/BLUE STICKER)
Euro 2 diesels, registered from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2000.
Older diesel models are not eligible for a Crit’Air sticker and will not be permitted in the city between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday.
NOTE: French car owners already need to comply with the new rules (from January 15). Non-French cars will be subject to the new rules from March 31.
Learn more about how Crit'Air will work from this French government webpage.