Télépéage - version 2

Thu, 19/04/2012 - 18:18 -- James Oakley

(Last updated 16th July 2016)

Back in September 2010, I posted on my experience (as an Englishman) procuring and using a Télépéage gadget for use on the French motorways. I wrote that post just in case it happened to help someone. Since then, it has become more than 3 times as popular as any other page on this website and the last time I checked it was #3 on google.com (searching for "telepeage" from the UK). It would seem that it has been helpful.

Since then, two things have happened. First, there are now 80 comments on that post. Lots of those comments are people asking questions, and lots of the same questions come up again and again. Second, a new UK-based player has entered the market as a "midddle-man" for obtaining these Télépéage gadgets.

So I thought it was time to repost my original post, bringing it up to date, and including an FAQ section at the end. That way, I can close the original post to new comments, and people can read answers to the most common questions without having to trawl through 80 comments to get there.

OK? Here goes:


The original post - brought up to date

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.

Gare de peageThe 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.

telepeageThere 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.
    1. 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.
    2. 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:

Company APRR Toll Tickets Sanef Tolling
Operate out of: France Germany UK
Customer service in: French English English
Pay in: £*
Deposit for Device €11 n/a €20
Initial Fee for Device n/a €4.50 €12
Annual Fee €0.00 €35.00 n/a €7.20**
Monthly Fee €1.60 n/a €0.00 † €6 (max €12 p.a.)
Added Charge for each Toll 0% 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.

Some items you may find useful for your 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!

Note: Comments on this post now extend to more than one page.

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Comments

Ash's picture
Submitted by Ash on

Hi James,

Congraulations on a really helpful website!  It's great to see the web being used is such a constructive way to offer a real public service.

Reading through your original post and subsequent comments I think you've probably answered the following question already but I have just signed up with APRR and it asked me at the start to specify which autoroute network so I chose the Paris - Reims section.  I will be travelling to the Alps so will also need to use the Rhone-Alps section so will this definitely be OK with the tag I am getting?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Regards,

Ash.

George Pearson's picture
Submitted by George Pearson on

Hi James

I will be travelling to the South of France in August for 10 days. I would like to purchase a Telepeage unit for the car, do I have to take out a yearly subscription, or can I send it back and only be charged for August?

George

 

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

George

I think you can just keep it for as long as you want. But that's a question you're best to ask them - I'm sure they'd give you a quick answer.

If you get the chance to drop by and post here again, I'm sure others will ask the same question and will be glad to have been saved a phone call / e-mail.

Eddie's picture
Submitted by Eddie on

What a great site. A special thanks to James for setting it all up, and also to everyone who has participated.

Ordered my Tag on Saturday, and patiently awaiting it's arrival. Just checked my bank a/c, and see that the grand total of €11 has been debited against my credit-card, at an exchange rate of 1.198 - Brilliant!

Eddie's picture
Submitted by Eddie on

Tag received to-day, and it came with two windscreen clips.

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Now that is impressive!

[Fake author name]'s picture
Submitted by [Fake author name] on

If you were ever searching for a website where you can order translations of documents into French {spam link removed}, I can help you to save your time and energy, cause I already found a great website. To be honest I wasted a lot of time before I came across {spam link removed} and till now I am fully satisfied with their services. If you need quick, cheap, and perfect translation you will never find anything better than this, I can assure you.

Please don't spam this site, folks. The poster of this comment pasted the same link twice in the body of their comment. They also specified it as their homepage as they entered the comment, trying to ensure a link to the sight from the comment title. That makes clear that this is not a site they "already found", but their own site. Actually, it isn't even that. The poster came from Ukraine. I doubt Ukraine is the world's hub of French translation services; sadly it is one of the leading source countries for comment spam. So this poster was paid (probably peanuts) to spam people's blogs with links to a website. I always delete spam comments, so please go bother someone else!

Jeremy's picture
Submitted by Jeremy on

Firstly, thanks James for this useful information.  In addition to your help, Google Translate is a real boon to supplement my schoool-days French, but it all seems to make sense.  I'll find out on Friday as I drive with trepidation towards my first Telepeage station.

My pack took six days to arrive to my Bedfordshire address.  As previous contributors have noted, the telepeage transmitter comes with two clips and two propanol cleaning pads for preparing the windscreen surface.

The prices went up slightly in Feb-14:  it's now €11 to get the transmitter (still with a promise of refund if returned), and €1.60 for each month used (and still with the promise of no monthly fee if not used in that month).

 

I'm advised that in some locations there are now 50 kph stations.  Apparently they are well marked, but if in doube, I guess just under 30 kph is the safe option.  I'm also told that the first time or two through can be a bit anxious, knowing whether the barrier will lift or not.

 

Anyway, I'll report back in three weeks' time.

 

Thanks again for the helpful info.

 

Jeremy

Tim Prestage's picture
Submitted by Tim Prestage on

Thank you for your very useful site. I have just purchased my French Tag from Toll Tickets and was very impressed with the user friendly site, so different to SANEF Tolling who actually wanted copies of my Utility Bill, Credit Card Statement and Passport, when they already had my bank account number, sort code number, home address, email address and other details too numerous to mention here. Needles to say I did not pursue the Sanef route! Toll Tickets on the other hand just asked for my credit card details, and got the business. 

 

TONY GINGELL's picture
Submitted by TONY GINGELL on

Firstly, great site, thank you so much for setting it up and keeping it running. With your help I got my first Telepayage in 2011 and have recommended this site to several of my customers that have then got one for themselves. I am now due to have to renew my credit card and forgot that it had to be done on the phone. (slight problem, lack of French...) the site wanted my mobile phone number and it appears to want to link up with "Slimpay". This company does have an English site and it sets up a direct debit instruction with your bank account. The retailer is supposed to send a "mandate" to sign but i can't see why they would want to send this by phone? Has anyone tried this form of builling yet?

Richard's picture
Submitted by Richard on

The APRR website does now allow you to change your credit card details on-line, quickly and easily, by logging on via "Espace client" in the top right-hand corner of the home page.  Then click on "Mon Profil", scroll down to "Ma carte bancaire" and click on the link "Modifier mes coordonnees bancaire"

mike norman's picture
Submitted by mike norman on

I have held a transponder for several years how long will it last before battery runs out and how do I get a replacement ?

Scott's picture
Submitted by Scott on

Thanks for the great info on this page.  I just ordered direct with APRR - couldn't have been easier.

It looks like they're getting more geared-up for selling to non-French drivers, as the list of countries and international dialling codes they'll accept is much bigger than last time I looked.  Also the fact that they openly offer international shipping and have different rates for that.

To give some updated numbers:

The "commissioning fee" (they don't call it a deposit) is now €11.  This is paid at the time of order.

The monthly fee (only payable the months you use it) is now €1.70 if you opt for online billing, and €2.20 if you want a paper invoice.

I didn't quite work this out fully, but I think they currently (Nov 2014) have an offer giving you the first six months free of the above monthly fee.  I was going to buy it anyway so didn't pay too much attention to this, there were more important details to get right!

There is a delivery fee of €10 to send the device to a non-French address.  This is apparently charged with the first invoice, rather than at the time of order.

The wording of the Ts and Cs seems to (with my mediocre French) confirm that one can pay by (British) credit card or (French) bank account.  I'd read somewhere (possibly 'marketing' from sanef-tolling-uk to persuade people to use them!) that using a non-French credit card was an option that would stop at some point, but it seems it's still ok.

Hope this is useful to others.  Ordering direct with APRR really is easy - I was initially worried buying online from a non-UK company in a different language, but it seems to be completely straightforward.  Of course, my device hasn't arrived yet, I will try and confirm back here when it does.

Scott's picture
Submitted by Scott on

To confirm, the device was promptly delivered to my UK address, from APRR in France,in two days.  That's faster service than you get from most UK-based companies!  The instructions are in French but easily understandable.

Scott's picture
Submitted by Scott on

Can I clarify the different signs one sees at peage gates/lanes please?

First, am I right in thinking that a lane with a green arrow, but no "t" sign is open for cash/card payments only, but not for the liber-t devices?

As far as I can make out, there are three types of lane where one can use the device:

- a normal lane that is also used for cash/card payments, and has a barrier

- a lane with a barrier that is reserved for vehicles with the liber-t devices only

- a lane without a barrier, reserved for liber-t only

What signs and markings identify and distinguish the different types of lane please?  Or if there's a convenient webpage (eg on one fo the French motorway websites) that already has this, a pointer would be greatly appreciated!

And I'm assuming that a lane with a "t" but also a red "X" is closed to all traffic, even if the "t" sign is lit?

Many thanks.

Scott's picture
Submitted by Scott on

Erratum: sorry, rather than "without barrier" I meant "the non-stop lanes, where the barrier lifts as you approach"

Eddie's picture
Submitted by Eddie on

You are correct in your assumption of where the Liber-t devices can be used, but please note that in the first of your three assumptions re, quote, "a normal lane that is also used for cash/card payments, and has a barrier", unquote, this type of lane would normally only be used by a Liber-t holder if there was a problem at the Liber-t lanes, or where there wasn't a Liber-t lane available, in which case it would be just a case of handing the badge to the attendant, who will then scan it and hand it back.

Re. signage, this web page may help;

http://www.alis-sa.com/gb/peage/signalisation.php

Don't forget, if travelling in  a car with a roof-rack for example, or towing a caravan, you have to use the lanes that don't have a height restriction bar.

philip's picture
Submitted by philip on

I've got a MotorHome that just so happens to be 3.12 meters high, and therefore falls into the Class 3 category. Sanef say they cannot help me with one of their Tags. Does anyone know where l can get a Class 3 tag from please.

Graham's picture
Submitted by Graham on

Hi there - i have an APRR tag that i have had since 2011, but not used since 2014.

I have just sucessfully renewed my creditcard details on line via the APRR website (mastercard), however have a couple of questions.

1 - Do you think it will still work after 5 years of use?  And if not is it easy to get swapped once in France? Or do you think it might be worth requesting a replacement for a non functioning badge which appears to be availale free of charge?

2 - Can you buy any replacement vehicle brackets for it locally (ie UK) - it appears from the APRR website a replacement bracket may be free, however it looks like it might be a high shipping charge.

 

Thanks

Graham

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Hi Graham

Remember I'm only a user, like you, who's happy to share what worked for me.

1. Yes. They should have battery life of 7-8 years. Make sure you keep it in the back that isolates it from electrostatic interference (which keeps it deactivated), and especially keep it away from switched on mobile phones which appear to deplete the battery fast by induction

If it's died, you can replace it online. They do so for free, but you have to send the old one back within 30 days or be charge a fee. I don't know how much they test the returned one. To replace in France you have to go an office of APRR. They are by the toll booths, but only on motorways in the APRR region which, whilst not too far down France, does not include Calais (where SANEF have the concession). In my mind that's a good reason not to use the Mont Blanc motorway company for toll tags! You could probably phone them from within France, and they could post you a replacement to where you were staying.

2. The tags are the same size and format as those used for the Dart Tag and M6 Toll. That means you should be able to get a replacement within the UK, by indirect means.

Hope that helps!

Gary Lodge's picture
Submitted by Gary Lodge on

Looks like I'm very late to the party here as the last comments appear to be from 2013!

 

But everything on here is still relevant and incredibly useful. Many thanks for the time and effort whoever you are.

 

There are a few differences now:

The APRR site now seems to cope OK with UK post codes

It was easy to update my billing cards via the secure website.

My badge has arrived but has an APRR logo on it not the 'T' Telepeage logo... no idea if this i a disatrous mistke on my part or whether it makes no odds at the toll.... I'll find out next week when I use it!!!

Gary Lodge's picture
Submitted by Gary Lodge on

Hee hee when I posted my comments the comment list updated to questions in 2016 so glad you're still around.

 

So any idea if the APRR logo on my transponder badge means it's any different to the ones with the 'T' Telepeage on?

Don't think I made any obvious mistkes when ordering and all matches your brilliant instructions.

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Hi Gary

You're not late at all - the comments now run to two pages, that's all. :-)

Thanks for the update. I'll update the main post about postcodes and updating billing details (which I've done myself on both counts using my account with APRR, but I just hadn't updated the post).

Regarding the logo, it doesn't matter at all, but still please come back here and update us all once you've had your trip. (Have fun, by the way). There is still an agreement between all the motorway operators that they'll all accept each other's badges - they've just chosen by front their own branding over that of the telepeage system.

Gary Lodge's picture
Submitted by Gary Lodge on

Cheers James, I will, we travel to France lots and had been looking for a way to obtain a badge... we just hadn't found this great site.

I will also proof read and spell check my replies in future :-)

 

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