Parking Fines Set to Soar Across France – Try a Bike (or an App)

Bad news for city motorists who turn a blind eye rather than feed the ubiquitous French horodateur or parking meter … from next Autumn fines for contraventions are set to soar, though not yet reaching confiscatory London-like levels.

Paris parking meters, ignore at your peril (Credit Paris City Hall)

Paris parking meters, ignore at your peril (Credit Paris City Hall)

A report in Libération newspaper says cities and large towns around France with parking meters (and a municipal police force to back them up) are about to get a funding boost once local Mairies take over the right to levy, collect and keep their own fines for parking offences — or fixed penalty notices as they are called in many EU countries.

Currently such fines are set by central government, standard nationwide and applied by the Gendarmerie nationally or city police in larger centres.

The fine is the same –17 euros — whether you fail to buy a parking ticket in the capital, Paris, or in a small regional tourist town like Sarlat, in the south west. (It can be even lower in some places; the writer was once fined just eight euros in Beziers after overstaying welcome at a town centre parking meter).

Compare that with say the wallet-damaging fixed-penalty charge in London that currently ranges from £70 to £130 (100 to 183 euros)

From October 2016 however it’s all change on the parking ticket front. Local mayors will take over the right to fine long-suffering motorists and keep the proceeds. Worse, parking enforcement in many centres will, says Libération, likely be handed over to private sector traffic wardens.

So standby for a motorists’ revolt then(?), as commission-based wardens stalk the streets bearing unforgiving electronic devices boosting the coffers of the local Mairie and the profits of the private sector operators. All very un-French.

In Paris for instance parking fines are set to “double or treble” from current levels. The changes, introducing what will become known as the “forfait de post-stationnement (FPS)“, were promulgated in May this year.

According to the Metronews website, fines in the capital could soar to 44 euros, while in Bordeaux, Lyon and Nantes they are likely to rise to 22 euros. Not every town or city will hike fines however, powerful local Mayors have total discretion in setting the levels.

In Paris , again according to Metronews, things get tough if you wait to too long to pay the fine (which like sanctions for most motoring offences in France can be done online). A delay beyond three months will add 20% to the amount. After 45 days it could rise to as much as 94 euros.

The reasons for the changes are said to be two-fold, to help cash-strapped City Halls with an additional revenue stream and for dissuasive purposes. Current levels are just too low to stop motorists from overstaying or ignoring the horodateur altogether.

Thus locals and visitors alike in popular tourist spots like Sarlat, Nîmes, Carcassonne, Grenoble –where out-of-towners clog up traffic all summer long — might be in for an unwelcoming surprise unless they carefully check their parking meters.

However other parking solutions and alternatives are available.

A rank of Toulouse pay as you go bikes (Credit FrenchNewsOnline)

A rank of Toulouse pay as you go bikes (Credit FrenchNewsOnline)

In Toulouse, as we reported earlier, the local authority is experimenting with a mobile App that helps motorists find vacant parking spots and intelligent meters which automatically debit your bank card with the exact amount of time you stay at the meter.

Then there is always the option of leaving your car outside the city and making use of public transport or the popular Velib bike services found in centres like Paris, and 41 other urban centres.

Here is a list of main centres where alternative bike transport can be found. The name of the scheme differs from place to place but the principle is the same, pick up here for a small fee paid by bank card, drop off there, at the closest most convenient bike stand.
If you live in Paris and want full information about parking regimes, costs and residential versus visitor parking the City Hall has a comprehensive page of information here.

Story: Ken Pottinger

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