France Special: Tolls Cut, All Change South West, NYE Champs Elysee

FRANCE SPECIAL: ALL CHANGE IN THE SOUTH WEST

Major road works on the A63, A9 and A10 between France and Spain should see free-flowing roads by 2017. In the meantime, tolls may fall.

A10 Paris-Bordeaux: currently disrupted by works on the parallel LISEA high speed rail line but set to finish next year.

A10 Paris-Bordeaux: currently disrupted by works on the parallel LISEA high speed rail line but set to finish next year. Photo via @VINCIautoroutes

French motorway tolls may fall according to press reports yesterday.

The fallout from the competition authority report in September which found that road operator profits were excessive may see them taken under a new regulator.

Economy minister Emmanuel Macron was quoted saying, ‘We will keep the motorway companies under pressure to reduce prices and lower them whenever possible.’

The report found that operators made profits margins of around 25%. A final decision is due in December.

In the meantime, the definite good news on the autoroute network is that the two busiest roads in the south west, to and from Spain along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, are undergoing, or about to undergo, major surgery.

The majority of the A63 ‘Route de la Cote Basque’ between Bordeaux and Spain – which sees 9,000 heavy trucks every day – underwent a major renovation in 2012/13.

The remaining 67km, in the south, has been split into three sections. The southernmost, from the border to Biarritz, is being widened at the moment, scheduled to finish by the third quarter 2017. The central section to Ondres is finished and open.

The awkward part is the remaining 27km. The public consultation is currently on-going. Work is not due to start until 2016.

Further north, the A10 from Bordeaux to Poitiers (Tours and Paris) is being disrupted by the new LISEA LGV Sud Europe Atlantique high speed railway line being built alongside.

LISEA crosses the A10 (and A85 at Tours) with other work to the north of Bordeaux but mainly between Poitiers and Tours. The railway should open in 2017, but the road works should be finished by the end of next year.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pyrenees, the A9 Orange-Montpellier-Perpignan-Spain – an incident as well as traffic blackspot – will be widened in the south and split into two new roads at Montpellier on the Mediterranean coast.

Like the A63, the 40km of A9 to be widened between Perpignan and the Spanish border – the final stretch of two lane A9, which typically sees 30,000 vehicles per day (7,500 HGVs) and 50,000 vehicles in the summer – will be widened in three stages.

The first 17km is ready to go – the new lane is currently coned off. The 15km to Le Boulou is due to open in 2016. The final 8km to the border is yet to have a date for work to start…

Putting all these traffic levels into context is the A9 around Montpelier. Around 100,000 vehicles use this stretch on a typical day rising to 160,000 in the summer.

From 2017, the summer holidays should be easier all round when the new A9b opens, a 25km stretch to relieve through traffic from the existing road which will be renamed A9a.

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France Special: a huge party is planned for the Champs Elysee the New Year's Eve, car-free.

A huge party is planned for the Champs Elysee this New Year’s Eve. A major part of the festivities seems to be that Paris’ most famous street will be car-free. Surely France’s beleaguered national cars makers Citroen, Peugeot and Renault will be celebrating just as hard as anybody else. Photo/news via @Paris_by_Elodie

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The French take on the upcoming ban on smoking in cars with children present. It is not law as yet but was proposed as part of a range of anti-smoking measures announced in September. A similar law was announced in the UK at the weekend, expected to come into force in October 2015. The only country in which it is currently illegal to smoke in a car with under-16s is Cyprus. Cartoon via @DriveLeMag

The French take on the upcoming ban on smoking in cars with children present. It is not law as yet but was proposed as part of a range of anti-smoking measures announced in September. A similar law was announced in the UK at the weekend, expected to come into force in October 2015. The only European country in which it is currently illegal to smoke in a car with under-16s is Cyprus. Cartoon via @DriveLeMag

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A poignant and fascinating roadtrip – from Nottingham to Anoeullin in northern France, by Morgan 3 wheeler – to commemorate the life of Albert Ball, WW1 pilot, reluctant hero and owner of one of the original Morgan 3 wheelers, from Motorpunk/XCAR.

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