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How do we go about driving a classic car through France's clean air zones?

I was under the impression that the French authorities had banned classic cars - even if they were over forty years old - from entering major French cities. With this in mind, I wrote to the French embassy and told them that I would not be visiting their lovely country any more if I couldn't drive my MGB GT through it. I now have it on good authority that they have relented and changed the rules, presumably because of pressure from other classic car enthusiasts.How would they view a car which does not fit the exact original specification as manufactured, e.g. mine has a new shell and five speed gearbox. Also, how do we go about taking our 2004 Vauxhall Astra into those same cities if we chose to do so?

Asked on 22 February 2018 by Richard Parker

Answered by Keith Moody
French authorities now ask drivers to display a clean air sticker (called a Crit'Air) to enter some areas. Currently, these areas are Paris, Lyon, Grenobille, Lille, Strasbourg, and Tolouse. Some cities can impose emergency measures, banning the most polluting vehicles if pollution levels are already too high on any day. There are six categories of stickers (identified by different colours) and these relate to a vehicle's Euro Emissions Standard. For example, a modern clean electric would get a green sticker, while an older diesel with high CO2 emissions would display black sticker. You can read a bit about it here:

Let's deal with the Astra first. You'll need to know your car's CO2 emissions - as your car is registered after 2001 but before 2017, you should know this figure as it's the basis for your road tax (or rather VED) but the 1.6-litre is 161g/km while the 2.0-litre is 214g/km. You can always double check the information here: Next, apply for your sticker from the official site (beware of third party sites): You'll need a PDF or JPEG of your registration document (V5C) and the cost is €4.18 (there's a €68 fine if you don't have a sticker). As far as taking a classic car into one of the clean air cities goes, cars over 30 years old are allowed to enter the city - but you'll need a 'grey' sticker. Currently, there is no way to apply for this sticker using the online form. We'd always recommend travelling abroad with your V5C, tax and insurance details and you may well need these to enter a city if there are spot checks. We have asked for an update but haven't received anything yet - if we do hear back, we'll revise this answer with the latest information.
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