Avoid busiest traffic days on French roads

Car grill and headlight
French classic car

IF you are planning to drive through France this summer then you can be sure of heavy traffic on the roads and autoroutes, but there are some websites you can use to try and get ahead of the jams.

However, summer 2024 looks set to be a real test of every driver’s patience as Paris will be hosting the Olympics and Paralympic Games, during the busiest time of the year on the roads.

The Olympics takes place between 26 July and 11 August, with the Paralympics running from 28 August to 8 September, 2024.

Les grandes vacances, or summer holidays, run through July and August and will see many head to holiday spots across France, and so increased traffic on the roads, especially at weekends and around particularly popular areas of the country.

Rent a car when driving in France

You will see many news reports on French television and the internet talking of bouchons, or traffic jams, in le sens départ, which covers travel away from Paris often towards the west of France or down towards the south east and the Mediterranean coast.

There is also much more traffic on the roads when schools break up for the holidays, or in the days before they go back, so it is worth checking the school holiday calendar for France.

The Bison Futé website

It is possible to get an idea of the travel problems and possible ways around les bouchons, by using the Bison Futé, or the smart bison, website.

This not only provides up to the minute information on traffic conditions on French roads, but it must have one of the best names for a government website.

The map shows you the whole of France and the major problems and issues on the main roads, such as repair work being undertaken, where the number of lanes have been reduced, sections of road that have traffic jams and even if animals have been seen on the roads.

If you double-click on the area of France that concerns you most you can get more information on road conditions closer to home.

Lacanao Ocean in South West France
Ocean resort on the Atlantic coast

Busiest days for road travel

According to Bison Futé the period covering July and August 2024 are looking bad with red warnings of difficult traffic conditions and even possible black warnings on the Saturdays, this period often features the worst traffic conditions.

With Paris being practically out of bounds during the Olympics, and many people leaving the Channel ports often coming into the capital city’s ‘sphere of influence’ you might want to look at other routes further west or east if you are heading south.

French towns and cities

And if you want to see what the roads are like in some of the larger towns and cities of France then click on the Trafic des agglomérations tab above the map and this provides a list of locations and lets you zoom in on potential problems.

You can also get an idea of potential traffic problems in the days and weeks to come by clicking on the Prévisions tab, with again the summer months of July and August being bad even outside of Paris.

You can take the Bison Futé website with you as apps are available for both Android and iPhone mobiles.

Small country road in France with trees and bushes in the verge
Countryside road in France

Traffic on autoroutes

Another website you might want to take a look over is Autoroutes.fr, which is the site representing the companies that manage the autoroutes across France.

It provides information on the services available and toll road costs, but there is also a travel map that provides the latest information on ease of travel on the motorway system.

It is similar to the Bison Futé site in that you are provided with information on lane closures and sections of road that are experiencing traffic jams, it is also a little easier on the eye.

But remember it is only providing information about the autoroutes, and try not to buy fuel when on them, so once you come off the autoroute you are going to have to rely upon the Bison Futé site again.

If you must travel during the summer months then a little advance planning might help smooth your journey, if you don’t have to I’d suggest travelling to France in September when the roads are back to normal and they are a joy to drive.

Rent a car when driving in France

Bison Futé has supplied a 2024 calendar of road traffic highlighting the busiest days which you can download and print off.

Categorised as Travel

By Craig McGinty

Thank you for reading This French Life, join me in living life the French way.