How to pump gas in France?

Taking a road trip through France next week. Anyone have tips on
French gas stations?

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

I have done it tons of times and don't remember any particular problems... sort of like here, but I will be in France driving on Fri. and try to remember if there are any real issues. (I am not opposed to asking for help in sign language, with a smile)

Posted by Megan
6 posts

Cool, thanks. I read something about pin and chip credit cards, so I wasn't sure if there was an added element to consider vs. the US.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Pumping gas is the same. Paying is another issue. Many gas stations are totally unattended, especially on weekends, and you will need the European chip and pin card to pay. So you have to find manned gas station that can run the mag strip Am credit card. Or pay cash.

Posted by Megan
6 posts

Ah, I see. So you can pay with cash at an unmanned gas station?

Posted by Irv
Beverly Hills, MI
370 posts

At the fully automated stations my limited experience has been chip and pin or nothing. I never saw one that took cash. Two thoughts: 1) Try and operate on the top 2/3s of the tank so you don't get in a desperate situation. We had a diesel and were pretty low when I had my one run in with chip and pin only but we still had an easy 100 miles of fuel still in the tank. 2) If you have to, get off the autoroute and find and old gas station in a small town. They tend to be low tech. Have a great trip.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8757 posts

Working the pump is much the same, but there are no devices to hold the pump going so you can't walk off and check the oil or clean the windscreen or check the tyres. You need to keep your hand squeezing the handle. If you use diesel (gazole) you can use a supplied (usually) plastic glove. Its a shame you didn't get a chip and pin card when you started to plan for the trip. You won't be able to pay tolls with your magnetic stripe card either.

Posted by Megan
6 posts

From what I'm hearing, this is what the process will be like: Pull up to attended gas station (I assume this means one with an attendant inside)Pump gas Go inside, tell the attendant the pump numberPay with cash Correct?

Posted by Bets
1970 posts

Since diesel is more prevalent there than in the States, be careful which fuel you put in your tank: gasoline or diesel. Don't mix them up. There should be a sticker on your gas cap to remind you.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

Irv is right that you're out of luck at unmanned stations if you don't have a chip-and-pin card. Stations are mostly likely to be unmanned after 10 PM and on Sundays. Stations on Autoroutes are manned 24/7, but Autoroute gas is the most expensive. Cheapest gas is at supermarkets such as Carrefour. If you rent a diesel, diesel fuel is called gasoil or gazole.

Posted by Megan
6 posts

Do the manned stations take US credit cards, or should we plan to use only cash?

Posted by Roger
Monein, Pyrenees, France
425 posts

Fuel at autoroute filling stations is usually about 10cents/litre more expensive than at supermarkets, but they are open 24/7. "Full service" stations are as common as unicorns. Non-autoroute filling stations in France are often closed at lunch time (12-2) and after 7pm and all day on Sundays. At those times there is usually an automatic service available if you have a chip and pin card. If you use a card from the English speaking world, the machine will switch to English.
As I have two vehicles, one petrol and one diesel, I actually prefer to use the automatic self-service pumps, as there is less chance of putting the wrong fuel in by mistake. (e.g. if you specify unleaded on the screen and try and use diesel, the system will alert you.) There are often TWO types of diesel available with the more expensive having a yellow pump handle.

Posted by Tom
2876 posts

If the gas station is manned, the cashier will almost always accept your American Visa or Mastercard. Yes, all toll stations accept cash. If the toll station is unmanned (eg some rural exits), there'll be a machine that will accept cash - and give change. On the highway, if there are multiple toll booths, the ones that accept cash will be to the right.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
713 posts

You may want to make sure you have a couple credit cards...we had to use an unmanned stn in France, hubby 1st tried, I think it was our MC...would not work, but the VISA did (didn't notice if stn maybe didn't accept MC)...being Canadian, all our cc's are chip and that wasn't the issue...and we used cash at all the tolls...heading fr Paris to Caen, most tolls were only a few euro or less...and we had lots of change...most expensive may have been 7-8euro.

Posted by Robert
629 posts

The problem I started to run into with gas stations in France is that many of them that have booths (especially at supermarkets) simply closed them, so they're always unattended. That's why I got an Andrews chip and PIN before our last trip. Before that, supermarket stations almost always had an attended booth during normal hours and any American cc worked fine.