The Autoroute system in France consists largely of toll roads, except around large cities and in parts of the north. It is a network of 12,000 km (7,450 miles) of motorways.
Unlike other highway systems, there is no systematic numbering system, but there is a clustering of Autoroute numbers based on region. A-1, A-3, A-4, A-5, A-6, A-10, A-13, A-14, A-15, A-16 radiate from Paris with A-2, A-11 and A-12 branching from A-1, A-10 and A-13, respectively. A-7 begins in Lyon, where A-6 ends, as for the A-8 and A-9, which respectly begins near Aix-en-Provence and Avignon.
The status of motorways in France has been subject of debate through years, from their construction until recently. Originally, the Autoroutes were built by private companies mandated by the French government, and followed strict construction rules as described below.
They are operated and maintained by mixed companies held in part by private interests and in part by the state. Those companies hold concessions, which means that Autoroutes belong to the French state and their administration to semi-private companies.
France has one of the highest set speed limits for limited access roads in Western Europe:
- Under normal conditions - 130 km/h (80 mph)
- In rain or wet road conditions - 110 km/h (70 mph)
- In heavy fog or snowy/icy conditions - 50 km/h (30 mph)
In normal conditions, there is a minimum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) in the leftmost lane.