News Culture

Paris Is Banning All Cars Built Before 1997 from the City on Weekdays

Citywide ban goes into effect July 1.

If you’re a classic car lover in Paris, you only have until the end of June to get your fill of speeding around The City of Lights—at least on weekdays. The Parisian mayor, the French Environment Minister, and the city’s transportation authority have come together to agree to ban all cars registered before 1997 from the Paris city center on weekdays, French economic news website Les Echoes reports. Motorcycles registered before 2000 will also be banned from city streets during those days.

To identify which cars are breaking these new laws, vehicles in the city will now be required to sport one of six classes of windshield-mounted emissions stickers, with the ratings based on their environmental friendliness. Electric and hydrogen-powered cars receive the most favorable sticker; old, emissions-spewing ones receive the least-friendly one, which earns them a ban from the city center every day except Saturday and Sunday. Anyone found to be in violation of these laws can be slapped with fines ranging from €35–€450 (about $39–$500 at current exchange rates).

As the years progress, the system will keep pace, continuously restricting cars older than roughly a decade from rolling through Paris. By 2020, the law will only allow cars from 2010 or newer to be used on city roads.

While few in number, old cars have an outsized impact on the environment. Though these pre-1997 cars only amount to about 10 percent of Paris traffic, one report suggests these vehicles could produce as much as half of the entire city’s emissions.

The move is the most recent step that Paris has taken to limit the smog in the city’s atmosphere. Recently, the French capital has also made efforts to close of some of its major intersections and streets to cars, enabling the areas to be used solely for pedestrian traffic; it has even tried its hand at entirely car-free days in the past.

If the Parisian sticker-based system proves successful in driving down emissions, other European cities such as Grenoble, Strasbourg, and Versailles are looking into using it to limit polluting vehicles on their own roadways.

And no, concours-ready classic cars will not be exempt. So unless you want to get slapped with a hefty fine, keep that mint-condition Citroën 2CV out of downtown Paris during the workweek.