As in most countries, fuel prices in motorway service areas tend to be more expensive than in your average supermarket or normal fuel garage.
Many supermarkets have fuel pumps on site, manned at certain times during the day – these times will differ from supermarket to supermarket and area to area, often closing for the obligatory lunch time of 12.00 – 14.00! If you use a manned booth, fill up as required and then drive up to the booth where you can pay through the little window in cash, card or cheque (French).
Lots of fuel pumps have a 24/24 sign – this indicates that you can buy fuel at any time of the day or night – if you have a chip and pin card. The times when UK cards did not work in French petrol stations are generally history for most travellers – but not always, we’ve heard plenty of stories of people using a perfectly valid chip and pin card but it hasn’t been accepted by the machine. So, make sure that you won’t have a problem filling up in an emergency – test your card beforehand or make sure you fill up at a manned pay pump.
The days when petrol and diesel were cheaper than the UK are long gone though currently (2013) diesel is slightly cheaper than the UK. To find the best price where you are in France (and to locate a garage) Government website Prix-Carburants (petrol prices) provides information on petrol and diesel prices in all areas of France. Click on the site, specify which type of fuel you are interested in, type in the name of the town and the site will bring up the nearest garage for whom they have prices. Around 50% of garages in France have signed up to the site and all participants are required by the Government to update their fuel costs information daily. See their website here.
Terms for fuel in France
Gazole – Diesel
Sans plomb 95 – Petrol (higher octane)– (Green handled pump)
Sans plomb 98 -Petrol (standard octane)