The French environmental zones ZCR

Picture: Beginning and end of a ZCR environmental zone

French environmental zones are called in France “Zones à Circulation Restreinte”, the short version is “ZCR”. The term ZCR is rarely applied. The term ZCR describes an area with a “restricted traffic-ability”. Not really a term which causes a relation to environmental protection zones.

The setting-up of low emission zones in France is in the responsibility of the respective local authority and is ruled by a national decree Décret ZCR 2016-847 vom 28.06.2016. The permission to drive in an environmental zone, being defined by the respective local authorities in France, is achieved by means of a Crit'Air Vignette which can be allocated in 6 categories.

The local authority decides what kind of Crit'Air category is allowed to enter the environmental zone at what time, this by applying an additional label below the ZCR plate. The additional label indicates days and times of day when a passenger car is allowed to enter the environmental zone with a Crit'Air Vignette.
However, more probable advantages are supposed to result from the environmental zones as there are, for example, separate parking lots which can be occupied. But this will be controlled by the responsible local authority in France.

Currently a French environmental zone ZCR can be entered by means of all 6 Crit'Air categories. But this will change in the course of the coming years. The responsible local authority will restrict the categories, either by means of more additional labels to Crit'Air or by means of messages in the media where it will be announced what category has the permission to enter the environmental zone. It is conceivable, for instance, that under bad weather conditions only categories 0-4 would be allowed to enter Paris from Monday to Friday in a period between 8 am to 8 pm which would mean that the grey Crit'Air Vignette had to stay outside – a rule being published beforehand by the media.