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the nicknames of French motorways

French motorways network from 2006

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Tour de France 2023s

New translation, the Magna Carta

As well as the standard Axyz numbering of French motorways - the A standing for auto route, French motorways often have a semi-official, or not so official, name/nickname.

Here is a list of these names that abelard.org has discovered so far:

A1 Autoroute du Nord
A4 Autoroute de l’Est
A5 L’Orientale
possibly because this motorway runs on a route parallel to that of the Orient Express train.
A6 Autoroute du Soleil
A7 Autoroute du Soleil : of the Sun
A8 La Provençale
A9 La Languedocienne - La Catalane
A10 L’Aquitaine - the longest autoroute, 565 km
A11 L’Océane
A13 Autoroute de Normandie
A14 “la nouvelle autoroute de l’ouest”:
the new motorway of the West
A16 L’Européenne (the European).
So called because it connects Paris with various European destinations such as  Belgium, as well as Calais, a gateway to England.
A20 L’Occitane
 as it leads to the region Occitanie in south-west France.
A21 La Rocade Minière (mining road)
The A21 crosses the Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin, the largest mining stub in France.
A25 Autoroute des Ornières:
ornieres means ‘ruts’. The road surface is not good and the A25 has a 110 kmh maximum speed limit as a result.
A26 Autoroute des Anglais:
of the English, as many UK cars are to be seen coming from the Calais ferry port.
A30 Autoroute de la Vallée de la Fensch
A31 Lorraine-Bourgogne
This motorway also has two joke nicknames: of the Carambolages - the pile-ups, and des caravane belges - Belgian caravans. You are warned.
A35 Voie Rapide du Piémont des Vosges (VRPV):
Piémont des Vosges rapid road.
The l'Alsacienne or autoroute des Cigognes (Storks' motorway) passes through the region of Alsace, where thr stork is a cultural symbo, an area known for its many stork colonies.
A36 La Comtoise:
going through the Comté-Franc region of north-east France
A39 Autoroute Verte: green motorway
A40 Autoroute Blanche / Autoroute des Titans:
White motorway; this motorway runs to the titanic, white alps
A41 L’Alpine
A43 Autoroute de la Maurienne
A51 Autoroute du Val de Durance / des Alpes
A55 Autoroute du littoral: the coast motorway
A61 Autoroute des Deux Mers:
of the two seas - the Atlantic and the Mediterranean
A62 Autoroute des Deux Mers
A63 Autoroute de la Côte Basque:
of the Basque coast
A64 La Pyrénéenne
A65 Autoroute de Gascogne
A66 L’Ariègeoise
A68 La Tarnaise
Also known as the autoroute du Pastel, it leads to Albi and to the Lauragais region where woad was cultivated to produce pastel.
A71 L’Arverne: the region north of the Auvergne region
A75 La Méridienne
A77 Autoroute de l'Arbre: of the tree
A79 La Cévenole
A81 L’Armoricaine
A82 La Bretonne
A84 Autoroute des Estuaires. It is part of the main route between Belgium and Spain, avoiding Paris.
A86 Périphérique d'Île de France:
Ile de France ring road (circling Paris)
A89 La Transeuropéenne, Autoroute des Présidents:
Transeuropean, or the Presidents’ motorway Also known as the empty autoroute because it passes no other major cities between Bordeaux and Clermont-Ferrand.
A104 La Francilienne
one of Paris's beltways, is also known as La Francilienne because it circles the region of Ile-de-France.
A400 Autoroute du Chablais
A837 Autoroute des Oiseaux: of the birds


Autoroute des Estuaires, of the estuaries, once finished, will be a series of motorways linking Dunkerque with Bayonne [and also Belgium with Spain], without passing through Paris. The estuaries are those of the Somme, the Seine, the Loire and the Gironde. The RN137 will be upgraded to an extension of the A84.
port-lauragais aire

end notes

  1. rocade
    A ring road, generally around a major town.
on first arriving in France - driving motorway aires, introduction
travelling by rail to and within France Les Pyrénées, A64 Poey de Lascar, A64
aires on the A75 autoroute from clermont-ferrand to béziers Pic du Midi, A64 Dunes, A62
aires on the A89 autoroute from bordeaux to clermont-ferrand and beyond Hastingues, A64 Mas d’Agenais, A62
aires on the busy A7 autoroute from lyons to marseille Pech Loubat, A61 Garonne, A62
aires on the motorway to Spain - the A9 autoroute Port-Lauragais, A61 Catalan village, A9
three aires on the canal du midi, A61 Ayguesvives, A61 Tavel, A9
aires on the autoroute of two seas - the A62 Renneville, A61 Les Bréguières, A8
aires on the other autoroute of two seas - A64 and A61 Carcassonne, A61 Lozay, A10

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