French fuel shortages explained for British drivers (2023)


Strikes in France have seen the return of petrol shortages across the country as the Easter holidays approach. The shortages also have the potential to hit air travel. Here is the latest for Brits heading across the Channel.

Nearly one-in-five petrol stations in France are experiencing fuel shortages due to ongoing refinery blockades, according to French broadcaster FranceInfo.

As of 22 March, the proportion of forecourts out of petrol, diesel or both had jumped to 18%, up from 6% on 20 March. The situation is worse in the north-west and south of France, with several departments placing limits on how much petrol can be bought per customer to protect supplies.

Fuel shortages are hitting France. (Library picture of fuel station only)Strike action has led to delays at French service stations (library photo not connected to shortages in France)  (Credit: Pixabay)

Latest on fuel shortages in France over Easter

The good news for British drivers heading to France over Easter is the situation is getting better. The French newspaper Le Figaro said earlier this  week that around 10% of stations did not have either petrol or diesel - this figure is down from around 15% in late March. 

However, the increased number of drivers on the roads over Good Friday through to Easter Monday could make the effects of fuel shortages seem worse. 

The region around the capital Paris is one of the worst-affected area, with around 40% of stations in Hauts-de-Seine and Val-de-Marne reporting shortages of fuel.

Where are the worst-affected regions in France

French energy transition minister, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, told radio station RMC that the worst-affected regions for fuel stations experiencing shortages are: Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and the coastal areas of Occitanie.

Additionally, southern areas of Gard and Vaucluse are setting limits on how much petrol and diesel can be purchased at fuel stations. These will  continue until at least 30 March.

Critical fuel shortages at Paris airports

The French government has warned that the supply of kerosene to Paris airports has become a critical issue. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) has asked all flights entering the French capital to carry as much fuel as possible to minimise the need for refuelling at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. The government has announced it will requisition striking workers at a refinery in Normandy to help address the situation.

A communication sent on 17 March, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said: "The paraffin stocks at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle are currently under strain. To avoid any operational problems, all flights to Paris-CDG are asked to take on as much fuel as possible from their airport of origin, within the limits of the aircraft's operational capacity.” A similar message was send on 18 March regarding Paris-Orly Airport.

We would advise filling up with plenty of fuel before heading across the Channel over Easter.

Are refinery strikes still ongoing

On 4 April, the Port-Jérôme-Gravenchon refinery, which makes up around 20% of France’s refining capacity, restarted production, following strike action that had prevented the delivery of crude oil to the plant.

Requisitions and Restrictions

The French government has requisitioned striking refinery workers in Fos-sur-Mer near Marseille, forcing some of them to return to work, although the unions say they will challenge the legality of this in court. Several departments in southern France have also introduced restrictions at petrol stations, including limits on how much petrol each customer can buy and a ban on filling cans. Fuel supplier TotalEnergies has claimed that only 4% of workers in their refineries are on strike, and that stocks of fuel remain high for the moment.

How to check fuel supplies where you are in France

If you are planning to, or are already driving in France, you can use the Government-back platform called to check fuel supplies on your route, or close to where you are. 

Simply head to the site, and right click if on a lap top to find the 'translate to English' option - don't worry if you can't, it is easy to understand without this. Then enter the type of fuel you are looking for, and the department (area) where you are, and a list of fuel stations with fuel available will be displayed - along with price. 

The website lists the status of around 10,000 service stations and displays when the information was last updated. 

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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