Boulevard Périphérique

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Boulevard Périphérique
The Francilienne (blue), Paris super péripherique A86 (blue-green) and the Périphérique (green)
The Boulevard Périphérique Extérieur near Porte Dauphine
Route information
Length35.04 km (21.77 mi)

Boulevard Périphérique (French pronunciation: ​[bulvaʁ peʁifeʁik]), sometimes called Périph', is a controlled-access dual-carriageway ring road in Paris, France. With a few exceptions (see Structure and Layout), it is situated along Paris's administrative limit.

The speed limit is 70 km/h (45 mph). Each ring generally has four traffic lanes, with no hard shoulder. At junctions, circulating traffic in the rightmost lane (separated from the other lanes at this point by a continuous white line to the left) must yield priority to entering vehicles.

When travelling at the legal speed limit, it takes around 30 minutes to complete a full circuit.


A portion of the Thiers wall, near Porte de Versailles, before it was torn down and replaced by an autoroute.

The French war department had completed the Thiers wall – including fortifications, a dry moat, a Rue Militaire and a large berm – around 1840. In 1859, the military engineering service gave conditional control to the Paris city council.[1] The expansion of the land area of Paris in 1860, by annexing bordering communities, created a situation where everything within the Thiers wall was Paris and everything without was not. The Thiers wall, with its accompanying berm and moat, led to a profound disruption and complication of the synergistic relationship between Paris and its suburbs.

Paris city council started conversion of some sections of the Rue Militaire into boulevards in 1861. In the 1920s, the complete dismantling of the enclosure permitted the further building of what has become a series of 23 connected boulevards encircling the city, which came to be known as the Boulevards of the Marshals, as 19 bear the name of a marshal of the First French Empire (1804–1814) who served under Napoleon I. This also served to re-integrate, to a large extent, Paris with its bourgeoning suburbs. The Boulevards of the Marshals concept was almost fully realized by 1932, though the final three sections, closing the ring, would not be completed until 2005. The Boulevards of the Marshals was built just inside the city limits, leaving a ring of vacant land just outside the perimeter.

Construction of the Périphérique began in 1958, on the remaining land of the Thiers Wall, anywhere from a few meters to a city block just 'outboard' of the Boulevards of the Marshals. Unlike the 23 connected Boulevards of the Marshals, the entire run of this ring bears only the single name Boulevard Périphérique. In order to alleviate traffic congestion, the Boulevard Périphérique was built more like a motorway than a wide boulevard, and was completed on 25 April 1973 under the presidency of Georges Pompidou. Providing a route for a quarter of all Parisian traffic movements, it quickly became the busiest road in France. It became a victim of its own success with widespread congestion, while the dense urban area surrounding it prevents its expansion.

Périphérique intérieur vs. extérieur[edit]

The Périphérique consists of two concentric carriageways: the intérieur ("inner ring") and the extérieur ("outer ring"). Vehicles travel clockwise on the inner ring and counterclockwise on the outer ring. Some stretches of the road are sometimes referred to by cardinal direction. For example, in the southern half of the highway, the "inner ring" is designated as the Périphérique Ouest ("Western Ring") as traffic flows westbound whereas the "outer ring" is designated as the Périphérique Est ("Eastern Ring") as traffic flows eastbound. In the northern half, these designations are reversed.

Structure and layout[edit]

Paris' Périphérique by night at Porte d'Italie

The structure of the Boulevard Périphérique is similar to most French autoroutes, UK and Commonwealth nation motorways, and American freeways in the following regards:

The Boulevard Périphérique also has some differences:

  • Motorists entering the right-hand lane have the right-of-way, i.e. priority over vehicles already on the ring road. This stems from the traditional rules governing Parisian boulevards.
  • The right-hand lane is reserved for vehicles entering or preparing to leave the "normal" movement of vehicles in the other lanes, or the Boulevard itself. A solid white line separates the recently entered traffic and the circulating traffic. This is done to prevent entering traffic from disrupting the flow of circulating traffic in the inner lanes, as without the line any traffic must yield to any entering traffic across all lanes.
  • There is no hard shoulder (emergency lane), except around the Porte de Gentilly. This means that crashes can cause considerable disruption to the traffic, and makes it difficult for emergency services to reach the scene of a crash.

There are generally four lanes in each of the two rings of the Boulevard. Variations exist:

  • A two-lane section between the Porte d'Italie and the Porte d'Orléans
  • A five-lane section between the Porte de Montreuil and Porte de Bagnolet
  • A three-lane section between the Porte d'Orléans and the Porte de Sèvres.

The full circuit of the Boulevard Périphérique measures a total of 35.04 kilometres, as measured along the central reservation. The route closely follows the municipal boundaries of Paris. It diverges in three places; in the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes (where the roadway is entrenched and covered), and the Heliport of Paris. Because the Boulevard was built over the old Thiers Wall, its entrance/exit ramps and interchanges coincide with the city gates, or portes in that wall. The road crosses the River Seine via bridges upstream at Charenton/Bercy and downstream at Saint-Cloud/Issy.

Small distance markers are distributed evenly alongside the roadway:

  • The 00.0 kilometre point is over the River Seine, upstream of the Porte de Bercy, at the bridge's expansion joints.
  • Distance from this point increases in the clockwise direction.
  • The distance marks on the sign are underlined in red on the inner ring road, and in blue on the outer ring.

The roadway varies in elevation:

  • 50% is elevated above its surroundings, i.e. above grade.
  • 40% is constructed in trench sections, i.e. below grade.
  • 10% is at ground level, i.e. at grade.

The Boulevard Périphérique can carry the heaviest vehicles allowed by French regulations. There is a height restriction of 4.75 metres (15 feet, 8 inches).

Speed control[edit]

The Boulevard Périphérique is equipped with speed cameras to enforce the 70 km/h (45 mph) speed limit. The cameras are oriented to photograph the vehicle from behind, and are reportedly installed:[2]

On the inner ring at:

  • Porte de Sèvres
  • Porte de Champerret
  • crossing the Quai d'Ivry, at the end of the bridge
  • Porte de Bagnolet

On the outer ring at:

  • Porte de Châtillon
  • Porte de Clichy
  • Porte de Pantin
  • Porte d'Auteuil

In addition, the Boulevard Périphérique's exit ramps are often monitored with hand-held binocular-type radar devices; these are triggered when the 50 km/h (31 mph) exiting limit is exceeded.

Finally, during the rush hours, radar-equipped police vehicles are stationed in hidden areas for spot checks.

Network monitoring and traffic management[edit]

About a hundred traffic cameras are installed on the boulevard and are directly connected to the control room of the Périphérique traffic management office. 166 emergency telephones are found every 500 metres along the boulevard (every 250 metres underground) which relay 7,000 calls per year. The emergency phones are all numbered, with odd numbered phones on the outer ring and even numbered phones on the inner ring road.

Eight police vehicles during the day and four at night patrol the boulevard constantly.

750 sensors embedded in the road surface record each passing vehicle. These sensors can measure the flow rate, the occupancy rate and velocity of traffic on a given portion.

Variable-message signs on the boulevard provide information on journey times, which are automatically generated every minute by a computer system using data collected by the sensors. This system provides information on the average journey time to the next major exit. These signs are also used to display general messages such as accidents, road closures, road works etc.

Other ring roads[edit]

The Boulevard Périphérique is not the only means of bypassing the interior of the French capital:

  • Within the city boundaries, the Boulevards des Marechaux (Boulevards of the Marshals) encircle Paris approximately 100 m inside the Périphérique. This is a collection of urban streets with standard crossings with other streets or tunnels under some major routes of entry. The speed limit is 50 km/h.
  • Beyond the city boundaries, the A86 (also known as the super-périphérique) encircles Paris at a distance of 2–7 km from the Périphérique.
  • Approximately 20 km from the Périphérique, another ring road called the Francilienne is nearing completion.
  • A further project, the Grand contournement de Paris, is partially constructed.


Boulevard périphérique de Paris.png

List of junctions[edit]

Junction number Junction name Outer lanes exits Inner lanes exits
1 Porte de Bercy A4 Quai de Bercy
2 Porte d'Ivry None Avenue d'Ivry
3 Porte d'Italie A6B Avenue d'Italie
4 Porte de Gentilly A6A Rue de l'Amiral Mouchez
5 Porte d'Orléans Avenue Aristide Briand Avenue du Maine
6 Porte de Châtillon Avenue Pierre Brossollette Avenue Jean Moulin
7 Porte de Vanves Rue Ernest Renan Boulevard Brune
8 Porte Brancion Rue Jean Bleuzen Avenue de la Porte-Brancion
9 Porte de la Plaine Rue Camliant Place des Insurges de Varsovie
10 Porte de Sèvres None Rue Balard
11 Porte de Saint-Cloud Route de la Reine Avenue de Versailles
12 Porte Molitor Boulevard d'Auteuil Rue Poussin
13 Porte d'Auteuil A13 Rue Poussin
14 Porte de Passy Rue de l'Hippodrome Rue de Ranelagh
15 Porte de la Muette None Avenue H. Martin
16 Porte Dauphine Route de Suresnes Avenue Foch
17 Porte Maillot Avenue Charles De Gaulle Avenue de la Grande Armée
18 Porte de Champerret Boulevard Bineau Avenue de Villiers
19 Porte d'Asnières Rue Victor Hugo Rue de Tocqueville
20 Porte de Clichy Boulevard Jean Jaurès Avenue de Clichy
21 Porte de Saint-Ouen Avenue Gabriel Péri Avenue de Saint-Ouen
22 Porte de Clignancourt Avenue Michelet Boulevard Ornano
23 Porte de la Chapelle A1 Rue de la Chapelle
24 Porte d'Aubervilliers Avenue Victor Hugo Rue d'Aubervilliers
25 Porte de la Villette Avenue Jean Jaurès Avenue de Flandre
26 Porte de Pantin Avenue Jean Lolive Avenue Jean Jaurès
27 Porte du Pré-Saint-Gervais Rue Gabriel Péri Rue Haxo
28 Porte des Lilas Rue de Paris Rue de Belleville
29 Porte de Bagnolet A3 Rue Belgrand
30 Porte de Montreuil Rue de Paris Rue d'Avron
31 Porte de Vincennes Avenue de Paris Cours de Vincennes
32 Porte de Saint-Mandé Avenue Victor Hugo Avenue de Saint-Mandé
33 Porte Dorée Route de ceinture du Lac-Daumesnil Avenue Daumesnil
34 Porte de Charenton Avenue de Gravelle Rue de Charenton


  • Traffic in 2010:
    • Around 240.000 vehicles per day, i.e. 2% of all journeys in Paris,[3] and significantly less than the number of journeys made by bike[4]
    • 89% light vehicles, 7% trucks, 4% motorbikes
  • Total length: 35.04 km (21.77 mi)
  • Average trip length: 7 km (4.3 mi)
  • Speed limit: 70 km/h (43 mph)
  • Average speed on working days (7 h-21 h): 43 km/h (27 mph)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deville, A. (Adrien); Hochereau, (Émile) (1886). "Rue Militaire (28 juillet 1859)". In Alphand, Monsieur (Jean-Charles Adolphe) (ed.). Ville de Paris : Recueil des Lettres Patentes, Ordonnances Royales, Décrets et Arrêtés Préfectoraux Concernant les Voies Publiques [City of Paris. Collection of letters patents, royal ordinances, decrees and prefectores relating to public roads.] (in French). Paris: Imprimerie Nouvelle (Association Ouvrière). pp. 314–315. Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Carte des radars fixes". Archived from the original on 23 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  3. ^ Demade 2015, p. 114.
  4. ^ Demade 2015, p. 81.