Audun-le-Tiche, Villerupt, Ottange, Rédange… Numerous vans registered in Luxembourg use these border towns as free car parks. One mayor has had enough and is about to introduce more drastic measures to fight the problem.

Every evening, a steady stream of commercial vehicles, construction vans, and lorries crosses the border. These heavy vehicles are registered in Luxembourg, but they spend the night in France, parked in the narrow streets of residential areas, on the outskirts of new housing estates, or anywhere they can find a spot.

The drivers are cross-border workers, who are understandably happy to be able to park close to home… especially since they are encouraged by their employers, who are also relieved to avoid the costly parking fees for these vehicles in Luxembourg.

As a result, "France is becoming the car park for Luxembourg companies," as some mayors warned in 2021. And the problem is only getting worse, the elected representatives of four border towns told our colleagues from RTL 5 Minutes. In Audun-le-Tiche, the local authorities have had enough and are planning to introduce a bold measure.

"The priority is to get the vans out of residential areas"

In Audun-le-Tiche, "there are twice as many vehicles as there should be. Parking has become the number one problem," Mayor Viviane Fattorelli explains.

At the heart of the problem are vans and lorries with the "yellow plates" from Luxembourg that are left all throughout town. But the municipality has had enough and wants to introduce residential parking permits.

The idea is simple: residents of the municipality will receive a card that allows them to park a single vehicle (the one whose registration appears on the card) in their residential area, for up to seven days in a row. But not just any vehicle: only light vehicles and certain small commercial vehicles.


In short, larger vehicles will be excluded from the scheme and will have to use parking spaces in "non-blue zones." Drivers are free to leave their private vehicles in these car parks and return to home.

If the household has a second vehicle, it will have to pay €90/year to obtain a second card. "These €90 will not bring in much; the aim is to make it coercive, especially to encourage people who have garages to use them, because we have an unfathomable number of garages that are used to store something other than cars," the mayor says.

However, it will not be possible to obtain a third card. Those who own a third vehicle will therefore have to leave it in their garage, if they have one, or in one of the authorised car parks.

The first permits will be issued on 1 April 2023 and offences will be recorded from 1 July 2023.

While the measure has been welcomed by some members of the public, it has also sparked criticism. Fattorelli acknowledges that it is "a contentious issue; we've been heavily criticised since we launched our project." But at the same time, "you can't imagine the number of complaints, the number of times the police have to intervene because a van is parked in front of a garage."

"We know full well that if we do nothing, it will get worse and worse," the mayor says. Some households have "two cars, plus a van, plus a company car, plus the children's car, all parked in the narrow streets of the neighbourhoods." For the municipality, the priority is to get the vans out of these residential areas and into designated car parks. In particular, there is a project to create a large car park for 350 vehicles at the Audun station (the trains will soon be replaced by a high service level bus and a cycle track). And there will always be car parks where drivers can park without a permit.

It remains to be seen whether the measure will have the desired effect. The owners of these vans have a major advantage: they are not afraid of being fined. "We know full well that if we fine these vans, it will never make it across the border," the mayor sighs. Indeed, few offences in Europe can be prosecuted across borders. And for the time being, parking violations like these are not among them. In short, the fines never make it to Luxembourg.

But beware, "in addition to fines, we are going to invest in wheel clamps to immobilise the vehicles," which will certainly be a more effective deterrent.

In any case, the mayor is determined: "Now that we've started this, we're going to go all the way," she says to those who criticise, chastising them for "weeping before we've even started fighting… We're going for it, and we'll review our strategy in a year."