Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Autoroute is a French word meaning, literally, a motor road, and corresponding to the words "motorway", "freeway" or "superhighway" in English. It is the name used in the francophone world for highways constructed exclusively for motor traffic.

Table of contents
1 France
2 Quebec
3 History of Quebec's Autoroutes
4 List of Autoroutes


The Autoroute system in France consists largely of toll roads. It is a network of 7,000 km worth of highways. Tolls are either based on a flat-rate or on the distance driven. France has the highest set speed for limited access highways (130 km/h) in Western Europe or North America.

Unlike the Quebecois Autoroute or the Interstate Highway System, there is no real numbering system, but there is a clustering of Autoroute numbers based on region. A-1, A-3, A-4, A-5, A-6, A-10, A-13, A-14, A-15, A-16 radiate from Paris with A-2 and A-11 branching from A-1 and A-10, respectively. The 20s are found in Northern France. The 30s are found in Eastern France. The 40s are found near the Alps. The 50s are near the French Riviera. The 60s are found in Southern France. The 70s are found in the centre of the country. The 80s are found west of Paris.


The Autoroute system in the province of Quebec, Canada, is a network of freeways which operate under the same principle of controlled-access as the Interstate freeway system in the United States or the 400-Series Highways in neighbouring Ontario. The Autoroutes are the backbone of Quebec's highway system, which spans more than 20,000 km of roads. The speed limit on Quebec's Autoroutes is 100 km/h in rural areas and 70 km/h in urban areas.

Autoroutes are identified by blue and red shields, with the red header image representing a highway overpass. Quebec's Autoroutes are numbered from 1-99 in the case of principal routes, and from 400-999 in the case of collector routes or deviation routes designed such that truck traffic can by-pass urban areas. In the case of deviation routes, the hundreds prefix is even-numbered (e.g., 400, 600), whereas collector routes have odd-numbered prefixes (e.g., 500, 700, 900). For example, A-40 is an Autoroute, the A-640 is a deviation route, and the A-740 is a collector route linking the A-40 to other Autoroutes.

Odd-numbered Autoroutes (e.g., A-15) run north-south, while the even-numbered ones (e.g., A-20, A-40) run east-west. In addition, each Autoroute has a unique name in addition to its numerical designation and it is commonplace for Autoroutes to be identified using either method (e.g., the Décarie, the 15).

A-15 Northbound, near Brossard

History of Quebec's Autoroutes

Quebec's first Autoroute was the Laurentian Autoroute (Autoroute des Laurentides), which opened in 1959 as a toll road. This initative to bring freeways into Quebec was started by Maurice Duplessis, whose government saw the construction of the Laurentian Autoroute (A-15) from Montréal to Saint-Jérôme and the first section of the Boulevard Métropolitain (A-40), which opened in 1960.

It was the Quebec Liberal government of the 1960s that saw the construction of further Autoroutes, especially in light of the fact that many visitors would be flocking to Montréal by car for Expo 67. The Décarie (A-15) and the Lafontaine Tunnel were constructed for that very reason. The Eastern Townships Autoroute (Autoroute des Cantons-de-l'Est) opened in 1964, while the A-55 between Magog and Rock Island opened in 1967. A-40 was extended out to Berthierville, and later to Trois-Rivières in the 1970s.

The 1970s also saw the completion of the Pierre-Laporte Bridge in Québec City, connecting the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River to the north. In addition to this, the A-73 was extended to Beauce, the A-20 was extended to Rivière-du-Loup, and the Chomedey Autoroute (A-13) and the A-440 were constructed in Laval. During the 1970s, the Parti Québécois came to power, whose platform mandated an expansion of public transportation over the construction of more Autoroutes. Existing Autoroutes were extended (e.g., the A-40 was extended from Trois-Rivières to Quebec City) but no new Autoroutes were built.

Examples of Autoroute marker shields.

Nearly all of Quebec's Autoroutes were toll roads until the mid-1980s, when the toll barriers were removed and the province stopped collecting tolls from vehicles using the Autoroutes.

List of Autoroutes

Autoroute 5

Autoroute 10

Autoroute 13

Autoroute 15

Autoroute 19

Autoroute 20

Autoroute 25

Autoroute 30

Autoroute 31

Autoroute 35

Autoroute 40

Autoroute 50

Autoroute 55

Autoroute 70

Autoroute 73

Autoroute 410

Autoroute 440

Autoroute 520

Autoroute 540

Autoroute 573

Autoroute 640

Autoroute 720

Autoroute 740

Autoroute 955