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Belgian motorists beat fuel inflation with cross-border trips to France

discounts on gas in france
Police direct traffic as Belgian drivers line-up to a French petrol station for cheaper fuel, after the French government introduced discounts on gas on September 1st, in Halluin, France

French government support for gasoline prices has led to long queues of cars from Belgium queuing at gas stations just over the border with France where gas can be more than 30 cents per litre cheaper.

Queues lengthened considerably from September 1, when French oil major Total Energies started an additional rebate of 20 cents per litre at 3,500 of its French gas stations. That rebate was on top of a 30 euro cents per litre government-funded rebate in all French gas stations which has been in place for several months.

Christophe Bourgois, 29, a builder, said it was worth his while to drive to the French border town of Halluin from his Belgian home town of Comines.

“Gas prices here are 30 cents cheaper. It’s a good deal. On a full tank, you can feel the difference,” he said as he waited his turn in a line of cars.

Belgian assembly line worker Luc Cokelaere, 61, agreed.

“I live in Ledegem, about 7 kms from the border so why wouldn’t I come here if I can save 10 euros on fuel with such a small detour?” he said.

As he and other drivers lined up, French police had to direct the traffic to prevent jams.

Gas station operator Marc Braems, who opened his station some 30 years ago, said that in one day he had seen double the number of customers and sold more than triple the volume of gas as a result of discounts offered by the government and Total Energies.

“The problem we may encounter is to get fuel delivered on time. We have large reservoirs, but given the flow we are experiencing now, it goes down faster than we can fill it,” he said.

Total Energies said on Thursday that the 20 cents discount would run until October 31 and would then fall to 10 cents per litre from November 1 to December 31

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