Ferries, planes, trains: 10 updates for travel to and within France

New flight routes, Spain plans a London-Paris rail link, a boost for Dover-Calais ferry services and more

5 November 2021

Irish Ferries has doubled its Dover-Calais services and EasyJet has launched a new Nantes-Faro route Pic: Markus Mainka / Simone Previdi / Philip Lange / 4H4 Photography / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

We take a look at some of the travel news from France this week. 

Spain plans high-speed London-Paris rail link

Spain’s national railway company Renfe has announced that it plans to launch its own London to Paris high-speed train.

Renfe said in a statement that it believes that the route – which served around 7 million Eurostar passengers in 2019 – could be "profitable."

"At the moment, there are available slots and capacity to operate on the high-speed line.

“This high-speed corridor has high traffic and was growing until Covid-19 – a trend that is set to recover next year. According to demand analysis, it would be viable and profitable for Renfe to compete with Eurostar.

"In a second phase, the service could be extended to new French and international destinations," the company added. 

This could potentially include trains linking Spain to the UK, although this has not been confirmed. 

Renfe has not detailed the expected timeframe of the development of its London-Paris route, and has states that it is making "initial contacts" with Getlink – the company which operates the Channel tunnel and HS1, which owns the line between the tunnel and London. 

The London-Paris route would make Renfe a direct competitor of Eurostar, which has been hard-hit by the Covid pandemic.

Read more: Eurostar secures £250m refinancing deal to stave off bankruptcy

France has also recently entered the Spanish railway network, debuting its Madrid-Barcelona Ouigo line this year. 

Irish Ferries to double frequency on Dover-Calais route 

Irish Ferries has announced the introduction of a second ship – the Isle of Innisfree – to its Dover-Calais route, which will double the number of crossings on offer. 

The ship will enter service at the beginning of December and will be able to carry up to 1,140 passengers and 600 cars. 

Andrew Sheen, Irish Ferries Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be able to add a second ship to our Dover-Calais route, with the ship doubling our frequency with a departure every two and a half hours rather than the current five hours between sailings. 

“The ship underlines our commitment to this route and facilitates trade for both exporters and importers as well as ensuring capacity for essential passenger movements and greater choice for tourism”.

Read more: Cross-Channel ferries prepare for 2022 bounce-back year

SNCF opens ticket sales for February and March holidays

People in France planning holidays for early 2022 can now book train tickets for trips up to March 27.

This applies to TGV and Intercités trains, while Ouigo services can already be booked up to July 2, 2022.

When SNCF released its Christmas period tickets in October, more than one million were sold in a single day, 15% more than in 2019.

Paper TGV tickets are being phased out 

It is no longer possible to print a full-sized card TGV or Intercités ticket at automatic ticket machines in French stations. 

Passengers can now print off a small facturette’, similar to a till receipt, including key details of their journey and a QR code for scanning. 

They can also carry their ticket on their smartphone, as has become customary for many people over the last few years. 

TER and Transilien tickets can still be printed out as before.

Read more: Ile-de-France starts phasing out paper Paris Métro tickets

“From an ecological perspective, it’s certainly better to have another format than a ticket printed on card,” an SNCF spokesman told Le Figaro.

According to SNCF, less than 5% of TGV tickets are bought at machines in stations as travellers move over to buying online. 

Why plane ticket prices are about to go up

The rising price of fuel “will necessarily have an effect on consumers and this will have an impact on prices,” the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said.

“Airlines have suffered enormous losses over recent months and it is therefore impossible for them to absorb the rise [in fuel prices].” 

This will not, however, negatively affect the post-Covid recovery of the air travel industry, according to IATA. 

EasyJet launches a Nantes-Faro route 

Low-cost airline EasyJet has launched a new Nantes-Atlantique to Faro, Portugal route to join the airport’s Lisbon and Porto routes. 

Flights normally run on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and single tickets start at €25 each.

“People from Nantes seeking to get away to the sun can now enjoy the south of Portugal in low season, by jetting off to Faro,” EasyJet said.

The airline has also resumed flights between Nice and Tenerife, which run on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Flights resume between Clermont-Ferrand and Paris 

Regourd Aviation subsidiary Amelia is restarting its flights between Clermont-Ferrand (Puy-de-Dôme) and Paris-Orly. 

From this week, passengers have been able to choose from two daily flights on weekdays and one on Sundays. 

The route had been inaugurated in September 2020 before being suspended due to Covid restrictions. 

Vueling debuts new Paris-La Coruña route 

In mid-December Vueling will begin flying from Paris-Orly to the Galician city of La Coruña. 

The service will only run on: 

  • December 18, 23, 27 and 30 
  • January 3 and 5, 2022
  • February 19, 22 and 26, 2022
  • March 1, 5 and 8, 2022 

This Paris-La Coruña route was abandoned in 2011, when it ran from Charles de Gaulle. 

French demand for holidays in Thailand surges following border reopening

Travellers from France have been the biggest bookers of local transport tickets in Thailand after it reopened its borders to visitors from 60 ‘low risk’ countries.

Since the reopening from November 1 was announced on October 11, reservations made by people in France for bus, train and ferry tickets in Thailand have surged, reports internet travel platform bookaway.com This suggests strong demand for holidays in the country from France.

The ‘reopening’ means vaccinated people can now visit for holidays without having to quarantine for two weeks.

Oman resumes flights to Paris 

Oman Air has resumed flights between Oman’s capital Muscat and Paris after a pause due to Covid. 

Passengers can choose from three weekly flights on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. 

Air France has also recently launched its own Paris-Muscat route, which runs on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Oman is open to fully vaccinated tourists from around the world, as long as they take a PCR test in the 72 hours before their journey begins, take out Covid travel insurance and download the contact tracing HMushrif app on their phones.

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Ferries, planes, trains: 8 updates for travel to and from France

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