top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

France to Spain 'sea motorway'

New link from Nantes to Gijon in Spain aims to get heavy vehicles off the road network

A “MOTORWAY of the sea” project – the first of its kind involving France – is to start operating next month between Nantes, Pays de la Loire, and Gijon in Spain.

The idea of FRES MOS (France-Espagne Motorways of the Sea) is to cut down on freight trucks passing through the western Pyrenees by putting them onto ferries instead.

The scheme is to receive around e4 million in EU funding as well as state funding from both countries. It will be run by GLD Atlantique, a joint venture by French ship-owners Louis Dreyfus Armateurs (owner of channel ferry firm LD Lines) and the Spanish-Italian company Grimaldi.

They will be using roll-on roll-off passenger ferries, at first once a week and then increasing in frequency. Louis Dreyfus Armateurs secretary-general Antoine Person said they had hoped to begin in March but the project had first to be ratified by parliment.

The use of Gijon will enable exporters of Galician slate to send their produce directly to north-west France, where it is in demand for roofing.

A report last year for the Transport Ministry said freight-only shipping would be preferable, but “in the Gulf of Gascony a mixed passenger freight structure was the only way to get a project off the ground.” Mr Person said: “Most of our Spanish clients are small companies and they want their own drivers to accompany the vehicles and unload on arrival.” The 500-passenger vessels will have room for 150 freight vehicles.

This first plan to be approved should reduce road traffic passing through the western Pyrenees by 40,000 trucks in the first year, a figure which should double within five years.

The initial figure represents just 3-5% of current traffic through the Biriatou bottleneck from Spain into France.

However, the Nantes Saint-Nazaire harbour authorities estimate a tenth of the three million heavy goods vehicles that use the route annually could be transported by sea in the long run.

Other plans include a sea motorway between Vigo and Le Havre by the end of the year.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France