We look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week.
1. Very heavy traffic predicted for Easter getaways
If you are planning to go on a trip within France this Easter weekend, it is advisable to plan your journey carefully as traffic is expected to be very heavy, especially today (Good Friday, April 15) and tomorrow.
National traffic monitoring service Bison Futé predicts that conditions will be “very difficult” today across the whole country with regards to departures. Tomorrow, they will be “difficult” everywhere apart from northern and northwestern areas, where they will remain “very difficult.”
Return journeys are not expected to be affected.
Traffic should return to normal on Sunday, before becoming “difficult” for return journeys on Monday.
Today is not a bank holiday in France but Monday is.
For more and details on specific motorways see here: Drivers warned of very heavy traffic ahead of Easter in France
2. P&O Ferries will not resume Dover-Calais services this Easter weekend
P&O Ferries has announced that its Dover to Calais route will remain suspended this weekend, Friday to Monday inclusive.
The firm apologised “unreservedly” to customers and offered a 25% discount on their original fare as well as transferring the booking if they needed to reserve again with another operator.
"It is only fair and right that we make alternative arrangements for those customers, which include transferring them onto our Hull-Europort service to Rotterdam, or booking them onto services with Brittany Ferries between Portsmouth and Caen," the company said.
"Both of these options are at no extra cost to customers - if anyone chooses either of these alternatives we will reimburse them for any additional mileage expenses incurred and as well as all meals onboard our overnight crossing.
"We also recognise that these options will not be suitable for everyone, therefore any customer who booked directly with P&O Ferries will be able to claim a full refund and a free trip for future travel."
This comes as two P&O ferries on the Dover-Calais route were detained this week after failing safety inspections.
3. Flybe returns to the skies with new French routes
British airline Flybe has relaunched operations after its collapse in March 2020.
Hello. Welcome to flybe.— Flybe ✈ (@flybe) March 22, 2022
We've been busy preparing for take-off and we're excited to say our website is now live.
Ready to book your next trip?
Let's flybe. pic.twitter.com/3aTELuR4Lg
The first flight of the resurrected airline took place on Wednesday (April 13), departing from Birmingham for Belfast.
Flybe is offering 23 new routes, including services from the UK to Avignon, Brest and Toulon.
Flights to Avignon and Brest will begin from Birmingham on July 9, and on July 23 the former will also be linked up to Southampton.
Southampton will also be the base for Toulon services.
Flybe CEO Dave Pflieger said: “We think that our flights will benefit all those who want low fares and more flights to be able to go on holiday and visit their loved ones.”
4. Lyon Airport opens new routes for summer season
Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport is launching nine new routes for summer 2022.
Passengers will be able to fly to:
- Bari (Italy)
- Santorini (Greece)
- Réunion Island
- Kos (Greece)
- Kayseri (Turkey)
- Dakar (Senegal)
- Larnaca (Cyprus)
- Belgrade (Serbia)
- Krakow (Poland)
The new routes will open gradually, with Larnaca launching at the end of the month and other destinations becoming available later in the summer.
Passengers are already able to travel to around 100 destinations from Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport, which is progressively building up traffic after the disruption of Covid.
5. Trenitalia welcomes 150,000 Paris-Lyon passengers in first three months
Trenitalia, the first foreign operator to compete with SNCF on TGV lines, has announced that it welcomed 150,000 passengers on its Paris-Lyon route in the first three months of the service.
The company initially offered two daily return trips between the French capital and third city, but has this week added a third.
From June 1 there will be two additional trips available each day linking Paris to Lyon. As this expanded offering is launched, Trenitalia’s two initial services will be extended to Milan via Chambéry, Modane and Turin.
Paris-Lyon Trenitalia trains have been 87% full on average, with tickets starting at €23. This is in comparison to €16 for an SNCF Ouigo or €25 for a TGV Inoui.
6. Brittany Ferries ship Barfleur back in service - all ships now sailing after Covid turmoil
Brittany Ferries’ Barfleur ship has returned to Poole after a two-year hiatus, to resume its Cherbourg crossings.
A company spokesperson told the Bournemouth Echo: “We’re delighted to welcome Barfleur back to the Poole-Cherbourg route.
“After two long years, her first arrival back into Poole Harbour this morning was a welcome sight for colleagues, crewmembers and customers alike.
“Her return means that all our routes are now operational and all our ships are back in service at last.
“It’s been a tough time for everyone, but it’s great to see Barfleur going back to work, and back where she belongs here in Poole and serving Dorset.
“Forward bookings are looking encouraging both for spring and summer, although they’re still around 20% down on pre-Covid levels.”
7. Airlines push for France to remove mask-wearing rules on planes
More and more airlines are easing rules requiring passengers to wear a face mask on board flights, although French operators are maintaining the obligation.
Masks are no longer mandatory for customers of:
- British Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
- TUI Airways
However, passengers may be required to wear one if the rules of their destination or departure country demand it.
This is currently the case in France, and Air France maintains the requirement on all flights.
Airlines are calling for this rule to be scrapped for destinations where masks are not normally required on public transport.
For example, KLM and Transavia have argued that masks should not be compulsory on planes to the Netherlands when they are not needed on transport once arrived in the country.
Companies have stressed that planes are equipped with HEPA filters, which eliminate up to 99.97% of particles in the air every three minutes.
EasyJet has also demanded that “European governments coordinate on the easing of this obligation as much as possible, in order to make customers’ lives easier.”
8. SNCF Connect to launch bright mode after complaints
Since SNCF Connect launched in January, the train ticket itinerary and booking app has received numerous complaints relating to bugs and other user difficulties.
One criticism was regarding the black and grey app display, which people described as “unreadable” and “too dark.”
A disabled user tweeted: “One of the problems with SNCF Connect’s (obligatory) dark ‘mode’ is that you cannot change to a bright mode.
“So you cannot see white on the dark background: you struggle.”
Un des problèmes du "mode" (obligatoire) sombre de @SNCFConnect c'est qu'on ne peut pas mettre de mode claire avec les setting d'accessibilité "inversion intelligente" de son iPhone. Donc quand tu vois mal le blanc sur fond noir, tu galeres. #accessibilité #handicap pic.twitter.com/bjollQ5ttz— Milena (@MilenaEtEugene) February 14, 2022
It has therefore been announced that the app will from the beginning of May come with a bright mode option.
SNCF has carried out “more than 150 correctional operations” since the app launched.