We look at eight updates affecting travel to, from and around France.
1. 29 countries move to France’s green list
France updated its travel rules list once again yesterday (March 3), moving 29 countries to green: the category with the lowest number of travel restrictions.
The countries are: Angola, Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Eswatini, India, Irak, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, St Kitts and Nevis, El Salvador, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Fully vaccinated people coming from a green-list country need only show their vaccination certificate to enter France. Unvaccinated people must show the result of a PCR test taken in the 72 hours before or an antigen test taken in the 48 hours before, or a certificate of recovery from Covid.
This is slightly different to the rules applied to orange-list countries, whose vaccinated travellers must present a sworn statement confirming that they are not experiencing Covid symptoms as well as their vaccination records.
Unvaccinated travellers must have an essential reason for travel, carry out a pre-departure test within the timeframes outlined above and complete their sworn statement.
You can see a full list of the countries on France’s green list for travel on the interior ministry website.
2. Expect heavy traffic as last weekend of February holidays
Traffic conditions are expected to be “difficult” across the principal roads of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Ile-de-France regions this Saturday (March 5), as families from Zone C (including Paris, Montpellier and Toulouse) return from February holidays.
On Saturday, drivers are advised to get out of Ile-de–France by 12:00 if leaving and return by 14:00 if coming back from elsewhere.
Government traffic information service Bison Futé also recommends that people avoid the A6 between Beaune and Lyon and the A43 between Chambéry and Lyon until early afternoon.
For those leaving Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, the N90 between Bourg-Saint-Maurice and Chambéry will be busy between 09:00 and 12:00.
Traffic conditions are expected to be back to normal on Sunday.
3. Brittany Ferries announces ‘fast-craft’ summer service
Brittany Ferries will be offering passengers a ‘fast-craft’ Portsmouth to Cherbourg and Cherbourg to Poole service this summer.
The journey will take three hours on board the Liberation ferry, with sailings taking place on weekends during May half-term and the summer holidays.
Passengers will depart from Portsmouth at 07:00 UK time to arrive in Cherbourg at 11:00 French time. Return journeys will leave Cherbourg at 11:45 to arrive back in Poole at 13:15.
The high-speed service can be booked alongside normal cruise sailings.
Liberation can carry up to 195 cars and 850 passengers.
4. Nice Airport prepares for summer season with new routes
Nice Airport has announced a “hugely expanded” summer schedule, with more than 100 destinations on offer.
The airport’s Terminal 1 will also be reopening its doors for the first time since last summer as traffic picks up after the Covid crisis. In normal circumstances, the airlines which operate from Terminal 1 are British Airways, Iberia, El Al, Nouvelair, Royal Air Maroc, Turkish Airlines and Vueling.
Nice’s offering includes eight long-haul routes including Montréal, New York, Newark, Kuwait and Dubai.
Seven new services to Bahrain, Heraklion (Crete), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Reykjavik, Southampton, Tirana (Albania) and Valencia will also be launching this summer.
“Despite restrictions linked to the geopolitical situation, the strength of Nice Côte d’Azur summer programme marks a new step towards a return to normal, which is necessary and important for our territory if it wishes to recover its indispensable and sustainable economic and cultural activity.”
5. SNCF and Eurostar offer free tickets to Ukrainian refugees
Ukrainian refugees are entitled to free tickets for TGV Inoui, Ouigo, Intercités, Lyria, Alleo, Thalys, Elipsos, SVI and Eurostar trains.
“France’s regions have reaffirmed their commitment to Ukrainian refugees having fled the conflict by making TER journeys free,” Tweeted Jean-Aimé Mougenot, who manages SNCF’s regional services.
“[I am] proud to be part of this wave of solidarity!” he added.
Les Régions de France ont réaffirmé leur mobilisation auprès des réfugiés ukrainiens ayant fui les zones de combat en instaurant la gratuité des déplacements sur les lignes #TER.— Jean-Aimé Mougenot (@jamougenot) March 2, 2022
Fier de prendre part à cet élan de solidarité! #SolidariteUkraine @TER__SNCF @SNCFVoyageurs
“The conflict which has hit Ukraine is affecting us all. SNCF and its partners stand in solidarity with Ukrainian refugees,” SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou said.
Ukrainian people will be allowed to travel for free within France if they present their identity card to the travel operator, or a special ticket provided by the German Deutsche Bahn rail network.
Eurostar staff will be able to issue free tickets to those holding a visa to enter the UK or a Ukrainian passport.
6. Jet2 removes mask requirements on England and Northern Ireland flights
Jet2 has announced that masks will no longer be required on its flights to and from England and Northern Ireland, although passengers will still have to wear them in airports where required. This includes most UK and all French airports at present.
This follows the UK government’s decision to lift mask-wearing rules on public transport in England.
Any passengers over the age of six travelling with Jet2 to or from Scotland will still be required to wear a mask until March 21 at least. Jet2 does not currently fly to Wales.
Jet2 flies to Paris, Grenoble, Nice, Lyon and Chambéry from its UK airports.
7. Air France adapts Asia flights to avoid Russian airspace
As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, Air France has suspended its Paris-Moscow and Paris-St Petersburg flights, but also adapted its services to China, Japan and South Korea to avoid Russian and Ukrainian airspace.
The airline has put in place new flight plans to these Asian destinations, which mean “lengthening the flight time” for passengers and sometimes involve “scheduling changes.”
For example, on Monday, a flight from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Beijing flew over Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Flights to Seoul were taking around half an hour longer than usual and Tokyo arrival times were delayed by about 50 minutes.
Flights to Shanghai and Tianjin remain suspended. Affected passengers have been informed.
8. Rise in oil prices affects airline recovery from Covid
The surge in the price of a barrel of oil, which is affecting motorists around Europe and has only worsened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is also affecting airlines.
Ryanair, for example, has estimated that the increased price of fuel will cost it €50million over the next year, an outlay which would have been much larger if the airline had not already negotiated 80% of its fuel supply up to March 2023 at a cost of $65 per barrel.
By yesterday (March 3), the price of a barrel had risen to $117.
Although Ryanair mainly offers short-haul European flights, other airlines including Air France, which are already faced with soaring fuel prices, are also having to fly longer routes to avoid Russian airspace.
The ongoing operations costs crisis is accelerating airlines’ search for alternatives to fossil fuels. Airbus and Safran, for example, are working on a hydrogen-powered plane.