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French holiday costs: How have they been affected by inflation?

From travel to accommodation, leisure and eating out, prices are rising – causing some to take shorter holidays or stay closer to home

Two young kids looking happy in the back of a car preparing to go on holiday

People in France are still planning to go on holiday but are likely to choose shorter times and destinations closer to home to save costs Pic: MNStudio / Shutterstock

The rising cost of goods and fuel in France has had a knock-on effect on the cost of travel and holidays, with inflation hitting the prices of petrol, flights, and even trains.

The majority of people in France (60%) plan to go on holiday this summer, a Consumer Science & Analysis study for Cofidis has found, around the same percentage as in 2019.

However, with inflation up more than 5% in a year, holidaymakers are tightening their belts, with 64% saying they were planning on decreasing their budget. On average, holidaymakers plan to spend €1,641, which is €124 less than they said in 2019.

Read more: Inflation in France expected to reach 6.8% by end of 2022 

Transport 

Transport costs have been most affected.

Despite the 18-centimes-per-litre discount still in force, the price of diesel is up 35.2% and petrol is up 24.2%. 

Read more: Who will qualify for France’s new fuel aid for low-income drivers?

Train tickets are 12.1% more expensive, domestic flights 11.9%, and international flights 22.2%, according to figures from statistics bureau INSEE.

Sandra Hoibian, director of lifestyle research body the Centre de recherche pour l'étude et l'observation des conditions de vie (Crédoc) said: “The biggest holiday spend by people in France is on transport.

"We can assume that there will be more trips closer to home and that people will limit the number of places they go on holiday, in order to reduce their travel."

Train operator SNCF denies that its ticket prices have increased, although it uses a different form of calculation than INSEE. It also admitted that its costs could increase into 2023.

The rising cost of kerosene has also seen airlines being forced to pass on some rising costs to consumers.

It comes as motorway company Vinci Autoroutes announced that from July 14 to September 15, it would reduce prices by 10% at péage tolls this summer for people who top up their Ulys e-toll badges with holiday cheques (chèques vacances).

This measure was designed to help drivers manage increased costs while going away.

In France, 4.5 million people are given holiday cheques. These people can spend up to €250 on motorway tolls, for a reduction of €25 maximum.

Accommodation

The cost of hotels, motels, and inns is up 17.4%, INSEE has said, while organised group trips, tours, and cruises are also up 23.8%. In contrast, the cost of holiday villages, rural gites and campsites is down 1%.

Prices have soared especially in comparison to last year, due to 2021 seeing record lows.

Laurent Duc, president of the hotel industry branch of the Union des métiers et des industries de l'hôtellerie (Umih), said: “In May 2021, we were coming out of a crisis where there were no customers, and our prices were at rock bottom.”

The rising cost of accommodation can also be explained by increased energy prices.

Read more: France is at risk of energy shortages and rationing, says minister

The majority of people in France who have booked holiday accommodation have turned to rented houses or flats, gîtes, chambres d'hôtes or campsites, INSEE data shows, despite the price of holiday rentals increasing by 7.2% over the year. 

However, the prices of campsites have “not really increased”, Nicolas Dayot, president of the National Federation of Outdoor Hotels, told FranceInfo. 

He said that the industry is expecting to have one of the best summer seasons in the "history of camping". He explained: "Compared to June 2021, we are seeing 21% more reservations in 2022. We should be heading for a record summer."

People are also more likely to stay with friends, or in a second holiday home, rather than to choose hotels or similar.

Ms Hoibian, from Crédoc, said: “This isn't a new phenomenon, but it has got stronger due to the health crisis.”

Leisure and excursions

Inflation appears to have had less of an effect on the cost of leisure outings, such as museums, gardens, and zoos. Figures show the cost has risen by 1.8% on average between May 2021 and May 2022.

The cost of concerts, theatre, and cinemas has even dropped by 0.8%, remaining relatively stable.

The cost of eating at restaurants or cafes has risen by 4.3% in the same period. This is widely because of the rising cost of raw materials and produce, including meat, grain, and vegetables, partly due to the war in Ukraine.

Hubert Jan, president of the food department at Umih, said: “Increasing prices is the only way to soak up these increases in price. Restaurateurs must be able to explain to clients why the menu has increased [in price].”

As a result, many holidaymakers are planning to eat out less during their break. The CSA poll found that 56% were looking to reduce their restaurant spend, while 42% wanted to reduce leisure costs.

Ms Hoibian said: “Holidaymakers will of course want to find ways to have a good time without spending too much. But it’s probable that they will firstly take fewer days or stay closer to home, so that they can stay relaxed and not feel too frustrated when they are actually on holiday.”

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