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New Easyjet routes, Qantas to Australia: 8 French travel updates

We also look at Air France flights to the US, holiday traffic and the upgrades to Dieppe ferry terminal

Qantas flies to Paris, the Iseran mountain pass to close, Colmar Christmas markets on the TGV and the busy A10 motorway near Paris Pic: Markus Mainka / ELEPHOTOS / olrat / Aurelien KEMPF - PIKSL / Shutterstock

This week’s travel articles included disruption to trains, planes and ferries caused by Storm Ciarán, bomb threats at French airports and the uncertain finances of many regional airports.

Air travel updates:

Qantas is to reopen its direct flights from Paris to Perth from next summer.

The 17 hour long flights from Perth to Paris Charles de Gaulle will start on July 12, with four flights a week from July, and three from August.

This will be the first time in 20 years that Qantas has operated direct flights to France.

Qantas CEO Vanessa Hudson said she was pleased that the route would be open in time for the Olympic Games, which start on July 24.

“This route has been on our wish list for a while and we think customers will be as pleased as we are to see it go on sale,” Ms Hudson said.

“Our direct flights to London and Rome have been hugely popular and Paris is the next most-requested destination, so we know the demand for this service will be strong as well.

“Some of the first customers on these flights will be Australian athletes heading to Paris to compete at the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Tickets are available on Qantas’ website from around €1,200 or $2000.

Easyjet has opened eight new routes from three French airports this week.

The new routes, include five from Paris Charles de Gaulle, two from Nantes and one from Lyon:

From Paris:

  • Birmingham: daily flights
  • Agadir (Morocco): flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays
  • Rabat (Morocco): flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays
  • London Southend: flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays
  • Pisa: flights on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays 

From Nantes:

  • Lanzarote: flights on Mondays and Fridays:
  • Rabat: flights on Wednesdays and Saturdays

From Lyon-Saint Exupéry:

  • Rabat: flights on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays

The flights can be booked on Easyjet’s website.

Strasbourg-Entzheim airport will have 29 destinations this winter under a drive to attract low cost airlines.

The airport will offer flights to 23 destinations in France as well as the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy and Portugal.

Flights between London Gatwick and Strasbourg with low cost airline Volotea will start on November 9.

Airport director Renaud Paubelle told France 3 that the drive to attract low-cost companies was working.

“In 2011, we had 0% low cost companies stopping in Strasbourg, today 75% of our traffic is low-cost."

The airport, which is celebrating its centenary this year, was closed for one month in March for renovation work on the runway.

Air France is expanding its links to the US and Canada in its 2023-24 winter programme.

The company will offer more flights with greater capacity on flights to Ottawa, Montréal, Dallas, Boston and Vancouver. 

In total, Air France’s capacity on flights to North America this winter is set to be 20% higher than in 2019.

It also announced a new route to Raleigh-Durham airport in North Carolina, with three flights a week.

Air France will also operate 60% more flights to Asia this winter compared to 2022-23, with daily flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The company’s long haul international flights depart from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

Rail travel updates:

The Colmar to Paris TGV line will run at full capacity from December 11

Rail traffic in Colmar (Alsace) is currently heavily disrupted due to maintenance work that began in August.

However the SNCF says traffic will return to normal, with four TGVs a day connecting the town to the capital via Strasbourg, from December 11. 

SNCF will also make 7,000 more places available on TGVs to Colmar over the Christmas period, which comes as a boost for the town famous for its Christmas markets.

Read more: France’s most beautiful market: Who are the regional winners? 

Brigitte Klinkert, MP for Haut-Rhin said the announcement was good news.

“Rail transport is indispensable for tourism and for the economic vitality of the region, allowing people to commute for work and helping decarbonise transportation,” she said.

Road travel updates:

Two mountain passes have closed for winter and will not reopen until late spring.

The two passes to close are:

  • The Iseran (Savoie) route, which is the highest pass in France, at 2,764m, connecting the Arc and Isère valleys. 
  • The Galibier (between Hauts-Alpes and Savoie) route at 2,642m, connecting Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne to Briançon

Both routes are frequently used during the Tour de France.

Read more: Tour de France 2024 route revealed: Will it pass near you? 

The passes will be closed to vehicles until all snow and ice has thawed, which usually happens in late spring or, in some years, as late as June.

The decision to close the passes was made on October 20, with authorities confirming this week that they would be shut until next year.

Traffic should be expected heading north this weekend as people return from the half-term holiday.

Roads are typically busy at the end of the holidays as many people return north from resorts in the south. 

The government traffic website Bison Futé refers to this movement as the sens des rétours, with the equivalent southern movement referred to as the sens des départs.

Heavy traffic is expected on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the access roads to Paris in particular.

People driving into Paris this weekend should expect traffic at the motorway tolls on the A10 and A6, as well as on the A13. It could last until the evening.

Anybody planning to travel this weekend can consult the government’s traffic monitoring website Bison Futé for up-to-date information.

Ferry updates:

Dieppe ferry port is set to upgrade its terminal to host DFDS and to improve its capacity for biometric passports

DFDS, the Danish international shipping and logistics company, has chosen Dieppe as its operational base, which will entail a €3m upgrade to the terminal.

The upgraded terminal will include conference rooms, bathroom facilities and a lounge.

“DFDS wants to assemble all its teams in one building,” Bertrand Marsset, director of Normandy Ports told Les Informations Dieppoises.

“In total, there should be 50 to 60 employees based here, including their call centre.”

The terminal is expected to remain open during the building work, which is scheduled to start in September 2024.

The ferry port is also set to upgrade its capacity for biometric passports in 2024, with work beginning on new booths for customs officers before the end of 2023.

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