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New France-UK air route, heavy traffic: Nine French travel updates

Eurostar passengers hit by delays, strike call for Paris football match trains tonight and more

We look at the news affecting travel to, from and around France this week Pic: Dmitry Kalinovsky / EQRoy / gallofilm / M101Studio / Shutterstock

We look at the news affecting travel to, from and around France this week. 

1. Traffic alerts for Pentecost bank holiday weekend

The upcoming weekend, with its Whit Monday bank holiday (Lundi de Pentecôte), offers people in France the opportunity to enjoy a long weekend getaway. 

National traffic forecasting service Bison Futé predicts that today (Friday, June 3) will be “very difficult” across France for people setting off for breaks, and “difficult” on Saturday. 

Conditions will be “difficult” again on Monday – and “very difficult” around Ile-de-France – for return journeys. 

Today, Bison Futé recommends that drivers get out of Ile-de-France early and avoid the: 

  • A1 between Paris and Lille from 17:00 until 21:00 
  • A13 between Paris and Rouen from 12:00 until 22:00 and between Rouen and Caen from 15:00 until 21:00 
  • A10 between Orléans and Tours from 16:00 and 19:00 
  • A7 between Lyon and Orange from 14:00 and 22:00 and between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 15:00 until 19:00
  • A9 between Orange and Narbonne from 16:00 until 19:00
  • A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne from 17:00 until 22:00

On Saturday, motorists are advised to only try driving out of Ile-de-France after 16:00 and avoid the: 

  • A13 between Paris and Caen from 10:00 until 18:00 and between Rouen and Caen from 11:00 until 15:00 
  • A10 between Orléans and Tours, from 11:00 until 14:00 
  • A7 between Lyon and Orange from 10:00 until 14:00 and between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 12:00 until 17:00 
  • A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Nice from 14:00 until 16:00 
  • A9 between Montpellier and Narbonne from 10:00 until 12:00
  • A75 between Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier from 11:00 until 13:00 
  • A62 between Toulouse and Bordeaux from 10:00 until 12:00 
  • A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne from 10:00 until 14:00 

Access to Italy through the Mont-Blanc tunnel will be slow from 10:00 until around 17:00, with the longest queues expected between 12:00 and 15:00.

On Monday, people returning from holidays should try to get back to Ile-de-France before 11:00 and avoid the: 

  • A11 between Le Mans and Paris from 16:00 until 19:00 
  • A13 between Caen and Rouen from 15:00 until 18:00 and between Rouen and Paris from 16:00 until 18:00 
  • A10 around Bordeaux between 13:00 and 17:00 
  • A7 between Marseille and Salon-de-Provence from 13:00 until 16:00 and between Orange and Lyon from 13:00 until 19:00 
  • A8 between Italy and Nice from 15:00 until 20:00 and between Nice and Aix-en-Provence from 14:00 until 16:00 
  • A9 between Narbonne and Montpellier from 16:00 until 19:00 and between Montpellier and Orange from 11:00 until 13:00 
  • A75 between Montpellier and Clermont-Ferrand from 16:00 until 19:00 
  • A62 between Toulouse and Bordeaux from 16:00 until 19:00 
  • A61 between Narbonne and Toulouse from 15:00 until 20:00.

Further information can be found on the Bison Futé website.

2. New Deauville-London air route to be launched

British start-up airline Odyssey has announced that it will be opening a Deauville-London  City route on July 1. 

The service will run until October 2, with two flights per week. It will act as an extension of the Geneva-Deauville route, which runs on Fridays and Sundays. 

Odyssey will be without competition on this route, which it is launching to “fill the absence of direct links between towns and regions with a strong mutual attractivity,” the airline said.

“We want to offer our customers an intimate travel experience: a comfortable cabin with 27 seats, quick boarding procedures, no irritating luggage problems and a reliable service.”

3. Eurostar passengers hit by delays throughout this week 

Passengers travelling on Eurostar trains have been impacted by various different issues and events this week, causing lengthy delays. 

Yesterday (June 2), the company reported that “a fatality in northern France” had caused the closure of the track and affected all routes. Passenger delays were expected to reach 60 minutes.

The Eurostar terminal in London St Pancras was already very busy as people set off on Platinum Jubilee weekend trips.

On Wednesday (June 1), the operator’s border controls in St Pancras were affected by a software malfunction, which meant that automatic e-gates stopped working.

Read more: Delays in several French airports over e-gate malfunction

Eurostar said: "Our stations are very busy today. Passport and security checks are taking longer than usual due to issues with French authority control systems.”

This led to delays of up to three hours, with one passenger posting a time-lapse of a long queue stretching outside the terminal and into the street.

Author Svenja O’Donnell told the PA news agency: “The queue is through the whole station and down two blocks. We have been given very little information.” 

4. Penalties increased for passengers causing disruption on French flights

France has announced that it will be taking new measures to punish plane passengers who cause disruption during flights. 

This was decided during this week’s Conseil des ministres Cabinet meeting, with government spokesperson Olivia Grégoire making reference to “administrative and penal sanctions”.

She did not share the details of these new punishments, but stressed that this type of behaviour is “a growing concern within the European Union”. 

She cited figures from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which state that “the safety of a flight within the EU is put in question by the behaviour of certain passengers” every three hours, and that “at least 70% of these incidents involve a form of aggression”.

According to the International Air Transport Association, the number of incidents occurring on board planes “doubled in 2020, and this trend continued in 2021”.

In 2020, a new rule came into force, allowing the authorities to pursue passengers who cause a disturbance in the country where the plane lands, and not just in the country where the plane is registered, as had previously been the case.

5. Toulouse unveils provisional plan of future Ligne 3 metro stations 

Toulouse’s public transport service provider Tisséo has revealed a provisional list of the 21 stations to be served by the future metro Ligne 3, which is due to open in 2028.

The line will pass from Colomiers to Labège via Matabiau, with stops at: 

  • Colomiers Gare
  • Airbus Colomiers Ramassiers 
  • Airbus Saint-Martin
  • Jean Maga 
  • Sept Deniers Stade Toulousain
  • Boulevard de Suisse Ponts Jumeaux
  • Fondeyre
  • La Vache Nord Toulousain 
  • Toulouse Lautrec
  • Raynal
  • Bonnefoy
  • Marengo Matabiau
  • François Verdier 
  • Jean Rieux 
  • Limayrac - Cité de l’Espace
  • L’Ormeau
  • Montaudran Piste des Géants 
  • Montaudran Innovation Campus - Airbus Defence and Space
  • Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse
  • Labège Enova 
  • Labège La Cadène

“We now need to work on urban development around the stations, and know how to create easy and safe access to them,” said Toulouse’s mayor Jean-Luc Moudenc.

“For this, we will talk with residents and citizens in 2023.” 

Three ‘maisons de métro’ are set to open at the end of this year to offer a place where people can go to find out more about the project.

You can find out more about Ligne 3 on the Tisséo website.

6. Maintenance works planned for Ile-de-France RER A 

Services will be completely suspended at various times between Auber and La Défense on the RER A in Ile-de-France from August 13 to August 19 for a signal box replacement. 

Passengers will be able to reach La Défense using the metro Ligne 1, and the Ligne L Nord and L Sud will enable travel to Auber from Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Poissy and Cergy.

The RER A will also be closed between Achères Ville and Cergy-le-Haut on the weekend of July 23-4.

Finally, trains between Nanterre-Préfecture and Cergy-Le Haut/Poissy will stop running at 22:00 on Friday, July 8, July 15, August 5 and August 12, staying suspended for the whole weekend on these occasions.

This comes after seven consecutive years of work on the line. 

7. Volotea to offer Bordeaux-Nice route for Christmas getaways

Low-cost airline Volotea will be opening a Bordeaux-Nice route this winter from December 17 to January 3.

There will be six return flights carried out in this time, in addition to the services already offered by Air France and EasyJet on this route. 

Volotea also launched Bordeaux-Athens and Bordeaux-Florence flights last month. The company has bases in Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Marseille, Lille and Lyon, and will be opening another in Lourdes in July.

8. Ryanair wins court case against Last Minute’s third-party sales

Online travel retailer Last Minute was ordered to immediately stop selling Ryanair tickets following a decision by the Paris Court of Appeal last week. 

The company has also been fined €50,000 for selling tickets without Ryanair’s permission, plus a further €20,000 in legal and operating costs. 

Ryanair welcomed the court ruling, saying it is part of a broader fight to prevent third-party sites using ‘screen scraping’ tools to take ticket price data and sell tickets on, usually at higher prices. 

Ryanair’s director of marketing, communications and digital, Dara Brady, wrote in a statement:

“We again urge consumers to book directly on the Ryanair website, the only place to find the lowest Ryanair fares. 

“We will continue our campaign against screenscrapers, many of whose business models depend on mis-selling Ryanair fares at inflated prices (or with hidden markups) to unsuspecting consumers.”

9. Unions call for strike on Paris’ RER B line

Several transport unions have called on workers on Paris’ RER B line to strike today (June 3) following similar action last weekend that disrupted the Champions League Final at the Stade de France. 

The French national football team is set to face the Danish team tonight at the same stadium, which can be reached using the RER B. 

Transport unions have long been negotiating for better working conditions with state-owned public transport operator RATP, which is responsible for most public transport in Paris and the surrounding area. 

The unions CGT Métro-RER, Unsa and La Base stated:

“The success of the strike during the Champions League final gives the unions a concrete bargaining chip. 

“The fiasco of May 28th has generated worldwide media coverage and the management bears full responsibility for the problems of transporting fans to the Stade de France.”

Despite the calls for strikes, RATP expects traffic to be “almost normal” today.

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