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Trains, planes, Eurostar, Métro: eight France travel updates

Eurostar boosts its London-Paris services, Ryanair prepares to restart Bergerac route, plans underway for Paris-Aurillac night train and more

We take a look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week Pic: Vytautas Kyelaitis / TungCheung / bellena / RVillalon / Shutterstock

We take a look at the stories affecting travel to, from and around France this week. 

1. Eurostar increases London-Paris services 

Eurostar passenger numbers have suffered greatly throughout the pandemic, sitting at 14.8% of 2019 levels in 2021. 

However, now that travel restrictions have eased between the UK and France, the train company is making services more frequent.

Read more: Recap: What Covid travel rules are in place between the UK and France

Currently, there are three or four Eurostar trains running between London and Paris each day, but from January 28 the offering increases to five.

By February 7, this will increase to seven, although it can vary depending on the day of the week. 

A Les Républicains candidate for this year’s legislative elections in June has also called on Eurostar to resume services from Ashford and Ebbsfleet stations as soon as possible. 

Artus Galiay says that the reopening of the stations is crucial for economic recovery, both in the UK and France. 

"Eurostar says that they will not resume services until 2023 at the earliest. The problem is that the longer you keep them closed, the more you kill that business model in the long term because people will simply stop relying on them,” he told Kent Online on January 15.

2. Paris Airport passenger numbers down 60% in 2021 

The Paris Aéroport group has reported that its 2021 passenger numbers were at 38.8% of 2019 levels, although they had increased by 26.8% since 2020.

In 2021, Paris Aéroport welcomed 41.9 million passengers. Paris-Orly performed better than Charles de Gaulle, reaching 49.4% of 2019 passenger numbers as opposed to 34.4%.

Domestic flights fared better than their international counterparts, reaching 52.7% of 2019 numbers, while foreign routes lingered around 35%.

In December [2021], Paris Aéroport recorded 5.2 million travellers, 64.4% of the number who moved through the airports in 2019, suggesting a continued recovery for the air travel industry.

3. The 11 French towns with the most dangerous public transport networks

France’s interior ministry has released details of the 11 French cities where travelling on public transport is the most dangerous, Le Figaro reports. 

In all of these towns there were more than 1,000 incidents of thefts and attacks during the year 2020.

Paris topped the list of cities, with an estimated 54,856 victims, based on the number of criminal incidents per 1,000 residents.

Parisian suburb Saint-Denis came next, followed by Lyon, Montpellier, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Toulouse, Nice and Marseille. 

Despite featuring in the table, the number of thefts and attacks committed on public transport had fallen significantly in Montpellier and Toulouse in comparison to 2019. The number of criminal incidents in these cities declined by 24% and 32% respectively.

These figures come from the Service statistique ministériel de la sécurité intérieure, and are taken from a database of crimes recorded by police forces. Incidents include pickpocketing, mugging, sexual assault, verbal and physical attacks.

Some 74% of the perpetrators were aged between 13 and 29.

4. Prime minister promises Paris-Aurillac night train within next two years

Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that France’s Paris-Aurillac (Cantal) night train route will be reopened after being abandoned in 2003.

The service should resume “within the next two years,” Cantal’s prefect Serge Castel said.

It is possible that the line could reopen in December 2023, as this is the point in the year where timetables are revised. 

The new night trains will be made up of three carriages: first class, second class and seated.

The project will be funded by the state under the Convention d’exploitation des trains d’équilibre du territoire.

Night trains between Paris and Nice and Paris and Lourdes have already been relaunched in recent months, and several others are planned between now and 2030. 

These include Paris to Albi, Bayonne, San Sebastián, Barcelona, Toulouse, Montpellier and Marseille.

5. Ryanair to resume London-Bergerac route following Covid suspension

Ryanair is bringing back its London Stansted - Bergerac route after it was suspended for the whole of January under France’s strict travel rules for UK passengers. 

Travellers can now book flights to and from the Dordogne town from February 1. 

The low-cost airline is the only travel operator to offer a link between London and the Dordogne. 

After France introduced tightened restrictions on UK travellers on December 18, some Bergerac-London flights were only half or one third full. 

Gwenvael Ronsin-Hardy, director of Bergerac Airport, told France 3 that some planes capable of transporting 190 people would only have 60 passengers per flight. 

France’s strict UK travel rules have now been relaxed, and fully vaccinated people coming from the UK no longer need to present an essential reason or self-isolate on arrival. 

They must, however, present the travel company with the negative result of a PCR or antigen test taken in the 24 hours before their journey begins, be able to prove their vaccination status and provide a sworn statement confirming that they are not experiencing Covid symptoms.

Read more: France reopens to UK tourists: Rules for adults and children

6. No more pre-departure tests for vaccinated travellers from France to Switzerland

The Swiss government has announced that people who are fully vaccinated or who have recently recovered from Covid will no longer need to present a negative PCR or antigen test result to their travel operator before they enter the country.

This will come into force tomorrow (January 22).

Unvaccinated people over the age of 16 will still be required to provide a negative test result, but will no longer need to carry out a further test between days four and seven after arrival. 

PCR tests can be taken 72 hours in advance of travel while antigen tests must be carried out in the 24 hours before.

Everyone travelling by plane or bus will still need to complete an entry form, further details of which can be found here.

7. Air France launches new Paris-Quebec seasonal route 

Air France has announced plans to launch a Paris-Charles de Gaulle - Quebec route, which will run from May until October. 

Passengers will be able to choose between three weekly flights. 

“Awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 1985, Quebec’s historical centre is the only fortified town in North America,” Air France said “Today, Quebec is a dynamic city where festivals and important cultural events take place throughout the year. 

“The exceptional natural parks of the city region and the east of the province provide more opportunities to discover the beauty of Quebec.”

8. Opposition to new Paris Métro line extension cutting through the Bois de Vincennes

Activists are opposing the extension of Paris’ Métro line 1 into the Bois de Vincennes to the east of the city, but local authorities argue that the three additional stations will help to connect suburbs that are poorly served by public transport.

Around 500 trees are threatened by the line extension, which will run from the current terminus at Château-de-Vincennes towards Fontenay-sous-Bois and Montreuil. 

An online petition called ‘Touche pas à mon bois’ (Don’t touch my wood) has already collected 62,000 signatures, and a public inquiry is set to begin on January 31.

The petition claims that an area the size of 100 tennis courts will be deforested and covered partially in concrete, although some sections will be reforested after the work is completed.

“The Bois de Vincennes, home to an inestimable reserve of biodiversity, is a world heritage site,” it said. “But never mind, all the related restrictions are set to be lifted and the wood will be sacrificed in the name of the ‘public utility of the project’.”

David Belliard, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of the development of public spaces, said: “This extension is indispensable for transitioning from our current energy use, but it cannot be done in any which way. 

“In the context of climate change, each tree counts in a concrete city like Paris.”

Grégoire de Lasteyrie, vice-president of Ile-de-France Mobilités, argued that: “We are going to replant three times the amount of trees cut down. In the end, it will only be 200 square metres over the 1,000 hectares of wood that will be affected.” 

But opponents are concerned about the already established biodiversity which will be lost with the initial deforestation.

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Planes, trains, Métro, Covid rules: eight France travel updates

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