Easyjet summer tickets, TGV line delay: 8 French travel updates

We also look at the ‘sail and rail’ ticket scheme for visitors from Ireland, the Mont Blanc tunnel closure (and reopening) and the first EV charging station at a French airport

Easyjet sell tickets for summer 2024, EV charging at Toulouse airport, high-speed rail link delayed, ‘sail and rail’ tickets to ireland
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Airport and flight updates for France

Electric recharging at Toulouse airport: A fast EV charging station has opened at Toulouse airport, the first such station to be installed at a French airport.

The station has 16 covered spaces and eight fast charging terminals with a power capacity of 300kW, more than current models of electric vehicles require, which should allow drivers to charge their vehicle to 60-80% in 20 minutes.

While charging, drivers have access to free wifi and a dedicated waiting room along with access to maintenance facilities for their car, including a self-service pump and a vacuum. The waiting room is powered by solar energy thanks to the solar panels on its room, while the station, operated by Electra, is entirely supplied by renewable energy.

The initiative is part of a wider programme under the European Stargate programme, piloted by Brussels airport, aiming to reduce the carbon footprint of airport activities.

Easyjet starts summer 2024 tickets available: Low cost airline Easyjet has announced that it is now selling tickets for next spring and summer up to June 2, 2024.

Certain routes, such as between Bristol to Toulouse or Liverpool to Paris can already be booked up to August 30, 2024 via their website. Easyjet advises customers to subscribe to its newsletter to stay up-to-date on when individual routes open for booking.

Millions of additional visitors are expected in France next summer due to the Paris Olympics, which runs from Friday July 26 to Sunday August 11, 2024. Travellers would be wise to book their tickets as early as possible.

Air traffic strike called off for September but not October: While negotiations between the Air Traffic controllers union and France’s civil authority have so far avoided strikes in September, the union is expected to join the proposed general strike planned for October 13.

Fortunately, the proposed strike next summer, which was initially planned to coincide with the Olympic Games, has been averted.

The authority announced this week that an “Olympic truce has been agreed until September 2024”, which will ensure “improved pay” during the games.

Driving updates for France

Mont Blanc tunnel to close: The Mont Blanc tunnel will close for scheduled repairs this autumn, but should reopen by December 18 at the latest in time for the winter ski season.

Following the massive landslide in the Maurienne valley, the A43 motorway was initially closed, which meant that the Mont Blanc tunnel had to remain open to ease congestion.

The motorway is currently open again, albeit with speed limited at 50km/h and operating with a single lane in each direction.

Tunnel manager Erwan Le Bris told France Bleu that the long overdue repairs will last seven weeks. The repair work, which was initially scheduled to last 15 weeks and include renovation of the tunnel’s ceiling, will concentrate on replacing the tunnel’s 76 ventilation turbines.

Fewer car deaths last year, but scooter fatalities rise: Traffic accidents between July and August 2023 led to fewer deaths, new official data shows. However the proportion of deaths on scooters increased over this period.

This summer saw 591 deaths as opposed to 641 for July and August in 2022. A further 1,386 people were severely injured, a decrease of 3% on 2022 figures.

However, 30% more fatal accidents involved light personal transport vehicles, such as scooters (electric and motorised), electric standing scooters and hoverboards.

The Securité Routière said the numbers should be a reminder “that vulnerable road users need to be vigilant, wear the correct safety equipment and remain visible”.

Read more: Alcohol, drugs and technology blamed as motorway deaths rise in 2022

Trains, buses and trams updates for France

More foreigners victims of theft on public transport in 2022: The number of foreigners who were victims of theft on public transport increased significantly in 2022, returning to pre-Covid levels, a report by the Ministry of the Interior shows.

The French police and gendarmerie counted 124,570 incidences of all categories of theft and violence on public transport in 2022, an increase on 2021 but still fewer than before the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘Theft without violence’ constituted 82% of these incidents.

Foreigners were disproportionately victims of theft on public transport at 27%, compared to 13% in other places. It is not clear if foreigners are particularly targeted for theft or if their vigilance is lower than that of locals.

The perpetrators were predominantly male (82%), of foreign origin (55%) and frequently under-age (29%). The Ministry of the Interior says that these figures suggest the rising rate of theft without violence has “a connection with organised crime that manipulates isolated minors in particular”.

High speed link between Toulouse and Bordeaux slow going: The SNCF’s long-awaited high-speed link between Toulouse and Bordeaux has been hit by a setback after the government's environmental agency called its understanding of the environmental consequences of the route “obsolete and deficient”.

SNCF Réseau, which manages the project, requires the approval of the French environmental agency before work can begin in Toulouse and Bordeaux.

However, the government agency not only denied the request but issued a damning put-down to SNCF Réseau. The agency said in its report this week that SNCF Réseau provided “obsolete data (almost 10 years old) relying on out-of-date regulations” and “a file that is lacking with regard to many of the primary concerns (artificialisation, greenhouse gas emissions, natural habitats) that does not give the public any more information than they received at the last public consultation in 2014.”

SNCF Réseau responded by stating that it would “gather the information requested as soon as possible”, adding that it is committed to “transparency and environmental concerns”.

The 200km route, first mooted in 2003, is expected to cost €14billion with work starting later in 2023. High speed trains should be operational between Toulouse and Bordeaux by 2032.

It should be noted that while TGVs already travel between Toulouse and Bordeaux, their speed is limited to 160km/h, far below the 320km/h they can reach on high speed rails. The high-speed link will allow travel between Toulouse and Bordeaux in 30 minutes.

Read more: Ways to save money on train travel in France

Ferry updates for France

Combined travel simplified for Irish visitors: The French and Irish governments are encouraging Irish visitors to come to France by ferry and then travel by rail.

The ‘sail and rail’ initiative started on September 8 to coincide with the Rugby World Cup, allowing passengers to book train tickets at the same time they book their ferry, in a drive to reduce people’s reliance on air travel.

Ferries emit only 1% of the CO2 per kilometre for the same distance travelled on a plane. Similarly, trains emit only 8% of a plane’s CO2 per kilometre.

The initiative proposes shuttle buses to train stations from the ferry ports in Dublin, Cork, Cherbourg, Roscoff and le Havre. Brittany Ferries and Irish Ferries are both participating in the scheme.

From 2024, passengers will be able to book a single ticket which will cover both the ferry and train, which could help passengers save on money as well as on CO2 emissions.