EU's ‘worst airport’, new flights to Canada: 7 French travel updates

We also look at a sizeable new plane order from Easyjet, trains to ski-stations, the UK’s best ferry company and more…

The best ferries, the worst airport, Avoriaz ski station and Easyjet leaving Rennes
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This week you may have seen our stories on a prospective rival to Eurostar, the continuing bedbug infestation in France, and the UK retiree sentenced for disrupting a flight by putting his hand up a flight attendant’s skirt.

Air travel updates:

Bordeaux-Mérignac airport has been named Europe’s worst airport for the second year running.

The airport was found to have the lowest average Google rating out of Europe’s top 100 busiest airports.

Out of 5,700 reviews, the airport has an average rating of 2.7 stars, prompting German holiday booking website Holidu to place Bordeaux-Mérignac at the bottom of its league table.

Several other French airports ranked poorly, including Paris Charles de Gaule (ranked 61st), Marseille Provence (ranked 73rd) and the beleaguered Nantes Atlantique airport (ranked 80th).

For Airport Manager Simon Dreschel, the rating does not reflect reality.

“We feel that this ranking is unfair since it comes right when we are investing massively to improve the customer experience and as we begin to receive positive feedback from our satisfaction surveys,” he told Actu Bordeaux.

“The rankings are just based on Google ratings. The problem is that once you have a low rating it is very hard to improve it," he said.

Many of the poor ratings make mention of the airport’s austere interior, lack of seating, small size and flights being cancelled due to staff strikes.

Mr Dreschel said the airport was investing €100m in infrastructure, including the construction of a new building where passengers can shop after passing through security.

No French airports made it into the top ten best airports in Europe. Indeed, the highest placed French airport, in 44th position, is Nice-Côte d'Azur.

Holidu found that Athens International Airport was the best airport in Europe, with an average Google rating of 4.4 for 24,467 reviews.

Easyjet has ordered 157 new planes from Airbus in its drive to modernise and reduce its carbon footprint.

The low-cost airline has ordered 56 of the new A320neo and 101 of the A321neo. The aircraft will enter service progressively between 2029 and 2034.

Easyjet France director Bertrand Godinots said that the planes will carry more passengers and pollute less.

“These are planes that use less kerosene and produce 15% lower emissions [of CO₂] than previous generations,” he told BFMTV.

"We have already decreased our carbon emissions by more than 30% over the past 20 years.”

Easyjet has a target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050.

Easyjet is stopping all flights from Rennes to Portugal at the end of October.

The low-cost airline has two routes between Rennes and Portugal, both of which are to be discontinued:

  • Rennes - Lisbon flights end on October 26, 2023
  • Rennes - Porto flights end on October 28, 2023

Easyjet’s services to London Gatwick, Nice and Toulouse are unaffected.

Flights from Rennes to Lisbon only began in November 2022, and were greeted as a sign of their airport’s successful recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.

By December 2022, it offered flights to seven destinations. However, after Easyjet cancelled its route to Geneva earlier this year, and with the discontinuation of flights to Portugal, the airport will only have four routes in December 2023.

Hervé Cavalan president of the association for the development of Rennes airport (Adarb) was despondent at the announcement.

“This is a catastrophe for Brittany, which was just opening-up,” he said in a statement. The airport’s future is in the hands of investors now”.

Air Transat will offer more flights between Marseille and Montréal (Canada) from next year.

The Canadian airline announced that it will operate daily flights between Marseille Provence and Montréal from June 2024 following a successful year which saw 90% of its flights fully booked.

Air Transat will also continue its three weekly flights between Marseille Provence and Montréal this winter.

The route is currently the only direct flight between Marseille Provence and North America, and this announcement means it will be a year long service.

The eight hour flight from Marseille costs around €400 and uses the modern A321neo, much vaunted for its ecological merits.

Rail Travel updates:

Brittany is to introduce an unlimited flat rate bus, boat and rail pass from next year.

The new BreizhFlix pass will grant people under the age of 26 unlimited access to transport in the region from September 2024.

The price has yet to be announced.

Loïg Chesnais-Girard, president of the Brittany region, said that the measure would also help families forgo the need to have a second car.

The pass is considered to be an experimental implementation of Mr Macron’s proposed flat rate rail pass announced in September.

Read more: Flat rate rail pass could be introduced in France next summer

The five best ski-stations to reach by train have been announced by the SNCF.

Ski-stations can be notoriously difficult to access by road for people with little experience driving on icy roads.

However, not all destinations require people to fit snow tyres and chains, say the SNCF in their list of the most accessible ski-stations to reach by rail.

Ferry updates:

Irish Ferries has been voted the best ferry operator in the UK for the fifth consecutive year.

The company, owned by the Irish Continental Group, won the prize for ‘Best ferry or fixed link operator’ at the UK Group Leisure & Travel Awards 2023 last week.

The winner is voted for by readers of Group Leisure & Travel magazine.

  • Avoriaz - France’s only 100% pedestrian resort is close to the Thonon-les-Bains TGV station with a bus link to the ski-station
  • Les Arcs - via a train to Bourg Saint Maurice and a cable car connection to the ski-station
  • La Bresse - via a train to Remirement and a bus link to the ski-station
  • L’Alpe d’Huez - via a train to Grenoble and a bus link to the ski-station
  • La Norma - via TGV to Saint-Michel-Valloire (Modane is still cut-off by the landslide in the Maurienne valley) and a bus link to the ski-station
  • Following the ceremony in Milton Keynes on October 5, the company released a statement expressing its satisfaction.

    “This is a wonderful result, and even more pleasing as we won against strong competition from DFDS, LeShuttle, P&O Ferries, Stena Line and WightLink.”

    The company, which also won the Irish Travel Industry award for best ferry company in 2023, began operating on the Dover to Calais route in 2021