UK and New York flights, winter train tickets: 8 French travel updates

We also look at an inflatable ferry sail, more information on the Mont Blanc tunnel closure and the creeping cost of the Paris metro

The new A320neo, the Italian high speed Frecciarossa trains, car sharing lane and the MN Pelican
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This week we have looked at new driverless buses near Paris, plans to cancel motorway construction to boost train travel and the bedbug infestations on Ouigo trains and the Paris metro. Here are eight more French travel stories.


Ryanair to cancel many flights this winter due to delivery delays

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New Easyjet winter ski route

Easyjet has announced a new route from Bournemouth to Lyon between January 13 to February 24 to coincide with the ski season and half term.

The airline has operated winter flights from Bournemouth to Geneva since December 2021.

“The route should give our clients in the south a chance to visit the Alps, whether it be for skiing, winter sports or just to visit Lyon and enjoy its impressive architecture, cuisine and history,”said Ali Gayward, Easyjet’s UK manager.

Lyon airport is not far from several ski stations, including those at Tignes, Val d’Isère, Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes, Val Thorens and La Plagne.

Paris-New York: Low cost lines in long distance race

An increasing number of low-cost airlines are driving down the prices of long-haul flights, with three now proposing flights from Paris to New York.

Three growing low-cost operators already operate between Paris and the US:

  • Jet Blue
  • French Bee, which flies to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami
  • Norse Atlantic, which also flies to Miami, and will fly to Los Angeles from May 2024

The increased presence of these operators in the lucrative long-haul market has forced Air France to expand Transavia France, its own low-cost brand.

Transavia France purchased another 10 planes in 2023, including the new A320neo. While it does not yet fly to the United States, the low-cost airline is growing rapidly following the Covid-19 pandemic, and now has 85 planes compared to 38 in 2019.


Increase to Paris-Lyon service from Trenitalia

The Italian operator Trenitalia is increasing its offer on the French market by adding a third daily return trip between Paris and Lyon from October 1, with tickets available from €23.

The announced new lines will coincide with Trenitalia opening booking for the next six months on October 3.

Since 2018, France has been obliged by European law to ensure that its transport services are open markets.

Read more: Talks ongoing over Eurostar rival as Spain's TGVs expand into France

Trenitalia was recently forced to reduce its presence in France due to the landslide in Savoie that blocked the Fréjus tunnel and the trains’ access to their repair hub in Milan.

While the tunnel remains blocked to traffic, Trenitalia says it has sent teams from Milan to ensure its high speed Frecciarossa trains can continue to operate.

SNCF to sell winter tickets from October 4

Train tickets for the Christmas holiday will be available for purchase from October 4 for TGVs and Intercities trains on the SNCF website.

The announcement concerns the period of December 10 to January 9 2024 on TGV and Intercities trains.

Ouigo tickets can be purchased from the same date for the period of December 10 to July 5 2024.

Passengers will have to wait for the rolling release dates for TGV and Intercities tickets after January 9, which usually come four months before the date of travel.

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

Creeping Navigo prices provoke ire

The price of public transport in Paris is to increase again by €2 next year, which, coming after an €8 increase in January, has irked Parisians.

The Navigo pass, which covers Paris buses and the underground, will cost €86-87 from 2024.

Navigo told BFMTV that the increased tariff is indexed against inflation.

“Every year the prices go up and soon we will see prices hitting €100 or up to €120 per year,” said Ecologist councillor Jean-Baptiste to BFMTV.

The Ile-de-France region will contribute €34m to Navigo to keep prices down, however in a week that saw the metro admit it has a bedbug problem, Parisians are justifiably irritated.

The increasing price is another indication that the negotiations between the state, regions and departments for a €49 flat-rate rail pass may be difficult.

President Macron suggested in August that a flat-rate rail pass could apply to all regional train and bus services.

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


More car share lane checks and fines

Several local authorities will now have more tools at their disposal to sanction drivers who misuse car share lanes and impose fines of €135.

Electronic systems for checks and fines are to be tested for a period of two years in Strasbourg, Rennes and Nantes, the government said this week.

These systems will be made available to local authorities.

Since car share lanes were introduced in 2020, along with special thermal cameras to see how many people are in the cars, there has been a degree of tolerance concerning fines as drivers familiarise themselves with the new system.

While all regions already have the right to hand out fines for the misuse of car share lanes, without modern electronic systems this can prove difficult.

Distributing fines for car sharing lanes can be labour intensive since police must visually check the camera’s images before issuing a fine to ensure that it is not a taxi or hybrid vehicle, which are authorised to use the lanes.

Read more: New road sign causes confusion in France. Have you seen it?


Brittany Ferries reinflate the sail

The Brittany Ferries container ship Pelican is preparing to test a prototype inflatable wingsail on its route between Poole and Bilbao.

The 100m² inflatable wingsail, developed by Michelin in Vannes (Morbihan), is expected to reduce fuel consumption by an average of 20%.

During the initial testing period, which Brittany Ferries says will last until the end of the year, the sail will be deployed for eight hours of the 30 hour crossing.

“This automated and retractable prototype could lead to tests with an even bigger sail, which would be a tremendous development in terms of decarbonisation in maritime transport,” said Brittany Ferries in a press release.

The company has a stated objective of zero emissions by 2050.

Road travel:

Mont Blanc tunnel closure finally announced

The Mont Blanc tunnel connecting France and Italy is to close for nine weeks between October 16 and December 18.

The long scheduled and overdue maintenance will concentrate on the replacement of the tunnel’s 76 ventilation turbines.

Since workers must take samples from a part of the tunnel's ceiling that contains asbestos, the whole tunnel has to remain fully closed for the duration of the work.

Renovation of the ceiling was initially scheduled to take place at the same time as work on the ventilation turbines, however it was postponed until next year following the landslide in Savoie that caused the closure of the Fréjus tunnel in August.

There were concerns that complete renovation of the tunnel would take too long and lead to it remaining closed for the winter ski season, a possibility that both countries are keen to avoid.

"In accordance with the prefecture of Haute-Savoie, we are committed to meeting the deadline of December 18", Renzo Testolin, president of the Italian region Aosta told AostaSera.

"This date is crucial in allowing winter traffic to flow normally. If it is possible, we would like to reopen the tunnel before then," he said.

Tunnel passes purchased for the period of the closure are to be extended by three months to compensate for the disruption.