US flights, slower, cheaper trains, ferry deals: France travel updates

We also look at how a Paris-India plane turned back after alert signal raised and tourist discounts for travellers who arrive by bike or train

A four-way split image of cyclists, a Ouigo train, an Air France plane and a Crit’Air 3 sticker
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This week we looked at when you need to change your foreign licence for a French one, the new memo document that drivers will soon have to carry and the pros and cons of owning an electric vehicle in France.

We also covered an easing of vehicle emission rules in three French cities and the potential closure of a major Ryanair hub in western France.

Discounts for tourists arriving by bike or train

Normandy is offering discounts on a range of activities and cultural sites to environmentally friendly travellers from this spring.

The ‘low-carbon tariff’ is available to anyone who arrives by train, coach or bike and is valid at over 70 attractions.

The scheme, the first in France, aims to encourage more environmentally friendly tourism.

Discounts range from 10% to 50%.

Travellers just need to show their public transport ticket to a station in Normandy or a photo of their bike.

Explore where you can get a discount at Normandy Tourism.

Rail travel updates

Slower but cheaper Ouigo trains to start Rennes-Paris route

France’s low-cost Ouigo trains are launching a new route between Paris and Rennes from April 5.

The Ouigo Train Classique will take just under five hours to make the trip, compared to the faster – but more expensive – high-speed route, which takes one hour and 30 minutes.

The route will go between Rennes and Paris Austerlitz station and include one train each way per day. The Paris Austerlitz train will leave between 8.00 and 8.30 while the Rennes train will leave between 15:00 and 16:00.

Tickets will cost between €10 and €49 and go on sale from March 21. Children’s tickets will be €5. It comes two years after the launch of the Ouigo Paris-Lyon and Paris-Nantes routes.

Ferry travel updates

Irish Ferries mini break deal to France

Irish Ferries is offering mini breaks from €299 return if you sail from Ireland to France on a Tuesday or Wednesday. That includes a car, two passengers and a cabin. Departures on other days of the week are from €349.

The deal is valid for travel up to May 26 and from September 9 to November 29 on certain sailings.

P&O Ferries are also offering a £99 3-day break deal – or £129 5-day deal, for people sailing between Dover and Calais. The offer runs until July 12 (for the 5-day break) and July 14 (for the 3-day).

Air travel updates

Paris airports’ new scanners speed up progressing time

Paris Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports are upgrading their security scanners ahead of the Olympic Games, adding 10 new tomographic scanners - two per terminal.

The scanners let border agents see items in 3D without having to manually inspect them. This will be particularly useful for checks on liquids, laptops and shoes.

The CT/3D scanners, which are already in service at New York John F. Kennedy airport, are expected to improve passenger processing time and decrease the number of manual inspections from 13% to 8%.

However, with only two scanners per terminal, only 30% of passengers will be able to use them.

Twin Jet to launch route between Toulouse and Nice

French regional airline Twin Jet, based in Aix-en-Provence, is to start flying between Toulouse and Nice from April 19.

The cities are over 600 km apart and have no direct train link. A train journey can take from just under six hours to over 12 hours.

Twin Jet will fly four round trips per week. The new route is part of the airline’s “desire to develop its network and to contribute to regional connectivity” it said in a statement.

Air France increases short and medium-haul routes from south-east France

The French airline has announced it is putting on six extra summer connections.

They include:

  • Marseille - Caen - two flights a week on Saturdays and Sundays from July 6 to August 31
  • Marseille - Athens, Greece - one flight a day from July 6 to September 1
  • Marseille - Catania, Italy - one flight a week on Saturdays from July 6 to August 31
  • Nice - Bordeaux - four flights a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 6 to September 1
  • Nice - Athens, Greece - five flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 6 to September 1
  • Nice - Algiers, Algeria - two flights a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from July 6 to September 1

Air France expands its France-America routes

Air France also announced new and expanded long-haul routes to several US destinations this summer.

  • Paris - Minneapolis, USA - daily flight from May 13
  • Paris - Phoenix, USA - three times a week from May 23
  • Paris - Raleigh-Durham, USA - these flights, inaugurated in winter 2023, will be extended to the summer. There will be seven flights per week, increased from three during the winter season.

Overall, the airline will offer more than 210 flights per week to 17 American destinations and 60 flights per week to five destinations in Canada.

Air France flight returns to land 30 minutes after take-off

An Air France flight between Paris and Chennai, India was forced to turn back and land half an hour after taking off after the plane emitted an emergency alert signal.

The flight left Charles de Gaulle airport, however soon after taking off it began flashing an emergency warning, code 7700.

This code is used when there is any problem with the aircraft, and alerts nearby air towers to the situation.

The pilots then decided to turn the plane back to the Parisian airport.

No passengers were injured. Air France has not commented on the reason why the warning was displayed.

Strikes affect air travel in Italy, border force strikes in UK loom

A strike by workers at Italy’s Verona airport this Saturday (March 23) will coincide with a walkout of Air Dolomiti cabin staff. In addition, rail services will also be disrupted with workers on Italy’s state-owned railway also going on strike this weekend.

UK Border Force workers are threatening to strike during April, although the result of a possible strike ballot is not expected until later today (March 22). Walkouts would not take place before April 5.

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