Planes, trains, ferries, Eurostar: eight updates on travel in France

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

One of the most important news is that the UK has now lifted all of its remaining restrictions for international travelers from today (March 18). This comes almost two years to the day since lockdown restrictions were first introduced in the country.

Read more: All Covid restrictions will end on Friday for travel from France to the UK

This means that fully vaccinated people no longer need to complete a passenger locator form before departure, and unvaccinated people are no longer required to carry out tests before and after departure.

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “Everything we have worked for – every shot, every test and the sacrifices made by the whole country means that finally, almost two years later, we can all fly without bureaucratic restrictions.”

1. New French air routes announced by Ryanair and TUS Airways

Ryanair has announced several new French air routes, including one connecting Cologne-Bonn to Biarritz. Ryanair will be the only airline to operate this route, which will become available at the end of the month.

The low-cost airline will also operate flights between Poitiers and Barcelona, ​​Bergerac and Porto, and Perpignan and Valence from March 27.

Cypriot airline TUS Airways will also launch a new Cyprus (Larnaca)-Strasbourg route on May 14, with flights every Saturday.

The airline is also expected to start flying between Paris and Lyon from April 27 on Wednesdays and Sundays, as well as between Paris and Toulouse from April 28.

2. The P&O Ferries layoffs have been condemned by unions and MPs

Yesterday (March 17), P&O Ferries confirmed earlier rumors by sacking 800 British crew across its fleet, without notice.

All services, including crossings from Dover to Calais, have been interrupted for a week to 10 days.

Read more: P&O lay off 800 UK crew, saying action needed to stay ‘viable’

P&O passengers affected by the decision would have been told to proceed to the port as normal, where they would be put on alternative services such as DFDS or Eurotunnel ferries.

A Eurotunnel spokesperson said The connection“We currently have capacity on our passenger service for anyone who needs to book a new crossing while P&O is out of service and we would be happy to carry them.”

A spokesperson for Brittany Ferries said: ‘We are terribly sorry to all those affected by yesterday’s (March 17) decisions in Dover and beyond.

“If there are significant disruptions in the coming days, we could resume a small freight activity via Le Havre and Caen.”

However, passenger services would be more likely to be replaced by DFDS, Irish Ferries and Eurotunnel crossings, as Brittany Ferries depart from Portsmouth, Plymouth and Poole rather than Dover.

We have also contacted DFDS to find out how they are accommodating P&O passengers and have asked P&O for further information on whether affected customers should expect to be automatically transferred to another operator or if they will be reimbursed.

Almost a quarter of affected P&O staff were told by video message that yesterday was their ‘last day of employment’.

The company said it could only survive by making ‘quick and meaningful change’ as it is ‘not a viable business’ in its current model, but the move was condemned by unions and MPs .

The UK government has said it will review its contracts with P&O, with Maritimes Minister Robert Courts saying he was “frankly angry at the way the workers were treated” and that the ferry company’s actions were ” totally unacceptable”.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh commented: ‘There are images circulating of what we are told are handcuff trained security officers, some wearing balaclavas, dragging British crew out of their ships.

“It’s under contempt. It’s the action of thugs.

The RMT union said it was one of the “most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations”.

Protests are planned today at the ports of Dover, Liverpool and Hull.

Employment lawyer Beth Hale told the BBC’s Today program that P&O may have breached employment law by sacking the 800 staff, adding that she should have told unions, employees and the government that jobs were at risk.

Staff were told they would receive a “generous severance package”, but without details of what this would entail.

3. The Bordeaux-Toulouse high-speed line project signed by the Prime Minister

Prime Minister Jean Castex has approved the financing plan for the Bordeaux-Toulouse high-speed rail line project this Monday, March 14.

This follows the official creation of the Société du Grand Projet du Sud-Ouest (GPSO) on March 2.

The cost of new high speed line (LGV) has been budgeted at 14.3 billion euros, of which 40% is provided by the government, 20% by the EU on the condition that the project involves a link to Spain, and 40% by regional authorities .

All homes located less than an hour from the new line will also have to pay a special equipment tax (EAST).

The new line will allow passengers to reach Bordeaux from Toulouse in one hour, allowing them to then connect to another two-hour service to Paris.

The project will see the construction of new rail infrastructure north of Toulouse between Saint-Jory and Saint Alban, and Lacourtensourt and Route-de-Launaguet. Other existing stations will also be upgraded.

Work will begin in 2024 and last until 2032 at the earliest.

4. The price of TER Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur tickets increased in April

TER regional train tickets in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur will increase in price on April 1.

Passengers will see prices for single tickets increase by 2.82% and 4.57% for single line subscriptions.

The increases were decided by the PACA regional council, which specified: “The last tariff increase for regional transport dates back to January 1, 2018 and concerned a 3.5% increase on TER, LER and Chemins de fer de Provence trains. .

“Given the upward trend in transport prices, as well as the costs and charges borne by the region to maintain services, the financial burden makes it difficult for the region to maintain its supply.”

“The direct contribution of passengers remains very limited compared to the expenditure of the region.

The price increases should generate 2 to 2.5 million euros for the region this year.

The consumer group ‘Sauvons nos TER Paca’ has also expressed concerns that the Carte Zou! the reduced price ticket may possibly be withdrawn by the regional authorities.

5. Trenitalia will introduce additional Paris-Lyon services

Italian rail operator Trenitalia has announced that it will add new services to its Paris-Lyon line from April.

Passengers will be able to choose between five daily round trips instead of the current two.

Trenitalia said that since launching its existing services last year, they have been more than 80% booked.

6. SNCF reduces Paris-Normandy links

SNCF has announced that it will reduce the number of its services between Paris and Normandy in response to a drop in demand.

The number of trains running each day will increase from 120 to 100 on the Paris-Rouen-Le Havre, Paris-Caen-Cherbourg and Paris-Deauville lines.

Most of these canceled trains currently run at off-peak hours.

“The health crisis has led to a significant drop in the number of passengers, which fell by 24% at the end of 2021 and are estimated to be 10% less in 2022 than in 2019,” the Normandy regional council said in a statement.

Trains to Paris are 46% full on average, well below the 60% needed to make services viable.

The region added that if demand increases again, it will make adjustments to its supply to accommodate passengers.

It will also introduce new offers aimed at attracting tourists and new passengers to the lines.

7. Eurostar will welcome thousands of rugby fans this weekend

Eurostar is expected to ferry thousands of British rugby fans to Paris this weekend as they travel to see England play France at the Stade de France in the final Six Nations match.

Some 20,000 people are expected to travel on the trains, equivalent to a 12% increase in normal traffic and the busiest weekend of the year so far for Eurostar.

The operator has even added an extra service on Sundays to bring fans back to the UK.

Francois Le Doze, Commercial Director of Eurostar, said: “With anticipation of the final match, our French and British colleagues are united in applauding on both sides.

“We are all very much looking forward to welcoming England fans on board the Eurostar this weekend.

“With the UK removing all testing requirements and the Passenger Locator Form from this Friday, fans will be able to enjoy a seamless city center to city center travel experience.”

8. A positive winter for French mountain tourism

Tourism-related businesses in France have reported a promising winter in terms of footfall, according to a new study.

The tourism federation ADN Tourisme used survey responses from around 160 of its members to determine the season’s performance for professionals in the sector.

68% of respondents believe that attendance has increased compared to last year, a figure that rises to 95% in mountain resorts, where some professionals refer to a “historic” winter season.

However, some professionals in the rural or urban industry may not have seen an increase in tourist numbers this year, as they are suffering from the massive return of ski resorts after a year of closures in 2021. Some 54% of respondents in coastal destinations, for example, reported that the number of tourists had decreased or remained the same this year.

In general, the winter season was “as expected” for 56% of participants, while for 26% it was “better than expected”.

A study by Flux Vision Tourisme, Orange and ADN Tourisme showed that the number of visitors to French winter holiday destinations was – as expected – up 21% this year compared to 2021, and was even higher by 7% to that of 2020.

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