Increase in ferries between the UK and France, new flights: Eight updates on travel in France

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

A major story this week concerns strikes by French ticket inspectors affecting Christmas weekend travel across the country.

Today (December 23), one regular train out of three is canceled on average, while Saturday and Sunday it will be two out of five.

The unions have now accepted an offer relating to SNCF pay, working conditions and career development, which means the strike is not expected to continue next weekend (December 31-January 1) .

Read more: Strike by French railway workers: unions lift their strike notice for the New Year weekend

Read more: Rail strikes in France: two out of five TGVs canceled this weekend

Brittany Ferries will resume its Portsmouth-Le Havre connections

Brittany Ferries has announced the reopening of Portsmouth-Le Havre crossings for cars and pedestrians from March 1, 2023.

The firm has only served this route for freight since the start of the Covid crisis, but now individuals can buy tickets for the crossing, which will be carried out by the Cotentin ship.

The crossings will take place from Sunday to Thursday, leaving Le Havre at 5.30 p.m. and arriving in Portsmouth at 10.00 p.m. The return trip will start at 11:30 p.m. and arrive in Le Havre at 8:00 a.m.

The Cotentin can accommodate 114 passengers in the cabin and 30 dogs in the car.

Le Cotentin will also transport passengers from Le Havre to the Irish port of Rosslare, departing from France on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and returning at 5:45 p.m. on Sunday.

“This is great news for travelers and the city of Portsmouth,” said Paul Acheson, Marketing and Sales Manager for Brittany Ferries.

UK Border Force strike begins today

Some 1,000 UK Border Force officials today (23 December) began a strike over wage pensions and job security, which will continue until 07.00 on 26 December and then again from 28 December until 31 December at 07:00.

This industry action affects Heathrow (Terminals 2-5), Gatwick, Glasgow, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester airports, as well as the Port of Newhaven.

Read more: UK Border Force to strike for eight days over Christmas

The Home Office and Border Force have trained military personnel, civil servants and volunteers to check the passports of people arriving at these transport terminals and reduce passenger waiting times.

“As the government takes action to minimize disruption, travelers due to arrive in the UK over the Christmas period are warned to expect delays and disruption due to the strike affecting border control “, said the Ministry of the Interior.

“Passengers should be prepared for longer wait times and should check with their travel agents, tour operators and airlines/carriers about possible disruptions to their journey before travelling.

“Our eGates will continue to operate as normal and we encourage all eligible people to use them as it is the fastest and most efficient way to pass border control.”

However, passengers at Gatwick and Heathrow have reported minimal disruption so far today.

It comes as Air France cabin crew also begin a strike which will continue until January 2. However, the airline said all scheduled flights would run as normal today and tomorrow, with forecasts for the coming days being issued 24 hours in advance.

Read more: Air France promises that all flights will operate despite the strike

Read also: Privatized Eurostar security will increase terrorism risk, says French union

Lyon airport opens seven new lines

In 2023, it will be possible to fly to seven new destinations from Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport.

The new routes are:

  • Amman (Jordan) with Jordanian Airlines

  • Hurghada (Egypt) with Transavia

  • Stockholm (Sweden) with Transavia

  • Tirana (Albania) with Wizzair

  • Krakow (Poland) with Wizzair

  • Milan (Italy) with Twinjet

  • Belgrade (Serbia) with Air Serbia

Other airlines are also increasing the frequency of flights to destinations already served by the airport. EasyJet, for example, will serve Funchal (Madeira) from September, Wizzair will fly to Rome and Transavia to Dakar (Senegal), Tenerife, Istanbul and Las Palmas (Gran Canaria).

Lyon Airport is offering flights to 100 different destinations this winter, i.e. 90% of its 2019 offer.

Emirates will also resume offering a daily flight to Dubai from February, and EasyJet will open a route to Malaga from June.

From January, Wizzair will connect Lyon to Gatwick four times a week.

It comes as British Airways opens flights every Saturday from December 24 to April 15 between Edinburgh and Chambery-Savoie-Mont-Blanc.

Heavy Christmas traffic in Ile-de-France today

Today will bring “very difficult” conditions for drivers trying to get out of Ile-de-France for the Christmas weekend, national forecaster Bison Futé has warned.

Congestion is expected to peak between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. today. It is advisable to avoid the A10 around the Saint-Arnoult toll between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

Traffic conditions should be normal in the rest of France.

On December 26, conditions will again be “difficult” in terms of departures and returns, as people return from Christmas visits.

It is advisable to leave Ile-de-France before 10:00 am in case of departure and to avoid the A10, A6 and A13. Those returning to Ile-de-France should endeavor to arrive there before 2:00 p.m.

More details on the Bison Futé website.

The Grand Paris metro will miss the 2030 completion target

The Grand Paris Express rapid transit project will not be completed in 2030 as originally planned, said the Société du Grand Paris (SGP).

The organisation’s president, Jean-François Monteils, told AFP that there will “probably” be a delay of “a few months”.

The SGP is in charge of building 200 km of automatic metro tracks, four new lines – numbered 15 to 18 – to be opened and line 14 extended.

The new system will form a circular network, with several branches connecting the airports of Orly and Charles de Gaulle, the scientific platform of Saclay and Seine-Saint-Denis to the center of Paris.

Each line is set to launch on different dates, and the majority of the system is now set to start opening in 2031.

However, the line 14 extension is still “perfectly on time” and should be ready for the 2024 Olympics. The line will eventually join Saint-Denis Pleyel to the north and Orly airport to the south.

Financial incentive to avoid rush hour driving in northern France

The city of Lille voted in favor of a ‘ecobonus‘ financial incentive to encourage motorists to avoid certain roads during rush hour.

Drivers will be able to earn up to €80 per month through a ‘positive toll‘ (positive toll) or ‘reverse toll‘ if they contribute to reducing the bottlenecks that are developing on the A1 and A23.

The program will be introduced in the spring of 2023 and drivers will be eligible for payment if they agree not to drive alone in their car – instead of carpooling or opting for public transport – during peak times on these roads.

Each solo journey avoided – and declared via an application – will give rise to a payment of €2. Automatic license plate recognition will be implemented on participating roads to verify people’s claims.

Read more: A city in northern France will offer cash bonuses for car-sharing on motorways

Read also: Six changes for drivers in France in 2023

The city’s regional council hopes the scheme will reduce the number of cars on the A1 by 750 (out of a current total of 12,000) during morning rush hour.

The program will be tested for three years and is expected to cost around 9 million euros.

Green councilors voted against the measure, calling it “Gaz factory(a convoluted project) that is very expensive for a “very uncertain outcome” that will have “no effect on greenhouse gas emissions or pollution”

“The people who will benefit”ecobonus‘can simply delay their car journey at an off-peak hour’, and therefore still create the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions, said Pauline Sgard, adviser to Europe Ecology – The Greens.

Read also: “Gas plant”: this French expression describes a vast and complicated system

Bordeaux the only major airport not to limit night flights

Bordeaux-Mérignac is the only major airport in France not to have imposed limits on take-offs and landings at night, despite the campaigns of local residents.

The activity continues at the airport at night, causing noise pollution for the inhabitants of the neighboring municipalities of Haillan and Eysines, who are pushing for a ban on night flights.

In its 2022 report, the Airport Nuisance Control Authority (Acnusa) listed the French airports subject to night restrictions, including Beauvais, Orly, Nantes, Mulhouse and Toussus-le-Noble.

All these airports are committed to reducing noise pollution between midnight and 06:00.

Bordeaux Airport has however indicated in a new plan for the sustainability of its activities that it “will undertake to reduce night flights by setting up increasingly degressive pricing for airlines, favoring day “.

Simon Dreschel, director of Bordeaux airport, said the ban on night flights did not depend on his organization but on the state and that: “We are committed to reducing night flights but we are not we can’t stop them completely.”

Trenitalia Paris-Lyon services have lowered prices

Since Italian rail operator Trenitalia launched the Paris-Lyon and Paris-Milan routes in December 2021, ticket prices have fallen and bookings have increased.

Trainline said prices fell by 8%, from an average of €46 in the last quarter of 2021 to €42 in the last quarter of 2022 on the Paris-Lyon route.

On the Paris-Milan line, prices fell by 17%, dropping from €72 to €65 on average.

Trainline also noted that on lines where SNCF is still without competition, fares have increased.

The Paris-Lille link, for example, increased by 14%.

Trainline said: “This shows that the arrival of competition a year ago is indeed a lever to increase the purchasing power of the French.”

Reservations via Trainline also increased on the Paris-Lyon and Paris-Milan routes, by 172% and 291% respectively.

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