Traffic jams, new British flight route, strikes: Eight travel updates for France

This week we’re looking at some of the travel stories pertaining to travel to, from and around France.

1. Heavy traffic is expected as families go to and from February holidays

Traffic conditions are expected to be “difficult” in certain regions of France today (25 February) and tomorrow as people travel to and return from their February holidays.

In the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, departing traffic will be heavy today and tomorrow there may be delays in both directions as families from Zone A (including Besançon, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Dijon and Lyon) get ready to go home for the start of school return Monday.

Conditions are also getting difficult in the Ile-de-France today as the second week of the zone’s school holidays begins and people head out for the winter holidays.

State Transport Service bison fute advises drivers to leave Paris before 2pm today and to avoid the A6 motorway between Auxerre and Beaune and between Beaune and Lyon this afternoon and evening.

Traffic jams can also occur on the A43 between Lyon and Chambéry.

Tomorrow, people leaving Paris should try to do so before 08:00 and those returning should be in the city by 14:00.

Sections of the A6, A39, A40, A43 and N90 – going in both directions – will be busy between late morning and early to mid-afternoon.

2. French plane ticket prices are rising

The price of a plane ticket departing from a French airport to any destination increased by 5.5% in January compared to January last year.

The data comes from the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation (DGAC), which also found that ticket prices rose 4.9% in December.

In January, domestic fares rose more than international fares, registering an increase of 6.4% versus 4.5%.

Fare increases will be partly due to higher fuel costs, but also reflect airlines’ efforts to adapt their services to more environmentally friendly systems and resources, which are often more expensive than traditional materials.

3. Air France launches Nice summer routes

Air France launches its summer schedule from Nice Airport with four new and renewed international routes.

The airline will offer up to five weekly flights to Athens between July 9 and August 27, as well as a new service to Heraklion (Greece) operating twice a week between July 8 and August 26.

There are also two weekly flights to Tunis operating between July 11th and August 26th on Mondays and Fridays.

Finally, between July 9th and August 28th, Air France will launch a new London-Heathrow route with daily flights to the British capital.

Air France already flies to Paris, Lille, Lyon, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Brest, Caen, Rennes and Strasbourg in the summer season.

Gulf Air has also announced a new Nice-Manama (Bahrain) route due to start in June.

4. The unions are planning another day of strikes in the Paris transports

Unions representing RATP Paris public transport workers have called another day of industry action on Friday 25 March to protest wage packages proposed by management.

The strikers will demand significant pay rises, just as they did on their first day of action on February 18, which led to widespread disruption in the Paris region network.

Continue reading: Train strike: Paris and south-west trains ‘seriously disrupted’ tomorrow (February 18)

However, Métro and RER services were not as badly affected as expected, with the RATP estimating that less than a quarter of workers actually went on strike.

“Unless the company makes major changes,” March 25 will be the start of a “long, tough period of action for public services,” said the FO union, which represents the majority of subway drivers.

Transport unions reject pay rises proposed by RATP after its annual negotiations. Unions say the overall pay rise will be 0.4%, but the company argues that in practice it would actually be 2.7% for the average worker.

5. SNCF develops plans for the new Nantes-Angers-Le Mans train route

SNCF Réseau is considering building a new train line between Nantes, Angers and Le Mans, one of the busiest routes on the French network, which is now officially “saturated”.

The line has up to eight passenger trains per hour in each direction and the construction of a new track is not possible due to the rural and urban landscape around the line.

The SNCF is therefore looking for another way to relieve the pressure currently on the route.

The company will initially work to modernize the existing signaling system and eventually set up a new computerized system.

New technology could also allow two trains to arrive at Nantes, Angers and Sablé stations at roughly the same time on the same platform. These and other changes would help increase traffic flow by 25%.

“We could run from three to four TGV trains per hour per route. And we could probably add more slots,” said Loïc Cocherel, who is in charge of the SNCF Réseau civil works.

The creation of this new route infrastructure will cost 600 to 700 million euros and will be operational by 2030.

Beyond this date, SNCF must continue to consider how to accommodate the growing number of people using this line as the population of the Pays-de-la-Loire increases.

The company is therefore working on a new high-speed line between Sablé-sur-Sarthe and Nantes, which will allow trains to travel at 300 km/h.

“We looked at around 50 possible scenarios and shortlisted four,” said Mr. Cocherel. “We now have to look at how much time would be saved, the socio-economic impact, the financial impact… We are talking about multi-billion euro investments.”

The new line, which could include an underground route through Angers, would not be operational until 2050 at the earliest.

6. Volotea launches new Lille routes

Low-cost airline Volotea has announced three new routes from Lille to Calvi (Corsica), Palma de Mallorca and Varna (Bulgaria).

Flights to Calvi are offered every Saturday between June 4th and October 8th.

Palma de Mallorca connections are offered on Mondays between May 16th and October 3rd.

Finally, from May 17 to October 4, passengers can fly to Varna on Tuesdays.

Volotea already offers flights from Lille to Ajaccio, Bastia, Bordeaux, Cagliari, Figari, Montpellier, Nantes, Nice, Perpignan and Toulouse.

“With its network of 15 destinations and almost 491,000 available seats in 2022, Volotea offers additional options for travelers and helps improve access to Lille and its region,” said the Hauts-de-France airport management.

7. SNCF wants to install solar panels at French train stations

SNCF Gares et Connexions is looking for industrial partners to help the company implement its plans to install 1.1 million square meters of solar panels at French train stations.

This partner would be responsible for the design, investment, execution and maintenance of the project.

By 2024, the first panels will be installed in the parking lots of 156 stations and the electricity produced will be sold to the public grid.

Finally, SNCF stations hope to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by half compared to 2019 and use less electricity than is produced on their land.

8. British Airways officially recognizes sunflower lanyards

British Airways is the first UK airline to recognize the Sunflower Lanyard for ‘Hidden Disabilities’, a way to indicate when a passenger may need additional assistance or assistance.

Passengers with a hidden disability can wear the green and yellow lanyard to avoid having to explain why they might need extra help or time.

Hidden disabilities, as the term suggests, are disabilities that may not be immediately obvious and may include autism, chronic pain and learning disabilities, as well as mental illness, mobility, language disorders and sensory losses such as speech, vision and hearing loss or deafness. This also includes chronic diseases such as diabetes and sleep disorders if they significantly affect everyday life.

Tom Stevens, BA Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: “Nearly half a million customers who need extra support fly British Airways every year.

“We are proud to be the first UK airline to partner with Hidden Disabilities Sunflower and are committed to doing everything in our power to support customers who may need additional support through our BA Better World programme , so that you can have the best possible experience when you travel with us.”

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