What will the ban on short-haul flights in France mean for tourists?

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What will the ban on short-haul flights in France mean for tourists?

So, France is ready to stop short-haul flights. The approval of the European Commission has been received, so all that remains is to sign the documents, and the first three routes from the secondary airport of Paris Orly to Bordeaux, Lyon and Nantes will be permanently closed.

Interestingly, the ban applies to flights to Bordeaux, Lyon and Nantes from Orly, meaning passengers can still reach these regional capitals from the main Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. Thus, it is still possible to travel domestically by air, although traveling on a fast and convenient high-speed train is almost certainly faster and more comfortable. So, from the Gare de Lyon in the center of Paris, it is possible to reach most cities in the south in just a couple of hours.

So who needs this ban?

As part of the 2021 climate legislation, France was one of the first to propose a ban on domestic flights where equivalent train journeys of less than two and a half hours are available. This policy has now been approved by the European Commission.

In almost 40 years of operation, the TGV high-speed train network in France has expanded to cover the north, south, east and west, that is, all directions in the country. Trains between major urban centers are frequent, convenient and inexpensive, which means that most long-distance passengers are already accustomed to traveling by car.

To fly, you must first get from the center of Paris to the airport, go through check-in, security control, stand in line at the gate before departure and taxi to the runway. This is not to mention possible delays due to weather conditions. In a similar amount of time, you can probably arrive at your destination's central station while admiring the beautiful French scenery from the wide windows of the high-speed train.

How much are tickets for the SNCF high-speed train?

Low-cost Ouigo (pronounced “we go”) high-speed trains from Paris to Lyon start at just 10 euros. This, of course, without a large suitcase and without prior selection of a seat.

The second — standard — a class on regular high-speed TGV trains, also called inOui (“in we”), has enhanced features. Here you can take a larger suitcase and choose a seat in the car.

First class on a conventional TGV train, which is actually very affordable, especially when compared to business class on an airplane, offers larger seats with extra legroom and more comfort.

On some routes it is possible to use the night train — Intercité de Nuit) — or slower regular trains called Intercités. Ouigo also offers these conventional trains on several routes, including to the Loire Valley with its famous wine-producing towns and castles, and to the Burgundy wine region.

What's next?

Decidedly The move was opposed by the trade associations of airports in France and Europe, but their opinion was not heeded.

The European Commission approved a ban on three flights from Orly, although it was planned to “cover” a total of eight routes. These are the five internal directions that remain: between Charles de Gaulle and Lyon, Rennes, Bordeaux and Nantes; and also between Marseille and Lyon.

They are either not long enough, lasting just over two and a half hours, or do not have enough rail service during the day to meet the agreed criteria. True, experts have no doubt: such restrictions will be expanded, the maximum travel time by rail will be increased from 2.5 to 4 hours, and more routes will receive modern rails and infrastructure.

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