Serial rapist ‘preying on girls at French campsites’

A suspected serial rapist is preying on young girls holidaying on campsites in the Ardèche region of central France, local police said Friday.

A major investigation has been launched in the area and campsite owners have been asked to step up security following the rape of an 11-year-old French girl in the early hours of Wednesday.

The victim was attacked as she slept in a tent on a campsite at Saint-Didier-sous-Aubenas.

Officers are now linking the attack to several other sexual assaults that have taken place on campsites in the region since the end of June, police sources said.

As many as seven girls between the ages of seven and 12, one of whom was Dutch, have been attacked in the area in the last six weeks.

The manager of the campsite where the latest attack took place was reluctant to speak to an AFP reporter Friday, but owners of other sites in the area confirmed that they had taken steps to try to prevent further attacks.

These included the deployment of nightime guards and requiring everyone staying in the camp to wear wristbands, making it easier to ensure only registered guests have access.

An artist's impression of the suspected rapist – a man of around 40 – has been distributed to police forces in the region but has not yet been made public.

The Ardèche is one of France's best-preserved wilderness areas and its river gorges and rich flora and fauna draw campers from all over Europe.

Police were due to give an update on the progress of the investigation around 1400 GMT.

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New flights to south of France launched by Jet2

The low-cost British airline Jet2 has announced it will begin operating new services between the UK and southern France, starting in the summer of 2022.

New flights to south of France launched by Jet2
Flights will operate from May 1st 2022. Photo: AFP

When travelling is possible again, getting to Toulouse from the north-west of England is set to become much easier with the launch of new flights from Manchester Airport.

Jet2 already flies to Bergerac, La Rochelle and Nice. The company announced the new destination in response to demand for summer 2022 holidays.

Flights to the “Pink City” in south west France will operate from May 1st until October 16th 2022.

“Since putting our Summer 2022 programme on sale from Manchester Airport, we have added a significant number of flights and destinations in response to the demand from customers who want to get their all-important holidays booked in,” Steve Heapy, CEO of and Jet2holidays, said in a press release.

Since the British government announced a lockdown roadmap on Tuesday, with plans to end England restrictions by June 21st, the company has begun to see a surge in bookings.

READ ALSO: Will summer holidays in France be possible this year?

However the present rules on entry into France from the UK are the strictest they have ever been, with virtually no travel allowed between the two countries and no end-date to the current restrictions.

Jet2 plans to reopen its services in mid-May.

“Following the UK government announcement that international travel will not return until May 17th 2021 at the earliest, we have taken the decision to extend the suspension of flights and holidays up to and including 16th May 2021,” Jet2 said on Twitter.