Traffic jam warnings issued across France as holidaymakers head off for long ‘bridge’ weekend

Franc's traffic forecaster has predicted jams on the roads this weekend as holidaymakers head off for the "grandes vacances" and others make the most of the long "bridge" weekend.

Traffic jam warnings issued across France as holidaymakers head off for long 'bridge' weekend
The current coronavirus situation has lead to more people than usual opting for the car as a means of transport this year, to avoid crowding on trains and planes and potential exposure to the virus. P

France has kicked off its grandes vacances (summer holidays), which means increased traffic on the country's roads at weekends as city dwellers head to the coast, the countryside and the mountains.

The current coronavirus situation has lead to more people than usual opting for the car as a means of transport this year, to avoid crowding on trains and planes and potential exposure to the virus.

Les Grandes Vacances: What you need to know about France's summer holidays in 2020

Although not everyone drives away at the same time, some dates are more popular than others.

Saturday, July 11th, is predicted to be particularly busy as many people will take advantage of the public holiday on Tuesday – when France celebrates its Bastille Day – to faire le pont (do the bridge) and go away on a long weekend.

Bison Futé, the government-run side that monitors traffic levels in France, has placed the whole country on 'red alert' for those leaving to go on holiday on Saturday.


Red is the second highest level after black and signals 'very heavy' traffic.

Anyone leaving the Paris region on July 11th should leave after 4pm, according to Bison Futé.

The map below shows the roads where traffic is expected to be especially difficult (red), difficult (orange) and normal (green) on Saturday.

Photo: Bison Futé

On Friday, Bison Futé set the country on orange alert – meaning traffic would be 'heavy' –  for people going on holiday while the Paris region Île-de-France was coloured red.

For those coming back from holiday the situation would be largely as normal (green alert) except in the southwest, which was coloured orange.

Sunday was predicted to be calmer with most of the country coloured red except for some areas where there traffic could be heavy, although the whole country has been set on a green level for those coming back from holiday.

Looking forward, there are some dates to look out for:
  •  August 1st and 8th for going on holiday 
  • August 22nd and 29th for coming back.
One of the most iconic forms of rivalry between French holidaymakers is the opposition between the juilletistes and the aoûtiens – those who go on holiday in July versus those who prefer August. 

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‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”