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PARIS

Paris begins phasing out paper ‘carnets’ of Metro tickets

Buying a 'carnet' of paper Metro tickets - a rite of passage for many users of the capital's public transport system - is coming to an end as the city moves to more paperless tickets.

A commuter goes through a ticket gate at the Gare du Nord station. Paris is set to abolish packs of 10 physical metro tickets.
Paris is set to abolish packs of 10 physical metro tickets. Photo: Philippe LOPEZ / AFP.

As well as buying a single one of the small cardboard Metro tickets, users can also save money by buying 10 or 20 tickets at a time – known as a carnet – which work out cheaper per ticket.

But public transport operator Île de France Mobilités has announced that it will be phasing out the purchase of carnets in three stages.

  • From October 14th 2021, packs of 10 tickets are no longer sold at ticket machines in around 100 stations.
  • From January 2022, the ticket books will stop being sold in 176 additional stations.
  • From March 2022, packs of 10 will no longer be sold at any ticket machines or ticket counters on the RATP network.

You can see which stations will be affected in each of the three stages using RATP’s interactive metro map here.

It’s part of an overall plan to make the city’s public transport system largely paperless and moving people towards phone apps and top-up cards to buy their Metro, bus, RER and tram tickets.

Alternatives

It is still possible to buy paper tickets for single journeys.

Users will still be able to purchase virtual carnets – 10 or 20 tickets at a time at a reduced price – using the Navigo Easy pass, which costs €2 and can be topped up at ticket machines or counters and via smartphone.

Tickets can also be bought either singly or in a carnet using the phone apps Île-de-France Mobilités, Bonjour RATP and SNCF Assistant.

If you are a more frequent user of public transport in Paris but don’t want to commit to an unlimited monthly pass, there is the Navigo Liberté + pass, which debits you for your total journeys at the end of each month.

It is also possible to purchase single bus tickets for €2 via text message.

READ ALSO The strange rules of the Paris Metro you should know about

1 in 10 tickets goes wasted

City authorities in Paris are pushing greener transport alternatives such as cycling, and have created several coronapistes (corona-cycle lanes) as the pandemic drives people to try and avoid crowded public transport as much as possible.

As well as environmental problems and littering, the cardboard tickets also frequently become demagnetised meaning that they cannot be used at automatic barriers.

Every year, nearly 5 million tickets are demagnetized because they are placed near keys or coins, according to RATP, and 10 percent of tickets from packs of ten are not used because they are lost, damaged or forgotten.

READ ALSO Praying to singing – all the things you can be fined for on the Paris Metro

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TOURISM

Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Amid accusations of racism at fancy seaside resorts and legal controversies surrounding US statesmen, we take a look at the law surrounding private beaches in France.

Reader question: Are there private beaches in France?

Question: I read that all beaches in France are public property, but down here on the Riviera there are a lot of ‘private beaches’ – how do the rules actually work?

In France, everyone has the right to a dip in the ocean, though it might not seem that way when walking through certain areas.

There are 1,500 of these “private beaches” in France – the vast majority of them located on the Côte d’Azur.

They have become a source of controversy recently, after two private beaches in Juan-les-Pins were accused of racism and discrimination following an investigation and video circulated by French media Loopsider. The video (below) shows how a white couples receive different treatment than North African or Black couples.

So what are these ‘private beaches’ and are they even legal in France?

In reality, none of these beachfront hotels, resorts or beach operators actually own that land, as the sea and the beach are considered ‘public maritime’ and are therefore the domain of the French state.

This means that technically there are no private beaches in France, as no one is supposed to be allowed to own the beach, though there are some caveats to that rule.

Since 1986, the State has been able to grant ‘concessions’ to allow for parts of the beach to be temporarily rented. Thus, hotels, resorts or beach operators can request a temporary rental of the beach for a specific period of time – the maximum duration being twelve years, which is renewable. If the local town hall agrees, then the renter will pay a fee (typically between €15,000 and €100,000 per year). 

This might seem like a de facto way of allowing beaches to be privatised, but the few who manage to ‘rent the beach’ are still subject to some constraints. For instance, they are only allowed to occupy the beach for six months of the year (sometimes this can be extended up to eight months with the permission of the town hall, or twelve months in less common circumstances).

At the end of the season, they are required to dismantle their installations, so permanent private structures on the beach are therefore not allowed.

So you might see a waterfront resort, but they do not technically have ownership over the beach.

What about private deckchairs or sun beds next to the water? 

This is another rule that is not always perfectly respected. Legally, any organisation that rents a part of the beach is required to leave a strip of “significant width” along the sea.

This is usually about three to five metres from the high tide mark, where members or the public can walk along the water or bring down their own towels or deck chairs down to the beach.

If a ‘private beach’ has deck chairs or sun-loungers right up against the water, there is a good chance the renting organisation is not following the rules.

Beachfront property

As the public has the right to be able to access the beach, homeowners are not allowed to block passage and can even incur fines for doing so. 

The public must be able to pass through land to get to the beach, and cannot be blocked from the beach in front of a property.

Public access to the beach came into the spotlight due to a controversy surrounding a property of former American presidential candidate and statesman, John Kerry.

Kerry’s family owns a villa in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer in Brittany, and has fought a three-decade legal battle to be able to block the coastal trail on the property, which by French law, should be accessible to the public. 

Despite the family siting potential ‘security threats’ should the beach front path be open to the public, local authorities backed plans to continue allowing public access in 2019.

What about building a waterfront property?

First, keep in mind that building in general in France is a heavily regulated process that requires planning permission.

You will not be able to build within 100 metres of the shoreline. If you buy a pre-existing coastal property, you will need to remember the three-metre rule discussed above and, as the Kerry family discovered, you are not allowed to block public access to the beach. 

For ‘coastal zones’ specifically, there are more strict regulations and most plots of land by the sea are listed as protected natural areas, and therefore are not allowed to be built on.

Can access to the beach ever be forbidden?

Yes, as per the Coastal Law of 1986, local authorities can forbid access to the beach for “security, national defence or environmental protection.” During the Covid lockdowns several local authorities banned access to beaches to avoid illicit partying.

There are also several rules about what you are allowed to do – and not to do – while visiting French beaches, and some of them might surprise you. 

READ MORE: The little-known French beach rule that could net you a €1,500 fine

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