Easter holiday traffic warning in France

There's a red level traffic warning for most of France on Friday, as people begin their getaways for the Easter long weekend, in many cases for the first time since 2019.

Easter holiday traffic warning in France
Delays are expected on many French roads over the Easter weekend. Photo by PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

French traffic service Bison Futé has classed the whole country as red – its second highest level, meaning traffic jams very likely – on Friday, while northern France will remain red on Saturday morning. 

Anyone who plans to travel is advised to leave before midday, and avoid motorways and crossing cities on Friday afternoon and evening.

Map: Bison Fute

There are particular alerts for the following routes;

  • A10 motorway between Orléans and Poitiers, from 4pm to 8pm
  • A11 between Paris and Le Mans, from 4pm to 9pm
  • A13 between Rouen and Caen, from 12pm to 8pm
  • A7 between Lyon and Marseille, from 11am to 9pm
  • A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Saint-Maximin, from 3pm to 8pm, from Cannes to Italy, from 7am to 8pm
  • A9 between Orange and Montpellier, from 11am to 9pm, from Montpellier to Narbonne, from 3pm to 9pm
  • A62 between Bordeaux and Toulouse, from 4pm to 8pm
  • A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne, from 4pm to 8pm
  • Access to Italy through the Mont Blanc tunnel will also be very difficult at the beginning of the day, before 7am and between 6pm and 8pm.

In northern France, particularly in Brittany and all routes towards Channel ports, the red alert remains in place until lunchtime on Saturday. The rest of the country is on an orange alert – traffic jams expected – on Saturday.

Map: Bison Fute

Friday is not a public holiday in France (except in the Alsace-Lorraine area) so most people will be making their holiday getaway later on Friday.

The following warnings are in place for Saturday;

  • A11 between Paris and Le Mans, from 10am to 8pm
  • A13 between Rouen and Caen, from 10am to 8pm
  • N12 Rennes and Saint-Brieuc, from 11am to 6pm
  • N157 between Laval and Rennes, from 11am to 5pm
  • A7 between Lyon and Orange, from 8am to 8pm and between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille, from 10am to 8pm
  • A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Saint-Maximin, from 11am to 7pm, from Cannes to Italy, from 10am to 8pm
  • A9 between Orange and Béziérs, from 10am to 5pm
  • A61 between Toulouse and Narbonne, from 11am to 5pm
  • Access to Italy via the Mont Blanc tunnel (N205), sustained traffic from 9am to 1pm (waiting time greater than 30 minutes), says Bison Futé.

If you’re travelling through or from Paris on Saturday, the advice is to travel before 8am.

Easter Monday is a public holiday in France, so some people will be returning home from the long weekend on Monday afternoon and evening.

However, as many schools remain on holiday through the week, the traffic is not expected to be as severe in the return direction.

An orange travel warning is in place for the whole country, with drivers advised to expect congestion on motorways in the later afternoon and evening. 

The weather over the Easter weekend is forecast to be mild, sunny and spring-like.

As Easter 2020 took place during the lockdown, and Easter 2021 happened when most shops, bars and restaurants were still closed, this will be the first Easter break that many people have enjoyed for three years. 

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‘IT problems’ blamed for cancellation of flights from French airports

The French holiday weekend of Ascension has been hit by travel problems after Easyjet cancelled dozens of flights.

'IT problems' blamed for cancellation of flights from French airports

Easyjet announced on Thursday that it would have to cancel several dozen flights, many of which were set to depart from French airports like Paris Charles de Gaulle, Lyon, Toulouse and Nice.

The British budget airline tweeted an apology to the customers impacted, explaining that ‘IT system issues’ were to blame. 

In total, 200 flights across Europe were affected, confirmed the British newspaper The Independent.

Several customers expressed frustration at the hours-long wait times, many taking to Twitter to vent, like this user below:

So what happened?

Easyjet has not been very specific about the issue aside from explaining that the root of the problem was a computer system failure. They announced quickly that they were working to restore their systems and that in the meantime customers should continue to check Flight Tracker in order to verify the status of their flight prior to leaving for the airport.

While flights were set to resume on Friday, Thursday’s cancellations have had a domino effect, bringing about further delays and cancellations for flights originally scheduled for Friday. 

If you have flights booked, it is best, as stated above, to keep an eye on Flight Tracker in order to avoid potentially long wait-times at the airport.

Will passengers be compensated?

While Easyjet initially explained the IT problem as “beyond [their] control” and an “exceptional circumstance,” the company eventually retracted these statements and released a new statement saying that “Customers can request compensation in accordance with the regulations.” Here is the link to their website to find out more.

If you plan to request a refund, be advised that under European regulation for air passenger rights, travellers should be entitled to compensation between €260 to €410 per person depending on the duration of the flight, with the latter representing flight distances of over 1,500 km. Read more here.

Since Brexit, passengers departing from the UK may no longer be covered by the European compensation rules.