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TOURISM

The new flags you’ll see on French beaches this summer

France has introduced an overhaul of the safety flags on its beaches, bringing it more into line with other European countries in time for the summer season.

The new flags you'll see on French beaches this summer
(Photo: Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP)

A decree published on January 31st in the Journal Officiel aims to standardise safety flags on beaches along the French coast, which have, historically, been different depending on the regions and beaches.

Most of the changes are minor. The most notable alteration is the shape, which changes from triangular to horizontal.

On the whole, the standard traffic light standard is maintained

  • Green indicates swimming is authorised for all
  • Yellow warns of the need for swimmers to remain vigilant
  • Red indicates that swimming is forbidden.
  • Purple flag signals water pollution.
  • A new flag – a horizontal red stripe over a horizontal yellow one – replaces the current blue flag to indicate the swimming is supervised in a certain area.
  • A black-and-white chequered flag has also been introduced which indicates an area in which water sports may be practised. Swimming is not outlawed in these areas, but the flag warns swimmers and those undertaking watersports to be vigilant.

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

Several French beaches had adopted the new signal flags last summer, which are recognised internationally, and allow tourists from other countries to more easily understand the bathing conditions, but the decree makes them standardised across the country.

These new flags meet an existing international standard established by the International Life Guard Sailing (ILGS), and bring France into line with numerous other nations. 

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TRAVEL

‘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.

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