French Ryanair crews call for ‘unlimited’ strike action over summer

Staff at three French airports employed by budget airline Ryanair have filed a notice for 'unlimited' strike action over the summer in an ongoing dispute about pay. The action comes after strikes by airport staff in Paris and complaints from Easyjet's French pilots.

French Ryanair crews call for 'unlimited' strike action over summer
Photo by Tobias Schwarz / AFP

The strike notice filed by the Syndicat national du personnel navigant commercial, which represents the majority of flight attendants, concerns Ryanair staff at Toulouse, Marseille and Paris Beauvais airports.

The union said that the dates for strike action would be communicated to the airline “in due course” but added that peak travel times would be targeted, including the start of school holidays at the beginning of July and the long weekend around the July 14th Bastille Day holiday.

Flights to Morocco, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Corsica, England, Scotland and Ireland are likely to be affected.

The notice comes after airport staff – including security staff – at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports have called for a strike on July 1st. An earlier one-day action by the same group caused one quarter of departures from Charles de Gaulle airport to be cancelled.

Both the Ryanair staff and the Paris airports staff are calling for pay increases to help them deal with the increasing cost of living.

Separately, French pilots employed by Easyjet have written to the company CEO denouncing the chaotic operations that have seen the airline cancel dozens of flights already this summer, saying staff have been “duped” by the company. There is at present no notice of strike action from the Easyjet pilots.  

Staff shortages have led to long queues at airports around Europe as mass travel restarts after the pandemic.

READ ALSO Strikes and staff shortages – how travel in France will be affected this summer

So far France has not been as badly affected as countries including the Netherlands, Ireland, UK and Sweden, but passengers flying long-haul from Paris airports have reported long waits to get through security and check-in.

Unions have warned that airports will be seriously short-staffed throughout the summer, and passengers are advised to check carefully the recommended arrival time from their airline. 

You can keep up with the latest on strike action at our strikes section HERE.

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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