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What to expect from travel in France on New Years weekend

The Local France
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What to expect from travel in France on New Years weekend
Vehicles in November 2020 as they move on Paris' ring road known as "Le peripherique" (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

If you are returning home from your Christmas and New Year's holidays in France this weekend, here is what you can expect in terms of traffic jams, train cancellations and strikes.



Train travel is expected to run mostly normally - aside from regional train traffic in the Bordeaux area - during the first weekend of 2023. Originally, New Year's weekend was expected to be marred by delays and cancellations due to large-scale, countrywide strike action. Unions and the management of SCNF, France's national rail service, reached an agreement, which led to unions scrapping the strike notice for the period of December 30th to January 2nd. 


Rail workers at the Bordeaux train station plan to walk out between Friday, December 30th and Monday January 2nd, which could cause severe disruptions in regional train traffic. SNCF told Le Figaro that they recommend travellers "postpone (their) trip or check (their) train or connection the day before at 5pm."

You can do so via the TER Nouvelle-Aquitaine website or the SNCF Connect application.

For those who had their trains cancelled over Christmas weekend, SNCF offered to reimburse double the ticket price. To claim your reimbursement, you can fill out the online form HERE.

As for the Eurostar, as of December 29th, services were expected to run normally throughout New Year's weekend, despite recent strike action on the part of UK-based security staff. 

Passengers should be notified about cancellations or changes, but some Eurostar passengers have reported not getting updates about earlier cancellations, so it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the Eurostar website or app for any timetable changes. 


For those travelling into the UK by plane, UK-based border staff are planning a second series of strikes at airports across the country. The walkouts will also impact passport control workers, and they will run from December 28th to 31st.

Cabin crew for Air France filed a strike notice for the Christmas and New Year's holiday period running until January 2nd. While this has not been retracted, an Air France spokesman said that the airline plans "to carry all its customers and does not foresee any cancellations."

EasyJet cabin crew for the French subsidiary of the company had also threatened to strike over the New Year's weekend, but unions withdrew their strike notice after successful pay negotiations with management.


Workers with the airline French Bee have extended their strike notice through January 2nd. According to union representative Priscyllia Lefèvre, workers have "not received any satisfactory response to their demands regarding working conditions and pay." and extend the call to stop work.

However, French Bee head Marc Rochet told Réunion La 1ère that the industrial movement would not impact flights.

On the other side of the border, Ryanair cabin crew employed in Belgium have announced plans to strike over the New Year's Eve weekend as unions call for the airline to "respect labour laws." Unions have also threatened to call on workers to strike January 7th and 8th as well. 

According to 20 Minutes, Ryanair walkouts are expected to result in several flight cancellations. If you are flying on Ryanair via Belgium, you can stay updated by checking your flight status on the airline website


As the Christmas school holidays come to an end this weekend, many families will be returning home on the roads, primarily on Sunday and Monday.

Earlier in the weekend, on Friday and Saturday, traffic conditions are expected to be normal - classified as "Green" by the French traffic watchdog Bison Futé, for both departures and returns.

However, on Sunday, the traffic watchdog expects to see significant slow downs on the roads, particularly for those returning from eastern France and those travelling through the Paris region.


The slowdowns are expected to last until Monday, January 2nd.

Screenshot from Bison Futé website showing traffic predictions for Sunday

On Sunday, the roads are expected to be especially busy for those returning home after the Christmas holidays. While most of southern and western France is still classified as "green" for normal traffic, significant portions of the east - from Burgundy to Auvergne Rhône-Alpes have been classified as "orange" for "difficult traffic conditions."

The traffic watchdog recommends that those travelling through the Paris region do so before noon on Sunday. It also advises that motorists avoid the A6 freeway, at the Fleury tollgate (80km south of Paris), from 2pm to 7pm; the A7 freeway, between Orange and Lyon, from 4pm to 8pm, the A43 freeway, between Chambéry and Lyon, from 11am to 8pm; the N90, between Italy and Albertville, from 3pm to 7pm.

Bison Futé also predicts that wait times for passing through the Mont-Blanc tunnel on the way back to France will exceed one hour between 1pm to 8pm.

Screenshot from Bison Futé website showing traffic predictions for Monday

On Monday, January 2nd, the Paris region, Burgundy and much of eastern France are still expected to experience "difficult traffic conditions" for those returning home. 

Bison Futé recommends that slowdowns will begin in the Paris region at 11am until, and that traffic will be slowest between 4pm and 8pm. The site also advises that motorists avoid the A35 freeway (between Strasbourg and Germany) from 3pm to 8pm, the A10 freeway (specifically, the Saint-Arnoult toll) from 11am to 7pm, and the A6 freeway running between Lyon and Beaune, from 12pm to 2pm on Monday.


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