News Digest: Post-Brexit Travel Delays, Easter in France & the Latest Strike News
More strikes have been announced for this week in France and delays at ferry ports have been complicating travel between the UK and France, but how will this affect the Easter holidays? Here are the French news stories you need to know about this week.
1. The latest on France’s pension strikes
France’s headline-grabbing strikes against the government’s controversial pension reform bill continue this week. French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne is set to meet with the country’s eight union federations tomorrow (Wednesday, April 4th)to discuss ending the strikes, but it’s unlikely to stave off the rolling strike actions announced for the coming week.
Travel disruptions and delays are expected on flights and TGV trains today and throughout the week, but the next major strike action is planned this Thursday (April 6th). As with other nationwide strike days, schools will be closed, delays and cancellations are expected on SNCF train services and public transport in cities, and some tourist attractions in Paris and other major cities may also be affected. Large demonstrations are also planned in Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux and other big cities. Our advice is to stay home if you can, but if you are travelling on that day, be sure to double-check travel schedules – train and flight cancellations should be announced 48 hours prior to travel – and allow extra time to account for any additional delays.
After triggering Article 49.3 of the French Constitution to push the pension reform bill through the Assemblée Nationale without a vote and surviving two votes of no-confidence two weeks ago, Macron’s government is now waiting on the ruling of the Constitutional Court. The working deadline for this is April 14th, and it will rule on whether the pension bill is constitutional.
2. Post-Brexit travel delays affect UK-France ports
This weekend (Friday, March 30th – Sunday, April 2nd) saw huge delays at the UK port of Dover, from where cross-channel ferries connect with the French port of Calais. P&O ferries issued apologies for travellers being made to wait four to five hours to clear border controls and customs, while coach parties reported wait times of up to nine hours.
The delays are the latest in a series of travel disruptions being chalked up to post-Brexit passport and customs procedures (which inevitably take longer than they did pre-Brexit), intensified by the surge of travellers making their way across the Channel for the Easter holidays. The popularity of school trips to France during this period (meaning an increase in large coach parties) likely also contributed to the delays.
While processing times seem to be back to normal as of yesterday (Monday), there is a chance of further delays over Easter weekend, so keep an eye on the latest travel news if you are travelling to/from Dover over the holidays. Thankfully, Eurostar, Eurotunnel, and flights were unaffected, and other ports seemed to suffer far fewer delays.
3. School’s out for Easter
French schools break up for their Easter holidays this week, with schools in Zone A (central and south-west France) starting their 2-week break this Saturday. Schoolchildren in Zone B (northern France, excluding Paris and the southeast) will have to wait until the week after, followed by Zone C (Paris area and south-central).
See our French School Holidays: 2022/2023 Dates for Your Calendar.
4. Happy Easter!
It’s Easter this weekend, so celebrate by learning all about how locals celebrate Easter in France. If you are resident in France, remember that Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques, April 10th) is a jour férié or bank holiday in France! Sadly, unlike in many countries, Good Friday (Vendredi Saint, April 7th) isn’t a public holiday in France, except in three eastern départements – la Moselle (57), le Bas-Rhin (67) et le Haut-Rhin (68).
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