Saturday, 27 February 2010

High Winds Warning

High Winds are blowing in the Pyrennees and there are Orange and Red Alerts for various areas. The wind was blowing at over 100 kph with gusts up to 140 kph, said Weather France.

The orange alert has been established in 64 departments and 4 other red until Sunday 21h.

Charente-Maritime, Vendee, Vienne, Deux-Sevres were put on red alert on Saturday afternoon in anticipation of the arrival of the storm early in the night. Regions affected by the orange alert : Alsace, Auvergne, Basse-Normandy, Burgundy, Brittany, Central, Champagne-Ardennes, Haute-Normandie, Ile-de-France, Limousin, Lorraine, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Pays de Loire, Picardy and Poitou-Charentes, and the departments of Ain, Dordogne, Gironde, Isère, the Loire, Rhône, Haute-Saône and Territoire de Belfort.

Serious damage can be expected. Weather France recommends limiting travel and if possible plan to avoid the threatened areas. Traffic conditions may be difficult and some local disturbances may affect air, rail and sea travel.

It is best to check local weather conditions with Aujourd'hui - France - La météo sur - France 2
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Thursday, 25 February 2010

More Flight and Travel Misery

Four of the Pilot's Unions of Air France have voted to go ahead with their strike from 26th February to 1st March.

In addition, the strike by air traffic controllers continues today (Thursday 25th February) for the third consecutive day.
There was a cancellation of half the flights from Orly and 15% of flights from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle. Disruptions are expected across the territory, said a statement.

There are also problems with strikes on Ferries from Marseilles to Corsica.

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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Total Oil Strike Suspended

The Strike by Total Oil workers has been suspended after various Union demands were met. There is to be a review of France's energy needs and Total will review its refinery needs.

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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Strike Hits Flights To and From Paris Airports

Flights have been cancelled at the two main Paris airports as French air traffic controllers begin a five-day strike. Half of the flights in and out of Orly airport and one in four from Charles de Gaulle have been cancelled.
Staff are protesting because of an agreement which was signed by six nations, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland, to modernise air traffic control that may lead to job losses.

The strike is taking place during a school holiday in France. It is said by analysts that Union leaders were hoping to put pressure on President Nicolas Sarkozy's government ahead of regional elections next month.

So if you are flying to France in the near future it may be a good idea to check your flight with your airline.

This news item which may be useful for holidaymakers travelling to France has been found for you by
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Total Oil Workers Strike Continues

On the seventh day of their strike, The Total Oil Workers picketing the Dunkirk refinery voted on Monday afternoon to continue with their strike by having a 24hr strike for Today, Tuesday 23rd February. Already over 130 Total Service Stations are running short of fuel.
One of their demands has been met in that a meeting has been brought forward to March 8th from March 29th. However the strikers are also asking for a freeze in closures of refinery sites, in particular the Dunkirk site, for the next five years.

So if you are heading off to France in the next few days it might be a good idea to at least start off with a full tank of petrol ! Bon Voyage !

This news item has been selected as of use for holidaymakers to France by
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Monday, 22 February 2010

Total Oil Workers Strike

The French Government has pledged that the public will not be affected by petrol or diesel shortages as a result of the continuing strike by Total Oil Workers. The workers, from France's largest oil company, have been picketing the company's six main refineries in France for more than a month.

The dispute is over the possible closure of Total's Dunkirk refinery. Total stopped production at the refinery last September because of a fall in demand. Talks between Total and the CGT union broke down on Sunday 21st February.

The CGT is now calling for the strike to spread to the two French oil refineries owned by US group Exxon Mobil, where strikes are planned for Tuesday. The union says that 80% of Total's refinery workers remain on strike.

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Another Eurostar Train Breaks Down

More than 700 passengers have had to be rescued from a broken down Paris to London Eurostar train in Kent late on Sunday 21st Feb after it experienced what the company said was a "major technical problem". Passengers had to wait for a replacement train that arrived more than an hour later.

Eurostar apologised for the incident and said there would be a full investigation into what had caused the electrically powered train to stop. Eurostar would not confirm passengers' claim that lights in the carriages had failed and they were sitting in the dark for two hours or reports that the power car had become detached from the rest of the train. There were also reports that the air conditioning and toilets had failed.

Eurostar said there was not expected to be any disruption to services later and passengers should check in as normal.

The incident is the latest problem to hit Eurostar. Several trains broke down in December when heavy snowfall affected the trains.

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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Aires ! or motorway stopovers !

In France, you pay to travel on most motorways [autoroutes] (there are a few free motorways, around large cities and in Northern France) but there is one benefit that comes with this cost – an immense variety of "aires". Government regulations demand that aires are placed at a maximum of 20 km intervals, so there is one without fail every twelve miles or so.

The aires range from small picnic areas with an emergency telephone, almost open air toilet and wash basins and a few picnic tables/seats, to filling stations with a variety of services including shops, restaurants and often with incredible views.

If you look carefully there are quite often wildlife areas and we stopped last year and sat watching various butterflies hovering over a variety of wildflowers.

The "aires" can get busy during the tourist season but are generally not too busy. The ones in and around the larger cities can be more busy and crowded so if you can plan to stop in the countryside that is probably a better plan.

There is a guide book to these motorway stopovers. This book seems to be aimed at Motorhome owners looking for cheap stopovers but it may also be useful for ordinary drivers. I will try and find out more !

There is also an excellent website with interactive maps of motorway aires at

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French Wine and Champagne Exports Decline in 2009

Exports of champagne fell by almost a third last year as overseas sales of French wines and spirits recorded their biggest ever annual decline. The country's total export of wine and sprits declined by 17% in 2009 and champange exports fell by 28%. The Federation of French Wine and Spirits Exporters blamed the global recession and US and UK consumers turning to cheaper New World brands.

So maybe us holidaymakers can expect to drink some of this surplus of good wine at cheaper prices ! Lets hope so ! Cheers ! A votre sante !
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Friday, 19 February 2010

Ce n'est pas pinot noir !

Ce n'est pas pinot noir: E&J Gallo conned into buying cheap plonk from French vineyards. Would you recognise the difference ?!


Voies Vertes

These are French cycle ways rather like the UK Sustrans network.
Some are entirely off road and some are on quiet roads.
The website has a map and you can see if there are any cycle routes where you are holidaying. You can then download an excellent pdf file with a description of your chosen route.