Saturday 27 May 2017

Paris: Is it safe to travel?

Paris Attacks: Travel Q&A

French flags fly as the closed Eiffel Tower is seen in the background on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. AP Photo/Peter Dejong
French flags fly as the closed Eiffel Tower is seen in the background on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. AP Photo/Peter Dejong
French soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. AP Photo/Peter Dejong
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Following a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, Pól Ó Conghaile rounds up the latest travel advice.

Is travel to Paris safe?

President Hollande has declared that "France is at war".

The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Irish citizens to "exercise extreme caution" in France following this weekend's Paris attacks.

"Citizens in Paris should exercise extreme caution and follow the instructions of the local authorities," it says.

"There is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates."

A state of emergency has been declared, and Irish citizens travelling within, to or from France should expect additional security measures and travel disruptions, it adds.

Update: "“As part of the national state of emergency, the French Ministry of Education has cancelled all school trips to the Île-de-France region – the area surrounding and including Paris - until 29 November."

Read the full travel advice here.

If you are concerned about an Irish citizen in Paris, contact 01 408-2000. The Irish embassy in Paris is at 01441 76700 or paris@dfa.ie.

Are flights going ahead as normal?

Yes. Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Air France and CityJet are operating as normal between Irish airports and Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris Beauvais and Paris Orly.

The French government has asked for extra checks at all airports in the country, with Aéroports de Paris reporting that it is "strengthening controls".

Passengers should expect delays, in other words, so check with your airline website or aeroportsdeparis.fr for updates before travel.

French soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. AP Photo/Peter Dejong
French soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. AP Photo/Peter Dejong

I’m nervous about travel. Can I get a refund?

Usually not.

If you cancel your holiday without the DFA (dfa.ie/travel) declaring travel to be unsafe, it could be deemed "disinclination to travel". As such, you may have to pay a cancellation fee or forfeit some or all of the cost.

Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) is an exception in this instance, however. It is offering customers booked to fly between Dublin or Cork and Paris from November 16 to 22 the opportunity to change their booking free of charge or apply for a full refund.

CityJet (cityjet.com) customers are also being offered the opportunity to change flights booked to/from Paris Orly until November 30.

Ryanair (ryanair.com) customers that booked to travel to/from Paris Beauvais on November 14 or 15 could change their travel dates and transfer free onto another flight on the same route within the next two months (excluding Dec. 17 to Jan. 5), but normal booking conditions now apply.

Air France (airfrance.ie) offered customers with tickets for travel between November 13-15 the option of postponing flights until November 22 free of charge, or exchanging the flight for a non-refundable voucher lasting one year.

Read more: Travel & Terrorism Q&A: What does my travel insurance cover?

What is open, and what is closed?

Three days of national mourning took place in Paris (November 14-16), with almost all tourist sites closed for the duration.

The Louvre re-opened Monday afternoon, as did the Eiffel Tower. Other museums like the Musée d'Orsay, normally closed on Mondays, were set to re-open Tuesday.

Public transport networks are operating as normal, including the Paris Metro.

Disneyland Paris remained closed until Wednesday, November 18.

Munster's Championship Cup rugby match against Stade Francais, scheduled for Sunday, November 22, has been postponed on the advice of local police.

Emergency telephone number for tourists: +33 1 45 50 34 60.

See en.parisinfo.com for further updates.

I've booked a package holiday. What are my options?

Unless the DFA declares travel to be unsafe, tour operators are not obliged to provide refunds or alternative holidays to customers.

However, Irish tour operators have in the past worked to facilitate customers affected by exceptional events, so it's always worth a phone call.

The Irish Travel Agents' Association issued a statement:

“A number of ITAA travel agents and tour operators operate holidays to Paris and we will be working closely with them and the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist anyone currently in Paris, or with outstanding bookings for travel to Paris.”

What about trains and ferries?

Eurostar (eurostar.com) trains are operating as normal, though customers are advised to allow for additional time to check in and complete security checks before travel.

There are no reported delays from Stena Line or Irish Ferries.

NB: This story is being updated to reflect developments.

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