Following a series of coordinated terror attacks across Paris, Nick Trend offers advice to those due to travel to the city
French military patrolling near the Eiffel Tower in January Photo: EPA
Despite the announcement that France was closing its borders following a series of terror attacks, flights, ferries and trains have been running as normal – but security has been stepped up. Tourist attractions in Paris eventually reopened after three days of mourning.
Is it safe to travel?
The huge security presence probably means that it is as safe as it can be, though there are likely to be delays at airports and on Eurostar because of this extra security. Border control checks have also been implemented at all entry points into France.
The French Ministry of Education has cancelled all school trips within France by French schools until Sunday, November 22; these cancellations don’t specifically include foreign school parties, but the French Ministry of Education has advised foreign school groups to avoid travelling to France for the time being.
The Foreign Office has advised British nationals to exercise caution in public places and follow the advice of the local authorities. “On Friday 13 November, a number of terrorist incidents took place in Paris resulting in widespread casualties,” its website states. “French authorities have heightened security measures due to a risk of further attacks.
“The advice of the Paris Police is currently to keep movement around town to a minimum. Systematic border control checks have been implemented at all entry points into France.
“A national state of emergency and a three-day period of mourning have been declared (14-16 November). Public gatherings, the flying of drones and use of fireworks in the Ile de France region (Paris and surrounding area) have been prohibited.
Armed French Police patrols near the Saint Antoine hospital in Paris Photo: EPA
“If you are considering returning to the UK, please contact your travel company for information on availability.”
The Foreign Office says the threat from terrorism in France is “high”, the same rating given to more than 30 other countries, ranging from holiday destinations such as Turkey and Spain to war-torn states like Libya and Iraq.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate,” it adds. “Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against ISIL, the French government has warned the public to be extra vigilant and reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures.”
Is there a curfew in Paris?
No, but in accordance with advice from the police, the FO has advised British visitors to keep travel around the city to a minimum.
Are trains to France running?
Eurostar services have been running to Paris from London St Pancras but there were reports last weekend that many seats were empty.
This Eurostar was supposed to be sold out but my coach is virtually deserted. Lots of people deciding not to travel
- 129 people were killed in the brutal attacks
- 89 perished during a hostage situation in the Bataclan during an Eagles of Death Metal concert
- 352 were injured
- 99 were critically injured
- There were seven attacks by at least seven terrorists, it is thought
- All seven of the terrorists were wearing suicide vests
- The first attacks happened at 9.20pm, four miles apart
- The third attack happened at the Right Bank area of central Paris, where 15 people were gunned down and killed while they were eating and drinking in restaurants and bars.
- At the Casa Nostra pizzeria on Rue de la Fontaine au roi, at least five people were shot and killed.
- At least 19 people were killed at an attack in La Belle Equipe bar in Rue de Charonne after the bar was sprayed with bullets at around 9:35pm
- The sixth attack was at the Bataclan at around 9:50pm. The siege lasted two hours and forty minutes.
- Two of the terrorists blew up their explosive belts as police arrived on the scene at around 12:30am
- There was a third blast near the Stade de France – and although it terrified spectators, no one is thought to have been killed during the seventh and final attack
Are flights affected?
Gatwick North Terminal was evacuated on Saturday morning “as a precautionary measure” but reopened later that day. Flights are arriving and departing as normal and the airport has said it expects business as usual. Trains are running to Gatwick Airport as normal and shuttles and coaches between terminals are in operation. Heathrow Airport is also operating normally.
Can I rearrange my flight free of charge?
Flybe has extended for a further two days its offer enabling customers not wanting to travel to Paris to change their travel plans for free. Those due to fly to Paris on November 16 and 17 can rebook a later date, to an alternative destination, or obtain a credit note for future travel. Call Flybe on 0371 700 2000 (from outside the UK +44 1392 683 152).
BMI has said that passengers due to travel to Paris within the next 14 days can reschedule to another date or destination by contacting the Customer Services Department on 0330 333 7998 or visiting bmiregional.com.
Metro services are running as normal, although Oberkampf station, near the Bataclan, is still closed.
What about visitor atractions and events?
French authorities closed several major attractions, including Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Disneyland Paris, following the attacks.
Sporting fixtures and concerts – including a performance by U2 – were cancelled over the weekend. Cinemas closed on Saturday, but reopened on Sunday.
Natasha Edwards, Telegraph Travel’s Paris expert, said: “On Saturday evening, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the streets of Paris so empty, it felt a bit like a ghost town, but by yesterday afternoon, people were back out again.”
She suggests that tourists “should carry their passport with them at all times (as one is meant to do anyway) and be prepared for security checks and bag searches, so leave plenty of time to get into places.”
Can I cancel my trip or return early?
You can, but you will have to pay any extra costs you incur. Travel companies are not obliged to offer free cancellation or repatriation unless the FCO advises against travel – though some are doing so for a limited period.
While some hotels may allow you to postpone your booking, you are normally liable to honour any hotel bookings unless there is a free cancellation clause.
Will my travel insurance cover any losses if I don’t travel?
Not usually. Travel insurance normally excludes costs associated with terrorist action.