Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • Europe launches navigation satellites to rival GPS

    Read more

  • Philippines to repatriate UN troops in Liberia over Ebola fears

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Iraqi Sunnis quit govt talks after mosque massacre

    Read more

  • US demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

    Read more

  • Rights group sues US government over ‘deportation mill’

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels begin work on ceasefire

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Missouri town

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • Fed Chair says US job market still hampered by Great Recession

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

France

Trains and boats and no planes

Text by Perrine MOUTERDE

Latest update : 2010-04-20

The suspension of flights over most of Europe has left tens of thousands of travellers stranded around the globe. France 24 spoke to people who are trying desperately to reach their intended destinations.

French lawyer and holidaymaker Liz Lacharpagne was on five-day trip to Morocco on an all-inclusive package when the ash cloud began to wreak havoc.

Lacharpagne told France 24: “I got an alert Thursday on my iPhone saying that a volcano had erupted, but I didn’t pay much attention. On Friday, though, when I got to the airport in Fez, it was total chaos. Our airline, Royal Air Maroc, told us to come back tomorrow. We spent an additional night at Fez and waited for news about whether the ash cloud was rising or falling.”

Finally, Lacharpagne decided to take matters into her own hands. She took a bus from Fez to Tangiers, spnt a night there and then stood in line for two hours to take a boat to the southern coast of Spain.

“We’ll get there soon," she said, “but I don’t know what we’re going to do there. We’re looking for someone who can take us by car or truck, but we haven’t found anyone.”

Time to be resourceful

Some passengers on Lacharpagne’s ferry are planning to rent cars. While air transport is paralysed, travellers are scrambling for any means to get to their destination — taxi, car-sharing, bus or boat.

Car rental agencies are overwhelmed. One branch of the Avis car rental company in Paris told France 24 that normally it would have about 60 rental cars out at one time. With this unprecedented crisis, 150 cars were rented on Saturday.

The shortage of rental cars has spurred many to seek to share cars. The site Road Sharing, for example, which connects drivers with people seeking rides, has seen a 30% increase in use.

France 24 spoke to French holidaymaker Alexandra Claironne, who had to hire a taxi and two rental cars to get from Irun, on the Spanish-French border, to Biarritz, about 30 kilometres away in France.

Railway companies SNCF and Eurostar have dispatched additional trains to cope with increased demand. The Euroline coach company is also overwhelmed by European passengers trying to book long-distance journeys. Ferries are also reporting record use. The P&O cross-channel ferry company says it transported 6,000 passengers on Friday, whereas on a normal April day it carries between 100 and 200 passengers.

Using their imaginations

AFP reported the story of one resourceful Brit stuck in France who bought a bicycle so that he could get on a ferry — passenger seats had all been sold out, but seats for cyclists were still available.

UK television presenter Dan Snow also had an original idea — which unfortunately was scuppered. To rescue Brits stuck in France, he chartered five pneumatic boats with the intention of taking 300  per day, in three trips, from Calais to Dover.

He wrote on his Twitter account that the trip had been cancelled “without reason”,  but later it surfaced that French port authorities prohibited the mission, saying it was a violation of international maritime law.

Those stranded are having to keep a stiff upper lip despite the inconvenience and uncertainty.

Lacharpagne said, “I’m a lawyer. I’m supposed to be in court tomorrow. But I’m patiently trying to make the best of a bad situation.”

Date created : 2010-04-19

  • AVIATION

    Images and stories from the travel chaos sparked by the ash cloud

    Read more

  • AIR TRAVEL

    The FRANCE 24 survival guide

    Read more

  • AVIATION

    EU ministers hope to restore flights as travel chaos persists

    Read more

COMMENT(S)