News Article: Paris

19 November 2015

As a result of the knock-on effects of November 13’s terror attacks in Paris, travel to and from the French capital has become slower due to the increased security at the borders. However there are additional factors which need to be taken into account when travelling to Paris. Here’s what International SOS is advising:   

The situation on the ground

The situation in Paris is returning to normal, with minimal disruption to travel around the city. Follow-up security operations to detain suspects will continue and could cause localised disruption in some areas in several EU countries. Some hoax threats have occurred in the aftermath of Friday’s attacks, resulting in delays to specific flights; increased public vigilance has also led to sporadic false alarms and rumours of further incidents. These are likely to continue in the coming weeks, and cause localised disruption.

Travel can resume though some delay and/ or disruption is likely, arising from increased security checks at ports of entry and key transport hubs. Some European countries are increasing security controls: Belgium increased its terrorist threat level. Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Sweden have reinstated border controls. Other countries are likely to follow suit.

Airports and train stations are operating normally, however longer delays caused by thorough security checks are to be expected, albeit mostly for travellers arriving and departing in France (Airports, Eurostar, land borders).

Travellers should not be unduly alarmed by heightened security but they should be vigilant, pay attention to their surroundings and be prepared to respond to instructions from the authorities. They should consult trusted, reliable information sources for updates on the situation. Moreover, travellers, particularly non-EU nationals, should have travel documents and ID on them at all times for use in any ID checks.  

Short-notice travel restrictions as a result of fresh security alerts remain possible. Consequently, travellers should be flexible in their itineraries and allow ample time for travel check-in procedures.

What the “state of emergency” means for travellers

A “State of Emergency” has been declared in France, and the French President has requested it be extended by three months. It is the highest state of Alert. It provides the French Ministry of Interior the ability to close public venues, ban demonstrations, limit/restrict traffic and/or apply a curfew if necessary.

Increased security presence

There is a heavy security presence across Paris: over the weekend 1000 extra military personnel were deployed across the capital city in addition to the troops deployed as part of the “Sentinelle” operation in place since the “Charlie Hebdo” attack. Multiple Police and Intelligence operations have taken place in various cities in France; with parts of cities cordoned off by security forces. More are likely to follow, and they may generate localised incidents. Government has indicated that it does not plan to postpone the COP 21 meeting.