Greater Paris to get cable car to connect city suburbs

The first ever cable car service in the greater Paris region will connected two of the city's suburbs in just 17 minutes, according to newly-released plans.

The France's first urban cable car was inaugurated in Brest in 2016.
The France's first urban cable car was inaugurated in Brest in 2016. The Val-de-Marne département outside of Paris is set to acquire one of its own. (Photo by FRED TANNEAU / AFP)

Work on the line, which will connect the southern Parisian suburbs of Créteil and Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, is set to begin in March.

Known as Câble 1, this project will cover 5 stations and is aimed at providing “a concrete answer to the daily transport difficulties of residents of these Val-de-Marne communes,” according to Ile-de-France Mobilités (IDFM)- the regional public transport authority. 

A map shows the planned route of a cable car service in the Val-de-Marne département outside of Paris.

A map shows the planned route of a cable car service in the Val-de-Marne département outside of Paris. Source: IDFM

Each cabin will contain space for ten people sitting down and will be carried dozens of meters in the air above the streets below. In total, the line will run 4.5km – a distance it will cover in just 17 minutes. It is unlikely that anyone will be able to use the line until 2025. 

IDFM said that the project, which is set to cost €132 million, will represent an “attractive and innovative mode of public transport,” for some 20,000 local residents. 

In an interview with Le Parisien IDFM director, Laurent Probst, said that the service would have a capacity of up to 1,600 passengers per hour. 

49 percent of the finance for the Câble 1 service will come from the Ile-de-France regional authorities, 30 percent from the Val-de-Marne département and 21 percent from the national government. 

A legal challenge that claimed the cable cars would pass too close to people’s homes and infringe on their right to privacy, is set to be thrown out of court. 

The design plans have been revised to ensure that the cabines would pass higher above houses and to increase the distance of the stations to houses. Floors of the cabins will be opaque, meaning passengers can’t look directly down at residents below. 

Construction schedule

Below is the provisional construction schedule according to IDFM.

  • March 2022: Foundation laying and rerouting of network 
  • 2023 – 2024: Civil engineering works begin, pylons erected, cable cars connected
  • 2025: Câble 1 enters service

IDFM say that a dozen other cable car projects are currently under consideration. 

Similar urban cable car systems already exist in Brest and Grenoble. 

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Can tourism in France surpass pre-pandemic levels this year?

A report from the World Travel & Tourism Council predicts that the French tourism sector will bounce back strongly in 2022, potentially even surpassing pre-pandemic levels. We spoke to people in the tourist industry to see how they feel about the future.

Can tourism in France surpass pre-pandemic levels this year?

Covid-19 has battered the French tourism sector. 

In 2019, before the pandemic, tourism accounted for about 8 percent of French GDP and 9.5 percent of all jobs. The 90 million tourists who visited the country that year brought in an estimated €170 billion. 

While France is thought to remain the most visited country in the world, the last couple of years have been a disaster. Only 40 million people visited the country from overseas in 2020 (54 percent less than in 2019). Official figures for 2021 have not been released but the total number of foreign tourists was thought to be 50 million, according to government projections before the end of the year. Many have felt a real-life impact of this. 

Simon Burke left his job as an HR director for a Paris-based tour company called Fat Tire Bike Tours last year. Withering tourist numbers meant the company was running on a skeleton staff, making his role redundant.

But in September, he incorporated a new business – Txango Tours – offering tourists guided visits of Paris, Versailles and other parts of the country in motorcycle sidecar. 

“It is really a childhood dream. I’m feeling optimistic about this season,” he said. 

Simon Burke tests out a Txango Tour sidecar in Paris.

Simon Burke tests out a Txango Tour sidecar in Paris. (Source: Txango Tours)

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Simon’s confidence is not misplaced.

The organisation predicts strong growth in the French tourism sector this year if restrictions continue to be gradually lifted. It said that tourism industry could bring €182 million into France in 2022 and that the number of people working in it could even surpass pre-pandemic levels. 

Data from France’s national statistical authority for the last quarter of 2021 showed that tourist accommodation bookings were 8.6 percent lower than the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

It indicated a bounce-back in domestic tourism with residents spending just 3 percent fewer nights in hotels, campsites, gites and other tourist sites than before the pandemic, but international tourists were still hesitant, with 33 percent fewer hotel stays than in 2019. 

Even before the pandemic, domestic tourism (French people holidaying within their own country) accounted for 70 percent of all tourism revenue, and over the last two years the government has promoted staycations as a ‘patriotic’ option to support the tourism industry.

But for some, the outlook remains bleak.  

Clare Dawson, who is based in the Alpine resort of Tignes, runs a website called through which she and her small team rent out dozens of self-catered chalets, organise airport transfers and hire out ski equipment. 

In the past, Clare has relied largely on seasonal workers from Britain, mostly employed on part-time contracts. But because of Brexit, this option is now much harder – given the visa requirements. 

“We just can’t get the staff,” she said. 

“Of course, we are all hoping that Covid is a short term thing, but Brexit is permanent”. 

Local labour market conditions in France mean that the local population prefer to avoid temporary, part-time contracts. The hospitality sector had been struggling to recruit enough staff even before Brexit and Covid. 

Seasonal Businesses in Travel (SBIT) which is a collective of more than 200 British tourism businesses operating in the EU placed 7,000 adverts on for chalet worker jobs in pôle emploi centres during the 2018-19 ski season, guaranteeing that they would employ anyone who applied. In total, there were three responses to the ad, two of which were spam emails. 

The mountains though, haven’t escaped the pandemic altogether. Clare has had foreign guests cancel reservations at the last minute over concerns about the vaccine pass and ski lifts have been closed at various points during the pandemic. 

Her partner runs a ski rental company called Tignes Spirit which has cut staffing from 35 last year, to just 10. 

“For ski businesses, it has been a really tough couple of years,” said Clare. 

The French government has invested billions of euros in supporting the French tourism over the course of the pandemic and unveiled a further €1.9 billion in financing in November to help develop the sector further over a ten-year period – much of this funding has been earmarked for training people to work in hospitality roles.  

READ MORE What you need to know about the French ‘Tourism Plan’

Perhaps even more significant than all this spending is the easing of Covid restrictions, according to SBIT managing director, Charles Owen. 

“In terms of a bounce back, everything is relative,” he said.

“With the end of the UK-France travel ban and with restrictions being wound back, we are starting to recover. But the pandemic has caused a lasting amount of damage and many firms have not survived.” 

The US government issued a level-4 travel warning for France in December, placing it in the red do-not-travel category. This is particularly damaging to some in the industry. 

More recently the four-month booster shot requirement for the vaccine pass has created difficulties for some Americans, leading to the US Embassy issuing a warning for people to check carefully the vaccine pass rules before booking a trip. 

The candy-loaded piñata is the American market – we need them to come here,” said Simon.

The French government is talking about lifting restrictions such as mask-wearing and vaccine pass rules in the spring, when the health situation permits.

But there is no guarantee that rules would not be reimposed if a new variant emerges – epidemiologists have warned that this cannot be ruled out. 

For Simon though, the sooner that such restrictions are lifted, the better. 

“If France continues to require the vaccine to do anything in France, tourism will not return to the pre-pandemic levels we are all hoping for,” he said. 

“I think, really, restrictions need to go away. But that is just wishful thinking.” 

You can find all the latest on travel rules and testing requirements in our Travelling to France section.