France continues to be a source of amazement and delight for new and seasoned travelers alike, from the amazing beaches of the Riviera to the wonders of the city of Paris.
Traveling through France by train has been a popular option for travelers historically, but there are some changes in security and procedures that visitors should be aware of.
New Bill Tightens Rail Station Security
A new bill will be debated in the French parliament next month that would allow police and security guards to conduct searches and pat downs in rail stations. Earlier in October it was announced that France was seeking to add further safety to rail travel by permitting guards to search suspicious passengers, both on regional lines and on the Paris Metro.
In the past, police officers stationed at rail stations were actually not allowed to search passengers, so this is an attempt to bring France's safety measures more into line with other parts of the world.
If it is passed, this bill will likely go into effect at the beginning of the new year, so it is something that travelers to the region will want to be aware of when planning a trip to France.
The Reasons Behind this New Law in France
Since France is a highly populated country that attracts millions of visitors each year, French authorities work to make sure both residents and travelers feel safe and secure. A recent attack in September on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris received news around the world. Luckily, in that case train passengers were able to disarm the assailant without any casualties. But with growing threats to travelers' safety on public transportation, French authorities are taking action to make sure similar issues don't come up in the future.
How the Searches will Affect Travelers
Basically, this bill allows French police and security forces to stop a suspicious passenger and search their belongings and/or person. They are looking for weapons and illegal items, not the everyday traveler's typical gear. For many people around the world, police and security at airports and train stations are already permitted to search suspicious passengers, so for some this may not even be an issue.
Similar to many airports, luggage won't be searched without the traveler being notified. Again, travelers are always given the option to not consent to a search, but may not be permitted to travel if they do not cooperate.
Making the Choice: Public Transportation in France
The truth is, most passengers and travelers will not be affected by this new rule. It may add some time to travel, but for those who are not worried about being searched, a random selection won't make a difference in their overall journey.
However, many travelers have enough to worry about without wanting to interact with foreign police unless they have to and, luckily, France is incredibly easy to navigate via car. Renting a car in France can be a conveniently efficient way to see all that the country has to offer, and is a comfortable and private alternative to rail travel.
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Want to know what the most efficient way to get around might be on your next trip to Europe? Check out this infographic to find the cheapest methods of transportation in your planned destination.