Reducing traffic jams a priority for Paul Ricard

2018 French Grand Prix

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Fans planning to attend the 2018 French Grand Prix can expect some traffic jams despite efforts by the race promoter to reduce them.

Paul Ricard is returning to the F1 calendar this year for the first time since 1990. Concerns have been raised about the difficulties fans may face getting into the track despite race day attendance being capped at 65,000, which is considerably lower than at most European rounds.

The race promoter told F1 Fanatic it has made plans and arranged trial runs to improve the flow of traffic to the circuit.

“The police, the traffic authorities of the areas and we are working on a plan to handle all the increased traffic,” said the director of marketing for the French Grand Prix Aurélie Letellier.

“There are plans to implement a sort of circular road around the circuit that will be a one-way road to direct traffic and ease the spread to parking lots. There’s a few other measures to redirect local traffic and we’re looking at opening other roads as well to traffic that are normally not open.”

“We have a couple of events on the circuit that allow us to test a little, we have for example the Bol d’Or [motorcycle endurance race] which has quite a number of visitors. Obviously it’s a bit different, a lot of visitors come on motorcycles, but it’s an event we can use as a benchmark and it works quite well.”

Although these trial runs went “quite smoothly” fans have been warned to expect some traffic jams. “You’ll always find the people that complain and cannot understand that when you have such a race track in the middle of a beautiful landscape, great setting on top of a mountain with sea view, then obviously it’s going to take a little bit of time to get here,” said Letellier.

“Obviously traffic jams are to be expected to enter but we’re working on it to speed up ingress and egress.”

Hotels asked to ‘offer good conditions’

The race organisers have also tried to address concerns about the availability and cost of accommodation at the race.

“We have got in touch with all hotels and accommodations and we have told them that there’ll be business for everyone, they’ll get their share and publicity as well through the grand prix,” Letellier explained. “We will help them market their rooms and so on and in exchange we asked them to refrain from increasing prices.”

“We have set up an official label for hotels and track accommodation options where we’ve said we commit to granting them visibility and booking options through ticket purchases and so on.”

“In exchange we ask [them] to keep a number of rooms and options available at reasonable prices, keep a high level of service, welcome in guests from all over the world, but also where they offer good conditions, so not asking for minimum five-night stays and not asking for 10 times the price.”

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23 comments on “Reducing traffic jams a priority for Paul Ricard”

  1. It should also be a priority for Abu Dabhi

    Oh wait, not that kind of traffic jam…

    1. @johnmilk Traffic jams aren’t a problem around the Yas Marina Circuit during the race weekend, LOL. At least not when I was there in 2016.

      1. exactly, around the Yas Marina

      2. @jerejj Your missing his joke, but jokes aside, you are right. Abu Dhabi is as organised as can be.

        1. @flatsix I indeed assumed that he was sarcastic, but still, though, I decided to reply with the wording I did.

    2. @johnmilk ;-)
      After reading the title of the article I initially thought about traffic jams on the track.

    3. I’m more concerned with that type of Paul Ricard race day traffic jams.

  2. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    9th January 2018, 12:50

    What will the circuit be like for overtaking?
    i.e. please no traffic jams on the circuit..

    1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk On paper at least, this circuit layout shouldn’t be too bad for overtaking, but let’s wait and see how it will be in reality.

  3. Considering whether we do the French GP this year paired with the Austrian GP, convenience of hotels or otherwise is a bit of a deal breaker, not being fond of life under canvas…… I expect to pay a premium for accommodation over a GP weekend. Traffic can’t be any worse than Silverstone that can be murderous at times…

    1. Traffic can’t be any worse than Silverstone that can be murderous at times…

      How does the traffic around Spa compare to the traffic around Silverstone?

      1. @demercer Or Assen, worst I’ve had. MotoGP last year was a disaster. Took us 2,5h to go, 7,5h to go home,..

        1. @flatsix Normally the outgoing traffic at the MotoGP at Assen is very smoothly, but if recall correctly last year there were a lot of road works.

      2. @demercer I only have one reference for Spa 2015 and it was o.k. getting to the circuit, we hung around at the end so traffic was fine on leaving following the route through the rural roads. Silverstone I have been caught multiple times for hours around the circuit. Austin was very easy this year, despite all the warnings to the contrary.

        1. we hung around at the end so traffic was fine on leaving

          That is usually a good tactic.

      3. @demercer Went to Spa this year. Left Brussels at 7:30 in the morning on Friday, got to the camping at 10:30. I´d advise you to stay in a place where you can walk to the track. As on Sunday evening, I left at 8pm and there was no traffic at all. If you have to work or take a flight on Sunday, try taking Monday off and return early in the morning

  4. “The police, the traffic authorities of the areas and we are working on a plan to handle all the increased traffic,”

    Many cities in the world have public transport, and presumably there is public transport in the area, why not encourage people, especially spectators, to use that? Why not include free rides on public transport to and from the event by presentation of a ticket? There is a railway line about 10 km to the South East of Circuit Automobile Paul Ricard, so why not make use of that? Say, have a free ride on the train from Marseille or Toulon to the nearest train station, then have buses carry the people, again for free, to the race track from there? There are lots of less subtle ways to encourage people to use public transport to the event, for example have toll roads into the area and bus priority lanes.
    There are some people who need to get a vehicle to the event because it assists them in providing a product or service to the spectators, so those people should be catered for.

    1. If Paul Ricard was near a city, it would certainly have helped. Unfortunately, it’s not – it’s just over 25 miles east of Marseilles and 105 miles west of Nice. North is the very rural Rhone national parks. South is the Mediterranean ocean. Also note: all the prices I’m about to quote are one-way, so even if you only went for race day, you’d need to pay each price twice…

      From the Marseilles direction, the nearest bus route stops 10.6 miles away, at St Cyr-les-Lecques. While using it saves £35 on taxi fare (expect to pay £27 for the taxi from St Cyr-les-Leques to Paul Ricard and £8 for the train), it’s still not a walkable distance for most people to do six times in the same weekend. This is 55 minutes’ travel each way, before taking Grand Prix traffic into account (or 40 minutes’ drive, for anyone using a car or taxi to travel directly between Marseille and Paul Ricard).

      From the Nice direction, the only primarily-public-transport option is the train. This stops in Toulon, 17.5 miles east of Paul Ricard. The site I used to obtain these figures refuses to quote the taxi fare for the entire journey, but the taxi for Toulon-Paul Ricard was estimated at £35 and the train is £25. 105 miles of walking across a weekend sounds like a fantastic hike across the Provence landscape, but not perhaps the sort of interest crossover that the French Grand Prix organisers had in mind when they started to organise this race. This is nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes of public transport travel (or 2 hours’ drive for the cars and taxis).

      To put this into perspective, even Silverstone on British Grand Prix Sunday has a bus service from Towcester, which is just under 5 miles away (I’ve used it for other race events; it’s not a popular option then but I suspect things are different on Grand Prix weekend). Even Donington Park is less than 2 miles from a bus station serving its nearest city (Derby), and most people who knew the area pointed and laughed when they heard that the previous owner’s putative GP attempt would emphasise public transport.

      We can safely assume this race is for people who can stay locally, or possibly have a car and stay in a village a little further away – but staying in a city and travelling, even if free taxis were laid on and no traffic jams happened, would be a tiring experience for a lot of fans. From the Marseille direction, one would need to leave before 7 am, given that at least a little more traffic than usual could reasonably be expected. Someone travelling from Nice would need to be leaving about 5:30 am and probably wouldn’t return much before 9 pm.

      The call for reasonable conditions is nice, but too late. I’ve just looked on my favourite booking site and hotels in the Paul Ricard area are already 98% full, so most of the money (whether from good conditions or bad) has already been made. There are still options for a 4-day weekend in that locality, but don’t expect bargains. Cheaper accommodation in the cities will, as just demonstrated, be balanced by rather more expensive transport to and from the track, plus a lot more tiredness.

  5. Did they finally start selling tickets? They weren’t available for sale before christmas yet. I had hoped to go and visit with a group, after we had a great time in Austria this year. But since there haven’t been tickets, we did not want to reserve accommodations yet, and have now all but given up on going this season.

  6. Only been to Silverstone 2013. Took 2 hours to get back onto the motorway afters, about a 1.5 mile drive. Next time I go I’ll just load the bike into the boot and cruise past.

    1. It would be nice if they actually offered that facility including proper cycle paths between villages like they do in most Dutch and Belgian provinces.

      1. That’s why I want the Zandvoort GP back on the agenda. I can take the bike to get there…

  7. Michael Brown (@)
    9th January 2018, 22:11

    Can they fix that horrendous pit exit? Nothing like having cars exit the pits on the racing line of a straight.

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