England rugby fans intent on Paris invasion
11 October 2007, LONDON (AFP) - Trains and planes across the Channel are expected to be packed this weekend as hordes of England rugby fans head for Paris and a crunch World Cup semi-final clash with France.
11 October 2007
LONDON (AFP) - Trains and planes across the Channel are expected to be packed this weekend as hordes of England rugby fans head for Paris and a crunch World Cup semi-final clash with France.
Tens of thousands of supporters are gearing up for the big day, hoping that by late Saturday night they will be partying down the Champs Elysee rather than drowning their sorrows and limping back home on the ferry.
*sidebar1*A last-minute scramble is underway for tickets to the match at the Stade de France in the northern suburbs of the French capital on Saturday evening, although those so who haven't got one yet have few illusions.
"Does anyone have two spare tickets for the game on Saturday?" said Rob on an England fans web blog. "Know it's unlikely but if anyone does have two spare then they would be very gratefully received."
As many as 40,000 England fans are expected to head for Saturday's match, with many more likely to make the short hop to the French capital to watch the match on television in local bars and cafes.
Airlines, cross-Channel ferry firms and Channel tunnel operator Eurotunnel have reported massive demand for those heading southwards for the big match.
"As soon as the quarter-final matches were over last weekend there was a big response from fans wanting to travel with us," said Eurostar spokeswoman Lesley Retallack.
"It's not just English supporters who will be travelling with us over the next few days. There are many French ex-pats based in London and they are anxious to get to Paris for the big match."
Chris Laming of ferry company P and O said: "There has been an increase in the number of bookings we would normally be taking on our Dover-Calais services at this time of year.
"We are going to be pretty busy but there are 25 sailings a day and there is some space left."
Heathrow airport is also likely to see an army of white and red as fans head for Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport, a short distance from the Stade de France in the northern surburb of Saint Denis.
"Our London-Paris flights are going to be very busy over the next few days," said a British Airways spokesman.
England Rugby Travel, the official travel agent arm of the Rugby Football Union, said demand had been huge as soon as England unexpectedly beat long-time foes Australia last Saturday.
"England Rugby Travel has experienced unprecedented demand for semi-final packages since England's superb 12-10 win over Australia in the quarter-finals," it said.
"The first phase of packages sold out within three hours of the final whistle," it added, while noting that some packages of tickets, travel and accommodation are still available.
Eurostar added that fans desperate to get across will be able to, but it won't come cheap.
"There are some tickets left, but only at the high end of the price range. Many people will be taking our Brussels trains and then changing at Lille to get to Paris on French services," said spokeswoman Retallack.
Subject: French news