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Help planning a VFR route in France

@Fernando, I fly a lot in South West France and would encourage you not to be put off.
I have written here on numerous occasions that I would buy the “Guide VFR pack” The complimentaire in that lists all the “R” “D” and “P” areas and details of activity etc and frequecies to contact for clearance..
If you take the bay region from St Nazaire along to Lorient there is a.“D” zone there. Unlike in the UK there is no reason not to transit danger zones in France but of course its at your own risk, but on this one there is actually a note that points out that the coastal part of this zone is open to VFR without need to contact Brest.
The Cognac zone has many sections. In our area LFFK you need to keep below 3000ft to not need to talk to anyone but above 3000ft Cognac will often give permission to transit.
Transiting the main airfield CTA itself can be done IIRC under 1400ft. On a Sunday or bank holiday double click and you will get a message saying you are welcome to transit vertical the runway above 1000ft. If you use the airways shown in green at IIRC 6500 and above its class E and transit is given without problem as it often is for any transit except if there is a lot of military movements going on and if you are on the airways they might ask you to “please would you mind re routing via the west or east because of increased traffic”. Please note that this is not an order but a polite request. I have never risked not adhering to the request as the fast jet jockeys and the trainee fast jet jockeys might see you as a chance to have some fun.
The examples I have given above can just as easily apply to most restricted areas in France. They are very rarely what @Bosmantico describes as concrete walls. Most can be crossed or transited with very little detour.
For Notams and flight plans have a look at Sofia and for weather have a look at aeroweb. Much of the same can be found on Skydemon and SDVFR but sometimes there is greater detail for the flight you are making. When in France do what the locals do.

Last Edited by gallois at 22 May 14:50

French ATC nearly always clears you through CAS. You just tell them the relevant part of your route and the usual reply is “radar contact”. They don’t use the word “cleared” – a big discussion point in various threads, and it is incorrect, but it doesn’t matter because they can see you and will call you up if they want something. And this is just as well since much of the French CAS is virtually impossible to decipher

However (in most cases) they won’t clear you so automatically through military airspace and the various “prohibited” areas. You have to plan to avoid those. You also cannot rely on French ATC to coordinate a transit of these.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

You also cannot rely on French ATC to coordinate a transit of these.

True, SIV/FIS don’t deal with T/P/R-areas outside airspace & outside routes (again it’s Golf), they may know activity but they don’t own permission, however, you can always leave frequency to ask for it yourself (AIP ENR5.1 has all details)

SIV/FIS does great job with T/P/R-areas in their TMA & AWY, again it’s CAS, including Echo, they will always coordinate or give other routes

Last Edited by Ibra at 22 May 15:06
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

99.9% of the time you will not get transit through a “P” zone but there are some which are not always active.
“R:” zones you can often get permission to transit.
“D” zones do not require clearance but it is advisable to communicate.


The problem is that “often” is not good enough for flying a plane.

“Often” might mean “90% of the time” if you speak French, or “10% of the time” if you don’t.

One needs something better. The SIA charts (the “SIA VFR pack” sold from the SIA shop) comes with a little book which lists all the R etc areas with likely active times, and contact details. That is how I used to fly VFR in France. Nowadays that stuff is probably online somewhere.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Nowadays that stuff is probably online somewhere.

It would drive you nuts trying to figure all this out in real-time (or even in an armchair) from just the Supplement. If you can cope with French, use SDVFR. I think SkyDemon also does all the same stuff, though I’ve never used it.

With SDVFR, set up a route that looks OK. Switch it to elevation mode and it will show you what nasty stuff you’re going to hit. Then you figure out whether:

a) they’re likely to let you through anyway
b) you can tweak the route to avoid it
c) if they DON’T let you through, what Plan B you can come up with

I think I used the term “concrete”. I was thinking of R138, Canjuers, restricted from ground to infinity. I’m told that very occasionally it is inactive, but for sure you should never count on it. Whereas R95, a few km to the south, will always (in my experience) let you through with a quick call to Le Luc 122.2. You just have to know these things.

LFMD, France

Unless you mean VOR-VOR Echo Airways +FL65 which can be flown with exactly the same ease VFR & IFR in France,

I’m willing to believe you, but not a single one of the VFR instructors I’ve flown with has said that. They all treat ANYTHING except Class G as “here be dragons”.

When I did my one and only long VFR flight in France, from Toussus to Cannes, I did it at 7500’ and did get cleared into some controlled airspace for example around Clermont. But I was told there was no chance Lyon would give me a transit. Whether that’s true or not, I didn’t try to find out.

LFMD, France

It is true, reportedly, that Lyon is the one exception on my comments about easy CAS transits. Another one is Nice is IME is really militant (“nasty” would be more accurate). But these are a long way from the OP’s route.

Class E, FL065-FL115 generally, is “the” way to fly in France. Easy and peaceful. Or Class G.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

They all treat ANYTHING except Class G as “here be dragons”

The thing is that there are Echo corridors at FL65-FL115 (not shown on typical maps) that link every TMA in France, they are owned by en-route ATC/FIS (SIV/CI), planning to fly these under VFR or IFR keeps you out of any restrictions and ensure seamless handover

People in France call these Golf (as they are not in VFR map), Brit pilots like to call them Airways (as SkyDemon call them)

The only Airway that takes one to Biarritz is SAU-BTZ at +FL65, I would plan that VFR at FL75 without even looking at military and restricted airspace, if going outside it, I tend to “plan”…

You could join Clermont-Ferrand or Lyon or even Nice Charlie using these, ATC will handover

The only thing that changes when flying these VFR or IFR is FL80 instead of FL75

Last Edited by Ibra at 22 May 16:35
Paris/Essex, France/UK, United Kingdom

The thing is that there are Echo corridors at FL65 (not shown on map) that link every TMA in France

That’s extremely interesting. Where do you find these? On the IFR Low chart?

LFMD, France
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