French airports face second day of evacuations following new bomb threats and security alerts

Passengers wait as a French soldier patrols outside the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in Blagnac, southwestern France, on 18 October 2023.
Passengers wait as a French soldier patrols outside the Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in Blagnac, southwestern France, on 18 October 2023. Copyright CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP
By Euronews Travel with Agencies
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France was placed on the highest possible level of security alert last Friday after a fatal knife attack at a school.


A number of airports across France have again been evacuated following bomb threats. 

Fourteen airports received new bomb threats on Thursday (19 October) morning with "at least 8" evacuated, a source close to the matter told AFP. 

That includes Brest (Finistère), Carcassonne (Aude), Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées), Bordeaux-Mérignac (Gironde), Béziers (Hérault), Montpellier (Hérault) and Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).

The French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) told AFP that "several national airports, including Nantes, received threats of attack this morning" but did not provide numbers of names due to the changing situation. 

Lille airport said on social media that it was being evacuated due to a "bomb threat". It has since shared that the alert is over and the airport is gradually reopening to staff and passengers. 

In a warning on its website, Bordeaux airport said that "following a bomb threat, airport operations are gradually resuming" after having to evacuate for the second time in two days. 

The prefecture of Hérault warned that a bomb alert had led to the evacuation of Montpellier airport while the threat was cleared by authorities. It said that Béziers Cap d'Agde airport was also affected by the alert. 

By the afternoon, the threat had been cleared with passengers and staff allowed to return to the airport. 

"This has had little impact on travellers, as only one flight was scheduled to leave for London in the late morning. It is about to take off," airport spokesman Sylvain Jambon told AFP.

Nantes airport was also affected by a bomb threat on Thursday morning, according to the local prefecture. 

"The airport was evacuated. Doubts are being cleared, dog teams are mobilized," it wrote on social media. 

"To make the work of the services easier, avoid the area."

Tarbes-Lourdes and Carcassonne airports also confirmed to AFP that they had been evacuated, following further bomb threats.

On Thursday, France's Transport Minister Clément Beaune vowed to crack down on the false threats that have plagued airports and tourist attractions in the last few days. 

"These false alarms are not bad jokes. They are crimes. They will be sanctioned," he wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter). 

Minister of Justice Éric Dupond-Moretti warned that, under French law, those making false bomb threats could face up to three years in prison and a €45,000 fine. 

Security threats at airports for a second day

Several airports across France were evacuated on Wednesday (18 October) morning after "threats of attack", a police source told AFP. 

They were closed to allow authorities to "clear up any doubts" that the threats were real, the source said. 


The airports affected were Toulouse, Biarritz and Pau in the southwest, Nice in the southeast, Lyon in the east, Lille in the north, and Rennes and Nantes in western France, a spokesperson for French Civil Aviation Authority DGAC and the interior ministry told Reuters. 

The number of airport evacuations spiralled to around 15 across the country with a total of 17 threats received as the day progressed. Most evacuations lasted just a few hours and no explosions were reported suggesting that the threats had been a hoax.

A spokeswoman for Strasbourg airport told AFP that it was evacuated, after receiving "a malicious e-mail".

Beauvais airport, which is a hub for low-cost carriers like Ryanair, released a message via its Facebook page that said an "anonymous threat" had been received by several airports. 

Nice airport said on social media that the situation was an "abandoned baggage item" and a "security perimeter was set up to allow the usual checks to be carried out". 


At Nantes airport, a thousand people were evacuated, according to the prefecture.

In Lille, "the terminal was evacuated at around 10:30", according to a spokeswoman, who stressed that "this is not a very busy day". 

These situations were resolved by Wednesday evening but led to the cancellation of around 130 flights and numerous delays. 

Why were top Paris attractions evacuated over the weekend?

Top Paris tourist attractions were also evacuated over the weekend due to fears of a potential attack.

On Saturday 14 October, visitors were evacuated from the Louvre Museum and Palace of Versailles - two of the world’s most visited tourist attractions - for security reasons.


Alarms rang out at the Louvre and its underground shopping centre at around midday when the evacuation was announced. Police cordoned it off on all sides with visitors seen streaming out.

Officials said they received a written message warning that there was a “risk to the museum and its visitors”, according to AFP. The museum decided to evacuate and close for the day in order to carry out “essential checks”.

The Louvre Museum, which welcomes between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors a day, reopened on Sunday at its usual hours after no threat was found.

Just hours after the Louvre closed, the Palace of Versailles was also evacuated following a bomb threat. A source close to the matter told AFP that the alert came via an anonymous online message.

Videos of crowds leaving the top tourist attraction on Saturday afternoon were shared on social media.


The Palace of Versailles was evacuated again on Thursday afternoon for the fourth time this week following a security threat. 

French police stand guard in front of the Palace of Versailles as tourists enter again after the Palace was evacuated for security reasons on 17 October.
French police stand guard in front of the Palace of Versailles as tourists enter again after the Palace was evacuated for security reasons on 17 October.REUTERS/Clotaire Achi

Versailles has said that visitors with ticket time slots affected by the evacuations will be reimbursed. 

Why is France on high security alert?

France was placed on its highest possible level of security alert on Friday 13 October after a fatal school stabbing.

A teacher was killed and two other people wounded by a former student with a record of Islamic radicalisation in a knife attack at a school in the northeastern town of Arras.

Amid additional concerns over the Israel-Hamas war, the government has raised the threat alert level and mobilised 7,000 troops to increase security across the country.


The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) warns travellers that the threat level is described as ‘maximum vigilance and protection in the event of an imminent threat of a terrorist act or in the immediate aftermath of an attack’.

It advises people to “stay alert and follow the advice of local authorities” when visiting France.

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