France: Restricted & Prohibited Areas
At first glance, the French 500,000 chart indicates that the country is dominated by restricted and prohibited areas. Many of the restricted areas are military aircraft corridors (RTBA) which are used for training at low levels. Closer inspection reveals that transits through these are possible, albeit at very low levels (typically 800 feet) above ground. It is also possible that Mirage jets will be encountered inside the "free" space, so caution is advised at all times, and where corridors need to be crossed it is a good idea to do so over the shortest possible distance even if this means a deviation from the planned route.
Most of the military corridors have published operating hours and contact information is given so that clearances can be obtained in advance. It is recommended that reference is initially made to the official SIA guides. These military training areas will also be depicted in NOTAMS when active.
There is a specific section in the SIA Guide which gives further detailed information about the times of operation of the RTBA high speed low altitude flying areas, detailing for the current day and the next day what sections are active and which are not, and at what times. Generally the corridors are not active on weekends or public holidays.
Follow this link for the SIA RTBA details, including what sections are active and a useful "what is RTBA" guide in English. It is recommended that you check this website before crossing the military corridors. Details of the active RTBA sections can also be obtained from +33 1 56 301 301, option 2 (English), then option 3 (RTBA network activity).
Prohibited areas should be given a wide berth. Many of them relate to nuclear power stations and other sensitive installations and there are very heavy fines for infringement.
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