Passion for transport

Saint Valentine’s Day… an opportunity to indulge our nearest and dearest, to take them on a journey of the senses…

On February 14 love is in the air. And so too is business – including that of transport, where many means are employed to seduce clients.

Reductions, promotions, competitions… well aware of the commercial value of this feast day, right now all operators, all modes – from the train, plane and automobile to the bus and bike – are proposing a panoply of ‘love-themed’ weekend breaks and moments to cherish.

French Railways (SNCF) is running a number of ‘special’ offers around the 14, including a competition on Twitter (to draw in ‘connected’ passengers) whereby players can win a #SansValentin train trip amongst friends. The challenge? ‘To name a maximum of friends with whom you want to travel in a single tweet.’

Meanwhile in Brittany (northwest France) lovers can reach out on wings or by parachute, with ‘big thrills guaranteed!’ Or how about gliding through the Breton skies ‘in the intimate space of your private basket, floating over the ramparts of Dinan, following the river Rance to discover the beauty of Côte d’Emeraude.’

Fleeting moment

More ephemeral, ‘skywriting’ is another way to declare one’s love (if money’s no object!).

The simpler the better… a heart, a double heart with your initials, a marriage proposal, a declaration of love…  we play Cupid by delivering your message. After that, of course, it’s up to you,’ explains Oui’Up, an air events company based at Lyon-Bron airport (southeast France).

Modal shift

Coming down to earth, all the special offers centred around this heart-shaped date that involve public transport, i.e. everyday travel modes, are also playing another role – encouraging people to discover different ways of getting around, e.g. taking a bus and/or bike instead of the car…

In Paris, the ‘most romantic city in the world’, cyclists can win a St Valentine’s Day ride on the very first Vélib Tandem for lovers.

Meanwhile south of the country, couples riding the bus network in Avignon between Feb. 5-14 can join a competition to win a romantic meal, a gourmet dessert, a one-month bus pass, an annual velopop’ (bike sharing) pass, plus a must-offer bunch of roses!

Flower power

Top of the St Valentine’s gift wish list, roses (especially red) depend on transport too.

According to the most recent figures from French Customs, in February 2014, over 43 million roses were imported, mainly from the Netherlands, followed by Kenya, Ecuador, and Colombia.

The February rush for these flowers means a lot of air miles, not to mention much road haulage activity to and from the airports; all in all delivering a considerable carbon impact against the well-being of our planet.

‘Purchasing a bouquet of 25 roses is equivalent to a single-occupancy car travelling 20km!’

However don’t be greenwashed. Buying ‘grown in France’ is not necessarily a ‘greener’ choice – the CO2 emissions generated from heating the greenhouses is almost equivalent to those linked to imports.

Message in a bottle

So to keep love environmentally friendly, should we give flowers a miss?

Of course not!

However if you and your heart’s desire are by the water this Sunday, why not opt for another transport mode – send a joint billet-doux in a bottle (avoid plastic, of course!), with the aim being for it to be picked up and returned,  rather than to pollute.

Often it’s the simplest gestures that count the most…

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