Arrivals & Departures Weekly Travel News & Views 25 June 2024

The Eiffel Tower, and its Olympic rings.

Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield, just back from a quick but very productive trip to France, reviews another week in Travel

Fact File


There’s a strange feeling when you arrive home from a good trip, like someone opened the oven door too soon on a souffle. We love seeing our family and friends, our pets and homes, but we leave that other out-in-the-world person behind. It’s a fleeting moment of loss, and then we drop, happily, back into the everyday life we’ve made for ourselves.


I’ve just spent a week in France, writing. Pure joy. Sixteen stories, 18,040 words, just over 2000 pictures, each filed with a specific caption. They’ll be published in coming weeks, but here’s a taster ...

The extraordinary work being done to restore Notre Dame Cathedral from the huge damage caused by the fire in 2019. Eighty tonnes of oak is being used by skilled craftspeople in the spire alone. The first Mass will be held on December 9.

Napoleon and Josephine’s fixation with Australia. It was the most exotic, remote, unexplored place on the planet around 1800. Empress Josephine had two black swans brought from what is now Western Australia in 1804 and successfully bred them at Chateau de Malmaison, about 15km from Paris.

The Normandy beaches, in this 80th anniversary month of the D-Day landings, when more than 150,000 Allied troops came to liberate France and turn World War II around.

A Monuments Men exhibition is on near Paris until November 24, celebrating the “art officers” who sought out and protected some of the world’s greatest artworks, including the Ghent Altarpiece (which I’ve seen, and recommend standing in front of, once in your life). You might remember George Clooney in the movie.

A tasty guide to French pastries. A beautiful handmade croissant for $1.60, and a petit noir espresso for the same — now that’s a nice little French breakfast. (And the best-ever chocolate eclair in a French village.)

And a very clever and affordable Viking cruises itinerary on the Seine.


Perth Airport, Wednesday evening. Arriving home from Paris, via Doha. My Qatar Airways flight lands pretty much at the same time as an Emirates flight. Finnair is on the ground. The Australian Border Force immigration machines really speed things up. There are just two people in front of me, but down in the arrivals hall, all the luggage is being loaded on to just one conveyor belt, and the first section of it has a temporary fence, as the Border Force dogs are at work. My heart drops when I see all the people, but it all goes surprisingly quickly and I’m in a taxi in 45 minutes. Congratulations to all working at the airport on Wednesday.

Flying Qatar was fantastic. I just flew four faultless sectors to Paris and back.


As a PS, if travellers just stood back from the conveyor so that everyone could see, stepped forward to collect it then walked off briskly in the empty space, things would be a lot easier for everyone. And friendlier. Just sayin’.


It proved a pretty much perfect time to be in Paris. I prefer early summer to the heat that can come later in the season, and welcome a bit of rain. It tends to keep people off the streets of Paris, and I’m there, under my umbrella, enjoying it without any crowds. Further out, in the villages of France, the cobblestones glisten.

So many English words are French. Article and advertisement are from Old French. And I am reminded of “flaneur” — “someone who walks around not doing anything in particular but watching people and society” (Cambridge Dictionary).


Olympic preparations are very well under way in Paris, with the heart of the Games very much in the centre of the city. Grandstands are nearly complete on some of Paris’s prettiest bridges, and much of the Right Bank opposite the Eiffel Tower, pictured above, looks like a building site. The Paris Olympics 2024 opens on July 26, and the Para Olympics on August 28.


Qantas is launching direct flights between Perth and Paris on July 12, 2024, just in time for the Olympics. The 17-hour flights will initially be four days per week during the European summer, in the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The services move to three a week from mid-August 2024. The new flights will operate through Qantas’ existing terminal at Perth Airport (Terminal 3).


Qantas previously bought 51 per cent of TripADeal in 2022, the Byron Bay-based online travel packages business — and has confirmed it is now paying more than $211 million to acquire the other 49 per cent. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of June 2024, and it will have stepped fully into the online holiday packages market worth $13 billion a year.


It’s hard to know what’s what sometimes, isn’t it? So, the previous item may be of extra comfort to the reader who says: “We are thinking of doing a tour to Japan this September. This has been prompted by an advertisement in The Sunday Times for a TripADeal/Qantas tour, called Grand Japan. It is $3999 per person for 14 days (including airfares). I find this alarmingly cheap. I’ve done a bit of research with other companies and their tours are a lot more expensive than that, but ‘you get what you pay for’ and we are at the time of our lives where we want to live life comfortably without doing things too much on the cheap. We also don’t want to get ripped off.”

I have already replied: “Yes, this is an AMAZING price, but I know the team at TripADeal and how they do this and you can be confident that you won’t be ripped off. It’s a full itinerary — pretty much all the stuff you’d want to do and see. And the hotels are mostly pretty good. For example, Crystal Hotel Kyoto IV is a good, straightforward hotel.”

Sometimes there are just “alarmingly cheap” deals in these pages, and The Sunday Times. deals/ 5384-grand-japan