French head off early for an Olympic summer closedown

The French have embraced the London 2012 Olympics by starting their traditional summer closedown early and heading off on holiday, according to Eurostar.

Paris is famous for shutting down for the whole of August, but Eurostar chief executive Nicolas Petrovic said French businesses are closing earlier than usual due to the Games which are taking place 300 miles away in another country.

"The combination of economic pressures and the London 2012 Games has meant that we are seeing different travel patterns this year," Petrovic added.

He said leisure sales held up in the last six months, but "there is no doubt that corporate clients and business travellers, particularly in the financial services industry, are feeling the squeeze and cutting back on travel. The summer close-down for business is kicking in earlier as all eyes turn to the Olympic celebrations in London."

Although high demand from holidaymakers helped Eurostar's passenger numbers rise 2 per cent to 4.8 million in the first half, the slowdown in more lucrative business travel meant revenues grew just one per cent to £425m during the period.