Simon Calder: Disney airport? You're taking the Mickey

The man who pays his way

Europe's no-frills aviation radar has a new arrival: Paris-Vatry-Disney airport. It even has a racy three-letter code, XCR. While this French airport is not yet on the map for British passengers, it has just launched scheduled links from Marseille, Skavsta in Sweden and Porto in Portugal.

As appealing airport names go, Paris-Vatry-Disney is world class. Who wouldn't want to touch down at an airport that promises "Proximity and accessibility second to none"?

To judge by the claim, and the name, you might imagine that Paris-Vatry-Disney is midway between the French capital and Europe's favourite theme park, which celebrates its 20th birthday on Thursday. The airport's new tenant even suggests that arriving passengers can "Make a visit at Disneyland shows [sic] and experience the magic of Disney. Have a Parisian tour without stress and no traffic jams."

Yet you will peer at the map of the blur of banlieues east of Paris in vain for anywhere called Vatry. RER Line A is the direct link from central Paris and the station for Disneyland, Marne-la-Vallée. Frequent suburban trains serve Bry-sur-Marne, Lognes and Torcy en route to the Magic Kingdom. But there is a vacancy for Vatry.

Perhaps the identity of the airline that has just launched flights to and from Paris-Vatry-Disney will alert you to a strange distortion of European geography. It's Ryanair.

The Irish airline has always shunned Charles-de-Gaulle, the leading aviation hub in Continental Europe (a long way behind Heathrow, but still ahead of Frankfurt, Madrid and Amsterdam). Ryanair also rejected Orly, only eight miles from the Eiffel Tower, and which handles an exotic mix of domestic, charter, full-service and no-frills traffic.

The airline looked beyond this pair of airports for its original version of the French capital, which is known as "Paris-Beauvais" and turns out to be the former Luftwaffe airstrip that was used to attack Britain from 1940-1944. It is 50 miles north of the Boulevard Périphérique.

The new Parisian pretender is a relic from the Cold War rather than the Second World War. It is an old Nato base, which explains its Heathrow-sized runway, capable of handling any plane in the world. The airport is located where the historic N4 between the French capital and Alsace meets the A26 autoroute from Reims to Troyes.

While the airport is handy for the effervescent towns of Epernay and Châlons-en-Champagne, the map reveals that Paris is slightly further from the terminal than is Belgium. The airport's own publicity concedes that the centre of Paris is 93 miles away.

Passengers using Vatry as a gateway to the French capital can avail of a bus connection – but it is surely Europe's longest "airport shuttle". Buses leave a stop adjacent to the Eiffel Tower six hours before the plane is due to leave. The trip to Vatry in itself (slogan: "So close, so fast") is scheduled to last four hours. In those six hours you could take a train from Paris to London, have lunch, and return again.

Ryanair's chief executive is unrepentant. Michael O'Leary tells me: "We are now offering flights to Beauvais in the north and Vatry in the east, offering convenient and readily accessible transfers to Disneyland Paris and Paris itself."

Champagne, then south to the sun

For the British traveller, Paris-Vatry-Disney may not appeal, because of its awkward location and sparse flights. Gatwick sees as many departures in an hour as the new arrival has in a month. Yet the airport offers an intriguing two-centre option for British motorists who can take advantage of cheap cross-Channel fares this summer to turn Vatry into yet another "London" airport.

Paris-Vatry-Disney is the easiest Continental airport for any British motorist to find. No satnav necessary: just join the A26 motorway at Calais and keep going – past Arras, Cambrai and Reims – for about three hours, and it will pop up on the right.

Spend a while exploring the delights of the Champagne region. Then park outside the airport terminal for free for as long as you wish, and take a side trip to Marseille and the Med for €68 return – the going rate for August, and less than the tolls for driving south on the péage.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam