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For the past few years, France has maintained its position as the world’s number-one tourist destination for several reasons, including its sheer diversity and ease of access from both short and long-haul markets.

There is something for every type of visitor, from skiing to beach holidays and countryside retreats to cultural city breaks. France is also home to some of the world’s most iconic monuments, and of course, French cuisine and wine has a reputation all of its own.

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Can British travellers go to France?

Travel to France
The French government imposed restrictions on travel from non-EU countries on January 31. Travel is currently permitted only for compelling personal or family reasons, emergency health reasons or professional reasons that cannot be postponed. There have been restrictions in place for travel from the UK since December 20, 2020. Travel restrictions apply to all air, car, ferry and train passengers.

Only the following categories of people are authorised to travel to France from the UK:

  • French nationals and nationals of the European Area, and their spouses and children.
  • British and/or third country nationals who are either habitually resident in France, the European Union or the European Area, or who must travel for certain essential reasons.

As of March 8, travellers to France from England must complete a form to declare their reason for travel. The form can be downloaded from the UK government website here. Different rules apply for travel from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

All travellers from the UK, including children aged 11 and above, will need to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test result, carried out less than 72 hours before departure. Travellers will also be required to self-isolate for seven days upon arrival, before taking another PCR test.

Arrivals from the UK will need to complete both a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form, self-certifying they are not suffering from symptoms associated with Covid-19 and have not been in contact with confirmed cases in the preceding fortnight, as well as a signed ‘travel certificate’ (attestation) confirming their reason for travel.

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Those travelling from France to the UK will also need to present a signed travel certificate on departure. These can be found on the French government’s website here.

For more detailed information about travelling between the UK and France, click here.

Travel within France
A curfew from 6pm to 6am is currently in place across France. Leaving home and travelling around is prohibited during curfew hours, with a fine of €135, and up to €3,750 in the event of a repeat offence. Public transport is still running to meet the needs of key workers but working from home where possible remains strongly recommended.

Cultural establishments, as well as bars and restaurants, remain closed. All other establishments are required to close to the public at 6pm. Travel during the curfew period is only permitted in the following cases, and upon presentation of an authorising certificate:

  • To go to a place of work, training, or exercise.
  • For medical appointments that cannot be provided remotely, or to purchase medication.
  • For compelling family reasons (eg to provide assistance to a loved one).
  • Upon judicial or administrative summons.
  • To carry out a public service.
  • For people with disabilities and their carers.
  • In rail or air transit for long-distance trips.
  • To take your pet out within a one-kilometre radius of your home.

Winter sports resorts can receive visitors, but all public on-site facilities and ski lifts remain closed until further notice.

What plans are in place for France to reopen to tourism?

France is very much looking forward to welcoming British visitors again. The relaunch of tourism in France depends mainly on the respective government announcements on restrictions in both countries.

Once the health situation is under control and vaccination rollout in both countries has progressed sufficiently, we are confident that travel between countries will increase.

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We are continuing to follow the advice and recommendations set out by the French government and health authorities. The question of whether proof of vaccination will be accepted in lieu of testing is a governmental issue and we will await decisions made by the French government and other EU member states.

How can British travellers reach France?

The capacity and frequency of flights, trains and ferries to France has been severely impacted. However, there are still flights operating to more than 35 destinations in France from 15 airports across the UK. Both Eurostar, Eurotunnel and ferry operators are still ensuring the UK has very good connectivity to France.

What safety measures are in place across France?

Wearing a mask is compulsory in enclosed public places across the country for anyone aged 11 and over. This rule may be extended to any other places deemed relevant by local authorities, depending on the area’s health situation. Detailed information is available from the individual prefectures here. The map and updated information on the prevalence of Covid-19 in France are available on the French government website here.

Wearing a mask is also compulsory on public transport, in taxis and ride shares. Travellers should ensure that the greatest possible distance is maintained between passengers or groups of passengers not travelling together. More information is available on the SNCF and RATP websites.

Since February 1, non-essential shops bigger than 20,000 square metres have been closed as a precautionary measure. New capacity restrictions are also coming into force in all supermarkets and shops.

The following establishments are open or permitted to open:

  • Public service counters and banks.
  • All essential shops (eg supermarkets and pharmacies).
  • All non-essential shops of 20,000 square metres or less.
  • Parks, gardens, forests and beaches.
  • Public transport, with a normal level of service.
  • Hotels, for essential business trips only (with restaurants closed, only room service is permitted).
  • Hostels, tourist residences, residential tourist villages, holiday villages and family holiday homes, as well as camping and caravan sites.
  • Food takeaway and delivery services.

For more information on the Covid-19 situation across France, click here.

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Pictures: Shutterstock

Last updated March 15, 2021