Everything you need to know about visiting France this summer

Helen Coffey
Many museums, not just the Louvre, have been looking for ways to adopt virtual reality: Getty
Many museums, not just the Louvre, have been looking for ways to adopt virtual reality: Getty

As tentative signs start to emerge of a revival for the travel industry, our minds are turning to potential holiday destinations for this summer.

France, as our closest neighbour barring Ireland, makes sense for a first international sojourn.

But can British holidaymakers get there? And will we be welcome if we go?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Am I allowed to travel to France from the UK?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a blanket warning against all non-essential international travel in March, but this has now been lifted for 67 destinations as of 4 July.

France was on this list, meaning Britons can now visit there without invalidating their travel insurance.

How could I get there?

There are several ways of hopping the Channel. The most obvious one is the Eurostar, which continues to run three daily services from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord.

The Eurotunnel is open for you to drive from Folkestone to Calais, subject to the completion of an online form and health declaration.

P&O Ferries is operating five daily sailings between Dover and Calais.

Flying is also a possibility – although fares may be steep.

Will they let me in when I arrive?

Yes – border restrictions which limited travel between the UK and France to “essential reasons only” have now been lifted.

It’s no longer necessary to complete the International Travel Certificate to enter mainland France. As long as you don’t have any coronavirus symptoms, there should be nothing stopping you from being permitted entry.

Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?

No. France previously required Brits to undergo a two-week quarantine (though it was somewhat voluntary in nature), but has lifted this measure since the UK did likewise for travellers entering the country from France.

Can I travel within France?

Yes. On 2 June, the ban on people travelling more than 100km from their homes in France was lifted.

People no longer need to present an official declaration for exceptional travel to move around the country.

Are hotels open?

Yes: campsites and hotels were given the green light to reopen earlier in June.

Are restaurants, shops and attractions open?

Since 11 May, lockdown measures have been gradually relaxed in France, but vary from region to region depending on the infection rate. Stricter rules apply in departments where the virus is more active (orange zones) than in departments where there is less cause for concern (green zones).

Most shops and open-air markets are now open in France, with health measures in place. You must wear a mask if the shopkeeper requires it.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure parks, gyms, swimming pools and sports centres have been able to reopen from 2 June in green zones and 22 June in orange zones.

Bars and restaurants reopened from 2 June, with “adapted health measures” (although, in orange zones, only outdoor areas are currently accessible).

Public spaces such as parks, gardens, beaches and lakes are open across France, unless it’s not possible to apply social distancing measures.

Cinemas reopened across France from 22 June.

Major attractions have also been permitted to reopen – the Palace of Versailles reopened on 6 June, while the Centre Pompidou and the Louvre opened on 1 and 6 July respectively.

What rules are in place?

It’s currently compulsory to wear a mask while on public transport and in taxis in France, and when at the station or airport.

Strict social distancing has been implemented in many places, and no more than 10 people may gather in any one place at present.

Will I have to quarantine when I come home?

Not anymore.

Although the government implemented a blanket two-week quarantine for all inbound arrivals on 8 June, from 10 July this was lifted for certain countries.

Places regarded as “low-risk” by the Joint Biosecurity Centre – which was set up to coordinate the government’s response to the pandemic – are now exempt from mandatory self-isolation.

France is one of the 59 destinations that is exempt for travellers entering England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and is on Scotland’s separate list of 57 countries from where arrivals no longer need to quarantine.

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