Where do you still need to wear a face mask in France?

From Thursday June 17th, wearing face masks outdoors is no longer compulsory in France. But that doesn't mean the end masks in France. Here's where you still need to wear them, even when you are outside.

Where do you still need to wear a face mask in France?
Masks remain compulsory in stadiums, queues, open air markets, busy places, public gatherings and public transport. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP

In August last year, face masks were made compulsory in all public places – indoor and outdoor – in big cities across France.

The rule was maintained until Wednesday when Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that, thanks to daily coronavirus infections falling faster than anticipated, mask-wearing would no longer be compulsory outdoors.

But this doesn’t mean you can just leave your mask at home. Here’s why you’ll still need to make sure you have a mask or two with you.

READ ALSO: Why is France lifting Covid curfew and mask rules early?

Indoor spaces

Wearing masks in public indoor spaces, including shops, cinemas, theatres, cultural sites such as museums and galleries and offices remains compulsory for the moment.

Busy outdoor spaces

They are also meant to remain compulsory in stadiums, queues, open air markets, busy places, public gatherings.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said wearing a mask would remain the rule, “when we get together, when we are in a crowded place – a queue, in a market or in the stands of a stadium”.

Health minister Olivier Véran explained that there are various situations where you would have to wear the mask outdoors. “If you are in a queue on a crowded street then yes,” he told BFMTV. But “if you are in a park, in a square, wearing a face mask is not essential.” 

This also includes the areas outside public buildings such as schools, universities and religious buildings during busy hours.

READ ALSO: Face masks to cafés: What Covid-19 rules are still in place in France?


Pupils from primary age upwards will still need to wear masks inside schools, the government confirmed on Wednesday. But in a last minute change of heart the PM decided to end the obligation for youngsters to wear masks in the playground.

Public transport

Face masks were made compulsory in public transport in spring 2020 and this rule is set to stay in place for the foreseeable future.

This includes bus stops, as well as indoor and outdoor train and metro platforms.

Bars and cafes

You will still see staff in bars and restaurants wearing masks. 

All customers of restaurants, cafés and bars over the age of 11 must wear a mask at all times when moving around (such as going to to the toilet), both inside and on the terrace.

Masks can be taken off once you sit at a table, but should be kept on when ordering and paying.

Other outdoor areas depending where you are

Similarly to last summer, different areas in France are reporting variations in mask wearing. Rules are vary slightly in different parts of France. The préfecture of the Eure département, for example, included the surrounding 50m around train stations, shopping centres and religious buildings in its list of outdoor areas where mask-wearing is still required.

In Paris masks are required at outdoor markets and sales, in queues and in any gathering in a public place including platforms or bus stops on the public transport system and outside schools at pick-up and drop-off times.

According to Le Parisien, in the Gironde département masks are still compulsory in groups of 10 people or more, whenever maintaining a minimum distance of two metres is not possible.

Other cities have opted for requiring masks on certain streets, making it difficult to work out exactly when you are supposed to wear one.

In Bordeaux, the police préfecture announced that masks would remain compulsory in two of the city’s busiest shopping streets – rue Sainte-Catherine and Porte Dijeaux – from 12pm to 7pm.

In Lille, shoppers should also keep their masks on outside in busy shopping areas.

In Loire-Atlantique, mask-wearing is compulsory in “busy pedestrian streets”, but the prefecture did not provide details on specific streets.

The préfecture of Landes, on the other hand, did specify certain streets in four towns, including Dax and Soorts-Hossegor, where they are still required.

In the centre of Montpellier, they are compulsory from Friday to Saturday, from 2pm til 7pm, while in the neighbouring town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, masks must be worn outside between those same hours, every day of the week.

Member comments

  1. Blame Peter Mayle for having to wear a mask in Saint Guilhem le Desert. If it weren’t for A year in Provence, nobody would be going there. And he’s left!

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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.