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TRAVEL NEWS

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

After two years of limited travel many people are planning a holiday this year and France is a popular destination - but it's easy to lose track of the latest travel rules. Here's what you need to know if you are coming to France from a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone.

Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU
Photo by Olivier MORIN / AFP)

Restrictions

France operates a ‘traffic light’ system that has been in place since summer 2020, assigning countries a colour based on their Covid infection rates.

These days most of the world is green – the lightest level of restriction – including all the countries in the EU and Schengen zone. Find full details on the government website here.

Map: French interior ministry

Vaccinated – if you are fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) and travelling from a green zone country all you need to show at the border is proof of vaccination. There is no requirement for extra paperwork such as passenger locator forms or health declarations and no Covid tests needed. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Unvaccinated – if you are not fully vaccinated according to the French definition (see below) you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border. The test can be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Once in France you are not required to quarantine.

Fully vaccinated – in order to qualify as ‘fully vaccinated’ you must be vaccinated with an EMA approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca or Janssen) and must be at least 7 days after your final dose (or 28 days after in the case of Janssen). If you had your vaccine more than nine months ago, you will need a booster shot in order to still be classificed as ‘fully vaccinated’ if you are aged 18 and over.

Anyone vaccinated within the EU/Schengen zone will have the EU digital vaccine pass, but vaccination certificates issued outside the EU are also accepted at the French border. 

Children – The rules on vaccination apply to all children aged 12 and over. Under 12s do not need to supply proof of vaccination at the border. Children aged between 12 and 18 do not need a booster shot, even if their vaccine took place more than nine months ago.

The above rules apply to all EU and Schengen zone countries – if you are travelling from the UK click HERE, click HERE for travel from the USA and HERE for travel from other non-EU countries.

In France

So you’ve made it into France, but what are the rules once you are here?

On May 16th, France ended the mask requirement for public transport, representing one of the last Covid restrictions still in place.

Masks – masks are now only compulsory in health establishments, although they remain recommended on public transport. They are not required in other indoor spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and tourist sites, although private businesses retain the legal right to make mask-wearing a condition of entry.

Health pass – the health pass was suspended in March and is no longer required to enter venues such as bars, restaurants and tourist sites. It is still required to enter establishements with vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. In this case it is a health pass not a vaccine pass – so unvaccinated people can present a recent negative Covid test.

Hygiene gestures – the government still recommends the practice of hygiene gestures such as hand-washing/gel and social distancing although this is a recommendation and not a rule.

Self-isolation – if you test positive for Covid while in France you are legally required to self isolate – full details HERE.

READ ALSO How tourists and visitors to France can get a Covid test

Member comments

  1. Your headline confirms this article is for people travelling within the EU or Schengen area. Do the same rules apply to people travelling to the EU from the UK?

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For members

TOURISM

How American tourists have rediscovered their love for France

It's the first summer without travel and health restrictions since the start of the pandemic and the Americans are heading back to France in droves.

How American tourists have rediscovered their love for France

If you’ve been walking down the streets of Paris or perhaps even some quaint villages in Provence then you might have heard a notable uptick in the number of American accents you hear..

It’s the first summer since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic without strict health or travel restrictions and American travellers are heading across the pond to take advantage of their ability to eat croissants and enjoy the Eiffel Tower once again. 

While tourism in general has been exploding across Europe, in France specifically, the industry is hitting and even exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Revenue per room for French hotels is higher than it was in 2019, and the Eiffel Tower is once again seeing 24,000 people per day, which is the same level of visitor numbers the Iron Lady saw before the Covid-19 epidemic.

And American visitors in particular are returning to France in their thousands.

As of late May, travel from the US to Europe saw a 1003 percent increase compared to April 2021, which has certainly been reflected in France, which is second favourite destination in Europe for Americans after Italy.

In fact, American tourists represent the largest group of tourists to make their way back to France, making up around 12.7 percent of foreign tourists in 2022 – over double that of British tourists who make up just 5.8 percent.

In preparation of a summer filled with Americans, Air France even increased its capacity for flights to and from the United States. This summer, it the airline is operating close to 200 weekly flights to 14 destinations across the U.S. which represents 20 percent more than it did in 2019 before the start of the pandemic.

And Americans are not visiting France’s capital city Paris. A new survey shows they are heading much further afield in France.

Coastal destinations such as Nice, Marseille, and Bordeaux have risen in popularity among American visitors. In comparison to 2019, Nice has seen a 182 percent increase in ticket reservations, with Marseille also seeing a strong increase of 128 percent.  

Besides Paris and the coasts, Americans are also reportedly making their way to the cities of Avignon, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence and Reims, as well as Giverny near Paris.

Train-setting across France

For the American visitors in France this year, they have chosen trains as their preferred method of transport. Across Europe, train lines have seen an average of 50 percent more American tourists than in previous years. 

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about taking the train in France

According to Trainline, France’s national rail service SNCF, has seen ticket purchases by American tourists shoot up by 93 percent from pre-pandemic levels, and the rail industry is welcoming the rise in ticket purchases: “these numbers are great news for the rail industry in France and Europe,” said Christopher Michau, the Director of European Partner Relations at Trainline to BFMTV.

“All tourist destinations across the country should prepare for an influx of American visitors this summer, as bookings are 14 times higher in France than they were a year ago at the same time,” warned Michau.

Why take the train? Michau judges it is likely to due a better understanding of Covid-19-related travel restrictions, but more importantly, a “desire to travel more sustainably.”

While Americans are not known for taking long vacations, this summer American tourist is spending around 10 days in France on average. And while they are here, they are big spenders.

In a survey of tourists visiting France from abroad, Americans came in first place for their daily spending budget while on holiday. The average American allocates about €400 per day in France, racking up an average total bill of €7,650 (which includes the cost of flying to and from the United States).

It is safe to say that this spending is important to France’s tourism sector, which prior to the pandemic (in 2019) made up 7.4 percent of the country’s GDP and represented 9.5 percent of total jobs.

American tourists are of particular importance, as they represent France’s leading “long-haul” outbound market, and Air France considers the U.S. to be its leading long-flight destination.

However, though France in pre-pandemic times received large flows of foreign tourists, the country has always had a steady supply of domestic tourists.

In the first half of 2022, foreign tourists, represented 79.9 percent of the flow of travellers but 21.1 percent were French tourists.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: How important are American tourists to France?

Not all sunshine and rainbows

Even though Americans are flocking back to France, the journeys are not without hiccups and headaches for some.

Prior to the start of the summer holiday season, airlines and airports were already reporting serious staff shortages after nearly two years of pandemic cutbacks. On top of staff shortages, both air and rail travel have been impacted by strikes, as workers seek wage increases.

Waiting time in airports has significantly increased, and flight cancellations are more frequent, making this summer complicated for travel. Air France cancelled over 10 percent of its short and medium haul flights at Charles de Gaulle the first weekend of July just in preparation for strike action, and the Paris airport group has been urging passports to arrive “three hours (before scheduled take-off) for an international flight, two hours for a domestic or European flight.” Meanwhile, the high season for travel has not started yet, it typically begins once schools in France break-up for the summer holidays, which is July 7th this year.

READ MORE: Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

In addition to travel complications, the Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately not ended yet. Cases are on the rise again across Europe, and in France, new variants already make up over 75 percent of cases. The country is seeing an average of 100,000 new Covid-19 cases per day, with the peak of the seventh wave not expected until late July. 

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