France holiday travel and Coronavirus rules

Written by on July 24, 2020 in News

Glass bottle with a piece of paper saying France, on a sandy beach

Everything you need to know about the new rules to enjoy a holiday in France during the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve had so many questions about France holiday travel and Coronavirus rule, and indeed what life is like here under Covid-19 for visitors So here is a summary that’s up to date as at summer 2020. I’ll keep this regularly updated.

British travellers to France from UK

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website contains official information about travel.

In France there are rules and requirements that may differ from the UK.

Bars, restaurants, attractions and sites from major museums to Loire Valley chateaux are almost all open.

Masks must be worn in all enclosed public buildings (since July 20) and in places where social distancing isn’t possible. You may also be required to wear masks at some outdoor attractions, for instance the Eiffel Tower.  You may be turned away if you don’t wear a mask, or you may face a fine. This applies to all over the age of 11.

Masks must be worn at all times on public transport. Some airlines have specified that fabric masks are not acceptable and you must wear surgical masks. Check with the airline you’re flying with to see if that requirement affects you.

Social distancing (one metre) is practised everywhere from shops to restaurants.

Hand sanitiser/antibacterial gel is freely available for use of the public in the majority of public buildings from hairdressers to bars.

Travelling to France from UK

Eurostar are running regular trains to Lille and Paris but not to Calais until September 2020.

Eurotunnel are running regular trains.

Ferries are regularly running to France but some routes may be limited or subject to cancellation (Brittany Ferries for instance).

Ferry foot passenger services to France have been suspended at the time of publication. (Check direct with the ferry line for up to date information if you require this service).

You will be required to complete an online form giving contact details when you travel to the UK. You may be required by the UK Government to quarantine on your return from France. (This is subject to change – please check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (above).

What is going on holiday to France like now?

Apart from people wearing masks and keeping their distance (which can cause queues in small shops), it feels largely normal (July 2020) and very safe. Measurements have been put in place to keep both residents and visitors safe and to maintain the recovery that’s well underway.

Though you must wear a mask to go into a restaurant or bar, once you’re seated you don’t have to wear them. Masks and hand sanitiser are easy to buy from supermarkets and pharmacies. However, if you’re sitting outside to enjoy your meal or a drink, you don’t have to wear a mask. Despite the rebellious reputation the French have, people in France are compliant with the rules.

Is everything open in France?

Pretty much yes. Hotels, restaurants, bars, gites, B&Bs, campsites and almost all businesses are open.

Beaches are open and social distancing is required but without the usual summer crowds, this is easy in summer 2020.

Some events have been cancelled but not all – all event coordinators are prioritising safety so if they feel it’s not right, they cancel. Check with local tourist offices what’s on.

Museums and cultural attractions are open, but some are subject to limited numbers of visitors. And some, especially the most popular (for instance the Louvre), will require you to book in advance to ensure entry so check their website for details.

Tours are back but small group tours are the most popular and there’s lots of choice right now. (See here for our pick of the best tours of France).

France has worked hard to make the country safe for the French and visitors. It enforced one of the strictest lockdowns of any country with essential outings only allowed. More information and updates are posted on the French Govt website:

In my part of France (Hauts de France) British holiday makers are made very welcome and the locals are delighted to see visitors again. And this is what I’m hearing from all over France.

Wide open spaces of the French mountains and glorious countryside, beach breaks, cities that aren’t crowded with summer tourists this year, boulangeries baking croissants, cheese shops that smell divine – France is still the same (albeit it with masks).

And for those unable to travel to France right now, there’s much hope that you’ll be able to be welcomed one day soon.

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