Am I allowed to visit, are hotels and restaurants open and what rules are in place?

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 more than 80 destinations.

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 has continued to up its capacity, with six daily services now running 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.

According to the FCO: “Travellers arriving in France from the UK, European Area, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay are no longer required to self-isolate, to demonstrate their travel is essential or to hold an international travel certificate.”

However, travellers from any country showing signs of a Covid-19 infection upon arrival in mainland France will, understandably, have to carry out a mandatory 14-day quarantine at home or in a dedicated location indicated by the French authorities if home quarantine is not feasible.

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 will apply in departments where the virus is more active (red and orange zones) than in departments where there is less cause for concern (green zones). However, at present, all regions have been given green status.

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 June.

Bars and restaurants reopened from 2 June, with “adapted health measures”.

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?

France’s Health Minister has announced that wearing masks in enclosed public spaces are compulsory from Monday 20 July for those aged 11 and over.

Public spaces include: public conference and meeting rooms; cinemas, theatre and enclosed entertainment venues; restaurants and bars (including those at altitude); hotels and shared holiday properties (including those at altitude); mountain huts/cabins; education and training establishments; games rooms, leisure centres and holiday parks; libraries and archives; places of worship; indoor sporting venues such as gyms (except for while participating in sporting activity), and some other open-air venues; museums; marquees and tents; public boats (including moored quayside bars/venues); train and bus stations; shops and shopping centres; administrative buildings and banks; and covered markets.

Face coverings are also mandatory on public transport and in taxis without a plexiglass screen, with fines issued to those who do not comply.

Social distancing has been implemented in many places.

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 destinations that is exempt for travellers entering the UK.

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