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QUARANTINE

Calendar: The key dates for travel to and from France this summer

Travel bans, quarantines and closed borders have had a major effect on travel to and from France. But as restrictions begin to be lifted, these are the key dates this summer.

Calendar: The key dates for travel to and from France this summer
All photos: AFP

During the pandemic, travel into France has been heavily restricted in two ways.

France joined the rest of the EU in mid March in restricting all non-essential travel from outside the EU and Schengen Zone.

Then on April 6th France also drastically increased restrictions on travel from within Europe (which for this purpose includes the UK).

Although, unlike many other countries, France never closed its borders, anyone travelling into the country needs une attestation de déplacement internationale (international travel certificate).

Full details on the certificate be can found here.

French citizens can return to the country, but anyone coming from within Europe (including the UK) will need to meet one of the following criteria to be allowed into the country:

  • People who have their primary residence in France. This does NOT include second home owners. Third country nationals will need to present a visa or residency card while EU nationals (which for this purpose still includes British people) do not need any proof of residency status.
  • People who have their permanent residency in another European country and are travelling through France to get home
  • Healthcare workers engaged in coronavirus-related care
  • Commercial good carriers such as lorry drivers and flight or cargo crews
  • Diplomatic staff
  • Cross-border workers. So for example if you live in France but work in Switzerland you can still travel back and forth.

But as the restrictions start to be lifted, here are some of the key dates for travellers this summer.

June 8th

From this date the UK government imposed a 14 day quarantine on all arrivals in the country and, contrary to earlier statements, visitors from France will not be exempt.

In response France has imposed its own quarantine on arrivals from the UK, although on the French side the quarantine is voluntary and has many exemptions.

READ ALSO Quarantine for travellers between UK and France after British announcement

June 15th

From this date countries in the EU – including France – and Schengen zone are lifting their travel restrictions for internal travel.

So from June 15th people travelling from the EU, UK or Schengen zone can enter France without a travel certificate or needing to prove that their trip is essential.

For arrivals from the UK and Spain, however, there are some quarantine restrictions

June 22nd

Campsites and hotels have already reopened in most of France but in the orange zones – which is mainly the Paris region – these reopen fully on June 22nd.

June 26th

Paris' Orly airport reopens. This has been closed since April 1st as virtually all air travel halted. Charles de Gaulle airport has remained open, but with very few flights and several terminals closed.

June 29th

The UK when announcing its quarantine said originally it would run from June 8th for three weeks and then be reviewed.

The policy seems pretty unpopular domestically so it could end up being quietly scrapped, although we won't know for sure until the UK government makes its announcement. France has always said that its own voluntary quarantine is reciprocal, so will be scrapped once the UK's is.

July 1st

From this date the EU is proposing a gradual reopening of its external borders, allowing people to travel from outside Europe.

However, a European Commission spokesman said that the reopening is likely to be gradual and progressive, and could apply at first only to certain countries.

July 1st

Also on July 1st, Spain reopens its land borders with France and Portugal to all travellers and also ends its requirement for a quarantine for international arrivals.

July

Airlines including British Airways and Ryanair have spoken of resuming flights from July. Easyjet has said it will restart flights from mid June, but these will be almost entirely domestic flights in France and the UK.

Also in July, French rail operator SNCF says it hopes to reopen buffet cars in trains, marking the return to a virtually normal service on the railways, where train service have been gradually increasing since travel restrictions were lifted on June 2nd.

 

Member comments

  1. We are French residents and drove back to France from the U.K. via the tunnel last Thursday in our French car and despite offering our attestations at the border we were waved through having only shown our U.K. passports and titres de séjour …… not exactly the strict controls we were warned of by text from Eurotunnel the day before travelling!

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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