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HEALTH

The strict health rules for visiting Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Louvre this summer

After a long closure, two of Paris' most-visited attractions - the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre - are preparing to reopen. Here's what you need to know if you're planning a visit.

The strict health rules for visiting Paris' Eiffel Tower and Louvre this summer
The Eiffel Tower is reopen, but things won't be quite the same. Photo: AFP

Eiffel Tower

Online booking is now open for the Eiffel Tower, which reopens on June 25th, following its longest closure since World War II.

But strict hygiene measures mean that visits are going to be a little different this summer.

Limited visitor numbers: The Eiffel Tower will have a strict limit on visitor numbers when it reopens to try ensure some kind of social distancing is possible.

No lifts – For the first week of reopening visits will be by stairs only. The Tower has a total of 1,665 steps if you go all the way to the top, so this is maybe not an option for the elderly or infirm. From July 1st the lifts will be in use again.

Book online – Visitors are strongly advised to book tickets online here in advance of their visit. Physical distancing rules mean there will be limited visitor numbers. You can book online now for visits before August 31st.

Daytime only – for the first week the Tower will only be open during the day, then from July 1st will reopen in the evenings too.

Masks – wearing a mask will be compulsory for all visitors over the age of 11.

Top floor – at first visitors will only be able to go up as far as second floor, Tower operators say they hope to reopen the top section later in the summer.

The top level will remain closed for now, “since the lifts taking visitors from second to top floor are small. It might reopen during the summer,” the operator said.

One way – visitor flow will be strictly regulated with entrances and exits differentiated. 

 “To ensure that ascending and descending visitors do not meet in the stairs, ascent will take place from the East pillar and descent by the West pillar,” said the operator, with a limited number of visitors per floor at a time.

Markers on the floor – The statement said ground markings will be put in place to ensure people keep their distance from one another.

Cleaning – the Tower will be fully cleaned and disinfected every day.

READ ALSO 13 Things you didn't know about Paris' Iron Lady

The Louvre reopens on July 6th and the online booking system is open now.

Book online – entry will only be possible with pre-booked tickets and even people entitled to free admission must book a time slot online in advance here.

Masks – wearing a mask will be compulsory for all visitors over the age of 11.

Opening – From July to September, the museum will open daily from 9am to 6pm, apart from Tuesdays when it will be closed.
 
No cloakroom – cloakrooms will remain closed and large bags and motorbike helmets are not allowed in the building.
 
Exhibition access – some changes have been made to the layout of the museum to ensure a steady flow of visitors. 
 
The rooms French sculptures of the Middle Ages and Renaissance; decorative arts during the Renaissance, and the 18th and 19th century;  arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas; lower level of the Islamic Art department; and level 2 of the French and Northern European painting collections remain closed initially.
 
The Mona Lisa room will be open, with a separate entrance and exit and guides in place to prevent overcrowding.
 
Groups – tour guides can bring groups of up to 25 people.
 
Gardens – the Tuileries gardens are now fully reopened, but keep in mind that social gatherings of more than 10 people in public places are still banned.
 
 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

With travel opening up, many people are planning trips to France over the next few months, but the Covid pandemic has not gone away. Here are your questions answered on testing, isolation and medical treatment if you do fall sick while on holiday.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

Travel rules

Covid-related travel rules have mostly been relaxed now but you will still need to show proof of being fully vaccinated at the French border. If you are not vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test – find the full breakdown of the rules HERE.

Testing

Once in France if you develop symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you will need to get a Covid test.

The good news is that testing is widely available in France, both for residents and tourists.

The easiest way to get a test is head to a pharmacy, most of which offer the rapid-result antigen test on a walk-in basis Tests are available to everyone who wants one, there is no need to fulfill any set criteria.

For full details on how to get a test, and some handy French vocab, click HERE.

The difference for tourists is that you will have to pay for your test, while residents get their costs reimbursed by the French state health system.

In the pharmacy you may be asked for your carte vitale – this is the health card that residents use to claim refunds. As a tourist you won’t have the card – you can still get the test, you will just need to pay for it. Costs vary between pharmacies but are capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.

Isolation

If your test is positive you are legally required to isolate, but how long your isolation period is depends on the your vaccination stats – full details HERE.

Treatment

For most fully-vaccinated people without underlying health conditions the symptoms of Covid are fairly mild, but if you do become ill, here’s how to access medical help while in France.

Pharmacy – one of the first things you will notice about France is that pharmacies are everywhere, just look out for the green cross. As well as selling over-the-counter medication, pharmacies all have at least one fully-qualified pharmacist on the staff who can offer medical advice. 

Take advantage of pharmacists – they train for at least six years so they’re very knowledgeable and they’re easy to access by simply walking into the shop. In tourist areas it’s likely that they will speak English. Pharmacists can also signpost you to a nearby doctor if you need extra help.

Doctors – if you need to see a doctor, look out for a médecin généraliste (a GP or family doctor). There is no need to be registered with a doctor, simply call up and ask for an appointment if you need one. If you have a smartphone you can use the medical app Doctolib to find a généraliste in your area who speaks English. You will need to pay for your consultation – €25 is the standard charge and you pay the doctor directly using either cash or a debit card.

You may be able to claim back the cost later on your own health/travel insurance depending on the policy.

Ambulance – if you are very sick or have difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance – the number is 15. All non-residents are entitled to emergency treatment in France, whether or not you have insurance, but if you are admitted or have treatment you may need to pay later.

READ ALSO Emergency in France: Who to call and what to say

Paxlovid – several readers have asked whether the Covid treatment drug Paxlovid is available in France. It was licenced for use in February 2022 and is available on prescription from pharmacies, mainly for people with underlying health conditions or an impaired immune system. You can get a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The drug is reimbursed for French residents, but as a tourist you will have to pay.

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