What are the rules on wearing a mask in France?

Different areas in France are reporting wide variations in mask wearing, making it difficult to work out exactly when you are supposed to be wearing one. Not everyone follows the rules, but here is a look at what they say.

What are the rules on wearing a mask in France?
Photo: AFP

This article is out of date after new laws were passed in France – for the latest mask rules, click HERE.




Mask-wearing rules in France have undergone quite a few changes and only a few weeks ago they were virtually impossible to find.

That problem has now been solved, but go to different locations and you will notice quite a variation in use levels.

Obviously some people will always ignore the rules, but here's what the current regulations say.

Public transport – wearing a mask is compulsory on all forms of public transport in France – including taxis and VTC vehicles – and you risk a €135 fine if you are caught without one. How well this is enforced varies, but in Paris inspectors are frequently seen on the Metro and on trains too conductors will check that you are wearing your mask correctly. You need to wear the mask in the station or airport as well as on the train/tram/Metro/bus/plane.

READ ALSO The 9 lockdown rules you still need to follow in France

This restaurant sign reads Wearing a mask is compulsory – except during your meal. Photo: AFP

Shops – here the decision is down to individual businesses. The government has given shop owners the power to require their customers to wear a mask, so if you are asked to wear one it's not an option to just say no – the business owner is perfectly within their rights to forbid you entry if you are not wearing a mask.

Most shops have signs up informing customers of their mask policy – some says port du masque obligatoire – wearing a mask is compulsory – and others say masks are souhaité, recommendé or conseillé – requested or recommended. Either way, if a staff member asks you to wear a mask you should comply.

Offices – Private companies can decide on their own policies but in government offices such as the tax office or the préfecture you are likely to be asked to wear a mask in public areas.

Bars/restaurants/cafés – there is quite a wide variation in how strictly businesses enforce these rules, but the general line is that you should wear a mask when you enter and only remove it once you are seated. Any trips away from your table – for example to the toilet – and you should put the mask on again. Service while seated at the bar is banned and in most places counter service is not allowed, in places where it is you will generally be asked to wear a mask.

In reality, you will see quite a few place that seem to be ignoring some or all of these rules, but other places do enforce them so it's worth knowing what the regulations are.

Cinemas and theatres – these are also slowly reopening with lots of health rules in place – one of which is that you should wear a mask in communal areas like the foyer and ticket hall, but can remove it once you are seated.

Gyms – gyms and sports centres have reopened and masks are not compulsory, although most places require booking in advance.

Tourist sites – Tourist attractions are gradually reopening and most of them require masks – even outdoor ones like Monet's gardens at Giverny. A lot of tourist sites have extra restrictions on numbers and many insist on tickets booked in advance so if you are planning a trip make sure you check the site's website in advance.

READ ALSO Masks, fines and no kissing – no, France is not 'back to normal'

Most museums, galleries and other tourist sites will ask you to wear a mark. Photo: AFP

Parks and gardens – this is a decision for local authorities so it varies from place to place. Publicly-owned parks, gardens and beaches will all have signs up at the entrance outlining the rules.

Streets – wearing a mask on the street is not compulsory, but the government advises it in situations were physical distancing is impossible – for example if you are joining a protest. This is obviously quite difficult to police, but it's good general advice to wear a mask if you are likely to be in a crowded space.

Events – events of more than 5,000 people are still banned but at any event where physical distancing will be difficult a mask is advised. Again this is down to individual event organisers but it's likely you will be asked to wear one.

If you're planning on joining a protest or other large gathering masks are recommended. Photo: AFP

Home visits – there's no rules on what you must do in private homes, but masks are recommended if you are visiting someone in a high risk group. Obviously if your host/hostess asks you to wear a mask then it's only polite to comply.  

So in short, it's a good idea to be either wearing a mask or have one in your pocket or your handbag whenever you leave home at present, as it's quite likely that someone will ask you to wear one.

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What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

Under French law, dogs, cats and ferrets that are kept as pets must be identified and registered on a national database.

What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the most common method – registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database. 

All dogs aged four months and over, cats over seven months old, and ferrets born after November 1st, 2021, that are over seven months old that were, must be tagged in this way. This also offers pet owners peace of mind as it means they can be easily identified and returned if they go missing, as pets sometimes do.

READ ALSO Do you really need a licence if your cat has kittens in France?

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70.

For anyone who has travelled to France from another country with a pet, the animal will already be microchipped – and on the register. But if the animal joined a family while in France, a trip to the vet may be in order.

READ ALSO Paperwork and shots: How to bring a pet to France from the USA

Once the animal is registered on the database, the owner will receive a letter from I-CAD, along with a credit card-sized document listing the registered animal’s details, including its home address.

It is up to the owner to ensure the details remain correct, including notifying the database operators of any change of address. This can be done via the I-CAD website. Alternatively, you could use the Filalapat app (download for free here), or the more traditional postal service.

As well as declaring any change of address, you should also inform the database operators if you are giving up the animal, or if it dies.

Under a 2021, first-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they are allowed to purchase a pet. 

After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying pets only to abandon them later.