France to roll out 15-minute Covid-19 tests in airports

France will have rapid-results Covid-19 tests available at airports by the end of the month, the country's transport minister has promised.

France to roll out 15-minute Covid-19 tests in airports
Photos: AFP

France is in the process of rolling out antigen tests in certain areas, which provide results on the spot within 15 minutes, rather than people having to wait up to 48 hours to have the results sent to them.

The new nasal swab tests, which were partially developed in France in partnership with the World Health Organisation offer a faster alternative to the PCR tests which are used at present, and provide results on the spot as they don't need to be sent to laboratories to process.

Transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebarri said they will be available at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Nice airports by the end of October, with a fuller roll-out to follow.


The move has raised hopes that France may be able – after nine months – to reopen its borders to travellers from outside Europe, including Americans.

At present France does not impose any kind of restriction, quarantine or compulsory testing on arrivals from within the EU, the UK or the Schengen zone – although travellers from France face restrictions in many European countries.

READ ALSO Which countries impose quarantine and compulsory Covid-19 testing on arrivals from France?

For people wishing to enter France from outside Europe the picture is more complicated, only a limited number of countries – including Australia – are on the EU's 'safe countries' list, where people are allowed to travel into Europe for any reason.

For the other countries, which includes the USA, travel is still heavily restricted – only certain types of essential travel is allowed and those that do come need to produce a negative Covid-19 test at the airport before boarding, which can be hard to access in some parts of the USA.

READ ALSO When will Americans be able to travel to France again?

People arriving from countries deemed 'high risk' face compulsory tests at the airport – with the exception of travellers from the USA, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Panama who must obtain a negative test result before they fly.

For all other arrivals tests are available on a voluntary basis, free of charge.

France has been working with the EU to standardise travel between countries within the EU and Schengen zone. The protocol, which is still being discussed, promotes testing as the best way to keep countries safe while not excessively penalising travellers.

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‘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?


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.”


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.”