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HEALTH

IN DETAIL: What are the rules on travel into France from within the EU

While there are still restrictions on travel into France from many non-EU countries, including the UK, travel from within the European Bloc is more relaxed - but there are still rules in place.

IN DETAIL: What are the rules on travel into France from within the EU
Photo: AFP

Here’s what the latest border rules say;

The EU rules refer to the entire Schengen zone, so all the EU countries plus Switzerland, Andorra, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Vatican City.

Non-essential travel to France (tourism, holidays etc) from within the EU is officially still “strongly discouraged” by the French government but it is allowed.

Arrivals from within the EU do not need to self-isolate but there are however rules that need to be followed.

Anyone entering France from within the Schengen zone needs to present a negative Covid test taken within the previous 72 hours. The government specifies that this must be a PCR test, not the rapid-result antigen tests found in pharmacies.

As well as the test result, at the border you will also need to present a sworn statement declaring that you do not have any Covid symptoms and have not to your knowledge been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid – you can download the sworn statement HERE.

There are some groups of people who are exempt from the testing requirement. They are;

  • Children under 11
  • Cross-border workers
  • Hauliers
  • People who live near the French border and are travelling for less than 24 hours, within a 30km radius from their home 

People in the exempt groups still need the sworn statement and will also need some proof of their exemption eg proof of address, professional ID for cross-border workers.

Hauliers who are travelling from Ireland are not exempt from the testing requirement.

Arrivals from within the EU do not need to prove that their trip is essential and can travel for any reason including tourism. 

France has launched a campaign urging its citizens to holiday in France – as much to boost the country’s battered tourism industry as for health reasons – but there is no official advice against travelling within Europe.

At present, the testing requirement is the same even for fully vaccinated people but the EU vaccine passport is scheduled to come into effect from July 1st.

Travellers who are fully vaccinated will then be able to show a digital vaccination certificate at the border via their home country’s health passport app instead of presenting test results.

Once in France some restrictions remain in place including a curfew and wearing a mask – so that it covers your mouth and nose – is compulsory in all outdoor public spaces at risk of a €135 fine.

Several countries within the EU also have France on their ‘risk’ lists, so check your home country’s rules for returning from France as you may need to quarantine.

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TRAVEL

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

Ever seen those drivers who avoid the queues at toll booths and driving straight through? Here's how they do it.

Driving in France: What is télépéage and how does it work?

If you’re driving on French autoroutes one of the things you need to know is that they are not free – you will have to pay regular tolls, payable at toll booths known as péage.

Usually, drivers pick up a ticket from a booth at the start of their journey, then pay the required amount at a booth at the end of it – or when they move onto a different section of autoroute – based on the distance they have travelled.

But the toll booths themselves can be busy, especially during the summer, and long queues sometimes build up.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

This is where automated pay systems – known as télépéage – come in, especially for those who use the motorway network regularly.

As well as allowing you to pass straight through péages without stopping for payment, it’s also very useful for owners of right-hand drive vehicles, who may otherwise find that they’re sitting on the wrong side for easy and speedy payment.

Here’s how it works

Order your télépéage badge online

Click on the Bip&Go website here and follow the instructions to order a scannable personalised device (up to a maximum of two per account for private users). You will need to set up an account to arrange electronic payment of charges.

The website is available in English, French, German or Dutch.

You will need to supply bank details (IBAN number), address (for delivery), mobile phone number (to activate your account) and the vehicle’s registration details.

Your badge will be dispatched to your address within 48 hours from the opening of your online account. You can have the device sent to addresses outside France, but allow longer for it to arrive. 

If you’re in France, you can also pick up the device at one of Bip&Go’s stores, if you prefer – you will need need your bank details, proof of identity and a mobile phone.

Attach your badge 

Place your device on on the windscreen to the right of the rearview mirror. It is activated and ready to go. Then, simply, drive.

At the péage

All toll booths are equipped with the sensors that recognise that the vehicle is carrying the necessary device. At most, you will have to stop briefly for the device to be recognised and the barrier to lift.

You will also be able to drive through certain booth areas without stopping. These are indicated by an orange t symbol on the overhead signs. The maximum speed you can pass through these booths is 30kph.

Payments

Payments are processed automatically. You can monitor the amounts you have to pay on an app.

Do I need separate badges for motorway networks run by different companies?

No. The badge allows holders to travel on the entire French motorway network, no matter which company manages the motorway, and you can also use it to cross a number of toll structures in France such as the Millau Viaduct, the Tancarville Bridge or the Normandie Bridge, and pay to park in more than 450 car parks. 

Is it only valid in France?

No, with certain packages, you can also as easily travel on motorways in Spain, Portugal and Italy, and use a number of compatible car parks. You can even use them on Italian ferries.

Okay, but how much does it cost?

Subscriptions to the Bip&Go service depend on what type of service you want. A fixed price rolling subscription is €16 a year – plus toll charges – but assumes you’re a regular user of French motorways. 

A pay-as-you-go subscription is €1.70 for every month the badge is in use – plus toll charges – and carries a €10 additional fee if the badge is not used in a 12-month period.

How much are the toll charges?

They depend on the road you’re on, how far you travel along it, and the vehicle you’re driving.

Heading from Toulouse to Biarritz along the A64 will cost a total €23 in fees for a private car and if you’re driving all the way from Calais down to the Mediterranean coast expect to pay around €70 once you add up the various tolls along the way.

You can find out tariffs for autoroutes on the website of France’s official autoroute body AFSA – where you can also calculate the cost of your journey – including fuel.

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