France ramps up curfew controls as police carry out more than 600,000 checks

France has increased police checks by 30 percent as it ramps up curfew enforcement in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a third lockdown.

France ramps up curfew controls as police carry out more than 600,000 checks
Police issue curfew checks at a toll station in the western outskirts of Paris on January 31st. Photo: AFP

In total, 600,000 police checks have taken place since the France imposed a nationwide 6pm curfew on January 16th, according to the interior ministry.

The interior ministry said Sunday that police had performed 65,000 checks on Saturday, with 6,000 people fined for breaking the rules, and that checks now were ramped up by 30 percent.


“People in France should know that after 6pm they face a big risk of being stopped and possibly fined,” said Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

Across France no-one is allowed out between the hours of 6pm and 6am unless they fall into one of the exempt groups. Everyone who is out needs an attestation permission form stating their reason for leaving home.

READ ALSO These are the rules of France's 6pm nationwide curfew


As well as officers on foot, police have also set up roadblocks, including checks on the Paris ringroad on Sunday.


But police received criticism for their choice of checkpoints on Sunday, with their particular targeting of motorways saw people fined for being caught in traffic jams.


Traffic jams spanning 400 kilometres in and out of Paris saw drivers blocked for hours in queues.

“I don't think this kind of action helps the acceptability of the measure,” said Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire in a tweet.

“They don't pose any risk to others than themselves,” he wrote, urging police to show leeway when necessary, “otherwise people will grow tired of this.. very quickly.”


But cracking down harder on post-curfew activity was part of President Emmanuel Macron's revised coronavirus strategy presented on Friday evening, after the decision by the government Defence Council to not impose a third nationwide lockdown.

READ ALSO: France closes non-EU borders and tightens curfew in last chance to avoid third lockdown

To ensure compliance with the rules, the government has said police will be more present and less lenient during checks, be it post-curfew activity without legitimate reason, restaurants maintaining an illegal underground activity or private businesses not respecting general health rules.

“We still have a chance to avoid lockdown,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said during Friday's press conference.

The government has said it is now the “responsibility of the French” to avoid another flare-up in Covid-19 cases – which have been rising slowly but steadily since the New Year – even if several health experts have recommended an early, swifter lockdown rather than a later and longer one.

The Finance ministry has also warned that restaurants that open up in defiance of the rules face losing financial aid from the state.

Member comments

  1. How mean is that? Giving fines to people stuck in traffic jams. Which life are we going to ‘save’ with that action? I bet most of those people are just going home, already fustrated standing in a traffic jam. It just proves it ones again, it has nothing to do with the ‘pandemic’ but all about controle.

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What to expect if you’re travelling to France in December

From Covid rules to strikes, snow to festivals here's what you can expect if you are travelling to France in December or January.

What to expect if you're travelling to France in December

Covid rules

Travel over the previous two Christmases was heavily restricted because of Covid, but this year things are very different.

There are currently no travel restrictions in place, no requirement to show proof of a Covid vaccination to enter France and the vaccine pass is no longer in use.

Regarding masks, these are only compulsory in certain healthcare settings and are no longer required in other public places. However, the country is experiencing a surge in cases and the Prime Minister has called on people to wear masks on public transport, especially at peak times.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: essential Covid information for tourists in France


If you’re planning to use public transport you might need to keep an eye on strike announcements as several sectors have threatened strike action over the Christmas and New Year period.

On the railways, conductors and ticket collectors have filed a provisional strike notice that covers the weekends of December 23rd-26th and December 30th to January 2nd, while cabin crew at both Easyjet and Air France have also filed provisional strike notices for the Christmas period. Whether these strikes go ahead depends on the result of ongoing pay negotiations.

Meanwhile if you are intending to travel by Eurostar, security staff in the UK have called a strike on December 16th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd. Eurostar says it will notify passengers nearer the time if any services are cancelled or delayed on those days.

READ ALSO Should you travel to France if there is a strike on?

You can keep up to date with the latest at our strike section HERE


The long-term forecast for France, and indeed the rest of Europe, is a winter of above-average temperatures. However forecasters say there will be a “cold blast” and that will be concentrated in December, so expect chilly temperatures and flurries of snow, especially on higher ground.

If you’re planning to ski then snow will be exactly what you want – many of France’s Alps ski resorts saw delayed opening dates because of a lack of snow but as of the start of December the higher resorts – like Tignes, Val d’Isère and Courchevel – were open.

Power cuts 

Countries across Europe are grappling with power issues this winter due to the shortage of Russian gas, and France is no exception.

Local authorities have been asked to put in place emergency plans in case scheduled power cuts are required – here are the details – although the government insists this eventuality is unlikely.

Trains, hospitals and schools: How will handle possible blackouts this winter

There is a website and app called Ecowatt which gives the latest information on whether power cuts are likely, and which areas will be affected. Here’s how it works


France has only two public holidays over the festive period – December 25th and January 1st. This year, both of these fall on a Sunday, meaning no extra day off for workers. Most shops will be closed on those days although on December 25th many boulangeries and patisseries will open in the morning only, along with some florists.

Other than that, you can expect most shops, restaurants and cafés to be open as normal over the holiday period, although offices are often closed for longer. French schools are closed between December 17th and January 3rd.


You can expect traffic to be heavy on certain days as French people travel to spend time with their families. The traffic forecasting site Bison futé predicts that traffic will be heavy on Thursday, December 22nd and very heavy on Friday, December 23rd, especially in the greater Paris Île-de-France region. 

The roads are also expected to be busy on Sunday, January 1st and Monday January 2nd. 

Festivals and events

You can also expect lots of fun festivals and events at this time of year, especially Christmas markets and light festivals.

Here’s our pick of some of the best Christmas markets and festive events