France travel restrictions – what are your rights to refunds on trips?

France travel restrictions - what are your rights to refunds on trips?
Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/AFP
France is set to reintroduce strict limits on travel from the UK, meaning that holidays, visits to second homes and visits to family and friends are no longer possible - so what is the situation for those who had booked trips?

At present, France’s travel rules say that travel from the UK is allowed for any reason, including holidays, provided people take a Covid test and self-isolate for seven days on arrival.

But from Monday, May 31st, these rules will change and travel will again only be allowed for vital reasons including essential work and medical emergencies – you can find the full list of accepted reasons HERE.

French citizens and people who have their permanent residence in France will be allowed to return.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK

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So if you have booked a trip that will now needs to be cancelled, what are your rights to a refund?

In short, not great.

The UK government, while allowing travel to France for any reason, officially advised against it. While people were free to ignore this, travelling against official government advice invalidates most travel insurance policies, so it is highly unlikely that travel insurance will pay out for cancelled planes, trains, ferries or accommodation.

Airlines, ferry companies and the Eurostar were already running a reduced service between France and the UK and in the light of the extra restrictions it is likely that this will be reduced further in the coming days.

If the service you booked is still running, however, you are not entitled to a refund if government travel rules change.

Desperate to lure customers back, many transport services have been offering free alteration or cancellation of tickets, so check the policy of the company that you booked with, although when you read the small print some of the ‘free cancellation’ policies entitle you only to vouchers, rather than an actual cash refund.

Likewise many hotels and gîtes have been offering free re-booking or cancellation policies, and the same is true for many hosts on Airbnb so when it comes to accommodation you may find it easier to get a refund, although again it depends on the policy that you booked under. Travel insurance would be unlikely to cover this.

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