Where do you still need to wear a face mask in France?

From Thursday June 17th, wearing face masks outdoors is no longer compulsory in France. But that doesn't mean the end masks in France. Here's where you still need to wear them, even when you are outside.

Where do you still need to wear a face mask in France?
Masks remain compulsory in stadiums, queues, open air markets, busy places, public gatherings and public transport. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP

In August last year, face masks were made compulsory in all public places – indoor and outdoor – in big cities across France.

The rule was maintained until Wednesday when Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that, thanks to daily coronavirus infections falling faster than anticipated, mask-wearing would no longer be compulsory outdoors.

But this doesn’t mean you can just leave your mask at home. Here’s why you’ll still need to make sure you have a mask or two with you.

READ ALSO: Why is France lifting Covid curfew and mask rules early?

Indoor spaces

Wearing masks in public indoor spaces, including shops, cinemas, theatres, cultural sites such as museums and galleries and offices remains compulsory for the moment.

Busy outdoor spaces

They are also meant to remain compulsory in stadiums, queues, open air markets, busy places, public gatherings.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said wearing a mask would remain the rule, “when we get together, when we are in a crowded place – a queue, in a market or in the stands of a stadium”.

Health minister Olivier Véran explained that there are various situations where you would have to wear the mask outdoors. “If you are in a queue on a crowded street then yes,” he told BFMTV. But “if you are in a park, in a square, wearing a face mask is not essential.” 

This also includes the areas outside public buildings such as schools, universities and religious buildings during busy hours.

READ ALSO: Face masks to cafés: What Covid-19 rules are still in place in France?


Pupils from primary age upwards will still need to wear masks inside schools, the government confirmed on Wednesday. But in a last minute change of heart the PM decided to end the obligation for youngsters to wear masks in the playground.

Public transport

Face masks were made compulsory in public transport in spring 2020 and this rule is set to stay in place for the foreseeable future.

This includes bus stops, as well as indoor and outdoor train and metro platforms.

Bars and cafes

You will still see staff in bars and restaurants wearing masks. 

All customers of restaurants, cafés and bars over the age of 11 must wear a mask at all times when moving around (such as going to to the toilet), both inside and on the terrace.

Masks can be taken off once you sit at a table, but should be kept on when ordering and paying.

Other outdoor areas depending where you are

Similarly to last summer, different areas in France are reporting variations in mask wearing. Rules are vary slightly in different parts of France. The préfecture of the Eure département, for example, included the surrounding 50m around train stations, shopping centres and religious buildings in its list of outdoor areas where mask-wearing is still required.

In Paris masks are required at outdoor markets and sales, in queues and in any gathering in a public place including platforms or bus stops on the public transport system and outside schools at pick-up and drop-off times.

According to Le Parisien, in the Gironde département masks are still compulsory in groups of 10 people or more, whenever maintaining a minimum distance of two metres is not possible.

Other cities have opted for requiring masks on certain streets, making it difficult to work out exactly when you are supposed to wear one.

In Bordeaux, the police préfecture announced that masks would remain compulsory in two of the city’s busiest shopping streets – rue Sainte-Catherine and Porte Dijeaux – from 12pm to 7pm.

In Lille, shoppers should also keep their masks on outside in busy shopping areas.

In Loire-Atlantique, mask-wearing is compulsory in “busy pedestrian streets”, but the prefecture did not provide details on specific streets.

The préfecture of Landes, on the other hand, did specify certain streets in four towns, including Dax and Soorts-Hossegor, where they are still required.

In the centre of Montpellier, they are compulsory from Friday to Saturday, from 2pm til 7pm, while in the neighbouring town of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, masks must be worn outside between those same hours, every day of the week.

Member comments

  1. Blame Peter Mayle for having to wear a mask in Saint Guilhem le Desert. If it weren’t for A year in Provence, nobody would be going there. And he’s left!

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Paxlovid and vaccines: The latest Covid advice from the French government

The French health minister outlined on Friday the government recommendations amid the "tripledemic" of Covid-19, influenza, and bronchiolitis that has hit the country in recent weeks.

Paxlovid and vaccines: The latest Covid advice from the French government

French Health Minister François Braun held a press conference with other public health officials on Friday to provide the public with the government’s latest public health advice.

Earlier in the day, the French health minister said on BFMTV that fourth doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were available to all groups. Previously, only at-risk populations were eligible.

READ MORE: Can anybody in France now get the latest Covid booster vaccine?

Here is what the public health officials said:

The situation

Health Minister Braun began the press conference by reminding the public that France is facing a “triple epidemic,” as the nine Covid-19 wave occurs alongside seasonal illnesses of influenza and bronchiolitis. Specifically, the health minister said that hospital emergency room visits and hospitalisations for the flu had doubled in the last week.

Therefore Braun called for voluntary acts of “solidarity” to prevent a rise in cases and serious infections, particularly of Covid-19, during the end-of-year festivities. 

According to Braun, France counted more than 100,000 new Covid-19 contaminations in recent days, with more than 1,000 patients being treated in critical care services.

Wearing a mask

The public officials reminded the public that wearing a mask is an “act of solidarity.” While the mask is not required, it is highly recommended, particularly in “crowded and enclosed areas,” such as public transportation.

Minister Braun encouraged wearing a mask when travelling to Christmas holiday celebrations this year.

“You do not know if the person next to you is immune-compromised,” said COVARS head Brigitte Autran, recommending that people wear masks while travelling.

Braun also mentioned that in nursing homes and care centres, masks could become required, at the behest of the establishment’s management.

Getting vaccinated against both influenza and Covid-19

The minister of health noted that the level of vaccination in France against influenza was “five percent lower this year” when compared with 2021, making the population more vulnerable. Additionally, the minister expressed concern over the rate of vaccination against Covid-19 (second boosters) in nursing homes and care centres to be “too low,” with rates around “21 and 23 percent for the over 80s.”

Braun reiterated that all groups in France are now eligible for a second booster against Covid-19. The minister said he was “appealing to individual and collective responsibility” in encouraging people to get both the Covid-19 and flu vaccines prior to spending the Christmas holidays with family members.

The minister said that all groups in France should be eligible to receive both vaccines at the same time – one in each arm. 

READ MORE: Flu vaccine opens to all adults in France: What you need to know

Access to Paxlovid

Brigitte Autran said that the treatment drug, Paxlovid, is very effective against the BQ1.1 Covid-19 variant, which is circulating around France currently. She explained that groups at-risk of developping severe forms of Covid-19, or those whose immune systems did not generate responses to the vaccines, would be eligible for prescriptions from their primary care doctors for Paxlovid.

A prescription can be created for a three month period, without the patient needing to be sick with Covid-19 already. Once such a patient tests positive, they can use the existing prescription to access Paxlovid.

Protecting children and babies against bronchiolitis

Romain Basmaci, a pediatrician and professor of medicine, issued several recommendations. He advised that parents wipe down children’s toys and avoid sharing toys between two children. He also recommended that if a parent becomes sick, they should begin wearing a mask and decreasing physical contact with their young child to better protect them.

He added that keeping children’s noses clean and clear is a good practice to protect them while sick, even though there are no specific treatments for bronchiolitis. Additionally, he said that if your child is struggling to eat, smaller quantities rather than full meals may be a helpful way to ensure they remain well-nourished.