Tests on the beach, sniffer dogs and tracing: France’s plan to keep Covid under control this summer

Free tests at beaches and campsites, Covid-sniffer dogs and a more expansive tracing system are among the measures France plans to put in place this summer in order to facilitate tourism.

Tests on the beach, sniffer dogs and tracing: France's plan to keep Covid under control this summer
Free Covid tests will be available on French beaches this summer. Photo: MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP.

“With 2,000 to 3,000 cases per day, the virus is no longer hunting us, we are hunting the virus,” health minister Olivier Véran said as he unveiled the plans in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche.

Free self-test kits

The minister said that two million self-test kits will be distributed in July and August to coincide with the summer holidays. They will be handed out for free at the beach, on camp sites, in hotels and in gyms. Tests will also be available for schools to distribute to students ahead of the summer break.

The self-test kits are already available in pharmacies for a maximum price of €6.

Free tests for everyone, including tourists

Last month, the government announced that foreign visitors would not have to pay for the PCR or antigen tests which are a requirement for returning home to many countries.

Tests were already free in all circumstances – including for travel – to residents in France but this is now extended to visitors as well.

In France the rapid-result antigen tests (known as lateral flow tests in some countries) are available in pharmacies, most of which do not require appointments, while PCR tests can be booked at test centres or accessed in pop-up test centres.

READ ALSO How to get a Covid test in France

Sniffer dogs

Established Covid testing will be used alongside more experimental measures, which could include using sniffer dogs to detect infections.

The method will be the subject of two trials in the coming days.

“We now have proof that it works in real life thanks to very promising results obtained by the research teams and the AP-HP [hospitals group in Paris],” Véran told the JDD. “We’ll undertake a wider roll-out during the summer if the results are conclusive.”

Contact tracing

The contact tracing system will also be reinforced, with 2,000 people acting as trained Covid points of contact in holiday spots such as campsites, who will be able to administer tests and to help people to self-isolate.

Véran announced that contact-tracing will also become more exhaustive.

“Up until the spring, we only tracked down the contacts of a person who’d been infected. From the beginning of July and after trials, a thorough investigation will be undertaken to find out who infected them and under what circumstances. We will go back as far as possible,” the minister added, referencing the success of Japan’s retrospective contact tracing system.

Traffic light travel

France has adopted a traffic light system to control entry into the country which differentiates between vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.

It recently placed the United States and Canada on its green list, meaning visitors from those countries do not need an essential reason to enter France, and will not need to quarantine upon arrival – the same rules also apply to all entries from the EU and Schengen zone.

EXPLAINED How France’s traffic light system for travel works

Compulsory isolation

French officials are particularly focused on limiting the spread of the Delta variant – first identified in India – which currently represents between 2 and 4 percent of cases in France, but which now accounts for 90 percent of all cases in the UK.

To combat this “highly, highly contagious” variant, Véran told the JDD that isolation periods would be more strictly imposed. If a person refuses to self-isolate, “an alert will be sent to the Préfets [local authorities]. They can take measures to isolate them.”


“This summer will be different from the last, and certainly more serene for French people, because we have more tools at our disposal,” Véran added.

Member comments

  1. Ha,ha,ha who want to be tested if you feel well? just to have a holiday ruined by isolation? And than you’re sunbathing and drooling Bruno comes to sniff you, brilliant idea!

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What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

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


But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.