French warned ‘avoid travel to Spain and Portugal’ over Covid variant fears

'If you're not already booked, avoid Spain and Portugal,' France's Europe minister has warned ahead of a special meeting to address the situation with the delta variant of Covid, which is spreading rapidly throughout Europe.

French warned 'avoid travel to Spain and Portugal' over Covid variant fears
France's Europe minister Clément Beaune. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

In an interview with France 2 TV on Thursday, Europe minister Clément Beaune said France had “not ruled out” imposing extra travel restrictions on countries that have surging cases of Covid caused by the delta variant of the virus.

The minister said he had a “word of caution” for people planning holidays this summer.

“We will decide in the next few days but we could take reinforced measures”, he warned, adding: “For those who have not yet booked their holidays, avoid Spain and Portugal in your destinations”.

He did not mention the UK, but government spokesman Gabriel Attal, in his weekly press conference on Wednesday, listed Spain, Portugal and the UK as countries where the virus situation is concerning the French government.

An extra meeting of the Defence Council has been scheduled for Monday when ministers will decide whether any extra measures, including reinforced travel restrictions, should be imposed.

Both Spain and Portugal have reimposed restrictions in certain regions in recent days because of a rise in cases.

At present all EU and Schengen zone countries are on France’s green list, which means that fully vaccinated people can travel without tests or quarantine – they do need to fill in a health declaration form though. Unvaccinated people need a negative Covid test, but don’t need an essential reason to travel and are not required to quarantine.

READ ALSO How France’s traffic light travel system works

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Péage: Toll rates for motorists in France to increase in 2023

France's Ministry of Transport has announced that toll-fees will increase in 2023. Here is what motorists in France can expect.

Péage: Toll rates for motorists in France to increase in 2023

With French motorists already expecting increases in fuel prices starting in January, the cost of travel on many of France’s motorways will also increase in 2023.

Toll rates on the main routes across France are set to go up by an average of 4.75 percent starting on February 1st, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Transport on Friday.

These rates already rose by two percent in 2022. 

While the increase is still lower than the rate of inflation (six percent), motorists in France can still expect driving to become more expensive in 2023, as the government does away with its broad-scale fuel rebate (€0.10 off the litre) at the start of January.

As of early December, the French government was still discussing plans for how to replace the fuel rebate. The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, told Les Echoes in November that the government was considering a targeted, means-tested “fuel allowance” for workers who depend on their vehicles to commute to and from work. 

How much will I be affected?

The degree to which drivers will experience increased costs depends largely on what kind of vehicle they use, in addition to how far you plan to drive on the toll-road. 

Vehicles are broadly classified as follows:

Class 1 (Light vehicles): these are cars and minivans. This class also includes vehicles pulling trailers with a combined height of no more than 2m and a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of less than or equal to 3.5 tonnes.
Class 2: Large utility vehicles and camping cars
Class 3: Heavy goods vehicles, coaches, other 2-axle vehicles, motorhomes taller than 3m
Class 4: Vehicles taller than 3m with a GVW greater than 3.5 tonnes
Class 5: Motorbikes, sidecars, quad bikes, three-wheeled motor vehicles 

The next determining factor for how significant the price rise will be depends on which company is operating the road you use, and there are several different companies that operate toll-roads in France. 

Each year, toll (péage) prices in France are adjusted and re-evaluated for the following year on February 1st, following discussions between the government and the main companies that operate the French freeways. The fees are in part used for road maintenance costs. 

To estimate the cost of tolls for your next French road trip, you can use the calculator on this website