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TRAVEL NEWS

UPDATE: The parts of France that have enforced extra local Covid restrictions

Health restrictions including curfews and lockdowns have been lifted in France, but as the country is in the grip of a fourth wave of Covid cases, many local authorities have imposed their own measures. Here is a guide to the rules in place in different parts of France.

UPDATE: The parts of France that have enforced extra local Covid restrictions
Many French holiday hotspots have imposed extra restrictions. Photo: Pascal Pochard Casablanca/AFP

National rules – there are no longer any lockdown or curfew restrictions in place in any part of France. However a health passport is required to access a number of everyday venues – find full details of how that works HERE.

On a national level, masks are required in all indoor public spaces and in places outdoors where social distancing is impossible. However, a lot of local authorities have reimposed the rule on wearing masks in outdoor areas including on the street (full details below).

Local rules

When the country reached the fourth and final stage of lockdown lifting in June, préfectures were given extra powers to impose local restrictions if necessary.

The fourth wave of Covid cases is largely concentrated along the coast – mirroring where most of the French are in the summer – and an increasing number of authorities in those areas are imposing new restrictions in a bid to keep case numbers under control.

In some places the rules concern only a single town or city, in others the entire département and in others only communes above a certain size within the département. Things are changing rapidly, so if you are planning to travel we would advise checking the rules in advance on the website of the local préfecture.

Ban on large gatherings

The island of Corsica is experiencing a large spike in case numbers and authorities in Haute-Corse – which covers the northern half of the island – have banned gatherings of more than 10 people in public after 9pm. From August 1st, private events such as weddings with more than 50 people will have to be declared in advance at the préfecture.

In Landes public gatherings of more than 20 are not allowed, and many festivals have been cancelled as the préfecture maintains its limit of 5,000 people for organised events.

Early bar closures

From August 1st, all bars, restaurants and cafés in Haute-Corse will have to close at midnight.

In the south west département of Pyrénées-Orientales and neighbouring Aude, all bars, cafés and restaurants must close at 11pm.

However, 25 restaurants have been allowed to stay open until 2am, by applying the health pass ahead of the August 9th date on which it will become required for all bars and restaurants across France.

A number of bars and restaurants in Corsica and Calvados have also been able to volunteer to test out the health pass.

Prime minister Jean Castex has suggested that more bar opening restrictions could be deployed, but the final decision is up to local authorities at present.

Outdoor drinking ban

Several areas have banned the consumption of alcohol in outdoor public spaces. This does not cover bars and restaurants but includes people gathering outdoors in public spaces for picnics.

Alpes-Maritime – consumption of alcohol in public areas is banned and playing music is not allowed (apart from at organised festivals)

Var – consumption of alcohol in public areas is banned in 16 communes.

Gironde – consumption of alcohol in public areas is banned in Bordeaux, Arcachon, Lège-Cap-Ferret, Soulac-sur-Mer, Lacanau, Hourtin, Carcans, Le Porge, La Teste-de-Buch, Andernos-les-Bains,  Vendays-Montalivet, Libourne and Saint-Emilion.

Vendée – consumption of alcohol in public areas is banned, as is playing amplified music on the beaches.

Masks

Across France, face masks – worn so they cover the nose and mouth – are required in all indoor public spaces including shops and public transport, as well as outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible.

However, several local authorities have reintroduced mask rules for outdoor public spaces including in the street.

Nice: Masks are required in certain areas of the city, notably those popular with tourists. Mayor Christian Estrosi has also instructed that medical teams offer vaccinations to people at their place of work, and was planning to introduce a ‘vaccine confidence’ label for shop owners whose staff are inoculated. The goal, he said in a recent interview with Europe 1, is to have 80 percent of the population of Nice vaccinated by the end of August.

Bordeaux: Masks are mandatory in certain areas of the city between 12pm and 7pm daily.

Toulouse: Wearing a mask is a requirement in the centre of the city from 9am to 3am.

Lille: Pedestrian areas of the city are covered by a mask mandate.

Montpellier: Certain parts of the city still require residents and visitors to wear masks from 2pm to 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Similar rules are in place in Béziers, while masks are mandated outdoors between 6pm and 11pm in the Hérault resorts of Cap d’Agde, Palavas-les-Flots and La Grande-Motte.

Mont-de-Marsan: Face masks are required outdoors in parts of the Landes town at weekends. They are also mandatory in the seaside resort of Biscarosse throughout the week.

Dax: When the mask requirement was lifted nationally in June, Dax – along with Hossegor, Moliets-et-Maa and Léon – decided to extend its local requirement until July 6th. That mandate has since been extended.

Saint-Malo: anyone inside the city walls and on the ramparts must wear a mask outdoors between the hours of 11am and 9pm, a recent decree has stipulated.

Le Touquet: Wearing a mask outside is the rule in several streets in the Pas-de-Calais town. 

Etretat: The popular Normandy coastal town requires masks in shopping centres, certain parks, and the area around the beach.

As well as individual towns, an increasing number of préfectures are introducing rules that cover entire départements.

Pyrénées-Orientales: Throughout the south west département on the Spanish border, masks are required in all public spaces except beaches. This edict runs until August 2nd but could be extended. Local authorities have also ordered the 11pm closure of all bars and restaurants as cases soar in the area.

Vendée: The west coast département has made masks compulsory in the street in 22 municipalities including the popular resorts of Les Sables d’Olonne and L’Ile d’Yeu.

Hérault: Masks are compulsory in outdoor areas throughout the département, with only beaches, bathing areas and ‘large natural spaces’ exempt.

Meurthe-et-Moselle: the eastern French département probably has the most complicated rules so far – masks are compulsory in the street of all towns that have a population of more than 5,000 inhabitants and an incidence rate of more than 50 cases per 100,000 people. At present levels, this would cover most of the larger towns within the département.

Var: The département on the south coast has re-introduced mandatory mask-wearing in 58 towns and villages, including Toulon and Saint-Tropez. This does not apply to ‘natural spaces’ like forests and beaches, or to people who are exercising. A full list of the communes affected is available here.

Haute-Corse: in the northern half of Corsica, masks are required in outdoor areas in the towns of Bastia, Corte, Calvi, Ile-Rousse, Calenzana, Saint-Florent and the Balagne area.

Essonne – the département in the greater Paris area requires a mask at all outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people.

Bas-Rhin – masks are required throughout the département for all outdoor markets, demonstrations or large gatherings in public places.

Charente-Maritime – the outdoor mask rule has been instated in the 45 largest communes, which includes La Rochelle and the popular tourist destination of Île-de-Ré.

Gironde – outdoor masks are required in; Bordeaux city centre, Libourne, Saint-Emilion and parts of Soulac-sur-Mer and La Teste-de-Buch.

Alpes-Maritimes – masks are compulsory outdoors throughout the département, with the exception of beaches, forests and national parks.

Ariège – outdoor masks are required in 19 towns and villages until August 15th.

Aude – the préfecture has introduced a mask requirement for busy areas such as the Cité de Carcassonne, as well as outdoor markets, queues and any situation where social distancing is not possible.

Bouches-du-Rhône – masks are required in outdoor markets, funfairs, and in the areas surrounding shopping centres, places of worship, nurseries and schools.

Loire-Atlantique – masks are required in La Baule and in 15 communes of the Presqu’île de Guérande.

Nord – locals and tourists in nine coastal towns must wear a mask until August 2nd, including Dunkirk.

Pyrénées-Atlantiques – several towns along the Basque coast require masks in the street between 9am and 9pm until August 31st, including Bayonne and Biarritz.

Tarn-et-Garonne – masks are obligatory in three towns – Montauban, Moissac and Castelsarrasin – from 8am to 12am, until August 7th.

Savoie – the prefect of the Savoie département in south-eastern France announce on July 30th that outdoor mask rules would return in areas where lots of people pass. This includes the town centres in Chambéry, Albertville, and Aix-les-Bains, as well as “outdoor events of more than 10 people” such as markets and queues outside stadiums and concert venues.

Finistère – the départmeent in Brittany has reintroduced mandatory masks outdoors in 22 of its larger and more touristic communes, including Brest and Quimper. The new rules do not apply to beaches or quieter areas, and will last until August 31st.

Morbihan – also in Brittany, the Morbihan département requires masks in all towns and villages of more than 5,000 inhabitants.

Haute-Savoie – the Alpine département has equally introduced mask rules for 85 towns of more than 5,000 people, including Annecy, until August 31st.

Failure to comply with local or national mask rules can net you a €135 fine.

The situation with masks may change on a local level, so check with the local préfecture for the most recent information.

Member comments

  1. What a good cop out for the Government. It’s not our fault it’s your Prefecture who’s to blame.

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TOURISM

What to know when visiting France’s lavender fields this summer

Known affectionately as 'blue gold,' France’s lavender fields are a popular tourist attraction every year. Here is what you need to know about visiting them:

What to know when visiting France's lavender fields this summer

Lavender is the “soul of Provence,” the French region where the fields can be found. Like wine, lavender was brought to France around 2,000 years ago by the Romans. The flower is the emblem of ‘Haute Provence’ regional identity, though the fields stretch from just outside of Nice almost all the way up to Valence, and they are not fully exclusive to France.

Even the washerwomen, those whose job it was to clean clothes and linen, were referred to as les lavandières in France. 

The flowers, which can be found mainly in two species in Provence, have several uses – as oils for cooking and bathing, as a perfume for soaps, and even as an antiseptic for healing wounds and scars.

The lavender essential oil that comes from Provence is even an AOP (L’Appellation d’origine protégée) in France. 

When is the best time to see the fields?

Typically, the lavender flowers from around mid-June to early-to-mid August. However, depending on the weather, especially if there is a drought or hotter temperatures, the lavender might flower sooner than normal, which is likely the case for this year.

This is unfortunately also a side effect of climate change, which might be pushing up the lavender flowering season.

Where should I go?

The Valensole plateau is perhaps the most famous place to go for lavender fields. Speckled with several small Provencal towns, the area is beautiful, with a mountainous backdrop in the distance. If you go here, you might also be able to see the sunflower fields too.

Sault is perhaps a bit less known, partially because due to its altitude, the lavender typically flowers a bit later.

It is still a great place to go see the fields, and every year the town hosts a Lavender Festival in August. Walking (or cycling) between the villages (Aurel, Saint-Trinit and Saint-Christol) is very manageable.

This is not too far from the Sénanque Abbey, a medieval 12th century abbey which is surrounded by lavender fields. You might notice some small stone houses called bories in the fields, which were historically used for field workers.

Luberon Valley is another location that comes highly recommended. In the area, there is a regional national park, home to rosé wines, castles (chateaux) and charming villages, like Gordes, a stunning hilltop village.

Here you can also find the Musée de la Lavande, if you are looking to learn more about harvesting, producing and distilling lavender, its industry, and some interesting regional history.

How to get there?

You can take a TGV train to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or rent a car. With a car, you can also enjoy the several scenic routes that allow you to see the fields from the roads.

What else is there to do while in the region?

The area is also known for its rosé wine, so you could take the opportunity to go visit some vineyards or spend some time wine-tasting. 

In the summer months, the south of France can get quite warm. If you are looking to go swimming or enjoy the water, the Gorges du Verdon are not too far away. Though a bit of a tourist hotspot, the canyon is a beautiful and a wonderful place for paddling along in a canoe.

If you’re a fan of hiking, you can always go for a (light) hike along the Ochre Trail near Roussillon. Here, there are two marked paths that will take you through sunset-colored red and yellow cliffs in an old quarry.

Words of Wisdom

Unless you have been given express permission, do not pick the lavender, as this is the farmer’s livelihood. You can always buy a bouquet from nearby souvenir shops for your photo shoots! 

Also, stick to the paths that exist to avoid trampling any crops, and of course do not litter in the fields. 

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