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SECOND HOMES

Reader question: Can unvaccinated second-home owners travel to France?

France is lifting the majority of its Covid-related rules, but there are still restrictions in place that apply to second-home owners.

Reader question: Can unvaccinated second-home owners travel to France?
Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Question: We own a property in France and we’re not vaccinated – are we still barred from visiting? If so, do you know when this is likely to change?

Although many health restrictions have been lifted – and the vaccine pass and mask rules were lifted on Monday, March 14th – France is still operating its traffic light system for travel.

This means that whether you are allowed to enter the country or not depends on two things – where you are travelling from and whether you are fully vaccinated, according to the French government definition.

READ ALSO How France’s traffic light travel system works

If you’re travelling from a green list country you can travel for any reason, whether you are vaccinated or not, although non-vaccinated people need to present a negative Covid test at the border.

However if you are travelling from an orange list country things are more strict.

The whole of the EU, the USA, Canada and – since March 31st – the UK. Australia is on the orange list.

MAP Which countries are on France’s green list?

Fully vaccinated travellers from orange list countries can come to France for any reason and do not need to show a Covid test.

However for people not fully vaccinated, things are more difficult. Non-vaccinated travellers can only come to France if they fit the ‘essential reasons’ criteria.

These criteria are strictly defined and do not include tourism, family visits or visits to second homes – as we saw during earlier border closures, simply owning property in France does not give you any extra rights over entry.

French citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter without being fully vaccinated (proof of residency may be needed at the border), along with students starting the new academic year and people travelling for essential work reasons – find the full list of reasons HERE.

Readers have reported varying levels of checks at the border, but checks do happen and you can be denied entry and sent back if you do not have the correct paperwork, as this reader found out.

France does not have regular review dates of its traffic light travel list, the system is under constant review but over the last few weeks more than 50 countries have been added to the green list.

As soon as this changes, we will update our Travelling to France section, and you can also follow @TheLocalTravel on Twitter for the latest updates. 

Member comments

  1. Unless you have a valid MEDICAL reason you cannot be vaccinated, then the solution is safe, obvious, and (in EU & UK, at least) simple: Get fully-vaccinated!

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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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