Covid vaccine pass: Travel warning over family holidays in France

France has lifted many of its travel restrictions - but visitors travelling with children should be aware of vaccination requirements for under 18s.

Carcassonne medieval cité
Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

Since summer 2021, France has required a Covid health pass for entry to many everyday venues including restaurants, leisure centres, tourist sites and long-distance train travel.

The passport requires one of three things; proof of fully vaccinated status, a negative Covid test no more than 24 hours old, or proof of recent recovery from Covid.

However, the health pass will shortly – probably from January 21st although the precise date is yet to be confirmed – become a vaccine pass. In this case, only proof of vaccination is accepted.

READ ALSO How the French health passport works

And this also applies to some children.

Anyone over the age of 12 years and two months is required to show their pass, meaning that if a family wants to go out for dinner all family members over the age of 12 will need to show their health passes before being allowed in.

Children under 12 are not affected and do not need to show a health or vaccine pass.

Among French teenagers, nearly 80 percent of 12-17 year-olds are now fully vaccinated.

However, tourists coming from countries that have a different protocol may have a problem.

The definition is ‘fully vaccinated’ for 12-17-year-olds is the same as for adults – two doses of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of Janssen.

A single dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna is not considered sufficient and youngsters who have only had one dose have to follow the rules for unvaccinated people.

READ ALSO A step-by-step guide to getting the French health passport

Anyone over the age of 12 years and two months who is not fully vaccinated has two main options.

The first is to get a Covid test every 24 hours – as well as being not a whole load of fun, tests for tourists are no longer free, so families face a cost of €22 for an antigen test (or €44 for a PCR test) every 24 hours for each child over the age of 12. Either type of test is accepted for the health pass, but home test kits results or Lateral Flow Tests are not accepted.

The second option is to avoid health pass venues, but this covers a wide range of places including cafés, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums and tourist sites (including theme parks like Disneyland Paris), leisure centres, events such as festivals or concerts and long-distance travel on trains, buses or domestic airlines.

If you’re visiting a ski resort, you will also need the pass to use ski lifts.

Accommodation such as hotels, gîtes and campsites generally don’t require a health pass, but you will need to show it if you use communal facilities such as a pool or bar. Business owners are also within their rights to make it a condition of stay, so check booking information in advance.

The health passport does contain provision to prove you have recently recovered from Covid, but this requires a positive test result less than six months old, plus a negative result from the previous 11 days. Both these test results must be in a format that is compatible with the French app, so is unlikely to be of much use to tourists.

Vaccine pass

As mentioned, France’s health pass will shortly become a vaccine pass.

When the vaccine pass comes in, that will be required for children aged 16 and over.

So 16 and 17-year-olds will need to show proof of full vaccination, negative tests results will no longer be accepted.

Children aged between 12 and 15 can continue to use the health pass, which accepts either vaccination certificates or a recent negative Covid test.

Fully vaccinated

The criteria to be ‘fully vaccinated’ for 12-17-year-olds is the same as for adults:

  • Have received a vaccine that is approved by the European Medicines Agency – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (known as Janssen in France). The Indian-produced Covishield vaccine is now accepted by France 
  • Be at least seven days after the second injection for double-dose vaccines or seven days after a single dose for those people who had previously had Covid-19
  • For adults, a booster shot may be required in order to maintain their fully vaccinated status, but this does not apply to under 18s. 

Member comments

  1. From my understanding 16-18 year olds are only receiving one dose under UK rules and yet this doesn’t seem sufficient under the French criteria.

    Can anybody confirm that this is indeed the case?

    1. That’s correct, over 12s need to be fully vaccinated, which means 2 doses if using Pfizer or Moderna

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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.