Train strike to disrupt travel in France this weekend

France's train operator SNCF has announced that several high-speed TGV trains in the west of the country will be cancelled this weekend, as rail workers strike.

A strike is set to disrupt train travel in western France from Friday, October 22nd.
A strike is set to disrupt train travel in western France from Friday, October 22nd. Photo: JACQUES DEMARTHON / AFP.

SNCF announced on Thursday that 1 in 10 of the TGV Atlantique trains would be cancelled on Friday October 22nd, while one in three trains would not be running on Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday, however, SNCF updated its traffic information to inform travallers that only one in five trains would in fact be cancelled on Saturday.

Services will be disrupted on Inoui and Ouigo TGV trains to and from Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Centre Val de Loire, Nouvelle Aquitaine, and Occitanie.

The CGT-Cheminots, SUD-Rail and CFDT-Cheminots trade unions instigated the strike action in protest over working conditions and pay.

Saturday marks the start of the Toussaint holidays in France, with all schoolchildren given two weeks off, so many people would have been set to head off on holiday this weekend.

“Every client who is affected will be contacted to inform them of the status of their train, and will be able to be reimbursed or exchange their ticket for another date at no extra fee. Travellers who are able to or who have not yet booked are invited to delay their journey until another date,” SNCF announced, according to Le Parisien.

The list of trains that are running should be available online and via the Assistant SNCF app by 5pm the day before at the latest.

There may also be modifications to regional TER train schedules in Brittany on Friday and Saturday – you can find out whether a train is running online.

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Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

With travel opening up, many people are planning trips to France over the next few months, but the Covid pandemic has not gone away. Here are your questions answered on testing, isolation and medical treatment if you do fall sick while on holiday.

Paxlovid, tests and isolation: Covid care for tourists in France

Travel rules

Covid-related travel rules have mostly been relaxed now but you will still need to show proof of being fully vaccinated at the French border. If you are not vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test – find the full breakdown of the rules HERE.


Once in France if you develop symptoms or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive you will need to get a Covid test.

The good news is that testing is widely available in France, both for residents and tourists.

The easiest way to get a test is head to a pharmacy, most of which offer the rapid-result antigen test on a walk-in basis Tests are available to everyone who wants one, there is no need to fulfill any set criteria.

For full details on how to get a test, and some handy French vocab, click HERE.

The difference for tourists is that you will have to pay for your test, while residents get their costs reimbursed by the French state health system.

In the pharmacy you may be asked for your carte vitale – this is the health card that residents use to claim refunds. As a tourist you won’t have the card – you can still get the test, you will just need to pay for it. Costs vary between pharmacies but are capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.


If your test is positive you are legally required to isolate, but how long your isolation period is depends on the your vaccination stats – full details HERE.


For most fully-vaccinated people without underlying health conditions the symptoms of Covid are fairly mild, but if you do become ill, here’s how to access medical help while in France.

Pharmacy – one of the first things you will notice about France is that pharmacies are everywhere, just look out for the green cross. As well as selling over-the-counter medication, pharmacies all have at least one fully-qualified pharmacist on the staff who can offer medical advice. 

Take advantage of pharmacists – they train for at least six years so they’re very knowledgeable and they’re easy to access by simply walking into the shop. In tourist areas it’s likely that they will speak English. Pharmacists can also signpost you to a nearby doctor if you need extra help.

Doctors – if you need to see a doctor, look out for a médecin généraliste (a GP or family doctor). There is no need to be registered with a doctor, simply call up and ask for an appointment if you need one. If you have a smartphone you can use the medical app Doctolib to find a généraliste in your area who speaks English. You will need to pay for your consultation – €25 is the standard charge and you pay the doctor directly using either cash or a debit card.

You may be able to claim back the cost later on your own health/travel insurance depending on the policy.

Ambulance – if you are very sick or have difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance – the number is 15. All non-residents are entitled to emergency treatment in France, whether or not you have insurance, but if you are admitted or have treatment you may need to pay later.

READ ALSO Emergency in France: Who to call and what to say

Paxlovid – several readers have asked whether the Covid treatment drug Paxlovid is available in France. It was licenced for use in February 2022 and is available on prescription from pharmacies, mainly for people with underlying health conditions or an impaired immune system. You can get a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The drug is reimbursed for French residents, but as a tourist you will have to pay.