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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

LATEST: How visitors from outside the EU can access the French health pass

If you're planning a trip to France you will need the vaccine pass to access venues including bars, cafés and tourist sites, but getting this if you were vaccinated outside the EU, Schengen zone or UK can be complicated. Here's how it works.

LATEST: How visitors from outside the EU can access the French health pass
Photo: Pierre Verdy/AFP

The EU digital travel pass means that those vaccinated in EU countries have vaccination codes that are compatible with the French system, and the same is true of people vaccinated in a Schengen zone country or in the UK.

However visitors from outside the EU/Schengen/UK area need to obtain a European code before they can use the vaccine pass, and the process for doing this has changed several times.

The French government has now shut the online portal for this, and introduced a new system.

Here’s how it works:

Who?

This applies to anyone who was vaccinated outside the EU. What passport you hold is largely irrelevant, although French citizens vaccinated outside the EU do have their own separate system.

In order to apply for the French code you must be

  • Over the age of 12
  • Fully vaccinated with either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • You may also need a booster, depending on when you had your second vaccine dose – full details here 

Those vaccinated with Sinopharm or Sinovac can get a French code if they have had a single top-up dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.

Those vaccinated with Sputnik or any other vaccines not recognised by the WHO need two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna before they are accepted as fully vaccinated in France.

Why?

Since January 24th 2022, the vaccine pass is compulsory to access a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, cinemas, tourist attractions, gyms, leisure centres, cinemas, theatres, museums, ski lifts and long-distance trains.

How?

Previously tourists and visitors were told to email or apply online in advance of their trip to get their code, but now codes can only be issued by pharmacies.

This means that tourists will have to wait until they have arrived in the country and then sort out the necessary code, which is available on a walk-in basis from pharmacies.

A vaccine certificate from your home country will be accepted at the border as proof of vaccinated status.

Not all pharmacies offer this service, visitors will have to go to a participating pharmacy and, as the map below shows, there are not many of these and they are heavily concentrated on cities, especially Paris.

You can find an interactive version of the map HERE to find the closest pharmacy to you.

Once at the pharmacy, you show your original paper vaccination certificate and your passport and the pharmacist will give you a QR code. The code can then be scanned into the French TousAntiCovid app and this creates the vaccine pass.

Find full details on how the vaccine pass works HERE.

Charles de Gaulle airport

If you are coming to France by air and you are flying into Charles de Gaulle airport, there is a pharmacy at the airport that offers this service. 

It’s called Pharmacie Bonassoli, but it does not operate 24/7.

How much?

Previously the swapping service was free, but now pharmacists can charge up to a maximum fee of €36.

Why the change?

The process for tourists and visitors from outside the EU to get the necessary code has never really worked very well, and The Local has received dozens of emails from people who were unable to get the code, or who waited weeks for their application to be processed, leaving them without a pass on their holidays.

Most of the rollout of the health pass and then vaccine pass has gone very (some might say surprisingly) smoothly, but this area has definitely been a weak spot.

The most recent system was an online application form, but many people reported that it took weeks to get their code so it was probably understaffed.

By moving the task back to pharmacies the government has at least provided a service that is accessible on a walk-in basis.

French vocab

Pass sanitaire – health passport 

Attestation de vaccination étranger or Certificat de vaccination étranger  – Foreign (ie non-EU) vaccination certificate

Code QR (pronounced coo-aire) – QR code

Conversion de certificats de vaccination étrangers en format européen – Conversion of foreign vaccination certificates into a European format (this is the formal name for this service, so look out for pharmacies offering this)

Bonjour, pouvez-vous tranformer mon certificat de vaccination étranger en un QR code français pour le pass sanitaire ? – Hello, can you swap my foreign vaccination certificate for a French QR code for the health pass?

Member comments

  1. so glad I got mine early, this was one of my biggest concerns, the online trick was do it at 2am est in USA, received QR in 5 mins. Paris here we come.

  2. Arriving off the Eurostar with a two hour transfer to catch a fast train to the Spanish border. What are our chances of getting the new pass from a pharmacy in this time? And do the high speed trains insist on the health passes?

    1. Sometimes you need to show the pass to get on the train but not always. I have been asked to show it before entering the platform at Gare du Nord. It only takes a few minutes for the process of getting you the barcode… the trick will be finding a participating pharmacist close to the gare. Hopefully, there will be some in or adjacent to the gare that join the program.

  3. The pharmacie mentioned is not *at* CDG, it is *near* CDG. Hopefully, one (or all) of the pharmacies in the airport will offer this service…

  4. If you arrive to another EU country that uses the EU Covid Health Pass before entering France, will this be suffice? Or do you need to get a specific France Health Pass once you enter the country?

  5. I had two Pfizer vaccinations in France but a Moderna booster while on a short trip to the UK. I still cannot find out how to get the UK one seen as a booster in the AntiCovid app. The NHS QR code scans into the app but I am still getting warnings that the pass will be de-activated on 15 Jan. Anyone got any ideas?
    Thanks,
    Steve

  6. How do American tourists register their booster onto the tousanticovid pass Sanitaire. I have the pass from a trip to France in September 2021 but have since been boosted. I’m planning another trip in April 2022 . Do I need to “start over” when I get to Paris for €36, or can I somehow update it online for no cost?

  7. I have been in Vietnam for the Past 3 months, working. I have just received a Booster shot “Pfizer” and I am still not due to travel back to france for a few weeks. is there an online way to add this to my antiCovid app from here, or do I have to wait to come back to france and go to my local Pharmacie
    Thanks

  8. When using the interactive site for pharmacies ( linked in this article), you will find many more listings if you enter your zip code. The initial map is just an overview.

  9. O so I need this to travel on the trains but how do I get this when coming by Eurostar then having to go via underground to catch a connection at another station! I am an older person and would find rushing round Paris impossible so will there be an easier way before Spring anyone know!

  10. Can anyone confirm that a pharmacie at CDG (not merely near CDG) will convert a vaccine certificate to a vaccine pass?

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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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