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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

What are the rules in French ski resorts for the February holidays?

During the February school holidays many will be considering a ski holiday in France.

Skiers in France no longer need to wear masks to use lifts.
Skiers in France no longer need to wear masks. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

Travel

If you’re coming from outside France, you first need to know if the border is open to you.

France operates a traffic light system of travel.

If you are coming from a green country you can travel for any reason. Fully vaccinated people need only proof of vaccination at the border, while unvaccinated people also need a negative Covid test. Green countries include all EU and Schengen zone countries and New Zealand.

If you’re coming from an orange or red country, you can only travel for a ski holiday (which is classed as non-essential for travel purposes, no matter how much you have missed whizzing down the slopes) if you are vaccinated. This covers the UK, Canada, Australia and the USA. Negative Covid tests are no longer required for fully-vaccinated travellers.

Find the full explanation on travel rules here.

Resort rules

Masks – the government has decreed that masks are no longer compulsory in the queues for ski lifts, on the lifts themselves or during your descent down the slopes.

Some local authorities may have their own rules in place, so it is worth enquiring with your resort. 

Queuing 

Resorts will likely make more space available for queuing to try to maintain social distancing measures between those waiting in line.

Vaccine pass – the vaccine pass is required to access ski lifts, as well as many other venues.

Ski resort chiefs say that in general, people will be asked to show the pass at the moment they buy the ski pass for the resort. Random checks will also be carried out at lifts and cable cars.

Children

If your children are aged between 12 years and two months and 15 years, then they will need a health pass to access venues like bars, cafés and ski lifts.

Slightly different to the vaccine pass, the health pass requires one of three things; proof of full Covid vaccination, proof of recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 24 hours.

‘Full vaccination’ here means two doses of either Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. A single dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca is not accepted as full vaccination and kids who have only had one dose will have to follow the rules for unvaccinated people. The child must be at least seven days after their second dose.

If the child is not fully vaccinated by French standards, they face taking a Covid test every 24 hours in order to maintain the pass – at a cost of up to €22 a time for antigen tests – or avoiding using ski lifts while on holiday.

Children aged 16 to 18 require a vaccine pass, with no option for testing for those who are not fully vaccinated.

Under 12s do not require any type of pass.

Full details HERE for children.

National rules

Ski resorts are of course also covered by the nationwide French health rules, as well as those specific to skiing.

Masks – masks are required in all indoor public spaces and on all public transport until February 28th, after which they will no longer be required in vaccine pass venues (bars, cafés etc) but will still be compulsory on public transport and in shops. There are no exemptions to the mask rules in France and failure to wear one correctly can net you a €135 fine.

Bars and restaurants – Unlike last winter bars and restaurants are open in France and there are no capacity limits placed on them. Nightclubs reopened on February 16th and bars are also now permitted to offer standing space, as opposed to table service only. Dancing in bars is again allowed.

Vaccine pass – the vaccine pass is required to enter a wide range of venues including cafés, bars, restaurants, leisure centres and long-distance train travel – full details here

Visitors from the UK and EU can use the QR code on their vaccination certificate to access the health pass via the TousAntiCovid app, but other non-EU visitors need to acquire a European code – find out how here.

Booster shots

Depending on when you had your vaccine, you may also need a booster in order to be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ – full details here.

Other restrictions – ski businesses have been very hard hit by first the early end of the 2019/20 season and then the cancellation of most of the 2020/21 season, so are desperate to remain open throughout this season.

Some have therefore imposed their own extra restrictions in the hope of keeping case numbers down, from limitations on group size to extra cleaning protocols, so make sure you check in advance the conditions of stay in accommodation. 

Member comments

  1. I am in a French ski resort at the moment and the use and enforcement of use of masks and the checking of health passes has been very erratic. We are based a Orelle in the Maurienne Valley and whilst we mainly ski the Trois Vallees we have away days at other resorts. The staff at the gondola have checked our passes each day (a good mixture of various forms, including the NHS travel one) and about half the restaurants have done so. Mask usage is spasmodic. However, nobody checked anything in Valmorel and Val Cenis only spot checked at some of the base stations, catching out a number of people who had got into the system without showing a pass (the gendames were being threatened when two ladies were saying they must be allowed on because their car was at the other end of the resort).

  2. Just back from 12 days in the Alps (resort name withheld on purpose). One check on lift in 10 days of skiing and probably only 40% of restaurants! 13 year old grandson from the UK ever refused entry anywhere and we didn’t do 24 hour tests! It’s all very laid back to say the least. The resorts need the revenue, not the hassle!

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For members

STRIKES

France’s pension strikes: What to expect on January 31st

The final day of January marks the second - and almost certainly not the last - day of mass strike action in the ongoing battle between the French government and unions over pension reform. Here's what to expect on January 31st.

France's pension strikes: What to expect on January 31st

Unions have promised the ‘mother of all battles’ against Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform the French pension system, including raising the retirement age from 62 to 64.

5 minutes to understand French pension reform

However, the action for the moment is mostly concentrated into a series of one-day actions, with the first taking place on January 19th.

The next ‘mass mobilisation’ is scheduled for Tuesday, January 31st. It is supported by all eight French trades union federations, which means that support is likely to be high and disruption severe on certain services.

Workers in essential services such as transport must declare their intention to strike 48 hours in advance, allowing transport operators to produce strike timetables, which are usually released 24 hours in advance. We will update this story as new information is released.

Trains

Rail unions are strongly backing the action – on January 19th, 46 percent of all rail workers walked out, and unions say they expect a similar level of support on January 31st. This would likely lead to a similar level of disruption with around half of high-speed TGV trains cancelled and 9 out of 10 of local TER services. 

International services including Eurostar could also see cancellations or a revised timetable. 

City public transport

Workers on Paris’ RATP network also saw high levels of support for the previous strike – with most Metro lines running rush-hour-only services and some closed altogether, while buses ran a severely limited service. The full details of exactly what will be running will be revealed on Monday evening by RATP.

Other cities including Nice, Lyon and Nantes will likely see a repeat of severely disrupted bus, tram and Metro services.

Schools

The major teaching unions have called for another 24-hour walkout, so some schools are likely to close. The January 19th action saw roughly half of teachers across France walk out.

Ski lifts

The two unions that represent more than 90 percent of workers in ski resorts have called an ‘unlimited’ strike beginning on January 31st. So far Tuesday is the only confirmed strike day, but others could be announced. Strikes in ski resorts generally mainly affect the operation of ski lifts.

Petrol stations

The hardline CGT union has announced extra strike dates for workers at oil refineries, and also threatened blockades. This can result in shortages at petrol stations as supplies of petrol and diesel are blocked from leaving the refineries and reaching filling stations.

Power cuts 

CGT members working in the state electricity sector have also threatened more ‘direct action’ including power cuts to selected towns. This is not a legitimate strike tactic – in fact France’s labour minister says it is “a criminal offence” and will be punished accordingly – but it could happen nevertheless.

On January 19th two towns – one in the greater Paris region and one in northern France – lost power for a couple of hours in what was described as a deliberate cut. The union says it intends to target towns that elected MPs who support the pension reform.

Demos

January 31st will also see another day of marches and demonstrations in towns and cities around France. On January 19th more than 1 million people took to the streets and unions will be hoping for a similar turnout on January 31st. One striking feature of the demos on January 19th was the comparatively large turnout in smaller French towns that usually do not see large demos.

Other strike dates

The above information relates to January 31st only, and services before and after this date are expected to run as normal.

Some unions, however, have declared ‘unlimited’ strikes, so there could be disruptions on these services on other days – these include ski lift operators, truck drivers and oil refinery workers.

It is highly likely that further one-day or multi-day strikes will be announced for February and March, as the pension reform bill comes before parliament, you can keep up to date with out strike calendar HERE.

We will update this article as more information becomes available, and you can also keep up with the latest in our strike section HERE.

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