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TRAVEL NEWS

Travellers from France to UK warned of delays over IT glitch

Anyone planning a trip from France to the UK is being warned to leave plenty of time to complete their passenger locator form after travellers reported a string of problems with the online process, leading to some people missing their departure.

Passengers at Gare du Nord, Paris
Passengers going to the UK have reported problems with the online form required. Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

All arrivals into the UK need to complete the passenger locator form, outlining their travel history and contact details, this applies to UK nationals as well as foreign visitors.

The form can only be completed online – find it here – and in most cases you cannot board a plane/train/boat to the UK without showing the form first.

However numerous passengers have reported problems, glitches and crashes on the site in recent days, with some missing their departure altogether because they were unable to complete the form in time for boarding.

Roanne Bell, visiting Paris from the UK, ended up missing her Eurostar train from Gare du Nord because she was unable to complete the form.

She said: “I got to the station and plenty of time and then for an hour we just couldn’t get onto the website to do the form. Endlessly hitting refresh and it wouldn’t upload.

“Eventually I managed to load it, but by then it was too late to board.

“The Eurostar staff were great, they knew immediately what the problem was and said that it has been happening a lot – they just gave me a ticket for the next train and I didn’t have to pay any extra.

“So in the end it was alright, but I felt so frustrated that it didn’t work as it should, and also I found it hard to get the information in advance, the UK government website didn’t explain very clearly that you also have to book the Day 2 test before you fill out the form.” 

Given the ongoing nature of the problems, here are some tips;

  • The form can be completed any time in the 48 hours before your scheduled departure, so allow yourself plenty of time in case the website is down. 
  • The form appears to work better on a laptop or desktop computer than on tablets or phones, so if possible do it in advance on a desktop computer.
  • The form cannot be completed without a booking code for a Day 2 or Day 8 test, so you will need to book the test first and then complete the Passenger Locator Form. You need the booking code for a Day 2 test even if you will be in the UK for less than two days – here’s how the test booking works.
  • Fully vaccinated arrivals are asked to upload a copy of their vaccination certificate, but in many cases this upload simply doesn’t work. If this is the case for you, it is possible to complete the form without it but you will then need to show your proof of vaccination at your departure point before boarding. Allow yourself plenty of time to do this once you get to the airport/ferry terminal/station – one reader reported a queue out of the door at the Calais terminal of the Channel Tunnel, entirely composed of people who had been unable to upload their vaccination certificates successfully.
  • Try not to get cross with transport staff. Transport companies can be fined if they allow people to travel without the correct paperwork, so in most cases you will simply be refused boarding if you don’t have or cannot complete the form. Obviously this is hugely frustrating, but it’s not the fault of the transport company employee in France.

You can full details on the travel rules between France and the UK HERE.

Member comments

  1. To be fair I have travelled twice to the UK in the last 2 months and it has been a seamless experience each time. Le local has done a great job advising of the situation and the UK government site is really clear and easy to use (certainly from a lap top). I am not clear why some people go to a border report without having completed the necessary documentation before hand. We have been living with forms and controls for the last 18 months so not travelling prepared is not really any government or travel companies fault but only that of the traveller.

  2. I have completed the Locator form three times in the last few months and had no problem with it except some of the questions are a bit ambiguous. Agree it is really impossible to upload your Vaccination certificate and failed on three occasions from laptop and iPad so just didn’t bother. As for needing it at the border only Malta was very stringent with the documents; France Ryanair and Tunnel were not too diligent with only cursory glances and I had not preloaded my documents to them. I think this procedure will not go away in a hurry the KIS principle seems to have died with the COVID pandemic.

  3. It’s too late now but there is no need for the PLF to be limited to on-line completion, submission and acceptance, provided the required information was given typed on a downloaded form with photocopied essential supporting documents which would just need to confirm the required Covid vaccination level and booking for the 2 day test. Then there would be less faffing about except as may be caused by those caught short (maybe in another sense as well!). Also none of the within-48 hour deadline needed, except for those requiring pre-entry testing (although this has been referred to expertly as of no value).
    The not-so-distant past has delivered failures of government created grandiose computer-using ideas intended to benefit the public in some way. The problem may be they were created by too clever committees which, as the saying goes, are prone to creating nags rather than racehorses.

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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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