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LATEST: France’s new Covid test rules for all non-EU arrivals

France has announced strict new rules for all travellers - vaccinated or not - arriving in France from non-EU countries in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 known as Omicron.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has announced new travel restrictions
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has announced new travel restrictions. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, speaking after the weekly meeting of the government’s Defence Council on Wednesday, announced the implementation of new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the newly-detected Omicron variant.

A government Decree published on Thursday provides more detail.

The new rules come into force at 00.01am on Saturday, December 4th and the testing requirements apply to everyone aged 12 or older – including those who have French citizenship or permanent residency in France.

Non EU

All travellers – vaccinated or not – will require a negative Covid test in order to enter France from any country outside the EU or Schengen zone. This would include travellers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The test must have been taken within 48 hours of departure. The decree states that only tests “that are able to detect protein N of Sars-Cov2” can be used – this covers all PCR tests but not all antigen tests. Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.

For testing rules around the UK’s Lateral Flow Tests, click here. 

All non-EU arrivals must also give a declaration on their honour that they accept that furthering testing can be performed on arrival in France, although it is not clear how systematic this will be.

Bear in mind that many non-EU countries – including the UK and USA – are on France’s orange list, which means that unvaccinated people can only travel for essential reasons.

You can find the full breakdown on travel rules between France and the UK HERE and France and the USA HERE.

EU/Schengen

Arrivals from an EU county or Switzerland, Andorra, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Monaca, Norway or San Marino only need to take a test if they are not vaccinated. Unvaccinated arrivals will need a negative test, taken within the previous 24 hours.

Scarlet list

Attal also announced that from Saturday, flights would resume from the seven African countries currently the subject of a flight ban – but with extremely strict new conditions.

A new category has been created in the government’s traffic light system – scarlet – which will cover the seven countries currently covered by the flight ban – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini – plus Malawi, Zambia and Maritius.

Travellers from these countries will only be allowed to enter France if they have French or EU citizenship or permanent residency, or are diplomats or flight crew. All travel for work, tourism, family visits, study or research from these countries is suspended.

Arrivals from those countries will be obliged to take a pre-departure test and be tested on arrival. Those who test negative will still have to quarantine for seven days on arrival. This quarantine can be done at home, but will be enforced with visits from the police. Those who test positive must quarantine for 10 days in a quarantine hotel.

Fines of between €1,000 and €1,500 will be levied for non-compliance with quarantine.

The new restrictions come in the face of the new variant of Covid, known as Omicrom, first sequenced in South Africa.

France has confirmed cases of the variant in its overseas territories of La Réunion and Mayotte, but there are also 13 suspected cases within France. 

“Let’s not be fooled or naive, there will very probably be cases in mainland France in the coming hours or days,” he said.

Member comments

  1. Does this mean as a French resident shortly to return from a business trip to UK I now need to take a test prior to returning?

  2. Does anyone know if it can be an at home test? If so, how would you prove the result? I don’t trust getting the result back in 48hrs for the tests you send back… So guess the test needs to be done in a testing centre…?

  3. Can you help? I’m living in France and hoping to spend two days in the UK at Christmas (originally this was to avoid having to do and wait for the results of the PCR test on the 2nd day in England). I now need to do a test on Christmas Day or Boxing Day to be able to come back to France. Everywhere seems to be closed for the bank holiday. Do you know of a way I could do a test which is recognised by the French authorities that can be done on line? ….or anywhere I could get a test done in the Portsmouth or Newhaven area on Christmas day or Boxing day? Any help would be so much appreciated.

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READER INSIGHTS

Readers reveal: The best beaches and coastal resorts in France

The Local asked readers for their top tips for places to visit along the French coast and we were overwhelmed with suggestions for beautiful beaches, off-the-beaten-track villages and lively resorts.

Readers reveal: The best beaches and coastal resorts in France

The Local has been seeking out France’s best coastline in recent weeks, after a disagreement on an episode of our Talking France podcast where Editor Emma Pearson defended La Vendée as home to the best (and most underrated) coastline in the country, while journalist Genevieve Mansfield fought for Brittany. 

To settle the debate, The Local asked its readers to share their favourite place to go on France’s shores, and the results are in, along with exclusive recommendations:

Brittany wins

Almost half (48 percent) of those who responded to The Local’s survey about the best part of France’s coastline voted for Brittany. 

Where to go

Several people recommended the Morbihan département.

Angela Moore, said her favourite part of this area was the islet between Vannes and Lorient, which is home to romanesque chapel and the Etel river oyster, a delicacy in the area. 

Others chose the Morbihan for its “lovely little coves, wonderful beaches and seafood,” as well as for boat rides in the gulf. Meanwhile, some pointed out Carnac, as a spot to visit, as the town is known for its prehistoric standing stones.

Some preferred travelling further north in Brittany, and they recommended the Finistère départment.

Rebecca Brite, who lives in Paris’ 18th arrondisement, said she loves this part of France for the overall atmosphere. Her top recommendation was to “Go all the way to the Baie des Trépassés and stay at the old, traditional hotel-restaurant of the same name. Pretend you’re in the legendary kingdom of Ys, swallowed up by the sea on this very site.”

The other part of Brittany that came highly recommended was the Emerald Coast (Côtes d’Armour) – specifically the Côte de Granit Rose.

The Mediterranean coastline

The Mediterranean remained a very popular vacation spot for readers of The Local, with almost a third of respondents claiming it as their favourite part of the French coastline. From sailing to cliffs and architecture, the Mediterranean had a bit of everything according to The Local’s readers.

Cassis and the Calanques were among of the most popular responses for where to go and what to see in this part of France.

One respondent, Gini Kramer, said she loves this part of France because “There’s nothing like climbing pure white limestone cliffs rising right out of the sea. The hiking is spectacular too.”

Some counselled more lively parts of the riviera, like the old port in Marseille, while others suggested the quieter locations.

David Sheriton said he likes to go to the beaches of Narbonne: “It’s a gentle slope into the sea so great for the (grand)children.” He said that the area does have a “few bars and restaurants” but that it does not “attract the party crowds.” 

In terms of beautiful villages, Èze came recommended for being home to “the most breathtaking views of the French coastline,” according to reader Gregg Kasner.

Toward Montpellier, Dr Lindsay Burstall said that La Grande Motte was worth visiting, for its “coherent 60’s architecture.” Burstall proposed having “a chilled pression au bord de la mer while watching the world go by…”

Meanwhile, three readers listed locations near Perpignan, and all encouraged visiting the area’s “pre-historic sites.”

Sally Bostley responded that her favourite areas were “between Canet-Plage and Saint-Cyprien-Plage” and she advised visiting “Collioure, Banyuls with the aquarium, Perpignan, nearby prehistoric sites, Safari Park, Prehistory Park.”

Other parts of the coastline

Though these locations may have received less votes overall, they still stood our in the minds of The Local readers:

Normandy did not receive as many votes as its neighbour Brittany, it is still home to unique attractions worth visiting. The WWII landing beaches “plages de débarquement” came highly recommended, along with cathedrals and abbeys in the region, like Coutances in the northern Manche département.

Reed Porter, who lives in Annecy, likes to go to Êtretat when he visits Normandy. He had several recommendations, starting with “les falaises!” These are the dramatic cliffs overlooking the ocean.

Porter also suggested visitors of Êtretat head to “the glass stone beach” and the “old town” for its architecture. If you get hungry, there are “oysters everywhere all the time.”

Basque country was also highlighted for its proximity to the Pyrenées mountains. Maggie Parkinson said this was the best part of France’s coastline for her because of “The long views to the Pyrénées, the pine forests, the soft, fresh quality of the air, the many moods and colours of the sea – gently lapping aquamarine waves to thunderous, crashing black rollers churning foam onto the shore.”

A huge fan of the area, Parkinson had several recommendations ranging from cuisine to “cycling the many paths through the tranquil pines, visiting Bayonne, the Basque Country and the Pyrénées or northern Spain (for wonderful pintxos).”

She said that she loves to “[chill] on the endless, wide sandy beaches or [rest] on a hammock in the park” or “[catch] a local choir sporting blue or red foulards singing their hearts out to traditional or rock tunes.”

Similar reasons were listed in favour of Corsica as France’s best coastline, as it is also home to tall mountains with beautiful views over the water.

If you are looking to visit Corsica, Paul Griffiths recommends “having a good road map” and then “just [driving] quietly along the coast and over the mountains.” He said that this is “all easily doable in a day” and along the way you can “find beautiful beaches, lovely towns with good restaurants – especially Maccinaggion and Centuri – to enjoy one day after another.”

Finally, the preferred coastline location for The Local’s France Editor, Emma Pearson, also got some support by readers, with one calling La Vendée an “unpretentious” and “accessible” place for a vacation.

Respondent Anthony Scott said that “Les Sables d’Olonne and Luçon both epitomise the spirit of Vendée.” He enjoys the “inland serenity and historic sites, beautiful beaches and inviting seashores” as well as “traditional appetising meals.” He also noted that the area is “not too expensive.”

READ ALSO Brittany v Vendée – which is the best French coastline?

Many thanks to everyone who answered our survey, we couldn’t include all your recommendations, but feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below.

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