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TRAVEL NEWS

UPDATE: Your questions answered on new travel rules between France and UK

France announced has announced new restrictions for people travelling from the UK. Here are some clarifications or common points of confusion based on reader questions.

Passengers board a Eurostar train. France has imposed tougher restrictions for travellers coming from the UK.
France has imposed tougher restrictions for travellers coming from the UK (Photo by NICOLAS MAETERLINCK / BELGA / AFP)

Are even fully vaccinated passengers affected by these rules?

Yes. The French government has made it clear its statement on Thursday that the new rules apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers.

The UK is still officially classed as an orange country in France’s traffic light system. Whilst there have been tighter rules for travel to and from orange countries for non-vaccinated passengers, the French government now groups them together under the new rules for the UK.

So basically, starting at midnight Saturday (2300 GMT Friday), the French government said, travellers will need “an essential reason to travel to, or come from, the UK, both for the unvaccinated and vaccinated.”

So what is an essential reason for travel?

The list of motifs impèrieux or compelling motives for travel are clearly laid out by the French government and we cover them in this article here.

But it’s confusing because they are different for whether you are travelling from France to UK and from the UK to France.

However Britons returning home from France to the UK are covered as are French residents who live in UK. French nationals returning from France to the UK for Christmas are also covered.

But what about family members and partners?

This has been a point that has confused many. Whilst French nationals, residents of France and EU nationals heading to France could all bring close family members it wasn’t clear if British nationals in France could bring their French family to the UK.

But the French government’s attestation or permission form suggests they would be covered under essential reasons as can been in the form below.

“French nationals or foreigner  returning to the country of residence or origin (without guarantee of returning to France unless they have an essential reason) as well as their partners and children,” reads the form.

This then appears to cover the many Britons who want to head to UK with the partners and children for Christmas.

However bear in mind the French government is asking people to postpone their trips and it has said clearly that trips for “tourism and professional” reasons are not allowed. Is visiting family at Christmas tourism?

What about transiting through France to from another country in Europe?

A few people have asked if they can drive via France to the UK and back from countries like Switzerland or Italy.

Again the answer is not quite clear.

The list of compelling reasons for travelling from UK to France includes people transiting the country for “less than 24 hours” or EU citizens returning home to another country in Europe. See below two valid motifs impèrieux:

  • EU citizens who have their permanent residence in France, or in another EU country and are transiting through France in order to return to their home. Spouses, partners and children of EU nationals living in France or another EU country are also covered by this.
  • Travellers spending less than 24 hours in France in transit to another country

However there is nothing similar in the list of compelling reasons to travel via France to the UK.

Again we have asked for clarification. If you are in this position you may just have to explain your situation to the border police at Calais and hope they let you pass.

What kind of test do I need to travel to France from UK?

Those who fit into the essential travel criteria and still plan to travel to France must take an antigen or PCR test at least 24 hours before their departure. This window has been shortened from 48 hours. 

Getting PCR test results in such a time frame can be extremely difficult in the UK. Travellers must get tested by a private certified test provider – and not on the NHS. 

These tests can be self-administered as long as the results are verified by a lab and the travel certificate provided by testing company contains all the relevant information such as time and date of test and the name of the lab. Travellers are urged to check with their testing provider that the certificates will meet the criteria for travel to France.

The rules say “all” travellers need a test, even children?

No, the test rules for entering France only apply to over 12s. However note that the Day 2 tests in the UK apply to over 5s.

So how many tests do I need for a return trip from France to the UK?

It’s gone up from one to three or four in a matter of a couple of weeks. They are as follows:

  • Pre-departure test to enter the UK (48 hours in advance – all over 12s)
  • Day 2 test in the UK (over 5s, on or before Day 2)
  • Pre-departure test to return to France (over 12s within 24 hours)
  • For those who want to leave quarantine early after returning to France they can take a test (PCR or antigen as far as we know) on their return. 

How long is the mandatory quarantine in France?

All arrivals in France must quarantine for a minimum of 48 hours. 

Technically, this quarantine period extends to 10 days but people can choose to take a test after arriving in France and if the result is negative they can end self-isolation after 48 hours.

Initially the French government said the quarantine was for 7 days but the ministry of interior has since updated the information and it specifies 10 days.

What is this online platform we need to register with?

The French government said all travellers from the UK will have to sign up on an online platform before their departure to France. They must mention where they will be staying for the period of self-isolation. 

On Friday morning the French government published a link to the platform here.

Law enforcement authorities may check at the address you have listed to ensure you are not breaking quarantine rules.

How long will the restrictions be in place?

No date, even a provisional one, has been given for an end date to the travel restrictions.

Why is the French government introducing these restrictions now? 

The UK has recorded a record number of Covid cases on Wednesday – close to 79,000. The new Omicron variant is thought to responsible for about one quarter of them, while the rest are mostly Delta infections. 

Relatively lax restrictions in the UK have contributed a rapid spread of the virus there. 

The French government meanwhile has adopted a more stringent Covid policy since the start of the pandemic.

So far, France has detected only 240 cases of the Omicron variant. Officially, the new travel restrictions have been brought in to avoid further contagion, from a strain that French officials say is spreading “extremely rapidly” in the UK. 

France is thought to be approaching the peak of the fifth wave. It does not want to see its efforts, like strengthening health pass rules, enforcing mask wearing or encouraging limited social interactions over Christmas, derailed. 

Do the new travel rules apply to Brits in other European countries who plan on visiting France this Christmas? 

The new travel rules apply specifically to people travelling from the UK, not British citizens as such. 

Most EU countries are on France’s green list, making entry into the country pretty easy. Vaccinated travellers will need to present proof of vaccination. Unvaccinated travellers will need a PCR or antigen test within 24 hours before departure. 

READ ALSO 

Are British tourists in France allowed to return to the UK? 

Absolutely. 

Although you will need to book a Day 2 test before leaving for the UK, fill out a passenger locator form and take a pre-departure test.

This can be either a PCR or antigen test and must be taken within 48 hours of departure time. Click HERE to find out how to access Covid tests in France.

All travellers to the UK, British or otherwise, are required to fill in this form before departure. 

For more details on UK entry rules, read our guide HERE

Member comments

  1. Additional question please : Does the new 24 hr testing rule only apply to people 12 years old + (as it did when the test was 48hrs)? If not, from what age is a test now required to enter France? Thank you.

    1. Yes, 12 and over, my 13 year old needed a test and my 11 years old no. You will have to upload the tests to the airline portal or Eurotunnel- pretty sure that ferries and Eurostar must be the same

      1. Great. Thank you! When you know if under 12s have to quarantine back in France and do a test to get out of quarantine on day 2 can you add that too please? No info for that yet on gov website…Thank you.

  2. If travelling via another European/Schengen country how long before do you count as travelling “from the UK”? So could you travel to Geneva, stay a day or two then enter France?

    1. Probably Andy. I think there are all sorts of loopholes and ways around it. The rules are first and foremost meant to deter people from travelling.

  3. 2 questions:

    – none of the new rules (including the online platform) apply before midnight french time tomorrow (friday) night – so 11 pm UK time

    – if i then on holiday and am travelling through france will i be able to book into a hotel? ie can i continue with my holiday plans provided i have got into france before 11 pm UK time tomorrow night?

    Thank you!

    1. My daughter arrived in France on Tuesday and my son-in-law arrives tomorrow evening direct from UK. As I understand it , once you’re in you’re in and only the usual domestic restrictions will apply if that’s before midnight tomorrow . Good luck.

    2. hi yes if you get in before the deadline then you don’t need an essential reason. Tourist visits are banned are midnight tonight

  4. We are booked to travel from the UK by ferry to France and then drive straight through to Italy. Is that allowed under the current rules. We are UK citizens and residents but have rented an apartment in Italy for the winter ?

    1. Yes one of the essential reasons is to transit through France in less than 24 hours, so you should be OK although you might need proof and have to explain it.

      1. The entry form states you can transit through France if under 24 hours in a « zone internationale ». Reports I have read elsewhere suggest this would mean like an airport international transit zone, rather than free passage to drive across France. Can anybody confirm that’s correct ?

  5. We have a flight from the US to France with a 5 hour layover at Heathrow before the second flight to France. Do we have to follow the rules for coming from Britain or are we still considered as traveling from the US? Thanks.

    1. I believe you will be OK and are classed as in transit but the best thing is to check with your airline.

  6. Really interested if the government answer your question on travelling to uk with French family / children (am uk citizen resident in France with 2 French kids under 4, had planned to fly back to uk for xmas)

    1. Hi David, yeh I don’t hold much hope of them answering. THe rules are lopsided in favour of french families coming from UK to France. If we are travelling the other way it’s probably classed as visiting or even tourism in their minds. I am in same boat and decided to bring forward trip to today….

  7. Where and when will these apps be available to download for the return to France? When I booked this trip to see immediate family including grandchildren, it was going to be a simple proceedure, one antigen test on day 2 , now it is a nightmare!

    1. Hi Lesley, not clear as yet, we have asked for more information on the online platform. We’ll publish as soon as we have it.
      Yes got very complicated in short space of time.

  8. What if travel via rotterdam into Hull? (we are residents in france – one British, one American, with American children hoping to visit the grandparents in north of England). please advise!

  9. If you are reporting numbers of Covid in the UK and France, please comper like for like. Yesterday, (Thursday 16th December) the UK reported 85,000 and France reported 74,000, not 240 as reported above.

  10. Can I fly to Milan and drive into France legally? What restrictions are there on the Italy/France border?

  11. Hello, I’m due to fly to Edinburgh with a 5 yr old and a 7 yr old on Monday. Do they need to do Day 2 tests and passenger locator forms? Scottish Govt website says under 11s don’t have to… Thanks!

  12. The Consulate-General of France in London has published updated information (in French) to take into account the new travel rules for travel between UK and France. See here: https://uk.ambafrance.org/Conditions-de-deplacement

    In the section that covers leaving France to go to the UK it opens by saying that everyone will need a compelling reason for travel “un motif impérieux”. It then says “Le fait d’être ressortisant britannique ou d’être résident britannique constitue un motif impérieux.” So, that says that having British nationality is enough to be allowed to leave France for the UK.

  13. What if you are coming from the US, but your flight has a short layover in London such that your connecting flight is originating in London? I fear this means I cannot travel even though my flight actual originated in the US. And my airline hasn’t yet shown my flight has cancelled.

  14. What is the situation regarding Ireland? If I was to fly to Dublin can I visit Northern Ireland and then return to France (I have an Irish passport but am resident in the UK) and can my husband travel with me on the Irish route (he is a British national with French residency)?

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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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