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TRAVEL NEWS

France suspends transit ban for Brits living in EU

The French government announced on Thursday that is has temporarily lifted its ban on UK nationals travelling through France to return to their homes in the EU, to avoid large numbers of Brits being stranded in the UK after the Christmas holidays.

France suspends transit ban for Brits living in EU
Photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

France currently has strict controls in place on travel to and from the UK, banning almost all journeys. 

However the rules for Brits who live in another EU or Schengen zone country and need to transit through France in order to get home have been causing confusion, and some Brits resident in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy reporting being barred from entering France on their way home from festive breaks in the UK.

Following urgent enquiries from The Local, the French government confirmed that the rule remains in place banning transit travel by road, rail and sea – only air travel is allowed.

However it added that there would be a “period of tolerance” to allow people to return to their homes in the EU.

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry told The Local: “A large number of British nationals residing in an EU country have travelled in good faith to the UK for the festive season and are experiencing difficulties in reaching their country of residence.

“Faced with this situation, instructions of tolerance have been sent to police officers at the borders with the United Kingdom, in order to allow these nationals to transit through France to reach their residence in a country of the European Union, after this Christmas and New Year period.”

It was not clear how long the period of tolerance will last for, but people who have their home in the EU are advised to have with them travel tickets showing that their date of entry to the UK is prior to December 31st 2021.

Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel suggested that Brits would only be allowed home to transit France to other EU countries if they first travelled to the UK on or before December 28th. This cut off date hasn’t been confirmed by the French government however.

The strict rules for travel between France and the UK, however, remain in place.

People can only enter France from the UK if they meet one of the criteria for essential travel – find the full list HERE. There are also restrictions on who can leave France to go to the UK – full list HERE.

Among the groups allowed entry to France from the UK are;

  • French citizens, their partners and children
  • EU citizens who have their permanent residence in France or another EU country (including Brits who have dual nationality with an EU country)
  • Non-EU citizens who have their permanent residence in France
  • Non-EU citizens who are transiting through France by air, and are spending less than 24 hours in France

The rules amount to a de-facto ban on travel by Eurotunnel, Eurostar or ferry for any Brits who live in an EU or Schengen zone country other than France.

However the rule stipulating that transfers could only be made by air had not been well understood or publicised, leading to many British residents of countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy travelling to see family in the UK over Christmas, believing that their residency status would allow them to return through France. 

Outside of the period of tolerance, the rules remain in place for all travel between France and the UK until further notice.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel between France and the UK

Member comments

  1. Since all categories of travellers were coming from the UK and all had been vaccinated and tested , there was clearly no public health rationale for the original discrimination or for it now only being suspended. Just politicians messing with people’s lives again for no good reason.

  2. I was hoping that Macron might have been struck by an intelligent thought and re-opened the France / UK border but sadly no ! Lives on both sides of La Manche are being interfered with purely for political reasons !

  3. It is complete and utter rubbish. Politician’s playing games with peoples lives and well being. Does Macron not realise that the stupid rule is so easy to avoid for those that really have a desire to get here for whatever reason. Fly to Barcelona, Munich, Geneva etc etc – hire a car and drive here. Who on earth is going to stop you?? Total madness.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Weekend travel warning on French roads as summer getaway continues

The roads will be packed over the weekend France's roads watchdog has warned as tens of thousands of holidaymakers escape the cities and head for coast or countryside. 

Weekend travel warning on French roads as summer getaway continues

The Bison Futé service has classed traffic levels across most of France on Saturday as red – its second highest level, meaning travel on roads out of all major French cities will be “very difficult” – with those in the eastern Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region classed as  “extremely difficult”, the highest level.

But the problems begin earlier, with traffic levels on France’s major arterial routes rising from lunchtime on Friday, as some holidaymakers set off early to avoid the rush.

Image: Bison Futé

Bison Futé advises road users heading away from major cities in France to:

  • leave or cross the Île-de-France before 12noon;
  • avoid the A13 between Paris and Rouen from 5pm to 9pm, and between Rouen and Caen from 3pm to 9pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Orleans and Tours from 4pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A63 between Bordeaux and Bayonne from 3pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 4pm to 10pm, and between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 3pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A8 between Aix-en-Provence and Nice from 12pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A9 between Montpellier and Narbonne from 4pm to 7pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Bordeaux and Toulouse from 4pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the Mont-Blanc tunnel in the direction of Italy from 1pm to 7pm (waiting time greater than 1 hour).

Meanwhile, those heading back to the cities from popular French holiday resorts should:

  • avoid the A13 between Rouen and Paris from 5pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A10 between Bordeaux and Poitiers from 1pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Orange and Lyon from 3pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A8 near Aix-en-Provence from 4pm to 9pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Toulouse and Agen from 3pm to 8pm.

On Saturday, the busiest day of the weekend on France’s roads, Bison Fute says motorists heading away from major cities should:

Image: Bison Futé
  • leave or cross Ile-de-France after 4pm;
  • avoid the A13 between Rouen and Caen from 1pm to 3pm;
  • avoid the A11 between Paris and Le Mans from 11am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A10 at the Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines toll area from 8am to 12pm, and between Orléans and Bordeaux from 10am to 6pm;
  • avoid the A63 between Bordeaux and Bayonne from 1pm to 5pm, 
  • go through the Fleury toll area on the A6 after 12pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 10am to 3pm and between Salon-de-Provence and Marseille from 1pm to 6pm;
  • avoid the A9 between Orange and Montpellier from 8am to 10am;
  • avoid the A75 between Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier from 11am to 1pm;
  • avoid the A62 between Agen and Toulouse from 11am to 5pm;
  • avoid the Mont-Blanc tunnel in the direction of Italy from 10am to 1pm (waiting time greater than 1 hour);

Those heading the other way on Saturday should:

  • return to or cross Ile-de-France before 2pm;
  • avoid the A10 motorway, between Bordeaux and Poitiers, from 1pm to 3pm;
  • avoid the A7 motorway, between Marseille and Salon-de-Provence, from 9am to 3pm and between Orange and Lyon, from 12pm to 3pm;
  • avoid the A8 motorway, between Nice and Aix-en-Provence, from 10am to 2pm;
  • avoid the A9 motorway, between Montpellier and Orange, from 11am to 1pm.
  • Travel becomes much easy on French roads on Sunday, Bison Fute said.
Image: Bison Futé

But it has still issued the following advice for those travelling to holiday destinations

  • avoid the A10 between Poitiers and Bordeaux from 3pm to 5pm;
  • avoid the A63 between Bordeaux and Bayonne from 5pm to 8pm;
  • avoid the A7 between Lyon and Orange from 12pm to 4pm.

Transport Minister Clément Beaune reminded holidaymakers that motorway operators were offering 10 percent reductions in the price of tolls holders of holiday vouchers for the whole of the summer holiday period.

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