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TRAVEL NEWS

France publishes initial relaxation in UK travel restrictions

The day after the announcement that France would look to relax its strict travel restrictions for the UK, the first alteration of the rules was announced.

France publishes initial relaxation in UK travel restrictions
Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Although travel between France and the UK is still only allowed for essential reasons, the list of accepted reasons was on Thursday evening expanded to include work trips.

A work trip that cannot be postponed will now be allowed, with an attestation from the employer stating that the trip is essential. The new rule covers travel both to and from France, and takes effect immediately.

Also added to the list of allowed reasons for travel is people passing through France on their way to their home in another EU country. Previously this had only been allowed for EU citizens, leaving Brits who live in another EU country unable to travel through France to get home. 

The change was welcomed by Alexandre Holroyd, the MP responsible for French citizens living in northern Europe, including the UK, saying it was “a first step in easing travel restrictions, which I continue to advocate”.

Those travelling for work will still need a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours, plus all the existing paperwork. Hauliers have always been exempt from the ban. Elite athletes are also permitted to travel for tournaments with the agreement of the French sports ministry.

Although a welcome relaxation of the rules, this will come as a disappointment to the many people who still cannot travel, including those travelling for family visits or compassionate reasons, tourists and second-home owners.

The UK is now the subject of the strictest French rules after African countries including South Africa and Lesotho were removed from the ‘scarlet list’ which was created at the beginning of December over fears of the Omnicron variant.

Travel between France and the UK is only allowed for people who meet the criteria for motif impérieux (vital reasons) – these include citizens returning to their country of origin or country of residence and – now – essential work travel. Find the full list of reasons HERE.

Those who do meet the criteria for travel face a mountain of paperwork and with all travellers – including the fully vaccinated – have to show a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours to enter France.

READ ALSO The 9 essential pieces of paperwork for France-UK travel

The rules also require those leaving France for the UK to for the vital reasons criteria.

The rules were put in place in December when the UK began to see spiralling numbers of cases of the Omicron variant of Covid, but since then France has seen its own record case numbers and the Omicron variant has become dominant, leading many to complain that there is no longer any justification for such strict rules.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that the government was ready to relax the restrictions “soon” but stopped short of promising complete end to the de facto travel ban , speaking only of widening the categories for essential travel.

READ ALSO When will France lift travel restrictions on UK?

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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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