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COVID-19 HEALTH PASS

Your questions answered on France’s 4-month booster shot rule

Most people - including tourists and visitors - now need a booster shot in order to use the French vaccine pass. Here's how it works.

Your questions answered on France's 4-month booster shot rule
From Wednesday, access to the vaccine pass will be limited for people who have not had booster shots. Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP

What changed?

On Wednesday, February 15th, booster shot rules were tightened up.

The vaccine pass was already required in France to access a wide range of venues including bars, cafés, ski lifts, tourist sites, gyms, leisure centres and long-distance buses or trains.

The pass initially required a booster after seven months, but on February 15th this fell to four months.

That means that anyone who has not already had a booster shot, and for whom their second vaccine dose was more than four months ago, is no longer eligible for the vaccine pass.

If you live in France, you can get a booster shot three months after your second dose.

Who needs a booster?

The deactivation concerns only those who have not had a booster shot.

If you have already had a booster your pass will remain active – even if you got your booster more than four months after your second dose. There is at present no requirement for a second booster shot.

Does this apply to tourists and visitors?

Yes, the booster shot rule applies to everyone, both French residents and people who are visiting France.

Boosters are not required to enter the country. At the border presentation of a certificate of full vaccination – in most cases two doses – is sufficient.

However, once you are in the country you need a vaccine pass if you intend to visit bars, cafés, ski lifts, cinemas, theatres, gyms, leisure centres, tourist sites, large events, sports matches or use long-distance trains, buses or domestic flights.

If you are visiting from outside France and have not had a booster shot and more than four months have passed since your second dose, you may not be able to access the vaccine pass, which will severely curtail your holiday activities.

What about children?

Children under the age of 12 do not need any type of pass.

Children aged between 12 and 15 need a health pass – which can use either proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.

Children aged between 16 and 18 need a vaccine pass, but do not need a booster.

Anyone aged 18 and over needs a vaccine pass with a booster.

Full details HERE.

What if I caught Covid before I could get the booster?

If you have recently had Covid, it’s possible to use a certificate of recovery instead of a booster shot.

The certificate lasts for four months after you had Covid, after that you will need a booster.

Full details on how to get the certificate HERE.

What if my country doesn’t offer a booster after four months?

Not all countries offer booster shots within four months of getting the second dose, with some people having to wait for up to six months until they are eligible.

The Local has raised this issue with the French government, but the answer appears to be ‘tough’ – not being eligible for a vaccine in your home country doesn’t mean that the French four-month limit does not apply.

The American Embassy has issued a travel warning over this issue, advising anyone travelling from the US to check carefully before departing that they will be eligible for the French vaccine pass, or face a severely constrained holiday.

Will my vaccination certificate be accepted in France?

If you were vaccinated in the EU, the Schengen zone or the UK, your vaccination certificate is compatible with the French system.

However if you were vaccinated in a non-EU/Schengen/UK country, you will need to convert your vaccination certificate to a French code once you arrive in France – here’s how.

Will my positive test result be accepted in France?

If you intend to rely on a recent Covid infection rather than a booster shot, check first whether your test result will be valid in France.

If you tested positive in the EU or Schengen zone and got a PCR or antigen test, then your test certificate will be accepted. Home test kit results are not accepted.

If you tested positive in the UK then PCR tests will be accepted, but not all types of Lateral Flow Test will – full details here.

If you tested positive in Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Cape Verde, El Salvador, the Faroe Islands, Georgia, Israel, Iceland, Lebanon, Lichtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Saint-Marino, Serbia, Singapour, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tunisia, Togo, Turkey, Ukraine, UAE, Uruguay and Vatican City then your test result will be accepted, provided the results certificate has a QR code on it. The French government has created a platform here where you can check if your certificate is compatible with the French system.

Positive tests from countries not listed above will almost certainly not be accepted in France.

Full details HERE

What if I can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons?

In a small number of cases, vaccination is not possible for medical reasons. In this case you need a Certificat de contre-indicationfull details here on how to get that.

Can I get a booster while I am in France?

If your home country doesn’t offer boosters within the four-month limit, is it possible to come to France and get a booster here?

The French vaccination programme is intended for residents of France. It may be possible in some cases for tourists or visitors to get a booster shot while here, but our advice is that people should not rely on that if they intend to travel to France for a holiday. 

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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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