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Is there really a minimum cash requirement for British visitors to France?

Brexit has ushered in a host of travel changes for Brits coming to France, but is there really a minimum amount of cash you need to enter the country? We look at financial requirements for visitors.

Is there really a minimum cash requirement for British visitors to France?
Brits entering France now face a host of extra checks. Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP

UK media have recently been reporting a ‘new’ announcement from Spanish authorities about a minimum amount of money needed for British tourists – but in fact this has always been the case for non-EU citizens and applies equally to France.

Who does this affect?

This is for tourists, visitors and second-home owners – people who do not live in France and do not have either a residency card (carte de séjour) or a visa.

If you enter with a carte de séjour or visa you will not be asked to provide proof of financial means (although you may need to provide them during the visa/residency application process).

If you are a visitor with an EU passport (eg French or Irish) this does not apply to you. 

What can French border guards ask you?

Non-EU citizens entering France can be asked to provide a range of documents, in addition to a valid passport:

  • Proof of accommodation – either a booking for a hotel/gite/Airbnb if you are a tourist, proof of your address if you are a second-home owner or an attestation d’acceuil if you are staying with friends or family – full details on the attestation d’acceuil here;
  • A return or round-trip ticket (or proof of onward travel if you do not plan to return to your home country at the end of your stay in France);
  • Documents proving your purpose of entry;
  • Proof that you have the financial means to support yourself while in France.

This doesn’t mean that every non-EU citizen entering France is asked for all these documents – far from it in fact – but French police are entitled to ask and if you are unable or unwilling to provide these documents you can be refused entry to the country.

How much money do you need?

There is a sliding scale for how much money you need to prove you can support yourself financially while in France:

  • If you are staying in a hotel, gite, Airbnb, campsite or similar you need €65 for each day of your stay – so for example €650 for a 10-day stay;
  • If you are staying with friends or family (and have the attestation d’acceuil) you need €32.50 for each day of your stay;
  • If you do not have accommodation booked for your entire stay, or are staying with friends and family and do not have the attestation d’acceuil, you need €120 a day.

How do you prove it?

The EU states that proof of means that will be accepted are; cash, travellers cheques, bank statements for the last three months showing the balance of your account at the required level or credit cards (debit cards are not accepted).

Showing a current online bank statement is not considered sufficient.

Come on, are they really going to check all British tourists?

It’s pretty unlikely. As mentioned, this has always been the rule for non-EU citizens arriving in France – the only change is that since Brexit it now applies to Britons too.

But anecdotal evidence from American, Canadian and Australian tourists entering France suggests that financial checks are rare, although it’s not unusual to be asked about the purpose of your visit or for proof of where you are staying.

Anecdotal evidence from other non-EU citizens suggests that, unfortunately, racial profiling does happen, so people of colour are more likely to be asked extra questions at the border.

But random checks could take place, and French border guards are entirely within their rights to refuse you entry if you are unable to supply the required proof.

So this is Brexit-related?

Yes. This is the rule for non-EU citizens and applies in all EU countries (although each country sets their own level of financial requirements) – since the UK left the EU it now applies to Brits entering EU Member States, too.

This is one just one many extra travel requirements for Brits entering France since Brexit, including passport-stamping, new rules for pets and restrictions on the items that can be brought in.

Travel to France: What has changed since Brexit

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Mine-riddled French island becomes unlikely walkers’ paradise

Every year, thousands of day-trippers make the short boat journey from France's northern coast to the island of Cezembre, marvelling at the spectacular maritime views and flourishing wildlife.

Mine-riddled French island becomes unlikely walkers' paradise

But they better tread carefully and stick to the path, as almost all the island remains perilous due to unexploded munitions from World War II.

Cezembre opened to visits only in 2018, over seven decades after the end of World War II, after extensive de-mining efforts allowed the opening of a marked path for visitors.

However, the area safe for visitors makes up just three percent of the island, which experts say was the most bombed area of all of World War II in terms of the number of hits per square metre.

“It’s magnificent!” enthused Maryse Wilmart, a 60-year-old visitor from the southwestern town of La Rochelle, contemplating the sandy beach with turquoise waters and looking out to the ramparts of the port city of Saint-Malo beyond.

Tourists pass by signs reading “no trepassing – Danger” on Cezembre Island, Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP

“But when you see all that behind us… Can you even imagine what happened here?” she asked, pointing to the barbed wire and signs warning “Danger! Ground not cleared beyond the fences!”

A visitor needs to go back 80 years to understand what happened on this usually uninhabited rocky outcrop.

In 1942, the occupying Nazi German army seized the strategically important island and installed bunkers and artillery pieces.

On August 17th, 1944, Saint-Malo was liberated by the Americans but the Nazi commander of Cezembre, leading some 400 men, refused to surrender.

There then followed a devastating bombardment from the air by the Allies.

“It is said that per square metre it sustained the greatest number of bombardments of all the theatres of operation of World War II,” said Philippe Delacotte, author of the book “The Secrets of the Island of Cezembre”.

A beach on Cezembre Island, off Saint-Malo’. Photo by Damien MEYER / AFP

“There were between 4,000 and 5,000 bombs dropped”, some of which contained napalm, he said.

On September 2nd, 1944, the white flag was finally raised and some 350 exhausted men surrendered.

“Some survivors claimed it was like Stalingrad,” Delacotte said. The island was completely devastated, to the extent that its altitude even dropped because of the bombs.

After the war, the island became the property of the French ministry of defence and access was totally closed, with the first de-mining efforts starting in the 1950s.

It was handed over to a public coastal conservation body, the Conservatoire du Littoral, in 2017.

The path of about 800 metres lets visitors wander between rusty cannons and bunkers, with breathtaking views towards Cap Frehel and the Pointe de la Varde.

Since the opening of the path, “there has been no accident” even if “there are always people who want to go beyond the authorised section,” said Jean-Christophe Renais, a coast guard.

Over time, colonies of seabirds have reappeared, including seagulls, cormorants, razorbills and guillemots.

“Biodiversity is doing wonderfully, everything has been recolonised and revegetated, birds have taken back possession of the site,” said Gwenal Hervouet, who manages the site for Conservatoire du Littoral.

“It’s just a joy.”

Because of the focus on restoring wildlife, the trail was partially closed in April “to maximise the chances of success and the flight of peregrine falcon chicks,” said local conservation activist Manon Simonneau.

Some walkers say they hope the trail will be lengthened to allow a complete tour of the island, but according to the Conservatoire there is little chance of this — the cost of further demining would be astronomical, so it is now birds and nature that are the masters of Cezembre.