What would you like to know


A journalist based in France details the situation on the ground, what travelers wishing to leave should know and whether France is really ready to welcome foreigners.

On June 9, after more than a year closed to foreign travelers and residents locked up in various forms (the permits necessary to leave the house and night curfews are among the many restrictions that have followed one another), France has started to welcome vaccinated tourists to the land of butter croissants and smelly cheese. Here is the scoop on how to experiment the good life once again.

Is France ready to welcome visitors?

Yes ! Finally, the city light was turned back on. This week, the 9 p.m. nighttime curfew has moved to 11 p.m. (from 7 p.m. earlier), allowing Parisians to take advantage of the long days – where the sun doesn’t set until well after 10 p.m. – without having to put a plug in a bottle. of wine they ordered at dinner to drink the rest at home. Speaking of catering, restaurants and bars are not only allowed to serve again outdoors with up to six people per table, but also indoors with limited capacity. Cultural institutions, such as the Louvre and other museums, have reopened with a capacity of up to 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors. On June 30, there will be no restriction on the number of people meeting indoors, but nightclubs will remain closed. All of this is subject to change at any time if “the incidence rate again exceeds 400 infections per 100,000 inhabitants; a sudden increase in this rate; or a threat of saturation of intensive care services, ”Macron warned in April.

In France, the mask is still compulsory in all public places, even for those who are vaccinated (except for running or cycling), and gatherings of more than six people are prohibited. The consumption of alcohol in public remains prohibited (before the pandemic, such a ban did not exist).

Nevertheless, those working in the tourism and catering industries remain optimistic and ready to welcome visitors with open arms. “Are we ready?” says David Mebane, founder and CEO of the Austin-based company Fat Tire Tours, a cycle touring company with hubs in eight foreign cities, including Paris. “Desperately ready. We have been ready. Champing to the bit. I don’t know what other idioms I can find. We can’t wait to get back to what we do best – having fun and bringing people to the European cities we love. “

Mebane generally feels lucky that his business is centered around being on the outside and naturally socially aloof: “You can’t ride within three feet of someone,” he says.

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June Chin-Ramsey, CEO of a private and small group travel provider The context, is just as enthusiastic about the idea of ​​welcoming travelers back to France and currently only offers private tours: “We understand that as our world comes out of a year of confinement, there will be different levels of comfort to catch the plane or set foot in another country, ”explains Chin-Ramsey. “It’s important for us to find ways to meet each of our clients where they are. “

How is France nowadays? How has the pandemic changed things there?

Vibrant! Electric! Happy! Drunk! Parisians have been locked up for far too long and are pouring out on the makeshift terraces that restaurants and bars have built on the streets and sidewalks to accommodate previous outdoor-only restrictions. Few people really follow social distancing rules (which is three feet in France, compared to the six feet recommended by U.S. public health officials). While masks are always needed everywhere, even outdoors, they are often worn haphazardly (such as under the nose or hanging over an ear). The cops do sometimes stroll through certain areas known for groups to gather (like by the Seine, the Canal Saint-Martin, etc.) but don’t seem to give tickets, more just a side eye and a tsk-tsk.

Parisians are spilling into the streets now that the containment measures have been lifted.

People are really hoping for a more “normal” summer to come, as the rollout of the vaccine has finally accelerated and is now offered to younger age groups. In fact, the wait time between doses is longer here (six weeks versus three in the US) to ensure more people get at least one dose. EEvery day I hear about another friend who received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which makes things more and more positive. A French friend says she is thoroughly “revenge tripAnd has already booked trips to Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Italy for the summer.

Conditions for traveling to France

Since June 9 Visitors from Europe and those from seven countries classified as “green” – Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore – are allowed in without having to be tested if they are vaccinated, according to the latest directives from FranceMinistry of Foreign Affairs.

Vaccinated visitors from “orange” countries – including the United States and Great Britain – no longer need to self-quarantine upon arrival or justify the reasons for their trip to France. However, they will still be asked for a negative COVID-19 PCR test dating back less than 72 hours, or a negative antigen test obtained no later than 48 hours before arrival. Unvaccinated children will be allowed to enter with vaccinated adults, but those aged 11 and over will be required to test negative.

The “red list” currently includes 16 countries struggling with outbreaks of the virus and worrying variants, including India, South Africa and Brazil. Even vaccinated travelers from red countries will still have to justify the trip and quarantine for a week.

Although the government has mentioned the requirement for Health Pass—Or digital health card — to enter France, it is still unclear exactly how this digital health card will work and whether a paper certificate is likely to be accepted as well.

Return conditions to the United States

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All international arrivals to the United States– including returning U.S. citizens – must provide proof of a negative lab-generated COVID-19 test result obtained no more than three days prior to departure to the United States. There are currently no exceptions for those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Taking a test is fairly easy throughout Paris and appointments aren’t usually necessary, depending on the sites, although you can take one using the Doctolib application. The tests are free regardless of your nationality or whether you have insurance, and results often take less than 24 hours. However, when choosing your testing site, be sure to specify that it is a PCR test (not a rapid antigen test) and that results are guaranteed within 24-36 hours.

Which airlines currently offer flights to France?

Several airlines operate flights from various US cities including Delta, Air France, American, Lufthansa, Finn Air, Iberia, United, Swiss and TAP Portugal. Plus, fares are pretty good, starting at around $ 550 round trip for nonstop and connecting flights to Paris.

Where to stay in France

Visit the famous chateaux region of France while relaxing in nature in the new Loire Valley Lodges.

The pandemic has not prevented several new hotels from opening in Paris and elsewhere in France. In the capital, moviegoers and anyone who missed the movies might want to check out Paradiso Hotel. Each bedroom is equipped with its own projection screen with hundreds of movies to watch from the privacy of your bed, Twizzlers included. Close to rue du marché, rue Montorgueil and the popular food-oriented rue du Nil district in the second arrondissement, the Sentier Hotel is a charming choice for a sunny, contemporary style stay behind an old Egyptian facade. For those looking for a property focused on well-being, Hi Paris recently opened on the trendy rue des Martyrs in the ninth arrondissement. TVs are swapped for ballet bars in some of the 22 rooms, and guests have access to yoga mats as well as water jugs purified with Japanese binchotan charcoal.

In the rest of the country, Loire Valley Lodges, which opened last July, is a great place to stay socially aloof in a chic treehouse not far from the area’s famous chateaux. The hottest address in Marseille is Snorkel club, with only five cabins to spare for overnight stays, but the coolest rocks for sunbathing in the south. Speaking of rocks, Hotel les Roches Rouges remains the dream location on the French Riviera, while the next opening Souki Lodges and Spa at the foot of the Pic de Vissou mountain in the Provence wine region offers an ecological atmosphere in the middle of nature. Further west, and closer to the coast just north of Biarritz, the stunning 33-room hotel 70 hectares and the ocean of the family behind the luxury property in Provence Domain of Fontenille opens in June.

This story was originally posted on May 6, 2021 and has been updated on June 10, 2021 to include current information. The Associated Press contributed reporting.

>> Next: 6 little-known but superb French wine regions to discover

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