Traveling to France during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

France's coastline, including the rocky coves of Provence, is one of Europe's best.

If you're planning to travel to France, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

France has some of the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions in the world. Although it reopened to visitors over the summer, it went back into full lockdown in November. After tentatively reopening in late January, several regions in the country were put under a new, less restrictive lockdown in March 2021.

But as continued to rise rapidly, President Emmanuel Macron placed the nation under another strict lockdown beginning April 3. Arrivals are limited to residents of the European Union, Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the UK and those who fulfill the French government's exemption criteria. Travelers from other countries must have a "compelling" reason in order to enter.

What's on offer

The historic boulevards of Paris, the fashionable sweep of La Croisette in Cannes and the rolling lavender fields and vineyards of Provence. France remains one of the world's most enduring tourist destinations.

With superb food, even better wine and landscapes and cities to satisfy every kind of traveler, it never disappoints.

Who can go

From March 12, travelers arriving from Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the UK, as well as EU countries, can enter provided they submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure and a declaration indicating that they have no Covid symptoms.

Cross-border commuters are exempt from the mandatory test requirement.

At present, those from all other countries outside the EU must have a "compelling" health, family or professional reason for their visit.

From June 9, these restrictions will be relaxed for travelers from outside the EU provided they have a "health pass," according to President Macron.

No details on the specifications for this pass have been clarified as yet, but it's likely to involve a vaccine certificate and/or a negative PCR test.

What are the restrictions?

Travelers entering France from countries outside the EU for compelling reasons are asked to spend seven days in quarantine at a location of their choice.

The list has been widened to include further family situations so that couples and parents split between France and another country can travel to visit each other and/or their children.

From April 24, travelers arriving from French Guiana, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India and South Africa will be required to present a negative PCR test taken at least 36 hours prior to travel and subject to a 10-day quarantine.

What's the Covid situation?

France has been one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, with nearly 5.8 million cases and over 106,000 deaths as of May 6.

Cases have soared in recent months, with 117,900 new cases reported on April 11. The numbers have dropped considerably since then, with 21,743 cases reported on May 6.

However, the situation remains critical, with ongoing concerns about hospital capacity.

Officials have accelerated France's vaccine drive in response to the latest rise in cases. On April 6, Stade de France, the biggest stadium in the country, was converted into a huge vaccination center, and at least 39 similar centers are set to open in the coming days. Nearly 24 million vaccination doses had been administered in France as of May 6.

France relaunched its test and trace app in October. TousAntiCovid is available for iPhone and Android devices.

What can visitors expect?

France went into national lockdown again on April 3 due to a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.

However, President Macron has since laid out a roadmap for easing restrictions in the country cautiously, and some measures have already been lifted.

Domestic travel restrictions were lifted on May 3, meaning residents are now permitted to travel within the country again.

The nationwide nightly curfew, which came into effect on January 16 and now runs from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m, will be shortened to 9 p.m. to 6 a.m from May 19.

Elementary schools and nurseries were reopened on April 26 after being closed for three weeks, while high school students returned to indoor classes on May 3.

From May 19, restaurants, cafes and open-air terraces are to reopen for outdoor service, with a maximum of six people per table, and nonessential shops will also open their doors again.

Spectators will be allowed back into arenas on the same date, and museums, monuments, theaters, auditoriums with seated audiences are permitted to reopen with a maximum capacity of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors.

Gyms can reopen from June 9, while indoor dining will resume at restaurants and cafes, with no more than six diners per group.

By this point, a "health pass" will be introduced for people attending stadiums and large events, as well as international tourists visiting France. The exact details of this pass have not been specified as yet.

The curfew, which is to be pushed back to 11 p.m. to 6 a.m from June 9, will be lifted completely on June 30.

Masks must be worn at all times on public transport and in enclosed public spaces.

Useful links

Our latest coverage

Read more about how France has imposed new Covid-19 restrictions and how feminist street art is becoming commonplace around Paris.

In other developments, the European country has passed a law protecting the "sensory heritage" of its rural areas, and its future for sleeper trains looks bright.

Want to know what it feels like to try to become French? CNN's Channon Hodge gave it a go back in 2008.

Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Tamara Hardingham-Gill contributed to this report

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