During the pandemic, travel into France has been heavily restricted in two ways.
France joined the rest of the EU in mid March in restricting all non-essential travel from outside the EU and Schengen Zone.
Then on April 6th France also drastically increased restrictions on travel from within Europe (which for this purpose includes the UK).
Although, unlike many other countries, France never closed its borders, anyone travelling into the country needs une attestation de déplacement internationale (international travel certificate).
French citizens can return to the country, but anyone coming from within Europe (including the UK) will need to meet one of the following criteria to be allowed into the country:
- People who have their primary residence in France. This does NOT include second home owners. Third country nationals will need to present a visa or residency card while EU nationals (which for this purpose still includes British people) do not need any proof of residency status.
- People who have their permanent residency in another European country and are travelling through France to get home
- Healthcare workers engaged in coronavirus-related care
- Commercial good carriers such as lorry drivers and flight or cargo crews
- Diplomatic staff
- Cross-border workers. So for example if you live in France but work in Switzerland you can still travel back and forth.
But as the restrictions start to be lifted, here are some of the key dates for travellers this summer.
From this date the UK government imposed a 14 day quarantine on all arrivals in the country and, contrary to earlier statements, visitors from France will not be exempt.
In response France has imposed its own quarantine on arrivals from the UK, although on the French side the quarantine is voluntary and has many exemptions.
From this date countries in the EU – including France – and Schengen zone are lifting their travel restrictions for internal travel.
So from June 15th people travelling from the EU, UK or Schengen zone can enter France without a travel certificate or needing to prove that their trip is essential.
For arrivals from the UK and Spain, however, there are some quarantine restrictions.
Campsites and hotels have already reopened in most of France but in the orange zones – which is mainly the Paris region – these reopen fully on June 22nd.
Paris' Orly airport reopens. This has been closed since April 1st as virtually all air travel halted. Charles de Gaulle airport has remained open, but with very few flights and several terminals closed.
The UK when announcing its quarantine said originally it would run from June 8th for three weeks and then be reviewed.
The policy seems pretty unpopular domestically so it could end up being quietly scrapped, although we won't know for sure until the UK government makes its announcement. France has always said that its own voluntary quarantine is reciprocal, so will be scrapped once the UK's is.
From this date the EU is proposing a gradual reopening of its external borders, allowing people to travel from outside Europe.
However, a European Commission spokesman said that the reopening is likely to be gradual and progressive, and could apply at first only to certain countries.
Also on July 1st, Spain reopens its land borders with France and Portugal to all travellers and also ends its requirement for a quarantine for international arrivals.
Airlines including British Airways and Ryanair have spoken of resuming flights from July. Easyjet has said it will restart flights from mid June, but these will be almost entirely domestic flights in France and the UK.
Also in July, French rail operator SNCF says it hopes to reopen buffet cars in trains, marking the return to a virtually normal service on the railways, where train service have been gradually increasing since travel restrictions were lifted on June 2nd.