LATEST: Where to wear a face mask in France

The French government has reintroduced strict mask wearing rules in a bid to tackle a fifth wave of Covid. All city centres now require mask wearing - even outside.

French President Emmanuel Macron adjusts his face mask. France has announced an expansion of mask wearing rules due to come into force towards the end of the week.
French President Emmanuel Macron adjusts his face mask. France has announced an expansion of mask wearing rules due to come into force towards the end of the week. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

As of January 3rd, the following rules apply to everyone over the age of 6-years-old: 

National rules

The nationwide rule on masks is that they must be worn on all public transport and all indoor public spaces.

This also includes indoor venues where visitors must show a health pass to enter, like bars, restaurants, leisure centres and cinemas. 

For venues like bars and restaurants the previous mask rules have been reinstated – a mask is required while moving through a venue but not when seated and eating or drinking. 

French mask rules have no exemptions and not wearing a mask when required to do so can net you a €135 fine.

Town and city centres 

From January 3rd, you must wear a mask outside in all town and city centres in France. Such a measure was already in place in places like Paris and Lyon. 


All visitors to markets in France, both indoors and outdoors, will have to wear masks as per a ruling from the Economy Ministry on December 1st. This rule applies to anyone over 6-years-old. Before now, local prefectures have had the freedom to impose mask-wearing at their will in markets.

Ski resorts

If you are in a French ski resort you are required to wear a mask while in the queue for a ski lift and in the enclosed télécabine lifts, but not on open chair lifts.

Masks are not required on the slopes.

A ski mask is accepted provided it entirely covers your nose and mouth.


All primary school pupils and teachers returned to wearing masks in class on November 15th, after the rule had been lifted in some areas with low case numbers. Mask rules have been in place for secondary and high schools since 2020.

Local rules

The decision is up to local authorities and there is no case number threshold at which these rules are introduced. Some areas with low case numbers have extra mask rules while other places with high case numbers don’t.

If you are in any doubt over whether you should be wearing a mask, the advice to anyone is to check with the local préfecture on the exact rules in place in your area.

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Where in France do you still need a face mask?

In France, masks will no longer be required on indoor transport as of Monday, May 16th. Here are rules and recommendations that are still in place:

Where in France do you still need a face mask?

Members of the public in France have been asked to wear face masks for the most part of two years, at times even outside in the street.

Since March 14th, 2022, the facial coverings have no longer been mandatory in most establishments such as shops, and as of Monday, May 16th, it will no longer be mandatory on indoor public transport. 

As of May 16th, you will therefore no longer be required to wear a mask in the following transports:

  • Buses and coaches
  • Subways and streetcars
  • RER and TER
  • TGV and interregional lines
  • Taxis

Regarding airplanes whether or not you must wear a mask is a bit more complicated.

On Wednesday, May 11th, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announced that from May 16th onward it would no longer be required to wear a mask in airports and on board aircraft in the European Union. However, Germany has stated that it does not have the intention of lifting its requirement of wearing a mask on its airlines – this would include the Lufthansa airline. Thus, it will be necessary for passengers to still very to rules each airline has in place, which could be the case when travelling to a country that still has indoor mask requirements in place.

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky specified that vulnerable people should continue to wear masks, and that “a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, to reassure those seated nearby.”

Masks still obligatory in medical settings

However, it will still be mandatory for caregivers, patients and visitors in health care facilities, specifically including hospitals, pharmacies, medical laboratories, retirement homes, and establishments for the disabled. 

For people who are vulnerable either due to their age or their status as immunocompromised, wearing a mask will continue to be recommended, though not required, particularly for enclosed spaces and in large gatherings.

Masks are also still recommended for people who test positive, people who might have come in contact with Covid-19, symptomatic people and healthcare professionals.

Will masks come back?

It is possible. French Health Minister Olivier Véran does not exclude the return of mandatory mask-wearing, should the health situation require it.

What are the other Covid-19 restrictions that remain in place?

The primary restriction that has not changed is the French government’s regulation for testing positive: If you are unvaccinated and test positive, isolation is still required for 10 days, if you are vaccinated, this requirement is seven days. Isolation can be reduced from 10 to 7 days or from 7 to 5 days if a negative covid test is performed, and symptoms are no longer present.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What Covid restrictions remain in place in France?

The French Health Ministry still recommends following sanitary measures such as: wearing a mask in places where it is still mandatory, hand washing, regular ventilation of rooms, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and using a single-use handkerchief (tissue).