‘Every man has two countries – his own and France’, uttered the late great former US president Thomas Jefferson.
It’s peculiar how France is synonymous to love and loss, liquor and lust, languish and languorousness, all at the same time. It’s suffused with alluring traits down to the last corners, from the magnificent French Alps, the sun-kissed Provence, to undulating stretches of coastlines leading to pastoral countryside. There’s everything for everyone. Yet it doesn’t explain how numerous writers, artists, playwrights, etc. converge in this land of love. There’s just an uncanny attractiveness here. The question now is: can I travel to France from the UK?
It’s brimming lustre is seducing yet blinding, leaving the soft-hearted profoundly baffled, struggling to pinpoint just where to start unravelling this endlessly enigmatic country. Those ardent Francophiles who have treaded the country just once insist that their heart has never left. That’s a true testament to the tremendous charisma of France that everyone can’t resist!
However, now isn’t the time to let your inner wanderlust get the better of you. It’s unfortunate that travelling to and from this wonderful country has been heavily impeded by the rampaging pandemic. In the wake of the pandemic, to protect the safety of its residents, the France government has implemented travelling restrictions.
Keep up with us to keep abreast of the latest update regarding travel to France requirements.
Can I travel to France from the UK right now?
In a nutshell, yes.
The pandemic started towards the end of 2019, and ever since governments across the world have gone to lengths to ensure the safety of their citizens, first and foremost, and then reopening their economics.
Is it safe to travel to France now? No! Here’s why!
Covid Situation in France
According to the U.S Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs, France is among the countries not to be visited, due to both the pandemic, terrorism and the civil unrest therein.
Regarding the COVID situation in France, the country is witnessing a high number of cases and deaths daily. On December 8, 2021, there were more than 60,000 confirmed cases and more than 100 deaths recorded.
Unfortunately, Omicron, the latest, most dangerous COVID-19 variant yet has been detected in France. On December 6, 25 cases of Omicron contraction were detected.
The first case of Omicron was identified to be a 53-year-old man coming to France from Mozambique. He connected via South Africa, which is the country where the variant was originally detected.
He is now self-isolating with 6 other people within his immediate circle, including 3 family members as well as 3 business contacts. It’s reported that the man is suffering from muscle pain and fatigue.
Although the Omicron cases have been few, and those who have contracted this variant have been put under isolation, there’s currently no trace of those who have come in contact with the confirmed cases. Additionally, France’s current rate of positive tests is at 6,5%, which is still dangerously high. This means the chance of contracting this contagious variety, or any of its variants is worryingly high.
COVID Check-in in restaurants - Photo by Kina on Unsplash
Therefore, it’s not recommended that you travel to France now. However, if you must visit France, make sure you keep yourself updated with the latest news and follow any required protocols.
France’s country categorization
Much like how the UK has the “green”, “amber”, and “red” list of countries according to their respective COVID situation, France has theirs, too. The French government classified countries and territories into “green”, “amber”, “red”, and “scarlet”.
>> Read more: Amber List Countries
These are countries in which there is no active circulation of the virus observed and no variants of concern identified. These countries consist of:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
These are countries in which there is the presence of virus circulation but under control. As of the time of this article, any countries that aren't categorized as “green”, “red”, or “scarlet” will fall into this category.
These are countries in which there is active circulation of the virus and the presence of variants of concern. These countries consist of:
- Costa Rica
*Flights from Mauritius to Reunion Island remain subject to the scarlet category rules.
These are countries in which the virus circulation is particularly active and/or its variants are posing a threat. These countries consist of:
- South Africa
France Entry Requirements
Vaccine and Proof
The following information is updated to December 4th.
Travellers under the age of 12 aren’t required to present or take any test.
Travellers above the age of 12 must present the COVID certificate to enter France.
Since France is a member of the European Union (EU), if you’re a citizen of an EU country, you will have to present the “EU Digital Covid Certificate”.
This certificate is also applicable for those who are vaccinated in Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Holy See, Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
If, for some reason a COVID certification cannot be presented, a certificate of recovery between 11 days and 6 months old is accepted as a replacement. This document is issued only to those who have contracted the coronavirus, upon presenting a positive RT-PCR or antigen test.
Starting on Dec 15th, people from age of 65 and above or people who received the Janssen must provide proof of booster vaccination for their COVID certificate to be extended.
Anyone who is between the ages of 18 and 65 must get their booster dose prior to Jan 15, 2022. In case they don’t, their COVID certificate will be rendered invalid.
Individual exemptions will be made for the following circumstances:
- Residents travelling from cross-border areas (border within a 30km radius of your residence) for a duration of 24 hours or less.
- Travellers going on work-related trips whose nature requires them to travel urgently and frequently and are incompatible with tests.
- Hauliers performing their works.
In order to be exempted for any of the above reasons, you must obtain a document proving the reasons for your trips provided by competent authorities.
The rules for travelling or working in European countries were updated on January 1, 2021.
Since France is a member country of the Schengen area, travellers can enter France for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you’re travelling as a tourist, visiting family or friends, attending business meetings, cultural or sport events, or for short-term studies or training.
In order to extend your stay past the 90-day limit, for working or studying, for business travel or any other reasons, you will have to meet the French government’s entry requirements. Learn more on the official France Visas website.
Staying in France with a residence permit or long-stay visa will not count towards the 90-day visa-free limit.Insurance
At border control, you might have to show proof of insurance for your trip.
If you’re an international traveller, you should be buying travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. If you don’t have insurance, you could be liable for any unexpected emergency expenses, which may be in the thousands of dollars.
What to look for when choosing travel insurance
- Emergency treatment and hospital bills coverage.
- Emergency transport: Ambulance costs are often charged separately from usual medical expenses.
- Pre-existing medical conditions: Make sure to declare any existing conditions or pending treatment in the event of getting ill during your travel. If you don’t declare your conditions, your treatment expenses may not be covered.
- Returning ticket, in case you must extend your case due to unexpected, prolonged treatment or hospitalization.
- High-risk destinations: Many insurance companies don’t offer or cover insurance if you’re travelling to destinations deemed high-risk by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
- Terrorist acts: This is especially important if you’re travelling to France, a country where there is political wrangling. Insurance companies offer only limited cover over such matters.
- Force Majeure cover: Some companies may not cover incidents caused by natural disasters.
Best Time to Visit France
France is gorgeous all year round, so visit France whenever you prefer.
However, if you’re seeking to make the best bang out of your buck, it is recommended that you visit France in the spring (April to June) or fall (September to November). These are when this tourist-trodden country is less crowded, and the weather is a bit more forgiving.
Summer in France can be a bit hot, and it’s the high season so the price is often exorbitant, whereas winter is usually glum and wet.
France Transportation Tips
Depending on your departure’s location, you can flip flop between travelling by plane or by train. Car is also a viable option. France belongs to the Schengen area, so as long as you’re travelling to France with a Schengen Visa, you’re good to go.
France boasts the most extensive train network in Western Europe. It’s fast, efficient, and affordable. It’s bookable online, equipped with in-train entertainment services like a small TV to watch movies and play games. It covers all of the provinces in France, but if you only travel within the vicinity of one province at a time, buses might be a better choice.
Admittedly, France’s bus service isn’t the greatest, but it gets the job done. However, play close attention to the schedule because the starting time is notorious for being awkward and early.
If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track destinations, you might need to rent a car. Cars allow for the luxury dependence of controlling the speed as you drive, so you can take in the wonderful scenery of this country. Check out our car rental guide in Europe for a more elaborated review.
10 Best Places to Visit in France
Arguably the most iconic place in France, the city of light boasts a reputation of perhaps the most romantic city ever in Europe.
The Eiffel tower’s view from the riverbank. Paris. Image from Unsplash
Paris is famed for its rich heritage. You can spend hours on end admiring the countless exquisite artworks in the Louvre Museum, exploring the Musée d’Orsay or wandering about in many of Paris’ historical churches. If you don’t fancy tourist-trodden areas when you travel to France, consider the less frequented arrondissements of French, where streets, hotels, or dive bars will pleasantly surprise you, offering a chance to immerse in a less flamboyant, more authentic French lifestyle.
And of course, you have to visit Paris at least once to see the Eiffel tower, right?
Bordeaux is perhaps the only city in France whose Lantin roots remain fairly prominent, and present in its graceful streets and lively city centre.
The impeccable view of the Place de la Bourse reflecting on the miroir-d'eau. Image from Unsplash
There are few sights that can even hold a candle to Bordeaux’s impeccable miroir-d'eau. It’s the largest reflecting pool in the world, covering an area of 3,450 square meters, reflecting the four-century-old Place de la Bourse to make for an absolutely stunning scene unmatched anywhere in the world. As the city is usually preferred to as the “City of Art and History”, this Word Heritage Site has a plethora of art galleries and museums dedicated to exhibiting the rich history of the visit. The Bordeaux Patrimoine Mondial is a peculiarly fascinating museum, offering insights into how Bordeaux came to be, but also how it will come to be.
Visit the Chartons district, where the ambiance of aristocracy is palpable on every chateau-strewn street, every wine bar, and every fine-dining restaurant.
There’s just some sort of pizzazz about port cities around the world. They’re rustic and homey, yet vibrant and energetic. Marseille is one of them. The port city of France has long been known to be a mesmerizing city with rich culture.
Vieux Port, Marseille. Image from Unsplash
In 2013, the place was named European Capital of Culture, thanks to which it has accumulated much fame as well as exposure. Now, visitors come to Marseille to discover the Old Port or saunter in the charming Le Panier, the oldest district here.
Ever since its nomination in 2013, the local authority has been zoning in on the city’s culture as its selling point. The Stade Vélodrome soccer stadium, the signature of Marseille, has been refurbished, heavily featured, and promoted. Many new and renewed museums are doing well.
Still, if you’re looking for an authentic Marseille experience when you travel to France, make your way through the bustling downtown and stroll along the magnificent calanques while gazing over the brisk lifestyle of the people on the port.
Lyon might just be the most French city of them all. It doesn’t have much of anything that distinguishes itself from the rest, but this second-largest French city with elegant architecture, charming museums, and quaint towns.
Lyon. France. Image from Unsplash
Gastronomy is a big reason why many chose Lyon as their dream French destination when they planned to travel to France. Coming here, visitors will get to enjoy a great variety of cuisine styles, ranging from traditional to conventional. The city is filled with a healthy number of Michelin-starred restaurants as well as numerous street kiosks.
Nice, the sun-drenched capital of the French Riviera, is a destination not to be missed for anyone who loves both France and beaches.
Nice’s crystal-clear water. Image from Unsplash
The city is popular for its glamorous beach resorts such as the famed Saint-Tropez or the Cannes. The place was once a health retreat reserved to the aristocrats and the jet-set, but the local government has now taken advantage of its wonderful beaches, breath-taking ocean view, and gorgeous coastal towns to turn Nice into a well-loved summer destination for tourists from all walks of life. Still, it’s worth visiting at any time of the year.
The must-see in Nice is the stunning curve of the Bay of Angles fringed with the Promenade des Anglais, a promenade stretching along the coastline, filled with Mediterranean-inspired resorts, hotels, restaurants, and any and everything a tourist could ever ask for when they travel to France. You could spend an entire weekend admiring the coastline alone, but you have to set aside some time to see Nice’s old town.
Not quite as flashy as its neighbour Nice but Cannes definitely holds its own as a popular resort town in the French Riviera.
Cannes’ coastline. Image from Unsplash
Much like how Nice has the Promenade des Anglais, Cannes has its Boulevard de la Croisette. It is perhaps the most important road of the entire city. It stretches for about 2km, on which the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is located. For those of you who don’t know, this is the place where one the most prestigious film festivals are held, the Cannes Film Festival.
If you can’t visit the place at its best, i.e. the two-week period when the Cannes Film Festival takes place, the boulevard, with palatial hotels overlooking sandy beaches, is more than enough of a reason to come here.
Crammed into less than 20 km square, this concrete jungle isn’t cut out for nature-lovers, but it's the perfect getaway for the hedonists travelling to France.
Monaco’s superyacht-packed harbour. Image from Unsplash
The biggest attraction of Monaco is the yearly Formula One Grand Prix. It’s held on the Circuit de Monaco, where speedsters and speed-lovers converge, at the beginning of the summertime. The race acts like a prelude to Monaco’s never ending EDM track, with its superyacht-packed harbours, glamorously adorned resorts, and impressive to almost confounding street layouts, all bathed in year-round sunlight. An absolute indulgence for the jet-set!
Atop the outcropping on the south of the town, which is known as the Le Rocher, sits the Royal Palace, a serene and majestic break from the endless partying. And definitely try Monaco’s exceptional Monegasque cuisine.
The northernmost region of France, Brittany feels like it’s outcast within France’s very own border. The wilderness, stretches of coastlines, and medieval towns distinguish Brittany from the usual romance of France, but perhaps that’s what makes this peninsula worth visiting.
Brittany’s unspoilt scenery. Image from Unsplash
The place is associated with beaches. From the beautiful beach of Dinard up north, to the briny Finistère coastline all the way to the south, this peninsula will surely reward those who muster enough courage to explore it with unspoilt locations.
But there’s more to Brittany than meets the eye. This is the land of mystique, tradition, and cuisine, where the Breton culture feels most prominent. Here, the Breton language is still spoken, the medieval citadels are still proudly standing, and the vestiges of ancient forest where villages pop up now are still present.
Peacefully located in east-central France, the rural town is renowned for its many elite family-owned wine farms and mustard farms. It’s capital Dijon (the mustard, remember?) is home to some of the most imposing Renaissance castles.
Burgundy’s vineyards are well-protected, since it’s been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. The viticulture here has been passed down for generations, refined and perfected by the finest wineries, which has played a pivotal role in transcending the local products here into world-renowned and well-loved masterpieces. The Burgundy, the Pinot Noirs, the Chardonnay, the Chablis, and the Beaujolais are some of the quintessence of the place.
Winegrowing is just a part of Burgundy’s gastronomy. The region’s delicacy is the Boeuf bourguignon, but there’s a plethora of other local dishes. Although France isn’t the capital in the cheese world, its cheese is still celebrated worldwide. One of the most beloved cheeses, Epoisses, originated from a tiny titular village herein.
Normandy is like a brother to Brittany, both worlds away from the idiosyncrasy of France. Here, romance, glamour, lustre is superseded by the bucolic and tranquil scenery.
Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy. Image from Unsplash
Similar to how Brittany makes a name for itself with its winemaking tradition and gastronomy, Normandy stands out owing to its fresh local products and pastoral villages. The trademark island monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, the splendid Bayeux Tapestry, the solemn pilgrimage are some of the few reasons to explore this unfrequented town.
As a sea province, Normandy’s fishes are as fresh as they come. As a massive farmland, the fruits here are the juiciest and the most lustrous.
Covid 19 France Travel Advice
Masks! Any and everywhere. It’s compulsory that anyone over the age of 11 must wear facemasks in all public spaces and on public transport. Those who fail to comply with the rules are susceptible to fine.
A Covid pass could also be required in most places in France. Make sure you carry it along anywhere you go to avoid unnecessary complications.