What would you like to know
A reporter based in France describes the situation on the ground, what travelers wanting to leave need to know and whether France is still ready to welcome foreigners.
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On June 9, after more than a year of being closed to foreign travelers and residents locked up in various forms (the authorization bulletins required to leave the house and nighttime curfews were among the many restrictions that followed), France will welcome tourists to the land of butter croissants and smelly cheese. Here is the scoop on how to experiment the good life again, and if the time is right to go.
Is France ready to welcome visitors?
Honestly? It doesn’t feel like that on the pitch here, at least not yet. There was a meme circulating when French President Emmanuel Macron announced he would reopen the country – something that looked like, “Good, but news for those of us still locked out!” In April, when Macron first announced his intention to reopen its doors for travel, the country itself was still very closed. Museums have been closed and restaurants and cafes have been closed for indoor and outdoor dining. French residents could not travel to their own country and a curfew was in place. It was hard to imagine welcoming visitors with the lack of things to do, let alone the high number of daily cases (France was in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19 cases in April, peaking at over 40,000 cases per day, which thankfully are now steadily declining) and a slow rollout of the vaccine (only 17% of the population has so far been vaccinated, according to Reuters).
That said, the government has since announced a phased reopening schedule. This week, the 10-kilometer (or 6-mile) limit of movement imposed on residents was lifted, allowing people to travel more freely around the country, and on May 19, the curfew will increase to 9 p.m. (up to from 7 p.m.). Restaurants and bars will once again be able to serve outdoors with up to six people per table. Cultural institutions, such as the Louvre and other museums, will also reopen with a capacity for up to 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors. Two weeks later, in addition to allowing foreign tourists to enter the country, restaurants and cafes will be able to accommodate diners inside, fitness centers will be allowed to reopen and the curfew will be moved. at 11 p.m.
On June 30, there will be no restriction on the number of people gathering inside, but nightclubs will remain closed. Of course, all of this is subject to change at any time if “the incidence rate again exceeds 400 infections per 100,000 population; a sudden increase in this rate; or a threat of saturation of intensive care services, ”Macron warned.
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However, those who work in the tourism and restaurant industries are 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 at the bit. I don’t know what other idioms I can find. We can’t wait to get back to what we do best; have fun and show people the European cities we love. “
Mebane is generally lucky that his business is all about being outdoors and naturally socially distant: “You can’t ride within three feet of someone,” he says.
June Chin-Ramsey, CEO of a private and small-group tour operator 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 emerges from a year of lockdown, the levels of comfort will vary when getting back on a plane or setting foot in another country, ”says Chin-Ramsey. “It’s important to us that we find ways to meet each of our clients where they are.”
How is France nowadays? How has the pandemic changed things there?
It has been rather gloomy in France for the past five months, especially in Paris. Locals are on top of the constant back and forth over restrictions (changing curfew times, closing schools then opening and then closing again, etc.) and are ready to move on. Outside, few people really follow social distancing rules (which is three feet in France, compared to six feet recommended by U.S. public health officials). Although masks are always needed everywhere, even outdoors, they are often worn haphazardly (eg under the nose or hanging from one ear). We are all very tired and many envy the faster deployment of vaccines in other countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. That said, everyone went about their business and did whatever it took to be successful. As we say here, “metro, whelk, dodo, ”Or commute, work, sleep. When the weather is nice, people definitely congregate in parks or by the river like Before Times.
As for the future, people are definitely starting to have hope for a more “normal” summer to come as the vaccine rollout continues, and it feels like there is starting to be a light in the sky. end of the tunnel. 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 fully in ‘revenge travel’ mode and has already booked trips to Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Italy for the summer.
Conditions for traveling to France
Until June 9, France remains closed to any foreign national who does not have a residence permit or a valid reason (which includes a medical reason, traveling for professional reasons, or visiting a sick relative) with appropriate documentation. Those who do must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test performed 72 hours or less before their outbound flight and must self-isolate for seven days after arrival.
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From June 9, non-nationals (including Americans) will be allowed entry if they present the Health Pass, or digital health pass (it’s still unclear exactly how this digital health pass will work and whether a paper certificate is likely to be accepted as well), which shows proof of vaccination and have tested negative for COVID-19.
In France, masks are still mandatory in all public places, even for those who are vaccinated (except when 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).
Return conditions to the United States
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 later than three days prior to departure for the United States. There are currently no exceptions for people vaccinated against COVID-19.
Taking a test is pretty easy all over Paris and appointments aren’t usually necessary, according to the site, although you can do one using the Doctolib app. 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 test 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 offer 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 both. non-stop and connecting flights to Paris.
Where to stay in France
The pandemic has not prevented the opening of several new hotels in Paris and elsewhere in France. In the capital, moviegoers and anyone who has missed the cinema may want to check in at the 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. Located close to rue du marché, rue Montorgueil and the popular rue du Nil block in the second arrondissement, the Hôtel du Sentier is a charming choice for a sunny, contemporary-style stay behind an ancient Egyptian facade. For those looking for a property focused on well-being, Hoy Paris recently opened its doors in the trendy street of the ninth arrondissement, rue des Martyrs. TVs are replaced with 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 remote in a chic treehouse not far from the area’s famous chateaux. The most popular address in Marseille is Snorkel club, with only five cabins 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 Côte d’Azur, while the next Souki Lodges and Spa at the foot of the magnificent 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 33-room stunner 70 hectares and the ocean of the family behind the luxury property in Provence Domain of Fontenille opens in June.
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