Can I travel to France? Latest holiday advice as France to impose reciprocal quarantine

Arrivals from France to the UK have to quarantine and the FCO is advising against all but essential travel there Credit: istock

British holidaymakers have to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive back from France, after the UK Government removed France from its 'travel corridors' list on Saturday August 15.

Those with future trips booked will likely find their insurance affected by the change in FCO advice, now against all but essential travel to the country. What's more, France has this week confirmed it will impose reciprocal quarantine restrictions on British travellers.

Today (August 24), French Junior European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune told French TV France 2: "We will have a measure called reciprocity so that our British friends do not close the border in one single way. 

"For travellers returning from the United Kingdom, there will probably be restrictive measures decided in the next few days by the Prime Minister and by the Defence Council."

Coronavirus cases hit a post-lockdown daily high yesterday (August 23), with the French health ministry reporting 4,897 infections in 24 hours.

Below, we detail some of the questions travellers will have regarding trips to France, including Foreign Office advice, air travel and Eurostar services. 

This page will be updated as and when guidance changes.

Am I allowed to travel to France?

The Foreign Office is now advising against all but essential overseas travel to France.

Am I still covered by travel insurance?

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said travel insurance will remain valid for people who are already in the quarantined countries until they return home. However, those who travel to the listed countries after the FCO advice has changed would "likely" find their insurance invalid, the ABI said. If you choose to ignore the advice, however, there are a small number of providers willing to offer cover.

Read more: The countries you can actually visit now

Are flights to France operating?

A number of airlines are still operating flights to France. Ryanair, easyJet, British Airways and Vueling are among the airlines with flights running this week. 

Is the Channel Tunnel still open?

Yes, Eurotunnel is still running.

Is Eurostar running?

Eurostar has operated a service between London St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord throughout the pandemic. Check with the rail provider for details. Passengers are required to wear face masks

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Do I need to quarantine if I travel through France?

It depends. If you are driving from a country currently on the UK's 'green' list, like Switzerland, and you do not leave your car, and no one else gets in, then cross the Channel using Eurotunnel, the answer is no. If you stop for petrol or food, you will be required to self-isolate. 

If you are coming from Belgium, Netherlands or Spain, for example, you will be required to quarantine anyway. 

If you are taking the Eurostar you will need to quarantine. 

See here for more information

Can I get a refund?

Wondering what next, if your holiday has been affected by France being added to the red list? Package holiday firms usually cancel outbound trips when the Foreign Office warns against travel and give full refunds.

Flight-only customers with British Airways can cancel for a voucher (not a refund).

Eurostar customers will not get a refund, but you can postpone your journey for free if you do it at least 14 days in advance. With less than 14 days’ notice there is an exchange fee per person and per individual journey in standard class of £30 (£40 in standard premier).

If your flight or holiday has been cancelled, see our guide on how to obtain a refund or a travel voucher.

If I go, must I wear a face mask?

Face masks were made mandatory in all enclosed public spaces across France on July 20, with fines for those who are not compliant.

After spikes in the virus, certain areas have stepped up their mask rules. Face masks have became mandatory in tourist hotspots in Paris, while busier beach resorts have made also face coverings mandatory outside. Toulouse has enforced mask-wearing on the city’s busiest streets.

Where in France are cases high?

Paris has seen one of the highest spikes in cases in recent days – 56 hospitalisations in the last seven days. In the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, which includes Marseilles and Nice, there have been 207 hospitalisations in the last week, or 4 per 100,000.

Read more: Do I have to quarantine if I drive through France to the UK?

How has France relaxed its lockdown?

France reopened its bars, cafes and restaurants, and lifted travel restrictions, nearly three months after entering one of the most draconian lockdowns in Europe. However, French Prime Minister Jean Castex has warned that the country may be forced to re-enter a second lockdown if cases keep rising and advised the French public against becoming careless.

“If we don't act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control," he said. 

Nicknamed “Mr Deconfinement” because he oversaw France’s phased exit from lockdown, a day after the UK government enforced quarantine measures on Spain, Castex told the Nice-Matin newspaper that a new lockdown could not be ruled out. He emphasised that prevention was the government's first priority, and “localised lockdowns” would be used in areas where infections surge. 

A ban on gatherings of more than 5,000 people in the country has also been extended until the end of October. 

Otherwise, restaurants, bars and cafes, tourist attractions and galleries have all reopened. The Eiffel Tower is welcoming visitors, while the Pompidou Centre opened on July 1 and the Louvre opened on July 6.