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France Closed to Tourists?

An article in the Washington Post dated May 6 under the headline, “Europe is loosening some restrictions but international tourists won’t be visiting yet,” states, “France has extended its coronavirus-related border controls until the end of October." Does this mean that Americans cannot visit France until November, 2020? The sentence includes a hyperlink that goes to ec.europa.eu, specifically, a page describing Schengen Border Codes. The date of October 31 is mentioned there. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
4060 posts

Border controls mean passport checks, not a closed border. French borders are being controlled until the end of October, even for visitors from within the Schengen Zone - this was announced some time ago. French international borders are closed until mid June to all, which could be extended.

Posted by
6948 posts

Don’t get too elated yet. The French General Assembly is passing legislation today requiring all entering from outside the Schengen zone to be quarantined for 14 days. This includes long-term visa holders and French citizens. It won’t be open to tourists yet.

I’m waiting to hear the conditions of the quarantine: at home, a hotel near CDG, or will they open vacation clubs for us to stay in the way they did for those repatriated in March (meanwhile the US put people from the cruise ships in musty old Army barracks).

Edit: just learned from French family that at this time even citizens with a primary residence overseas can't go to France except for a family emergency.

Posted by
2995 posts

This article states that the position described in the post above did not happen. In fact, people can enter from other Schengen countries and the UK without quarantine restrictions, and this is without any restrictions on nationality. If you can enter UK or a Schengen nation, you can then enter France.

Also, a different interesting article about how rapid Covid 19 tests will be available at the Vienna Airport. Anyone testing negative can then skip any quarantine. A person desperate to get to France could conceivably fly to Vienna, test negative, and then go on to France.

https://www.france24.com/en/20200503-french-quarantine-rules-to-spare-travellers-from-schengen-area-and-britain

Posted by
29 posts

yes I read French newspapers . But one can have fun with words on this site , can't they?

Posted by
4060 posts

Sorry, Carol is incorrect. I was due to go to France next week on holiday and it was cancelled yesterday as their borders remain closed to Brits and others unless you live there permanently. Parts of France will remain locked down next week when restrictions in some parts will be relaxed slightly. It doesn’t make sense to open up the borders when half the country is still in lockdown.

Posted by
6948 posts

Carol’s post is exactly what I said except she’s saying to fly into a different Schengen country and then go to France. Entry via a Schengen country cannot happen before June 15th at the earliest. Borders are closed unless you have a long term resident visa or French nationality, as I have.

(Edit: I have since learned that even French passport holders can't enter at this time unless the primary residences are in France. If someone enters from another Schengen country, they have to have the primary residence in France.)

The only others who can pass the border are border workers—ie. Live in France but work in Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Belgium., or the contrary. In our family, we are waiting to learn what the isolation conditions will be among other things.

Posted by
2995 posts

Sorry Jennifer, but Carol simply reported what two articles were saying and then shared the link to the article. It is important to distinguish between someone sharing his/her opinion and someone sharing an article.

Posted by
6948 posts

I’m really dismayed at how poorly written and misleading that English-language France 24 article is.

There are more categories, details and nuance concerning the gradual de-confinement (as it’s called in French) than the broad blanket statements in the article.
The article not only gives the impression that France is opening but also neglects to say that the borders are closed til May 15th with an extension to at least June 15th coming up.

Goodness, as of today, residents are restricted to a 1 kilometer radius from their homes. On Monday, it will be 100k with some Departments that are classified red off limits.

But this lack of clarity on what’s happening or allowed has been ongoing as the government creates these new measures on an as-needed basis.

Posted by
1240 posts

I wonder if there is concern about reopening international travel and COVID-19 makes a resurgence. What then?

Somewhat similar to a cruise in that everyone boards seemingly happy and healthy, albeit asymptomatic, and then a few days or a week later, uh oh.

Posted by
17 posts

Did anyone replying here actually stay in France during the pandemic? Can you report what it was like, how was it to obtain food, in particular? I was there in March but after much indecision, returned to USA. Thanks.

Posted by
5623 posts

I’ve been here the whole time.

Buying food has not been a problem. I have been going to the big Monoprix in my neighborhood every Saturday, usually around 5 pm or later. There is a wait in line, usually about 15 minutes, to enter into the store, as they seek to regulate the number of people in the store. When you enter, the security guard gives you a squirt of alcohol gel in your hands for you to “wash” your hands. Once within the store, everything is pretty normal until you get to check out. There, they have laid out stickers marking distance on the floor as to the distance you should keep behind the person in front of you. And another change, you are not allowed to put your items on the belt until the person in front of you has completely finished their transaction.

Monoprix also put up huge plexiglas barriers to protect the cashiers, and all workers have been wearing masks.

A couple of times we went to a specialty shop in our neighborhood; i know that some of our neighbors worked with vendors at the market around the corner, or our specialty shopping street down the street, to have deliveries made to the building since the market wasn’t allowed to open.

Going to the bakery downstairs in our building, only 2 clients are allowed in at a time, so we queue in a socially distant manner outside. One day a woman who was walking her dog gave me money to buy a baguette for her so she wouldn’t have to stay in line with her dog.

At our pharmacy, things have been normal — the owner also had a supplier make huge plexiglass barriers for their positions at the cash registers, but all else has been normal. I haven’t been there at a time when they had regulated who was coming in, but I the most other clients who ever happened to be there when I was there was ONE.

The deconfinement is starting Monday, but only VERY slowly. Masks will be required on public transport; stores CAN require customers to wear masks if they want. The only difference so far between green and red zones is extremely minimal — in the red zones (Ile de France, Bourgogne-Franche Comté, Grand Est, and Hauts de France), parks and gardens are NOT allowed to be opened, while they can open in the green zones (all the rest of France); and middle schools can’t open. That is the ONLY difference for now!! The differences will get bigger, I think, at the next phase of the deconfinement, which will take place June 2 IF ALL CONTINUES TO GO WELL and there is no second wave that overwhelms hospitals etc.

What else changes in this first phase of deconfinement? We can leave our houses WITHOUT an attestation; and we are no longer restricted to a one-km radius from our homes; and we can be out for longer than one hour a day.

We can go within 100 Km of our home as the crow flies; you can only go further than that if you have an emergency family reason or work reason. If you go further than 100 km, again you have to have an attestation (which they haven’t yet published).

Stores can open that hadn’t been open these past two months — but with strict physical distancing observed. So finally bookstores etc can re-open - but with so few people allowed in at any one time, I think it will also mean for lines outside these stores.

Libraries and small museums can open, but not any major museums. I have yet to see the definitions of these but maybe they have been published.

And the biggest thing that will affect us in Paris is that in the entire Ile de France (Paris metropolitan region), you can ONLY travel on public transport (metro, tram, bus, RER etc) during the hours of 6:30 am to 9:30 am and 4 pm to 7 pm if you have an attestation from your employer attesting that you are required to be traveling at that time to go to work. In other words, public transport during these times in Ile de France will be prohibited to anyone traveling just for “fun.”

Continued

Posted by
5623 posts

Again, the government hasn’t published this attestation yet, so how any employee can have an employer-issued attestation in their hands Monday morning is beyond me . . . however, the transport minister has said there will be a grace period before this is enforced.

In the metro and in train stations they have marked distances along the platforms to keep people one meter apart; they have put stickers on every other seat along the platforms to ask people to leave them empty.

In addition to the regular RATP security forces, the Interior Ministry is loaning 20,000 police and gendarmes to help enforce these measures.

Transport will be operating in Ile de France at about 75% of its normal schedule. ridership during the last couple of months has been at about 6% of normal; authorities are hoping to keep it to about 15% during this first phase. The government continues to emphasize that everyone who can telework should continue to telework, in order to keep people from being out and about.

In Paris, some streets such as the rue de Rivoli, will be completely given over to bicycles instead of vehicles; other streets will have a bike lane added in addition to the current one that is “shared” with buses; and on some streets, streetside parking is being eliminated in order to give the sidewalks more room (I guess by having people also use the former parking spaces as walking area). In addition, authorities are making available several parking areas at the entry to Paris available — I guess in hopes that people will take a bike from there into the city.

We can now gather together in private residences, but only up to 10 people at any gathering.

Gyms, cinemas, theaters etc remain closed.

At the end of May, authorities will analyze whether restaurants, cafes, bars, can open (probably in green zones only) sometime in June.

France's borders with its European neighbors will be closed until at least June 15.

That's about all I can think of right now.

Posted by
5623 posts

Here is a map from Le Parisien showing the streets in Paris that will be modified to facilitate bike riding (again, in an effort to keep people from crowding public transport):

http://www.leparisien.fr/paris-75/deconfinement-a-paris-anne-hidalgo-veut-faciliter-les-deplacements-a-velo-et-a-pied-04-05-2020-8310735.php

Here is the government's map showing which regions are red and which green for this first phase of the deconfinement:

https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus/carte-et-donnees

Posted by
102 posts

I live in east-central France and have been here the entire time -- I have nowhere else to go!

A few things I would add:

  1. Hardware stores have been open, but limit access. When entering, you have to explain what you're looking for and, if they don't think they have it, they'll ask you to leave. They don't want people aimlessly wandering the aisles.

  2. Large stores (hypermarchés), at least in this area, have closed all areas but food sales, though you can still buy whatever hardware supplies and office supplies they may have in their main food stores. It's the other places under the same roof -- the fixit shop (multiservice) clothing shops, optical shops, toy shops, and cultural shops (books, DVDs, CDs, games, and computers) that are closed.

  3. Enforcement on movements is inconsistent. I've been stopped and had my attestation checked by gendarmes four times so far, whereas other people I know haven't been checked once. Must be my shifty eyes. Because an Auchan near us (about 10 km away) has some items our local store doesn't carry, we drove to that town to pick them up. A pair of gendarmes was set up at a roundabout near the store and refused to let us continue -- we had to go back and were told to do our shopping in our town. However, friends in Grenoble tell us they have been on long drives in the countryside. So what you get depends somewhat on where you are.

  4. As far as green vs. red, the information released thus far has been pretty vague. What I recall from the Prime Minister's news conference the other day is that collèges (middle schools) will reopen in green départements but not in red. And that, depending on the local préfecture and, I suppose, the mairie, restaurants, bars, and cafés may be able to open in green départements in about 3 weeks, I suspect after having made accommodations for distancing. Red départements will have to wait longer. I have the not-so-good fortune of being red these days.

  5. Our street market is reopening again on the 13th. It will be nice to be able to visit that again. I'll be curious how many of the usual vendors show up.

Edited to add some information on food and correct an error. Grocery stores around here are probably 90 to 95 percent normal with respect to stock. But there are some odd closures -- for example, one of the stores I frequent is a Grand Frais, a large green grocer that also has a butcher counter and a bakery (Marie Blachère). The butcher is inconsistent -- he's usually there, but one day his case was cleared out, as was all the refrigerated meats and cheeses along the wall next to his area. But the produce was there. Other days he'll have a sign posted saying what hours he'll be there -- different, because he's normally open whenever the store is. No shortages on paper products that I've noticed, in contrast to the U.S.

The big box stores are on the edge of town. In the town center is a butcher, a "bio" shop, three boulangeries, a traiteur, and a fairly good size Proxi Mart (kind of a old-style food market). Their hours all are slightly reduced, but they've been operating normally otherwise. The Proxi Mart is a bit of a convenience for most folks to make occasional purchases, but it's heavily relied upon by a lot of the old folks in town who don't drive and don't want to take the bus to the big box stores. The store has been filling bags for people to come and pick up -- they're lined up along the wall with the wine with the customers' names on them. I assume people call in and tell them what they want.

Restaurants and bars all are closed, but in the past two weeks a few restaurants (higher end ones) have been providing take out on weekends. I saw the brasserie (definitely not high end) near our house had a sign in the window that they'd be providing take out orders starting next week. It's good to see the town show signs of life.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks Kim & Sammy for such detailed and informative replies! I have some long-ago purchased reservations to visit this September, October and November. I hope restaurants will be considerably more active by then. I feel that they and the public markets are the main reason to visit.

Posted by
6948 posts

Good luck 75011-er. I think the plan is late October before opening the border beyond Schengen.

I don’t know if you are in this situation, but I do know several Americans with property in different areas of France who were going back and forth on visitors visas every 90 days. Now they are locked out and can’t get to their own property. And they can’t apply for residence visas as the consulates aren’t accepting new ones. I keep imagining their bills piling up. The only relief is knowing that mail service has practically stopped. That is a nightmare, having to abandon property unexpectedly. I hope they can get back and feel at home again. And Ihope you can get there earlier than late October.

Posted by
1121 posts

I should think that anyone with property in France would have all recurring expenses paid automatically by RIB or some other on-line arrangement. The government has allowed those with 90 day visas to stay beyond the initial 90-day limit but only established residents or French citizens are being allowed to enter France, a situation that may continue for some time into the future.

For a while, mail service was limited to 3 deliveries a week but now the mail system has mostly been restored.

Posted by
6948 posts

You’re right; I forgot. But, I was also thinking of impôts locaux, or other surprise mail.

Posted by
17 posts

Meanwhile, according to an article in McPaper yesterday, France’s National Council of Appellations of Dairy Origin is urging people to eat lots more cheese, due to a massive overstock caused by the virus. I will do whatever I can from here (TJ's sells a decent French roquefort) but it seems like a goodwill mission of the utmost importance to visit La France and load up on brie and roquefort.

Posted by
6948 posts

Love your sense of solidarity, an important concept in France. Right now, people are speaking of another result from the Covid-19 confinement. It's called Grosbide-19 (fat belly19). It's estimated that people gained over 2 kilos each due to lack of exercise, too much food, and... alcohol.

Posted by
5552 posts

The French government is under less public pressure to reopen its economy at the expense of life-safety than the US. An AP news article contrasts the European and American "safety nets" such as unemployment benefits and health insurance:
https://apnews.com/016b768f9c856c1baa1f7a6032de1243

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Americans on unemployment were collecting an average of about $372
weekly before the coronavirus struck. But that average could range
from $215 in Mississippi to $543 in Hawaii.

France provides up to 75% of the previous average daily wage for up to
two years. Unemployment benefits in France are on average 1,200 euros
($1,320) per month.

HEALTH INSURANCE

Nearly half of Americans receive health insurance through their
employers, while another 34% get benefits through the government
programs Medicare and Medicaid.

In Europe, universal health coverage is the rule, generally funded by
payroll or other taxes.

As a French worker/voter, would you risk infection from foreigners when your unemployment benefits last two years and you still have medical coverage? Would you want Macron letting tourist in before you feel safe?

Posted by
775 posts

< Nearly half of Americans receive health insurance through their
employers, while another 34% get benefits through the government
programs Medicare and Medicaid.>

And, obviously, this means that most of those newly out of work in the US have also lost their health insurance.

Posted by
288 posts

The odd thing is that in France the sales of alcohol have decreased about 18% during confinement. That is the same amount that alcohol sales in the UK, Australia and the US increased.

The arguent being made here is that in France drinking is a social thing. If you're not being social, you don't drink.

As for the original question, we don't figure on seeing any Australian or US travellers this year: The US because we anticipate there will be a ban on them entering Europe, and Australians because there will be a ban on them re-entering Australia

Posted by
1121 posts

The real financial impact will be felt if there are no Chinese visitors this year.

Posted by
288 posts

Tocard

For some, that's true. But more and more Chinese tourists are staying at hotels owned by Chinese companies, and much of the money only obliquely benefits locals. No-one I know in the Loire Valley except the tourist attractions really sees the Chinese, and the anecdotal evidence is that cultural differences mean they are less sensitive to their surrounds. I have certainly seen sensitive items being handled by members of large groups with one only guide in a small room.

Posted by
2852 posts

Simon, I wonder if a couple of factors have caused the drop in alcohol sales in France while it increased in the US. Yes, the social aspect is probably one factor. But also, it may be the greater restrictions on traveling in France. And I don't know about outlets for wine sales in France, but in many states in the US, mine included, liquor stores were deemed "essential businesses," and were never forced to close. That's been good for me, although I'm not sure how justified that is.

Posted by
5623 posts

Oh wine shops were also in the essential businesses category here, and thus were allowed to remain open during the lockdown. They established restrictions of course as to the #s of customers who could come in at one time, etc, just like the big supermarkets.

Posted by
6948 posts

An American friend who goes to daily AA meetings in the States pointed out that it would be chaos to have active alcoholics forced to go cold turkey at once. One reason liquor stores may be considered essential.

Posted by
1121 posts

The French are not going cold turkey. What they are doing is, rather than purchasing, they are slowing depleting their own wine supplies in their caves (or cellars) during the confinement to an extent greater than they might do otherwise. When the wine sells start this fall, they will certainly replenish, at excellent prices, their reserves in anticipation of a second or follow-on crisis.

Every proper Frenchman has a very healthy wine reserve maintained not only for aging, but to provide sustenance during difficult times, keeping in mind that wine is considered as one of the basic food groups.

Posted by
5623 posts

Every proper Frenchman has a very healthy wine reserve maintained not only for aging, but to provide sustenance during difficult times,

Even some foreigners living here do this — well in households where one of the members is a sommelier, at least!

Posted by
113 posts

Sun 10am. Well it is Sunday morning in the great southern land and nearby land of the long white cloud, the shaky isles. I have time on my hands, a dangerous combination. Interesting discussion here.

@Simon. I think your 18% increase in alcohol sales for us is well short. Blue skies, temps in the high teens/low 20’s and rising toward the 30’s, the closer one gets to the equator is perfect for enjoying plentiful food, quality beer and lovely wine. At home of course. And the pristine environment. The lucky country. Hope to get to your Loire Valley sometime.

You are correct in concluding that you are unlikely to see any tourists from the great southern lands. Our government will not let us out, or others in, and rightly so. We have this insidious invader on its knees and nearly vanquished. Do not want to let it back in. Identified sources have been cruise ships and careless citizens returning from overseas. Currently we even need an extraordinary reason to travel domestically between state borders. Domestic air travel may commence in July if all goes well. A complete anathema to USA citizens, but it bloody well has worked. And the poms have fared no better. I suspect a plot to avoid a thrashing on the cricket field.

@Tocard. I do not have a wine cellar. I envy the Frenchman and their wine cellar. Have had to purchase two specialist wine fridges because it is too hot in summer. Heat will ruin a good wine.

@Kim. Have made a note to get details of your husband’s restaurant when next in town. About 2 years away, perhaps.

@Andrew. You braggard! Hope you overcame your depression. I suspect you are on your way to achieving sanity. Chanced upon a market/fair on Montmartre in early October 2010. Introduced to regional wines and champagne, the good stuff that does not get to be exported. The vintages you French keep to yourselves. Smart move. On the family biennial European visit to relatives in Abruzzo, via France, drop into the vineyards and have a case or two freighted home. Probably go for an Alsace Gewürztraminer for lunch.

@Allothers. Family has us booked with Emirates from Melbourne at 6am 7th August, via Dubai to CDG 8pm 7th August. 23 Hours, a long day. For good reasons cannot get passed our passport control. I will miss the a380 cocktail bar at 13,000 metres and occasional chorus from “leaving on a jet plane and for the octogenarians, “come fly with me”. A few glasses of the widow’s finest have been known to loosen the vocal cords.

However, there is the prospect of a southwest Pacific travel bubble from October/November. Suggested by the NZ deputy PM. Could include New Caledonia and French Polynesia as they have closed their borders and beaten this virus down. Hopefully, the mother country will not intervene. It may still be possible to get a little of France, but no Italy. Also, Fiji may be invited in. Alas for Hawaii, no way, the mainlanders have ruined things again. Good luck with the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. You can call on me for support. Will not help though.

Thankyou for taking the time to read my waffling musings.

Stay healthy, safe and keep a positive view of the future. Time is a traveller.
Regards Ron