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France - Level 4 Travel Advisory

The US State Department has raised France to a Level 4 Do Not Travel. Be sure to check your travel insurance policy as this usually voids any policies. We canceled our 3 week trip to France for August (supposed to be there now actually) because I had a feeling this change was coming. Ironic it occurred the same day France issued info about how tourists could get the health pass.

Posted by
659 posts

Does Level 4 allow US airline passengers any rights to change routing?

Our tickets are changeable, not refundable. But changes include airfare cost increases, which are now outrageous for September. To fly in and out of Italy is an extra $1,000 per person. I wonder if Level 4 comes with any waivers for airline passengers. Back on the phone with United!

Oh, and I believe the domestic terrorism threat is always listed over the past few years. Civil unrest is frequently listed lately.

Posted by
230 posts

Does Level 4 allow US airline passengers any rights to change routing?

Highly doubtful, but report back what you find.

Refundable is the only way to go these days.

Posted by
230 posts

This trip I have planned for Sept is the third time I've changed the same tickets-- for the original fare, no change fees ever (I even added the extra week the second time

That only works if you are sticking with the original itinerary, right? I would rather be able to get my money back and make different plans for future travel. But if you are OK with your situation, you are correct that refundable is not the 'only way to go'.

The person I responded to wants to change the itinerary with the shifting country Covid restrictions. As far as i know, that is not possible without paying up for the changes, but maybe she will let us know differently.

Posted by
9 posts

Yes, we are stuck with that decision right now. Our flight is on Thursday. US-LON and then another flight from LON-CDG.

We are fully vaccinated and plan to go only to Paris. We go there frequently so are not planning to visit crowded museums etc. We all religiously mask.

So how does it look in Paris right now? Is life pretty "normal"? The infection rates are definitely higher than July, but - is anyone who is fully vaccinated cancelling their trip?

Would love to hear any thoughts, especially if you are there right now, ot are planning to go in the next few days.

Thanks!

Posted by
230 posts

is anyone who is fully vaccinated cancelling their trip?

We canceled a trip to Paris that would have started next week. We are also vaxxed, also had no plans to get in large crowds, but with the rising infections and the changing restrictions, we decided to take a 'wait and see' on going over there again until maybe later this year, or early next year.

Posted by
46 posts

So when I read this it sounds like it is a recommendation not a mandate. Am I reading this correctly? I am fully vaccinated and due to arrive next Sunday. I would obviously take the appropriate precautions but I think at this late date if the plane is taking off and France will allow us in, I still plan to go.

Posted by
46 posts

jojo rabit - we changed our trip from the UK to Paris about mid July so at least on Delta you can change the iterinary. You get an ecredit you can use however you choose.

Posted by
230 posts

So when I read this it sounds like it is a recommendation not a mandate.

That is correct, but if you have travel insurance, you should read the fine print to see if it is still in force under this advisory change, especially if you are counting on it covering you if you are placed in a quarantine hold before flying back home.

Posted by
5 posts

My husband just returned from a short trip to France with fully vaccinated parents, siblings and adult kids. Parts of the trip were wonderful but there were some super big problems. Two family members tested positive for C19 and could not return home with the others (still there). Two additional fam members stayed with them for needed support during their quarantine. One of the C19 positives has been hospitalized in Paris for three days with serious kidney problems (super fit female, under 30 yrs old). She faces the possibility of having surgery, so when will she be recovered well enough to fly home? How long til she and the other C19 positive can test negative or prove they have recovered? Also, what if the two family members there to support them later test positive when it’s time to retest to come home? Start the cycle again?

Things to consider before travel (we are living this right now):
Who will stay with you if you test positive and cannot come home. What will the others in your group do if one in the party tests positive. How will you navigate the local medical system. Where will you go the moment you get a positive result. Did you really pack enough necessities (prescriptions) for a longer stay. Will your rental car be extended during the extra quarantine and do you know how long that will be.
Who will take care of your pets and home and job and bills while you wait to recover. Same for the support person who has to stay and care for you. What about the villa/hotel/cafe staff who were exposed by you while you were positive but not yet tested. Will you contact them or try and go under the radar. Will your family at home worry sick of you have C19 while overseas (in my case, yes).

I opted to stay home on this trip due to a schedule conflict. My husband and son are lucky and happy to be home but we are very concerned for the four family members who had to stay in hospital and quarantine.

All travelers were fully vaccinated on this trip and were careful to wear masks and enjoy the outdoors. Most of the trip was in a remote villa and away from crowds (other than airport crowds). They are seasoned world travelers who usually adapt well to vacation wrinkles but are stunned by the reality of testing positive away from home. They’d all tell you it wasn’t worth it.

Posted by
4253 posts

EDITED:

This link also has the incidence rate by department for this week (Beware that it also says that there is a curfew in France which is NOT true per people currently in France. The data is new cases PER WEEK. Other statistics that have been reported are new cases PER DAY:

https://www.sortiraparis.com/news/in-paris/articles/240044-incidence-rate-in-france-as-of-datacovid-confirmedfrlatest/lang/en

To figure out what areas I'm going to, I used this:

https://www.map-france.com/departments/

Posted by
9 posts

Jules - are you sure this is correct information? I don't believe that there is a 6:00pm curfew in Paris right now. Are you there now? Can you please confirm?

Posted by
123 posts

This is all so disappointing. I’m scheduled to leave august 29th, all booked apartment all set. Off to reread my travel insurance policy again. This is also my second trip interruption due to COVID. First world problems I know, but enormously disappointed.

Posted by
100 posts

ClearTheAir - thank you for sharing your experience! I am so sorry this has happened to your family. What a nightmare. The risk of contracting COVID even for those of us who are fully vaccinated and being very careful is clearly real. I’ve canceled my trip to France twice already, and canceled a trip to Japan in 2020 as well. I am as anxious as everyone to hit the road again, but stories like yours make me glad I canceled and am sticking closer to home.

Posted by
9 posts

Debbie - we are totally in the same boat. Now, we do visit Paris every year but haven't in 2-years because of Covid and were (are?) really excited to get back. My reasoning was - we are vaccinated, we will wear masks, a Health Pass is required everywhere you go so we will be surrounded by vaccinated people, so how bad can it be?

I can say that until I read the experience of "Clear The Air" (thanks very much for sharing that - hope your family back there is doing well), that's how I was leaning. Her experience is giving me pause, in all honesty.

Very very disappointed.

Sunil

Posted by
4253 posts

Slala, I got the information from the link I provided. I am not in Paris, right now. I tried to find other sources that said the same. I was hoping someone would either confirm or tell me I misunderstood.

Posted by
9 posts

Clear The Air - thank you again for sharing your story with us. I am sorry to hear about the troubles your family had in France. I wish them well and I hope that the ones who remain in Paris get well soon.

Definitely something to keep in mind, and I think that your story might help us make our decision here.

If you don't mind me asking - what were their travel dates? Was this before the implementation of the health pass?

Thanks again.

Sunil

Posted by
4253 posts

Clear the Air, could you please share the itinerary? Were they in Paris or other places? I'm also wondering what types of places they visited. Museums? Definitely not trying to assign blame it just helps with assessing the risk.

Posted by
5 posts

Itinerary: Flew USA - KEF - CDG - MRS - Rental car to a private rental villa. They ate nearly all meals at the villa (did their own shopping and cooking), other than three dinners in restaurants that were totally empty besides the family group and cafe staff. I have photos to prove otherwise I wouldn’t believe it. The villa hosts booked three restaurants for them since they had more than 6 people dining together. I make this point because they interacted with very few locals and tourists. They strolled outdoors in St Remy and Avignon and lounged at the villa pool. Four of them played one round of golf. As I said, it was a very short trip with unusually limited interactions and virtually zero museum or other cultural visits. Other activities were planned for the end of the trip but were cancelled after two in the family group had positive COVID tests. Those who tested negative were clear to fly home. The four who stayed drove 8 hours to Paris for medical help since one of them is quite sick. This was not the plan for the rental car which is booked out of Marseille.

Posted by
6616 posts

We know people who got COVID on airplanes in the US -- I think the process of getting there and getting back is the highest risk aspect of the process.

This does give one pause. If we get stuck in Paris we can possibly cope -- we have friends who can bring us food and we can probably extend the apartment rental but if we get it in the first part of the trip where we are 3 days here and 4 days there etc, it would be much more difficult.

We go in 5 weeks, I am hoping this surge burns out a bit by then but worried about it.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Clear The Air. May I ask which airport in the US they flew out from? Is there a lot of community spread where you are in the US? We are in the Northeast, so quite high vaccination rates.

But of course, your family was fully vaccinated, so this shouldn't have happened either way.

Posted by
11246 posts

I looked at numerous French news sites and there is no mention of a curfew.

Posted by
9 posts

Clear The Air: OK, so Iceland. That's another country they put on the Level 4 alert.

May I ask - did they happen to go into The Blue Lagoon while in Iceland? Or in the whole bunch of communal hot tubs in Reykjavik (as pretty much everyone in Reykjavik does!)? Those communal pools could certainly be a hot spot for Covid?

Again - not saying that they did. Just trying to figure out what might have happened.

Thanks!

Posted by
5 posts

Started in Seattle (high vaccine rate). Didn’t exit an airport until the final stop in Marseille. Ideally passenger on international flights present negative tests before boarding. Not the requirement on the CDG to MRS segment, and not the requirement for people in airports waiting to make connections.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks Clear The Air. Appreciate all the information you have shared with us. I am assuming that starting Monday (yesterday), the Health Card is required at all airports in France. Perhaps that was the wek link? The CDG_MRS flight?

Again, one can only guess.

Thanks again!

Posted by
93 posts

I am so sorry! Thank you so much for sharing - I am sure it will be helpful to many agonizing over travel decisions - now and in the future.

I acutally cancelled my September 2 departure today. I had double checked my travel insurance to make sure it would cover Covid, ordered N95 masks, checked requirements for day trips, knew that most days I would be wandering in neighborhoods and not be inside, would be eating most of my meals, take out, on the balcony in my room etc. etc. etc. I really wanted to go and was trying to cross all of my t's and dot all of my i's, but deep down I knew, for me, it was a mistake not to cancel. It was this type of a situation that I was concerned about - although part of me kept telling me I was just being too cautious - that traveling solo would be no different on this trip than it has been in the past, that there are many people in France who are 78 and they get around just fine. As I have said, heart head heart head. I think the State Dept moving France on Level 4 was the straw...

I hope recovery is soon and they are all on flights home.

Posted by
11246 posts

Jules...it's not a real news website. It's main function is promote things in Paris. I checked all legitimate news sources in France and there is no mention of a curfew.

Posted by
4464 posts

Cleartheair, I really appreciate you posting to give us this account of your family’s awful experience. I hope that the young lady recovers very soon and everyone is able to return back home.

I have a 3-week trip planned for Italy, leaving in 10 days. Today I made the painful decision to cancel it. Reading your post now gives me even more feelings that I’m making the right decision.

Posted by
7598 posts

Ideally passenger on international flights present negative tests before boarding.

If a person is vaccinated, France does not require a negative test for entry.

Posted by
7598 posts

The only curfews in France right now are in La Réunion (in the middle of the Indian Ocean), in French Polynesia (in the South Pacific), and in Martinique (in the Caribbean).

There is no curfew in metropolitan/ continental France.

Posted by
222 posts

We are headed to France mid October. And hopefully things will be better by then. But are flying from Naples Italy and than home to states from Paris. We are both vaccinated and the way I see it is that some parts in the States should be considered level 4. We have no problem wearing masks. And it seem the CDC is accounting for the protest in France over the health pass as another consideration. And again the same could be said for that in the states when the protest were going on.

Posted by
11246 posts

RE: Medjet.....I use them. If you are a member of AARP you can get a discount.

Posted by
8403 posts

There's no curfew in metropolitan France

Posted by
76 posts

I see the MedJet post above but keep in mind that they won't transport you if your local hospital or government doesn't allow covid positive patients out or if the receiving country won't allow them in. That's a pretty big out and could end up being a false sense of security.

If you're worried about getting covid or other health issues, don't go to a country with a stressed hospital system. As of now the ICU occupancy rate in France is still good, around 34% nationally although it's trending up but nowhere near the >100% they had months ago. To check the occupancy rate of wherever you're going in France, use the TousAntiCovid app and enter your city's postal code. Will also tell you the local case rates and such.

Posted by
59 posts

ClearTheAir - thank you for taking the time to share your family's experience, especially the things to think of before travel right now. It was helpful information for me and I'm sure many others. Best wishes to your family.

Posted by
4253 posts

Thanks for the clarification that there is no current curfew. I will remove that sentence of the post. The same source provided COVID statistics by department which was why I was on the website to begin with. I looked for that as a result of Bets reporting cases are much worse in southern France which the statistics clearly show. I'll leave the link up unless someone else wants to provide a source for the information.

Posted by
8403 posts

Edit: her stats and color coding are off too. You can Download the Tousanticovid app and you can keep track of numbers for the whole country and by department. For example, enter 75 for Paris, 06 for Nice.

Cases are higher all along the south coast, but we are continuing on as normal. Busses, trams, trains, markets, restaurants, guided tours all continue. But we are masked (most people) and controlled. Also, the south has a lot of tourists from northern France and all of northern Europe right now. September is much calmer.

Posted by
4253 posts

@Bets, I tried to peruse the app and finding it difficult to use. When I looked at the link yesterday, it looked very familiar. I have just searched thru previous posts and found the same source was used in a post many had commented on. Ashley, who I believe is located in France, had posted it. It would be nice if the author of the article would site her source.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/pass-sanitaire-whats-the-definition-of-long-distance-travel

@Bets and @Frank, similar statistics are reported here, where Ashley pointed me to. It is cases for a 7 day period per 100,000.

carte covid-19 departments lexpress

Posted by
4253 posts

Does anyone know what happens if a U.S. citizen tests positive (asymptomatic) when trying to return home from France? Is the French government notified? It doesn't sound like there is any specific process given what "clear the air" had to say. The people that tested positive did not need to immediately quarantine and there is no specific spot to go? Are there resources set up for this in terms of a specific spot to quarantine? Does the person get to leave quarantine daily to retest?

I'm still toying with the idea of going to France its still a few weeks away. I think France is going to improve similar to what happened in Spain. I think its too late to buy any insurance, but would look into it if anyone has suggestions of a company. The thing with us, is we already have excellent insurance for health care in Europe and emergency evacuation, and it does include COVID. My flight is changeable. So the only liability I could incur is up to 10 days in some accommodation and food, which if for delivery becomes somewhat expensive. Still, it doesn't cause us significant financial woes. There is just a small probability that one would test positive, especially if precautions were retaken during travel, but as we heard from "Clear the air", a positive test result at the end of the trip has significant ramifications.

Posted by
845 posts

I think CleartheAir posted information we all need to hear. We tend to think that since we are vaccinated, we are good. The more we tell ourselves "it won't happen to us" the real reality, as she pointed out very well, can. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, and we have to remember that. Yes, life needs to get back to normal, but she shared some real-life experiences we all need to take into consideration as new cases rise. We had some friends who just returned from their trip. Out of 10, six came down with COVID, one was fully vaccinated and very sick. A couple got sick a few days after arrival and spent their vacay being miserable and locked up. They had to quarantine until they no longer tested positive for a good 10-12 days. The vaccinated traveler had the Pfizer, not that it really matters. Point is, it can happen to anyone. At my Dr. appointment today, I mentioned that I was considering going back to Paris in September. Told him I had it all planned out, just needed to purchase the air tickets. He is as well-traveled as are we, and his response to me was that I would be out of my mind to consider such a trip right now. He emphatically advised against it. I am healthy, vaccinated, and active. He convinced me. He pointed out real issues as Clear the Air did above. And she pointed out things we overlooked, ie, the pet sitter, the yard, the cost of changing a ticket, extended hotel costs, etc. Those who decide to go ahead with your trip, no judgment here. We get it. Just be sure to follow all health and safety protocols, probably even more so than if you were at home. Wishing all our fellow travelers here safe travels!

For us, France will be there, and when things settle, we will be back.

Posted by
845 posts

As stated, no judgment here. We wish everyone well and understand people's desire to continue with their travel plans. We wish everyone well and we all should make conscious decisions on what is best for their family. My statement in no way was to convince anyone otherwise. Just sharing info as we get it and appreciate ALL points of view. Who knows what September brings, but when things start to settle, we will be on our way as well.

Posted by
11246 posts

I have a lengthly trip planned in a few weeks........

During that trip, it's possible I could contract Covid even though I am vaccinated. If it happens, I'll deal with it.

It's possible that rules will change and I will have to alter my itinerary. If it happens, I'll deal with it.

It's possible that some of my planned modes of transportation will be canceled. If it happens, I'll deal with it.

What I can't do is change any of this. I have absolutely no control over the outcome of anything on my trip so I'm not going to worry about it--especially those things where the chances of them happening are minute. I have some contingency plans and know how to make changes.

Everyone needs to decide for themselves whether or not this is a good time for them to travel. For some it's full steam ahead. For others, the worry both before and during their trip will pretty much ruin it.

Do what is best for you......there is no right or wrong. Just what is right or wrong for you.

Posted by
4253 posts

Aimee, was there a report with 10 people, only one vaccinated? I think Clear the Air said her group was fully vaccinated.

Posted by
8291 posts

What Aimee and Frank said. I agree completely. Lots of risks in life, driving in a car is dangerous, yet people do it all the time without thinking about it. Being fully vaccinated and being a breakthrough case is so infinitely minute it does not give me pause, not at all. Irrational fear isn’t useful. Like Aimee and Frank, unless France closes it’s doors, I’ll be there in October.

Posted by
11246 posts

One other thing......we have had a very sad report, in this thread, of people who have gotten sick. But we've also had a few trip reports from people who have been to Europe over the past few weeks with no major problems. Many of those reports were glowing.

Why can't we look towards the positive but be prepared for the worst?

And as was said in a previous post.....unless France locksdown, I'm going. You see, I researched and found out the rate of Covid in France per capita is less than in the U.S. I'll probably be safer in France.

Posted by
2133 posts

Just to continue the theme of counterbalancing the recent tenor of posts - I am still planning to go in Sept. Fully vaccinated and ready to change my plans if need be. If France will have us, we will be there.

Posted by
4253 posts

Aimee, I didn't read his post as saying only one was vaccinated. I read it as one person was really sick in spite of being fully vaccinated. Personally, I don't judge people that are just trying to decide what works best for their particular situation. I think its safe to say people on the forum do not know each other very well.

If the situation JR is posting was of 10 people traveling and only 1 vaccinated, then I'm not sure that anyone should use that particular example to determine whether or not they want to travel.

Posted by
4253 posts

@Bets, Ashley provided this link which contains data quite similar to the link I posted. And they, too, are using number of cases during a 7 day period per 100,000. Now, since I am more familiar with U.S. data sources, I won't claim to know anything about lexpress, either. But, both sources are saying that the stats are cases for a 7 day period per 100,000.

carte covid-19 departments lexpress

Posted by
845 posts

Ok to clarify, - ten traveled - six were sick - of the six only one was vaccinated - the rest in the group was. That left 5 unvaccinated. I was merely making a point that it CAN happen, and unfortunately for them, it did. Just as Clear the Air pointed out in her post for her family. I do not make judgments on anyone who chooses to or not to vaccinate. We are, and would never consider this trip without being vaccinated although I strongly believe everyone should. It drives me crazy the opposition many have to get vaccinated. But what people choose to do or not do is beyond my pay grade. Did they open themselves up for a good possibility of getting COVID? Sure they did. It was stupid for them to even travel. But, this forum is to share information, that hopefully will be helpful to someone who is sitting on the fence trying to make a decision. And, if they are unvaccinated, will consider what CAN happen. I simply stated, to my regret now, a situation that happened. Again, no judgment. And I completely agree with Frank. As I said, I believe people should do what they feel is right for them. People have different points of view, and that is good. Posts like Clear the Air might give some people things to think about that they hadn't considered. I thank her for that post, and also shared a story. Others will take the info shared, and continue on with their plans. I think that is great. No judgment. It wasn't meant to sway anyone from changing their minds. There are way more stories of successful trips that were uneventful and were just sharing info and a story.

Posted by
5697 posts

To keep in mind -- being fully vaccinated and getting a breakthrough case is a low probability, but it can happen even if you stay home. One of our adult daughters called in sick with what she thought was a bad cold ... her employer required that she get a covid test before she return to work ... and she tested positive. Mild case (thank you Moderna!) but it did happen. Much easier to handle at home where you know your insurance coverage and have a kitchen full of canned soup, but staying home or traveling doesn't guarantee immunity.

Posted by
4253 posts

JR, I'm glad you posted for many reasons. For me, I was just trying to understand the situation.

Posted by
845 posts

Good point Laura, it can happen, and thanks Jules!

Posted by
165 posts

It’s helpful to put all the cards on the table…face up. This is not a game. I appreciate other’s experiences and the clarity… it helps us with the reality. We can still see consequences of other’s decisions and learn from their actions w/o cruel judgement. Thanks to all! I will wait another month to see how this plays out for France before I cancel…again.

Posted by
8291 posts

Yes, we all know there is a 0.4% (California) chance of a breakthrough case.

Frank, as for looking at it in a positive light, looking at the facts, that is me.
Many, unfortunately, see things from a negative perspective.

I spent 3 wks in Paris deathly sick, in Oct 2019, in a friend’s apartment all alone. I had no one to help me, get food, go to the pharmacy. It sucked but I managed.

Posted by
712 posts

My travel group (4 ladies age 50-68 fully vaccinated) decided last week that we would back out of a planned trip to Europe next summer. We had a long discussion about the possibility of testing positive while overseas. How would we deal with one person having to stay behind and how would we navigate the health care system, and pay for extra hotels/food, etc. For us, it was too much of a risk. We decided to plan a 2022 vacation in the US.
Yesterday, I read Cleartheair's post. It confirmed that we had come to the right decision. I will still try to travel on my own to visit family in England next year but only because it will be three years since I have seen family and I have support in that country if things go wrong. So thank you Cleartheair for telling us your story. I know there are many successful travel stories out there, but I am going to remain cautious while the world is still learning and struggling with C19. I do wish your family well and hope they get to come home soon.

Margaret

Posted by
21067 posts

I'm not convinced breakthrough cases are all that rare. Breakthrough cases leading to hospitalization or death, yes, those are rare.

We don't seem to have comprehensive national reporting of all breakthrough infections. First, the CDC seems not to be too interested in that number at the moment. Second, of the 99+% of vaccinated Americans who aren't currently traveling internationally, probably few would test in the absence of symptoms. So we have a seriously undercounted number (reported infections among the vaccinated) being divided by a very accurate denominator (number of fully vaccinated US residents). The result of the calculation is certain to be underreporting of the percentage of vaccinated folks who get breakthrough infections.

In addition, one is much more exposed to infection if one is taking part in traditional tourist activities (and transiting crowded places like airports) than if one is at home and generally being careful. I don't think it's reasonable to think the rate of breakthrough infections among travelers is going to be as low as it is for the US as a whole. Quite the contrary.

The statistics I'm seeing in print vary, and I think there's much potential for confusion. Often what's reported is the percentage of vaccinated folks with breakthrough infections leading to hospitalization. That is a truly tiny percentage. But the percentage of vaccinated people getting infected to any degree from asymptomatically to death must be a lot higher, as hinted at by reports on individual clusters with vaccinated folks represented a significant share of the victims. Even getting infected overseas asymptomatically presents some issues if you're overseas and can't fly home on schedule.

Posted by
5 posts

Some additional information since my earlier post. This trip was rescheduled from summer 2020. All travelers were fully vaccinated. Two females in the group (an informal family group) tested positive, ages 57 and 27. The older female lost taste and smell and is tired. The younger female is still hospitalized in Paris (5 days). They are required to test negative to board a flight home or they need documentation from a doctor that they have recovered from covid.

The family went on this trip with an optimistic outlook and feeling confident with their vaccine status. It's a savvy bunch who adapt and go with the flow when plans shift and change. We have visited France together on other occasions and felt good about going to lift up their lagging tourism. What the family didn't anticipate is the absolutely horrible feeling for positive cases to pop up and for it to significantly alter the plans of all travelers. We were naive to think that our visit could help France economically during a pandemic. In hindsight, the trip looks and feels irresponsible.

Posted by
5161 posts

Thanks for following up with another post, cleartheair. I hope your relatives are feeling better soon.

Just as a point of information (too late to help these individuals) a Medjet membership would have allowed the hospitalized individual to be medically evacuated back to the US. Medical evacuation (hospital to hospital) has special rules and the fact she has Covid would not have kept her entering the US.

Posted by
498 posts

Thanks Clear the Air, for sharing such a personal and painful situation. I see that has helped many readers and certainly has helped me. Yours is the only account I have seen to date about what might happen if one tested positive while in France. I was concerned primarily about a false positive antigen test that might interfere with my return to the US but clearly there is a lot more to be concerned about. I am so sorry that this happened to your family. I have now planned 3 separate trips to France. The 1st was for autumn 2020. Canceled. The 2nd was for spring 2021. Canceled after reading of all the local holiday trippers and this was even before Delta! I now have a trip planned for spring 2022. I'm certainly hoping that things will improve greatly by then but it seems that the situation can turn on a dime. My best hopes and wishes for the young woman's speedy and complete recovery. Thank you again for sharing with us.
What Aimee and Kim said. Double for me. The unvaccinated do not have to vaccinate. They just need to stay home and not breathe the same air as the rest of us. And well said, Acraven.

Posted by
60 posts

We've got our plans set for 18 days in France for the end of Sept.- early Oct. These were originally set for fall, 2020...1 week in Paris & another on the Loire, but of course cancelled as the pandemic spread. I'm actually less worried about falling ill in France than I am that the French will bar us from entry, due to the alarming rise over here.

Posted by
1 posts

France currently has the highest daily new case rate out of 48 European countries, and is 2nd only to Russia for the most total cases. (Worldometer). Kudos to those members who are willing to deal with the bureaucratic, logistical and pandemic impediments involved in traveling, but my wife and I have chosen to remain at home until at least late 2022. It's highly likely by that time the vaccination rates will be approaching the herd immunity threshold, and things will have begun to settle down. We are fully vaccinated and realize that most breakthrough infections appear to be mild, but some have actually led to cases of "long" covid. Anyway, as much as we love traveling to France, we're going to wait for safer times.

Posted by
4 posts

Does anyone know what you actually DO if you test positive for covid-19 in paris and can not fly back to the US? Where do you stay to isolate? What hotel will take you?

Posted by
8403 posts

To put Level 4 into perspective, I compared the county in Indiana where I live in the States (mask mandate in largest town, vaccine required at the largest employers) with the Mediterranean department where I live in France--(blood-red alert by French standards. tourists, but QR code enforced, mask mandate).

The numbers are based on 100,000 inhabitants per day.
The Indiana county has 10 hospitalizations per day for every 100,000 inhabitants.
The department in France has 2 hospitalizations per day for every 100,000 inhabitants.

NY Times August 11.

Posted by
27723 posts

per 100 what, Bets? Per population? Per diagnosed positive? Per self-diagnosed? You can't mean 10 percent of the population in Indiana?

Posted by
8403 posts

I hope it's clear now. Let me know Nigel.

Posted by
27723 posts

whew!!!!

sorry for the trouble.... I couldn't work it out.... That sounds so much better.

Thanks Bets

Posted by
3 posts

My wife and I have been in France for the last 3 + weeks, we were in Italy for the same time before that. We are currently in Bordeaux after visiting Lyon and Tours with a few day trips to other cities. We travel by train. As of Monday 8/9 in France proof of vaccination is required to go into restaurants, bars and most public spaces. Many restaurants have signs that state don’t even bother sitting down if you do not have your vaccination pass. We use our CDC cards. It is also required to wear masks on transport and in some outdoor areas. Most folks are obeying but we have noted in some areas of old city centers that state masks are mandatory outside in centrale that this is ignored.

We booked our trip as soon as the US moved France & Italy to stage 3. Being moved back to stage 4, Do Not Travel, means most travel insurance may be unavailable. Our experience has been positive, but we have also had to take 6 COVID tests during our trip. 1 to get here, 3 for a river cruise, 1 to leave Italy for France and finally 1 to head home. Probably get one more once home. Many labs and pharmacies are giving tests. We used Google translate to make our appointments. We paid in Italy, 30€, they are free in France. Best of luck.

Posted by
11246 posts

I kind of scratch my head when I hear the "total" statistics rather than having them broken down into equivalent numbers. Of course France is going to have a high number of cases in Europe. It has one of the largest populations in general.

That's why what I have tried to post and what Bets has posted is to look at all of this in perspective. Here are some current statistics:

Rates of new cases over a 7 day average per 100,000 people:

USA: 38

France: 36

UK: 36

Spain: 35

Italy: 10

Germany: 4

Of course, this is general for an entire country. In each area, there are places that are worse and places that are better.

Addendum: The source of the number of cases is Johns Hopkins University via the New York Times. The population numbers used in calculations were just googled.

Posted by
8403 posts

And right now France is full of Northern European tourists. There’s not a hotel room or rental available in our area.

Posted by
5161 posts

I am afraid that there may be some confusion on all the stats that are being listed.
I don't think that any of them are necessarily correct. I would like to suggest that people simply go and look at the original sources of data for themselves. Do note, that there is a difference between number of cases per 100,000 and number of hospitalizations per 100,000. Keep track of what you are looking at.

It is always best to do your own research on topics such as this.

Posted by
5784 posts

Places like Florida and Texas and my rural Oregon county may be worst in terms of COVID risk than France but the difference is we wouldn't travel to France just to stay in a safe bubble. Why would you spend hundreds of dollars a day to sit in a bubble?

Posted by
4253 posts

I like to make science based decisions. However, what many don't understand is that there is a lag in science research and data. So maybe in a couple months or half a year, we'll have the data we need for decisions we are making today. Sometimes, the only information available to provide an idea of what is going on is anecdotal. And often it is anecdotal information that is the impetus for research. And, don't forget, it is possible to lie with statistics.

Also, don't "pooh pooh" the idea of quarantining for 10 days. I've been asking and searching for information on how France handles quarantines of U.S. citizens. Ten days in a hotel room possibly alone that may or may not even have outdoor space? My daughter had to quarantine when she moved to Hawaii for 14 days in a tiny studio apartment (bigger than most hotel rooms) without an outdoor space. It was hard. I have noticed that here and there governments/airlines/companies that are providing and funding quarantine places. Spain has four regions doing this. Andalusia, Galacia were two of them. It is a good business decision for entities dependent on foreign travelers.

Posted by
72 posts

There has been much debate here about the statistics. Bottom line, both the U.S. and France are level 4 as of right now, and it's not looking better. I just left a Chamber event where the keynote speakers were from the Texas Medical Center (One of the best and largest in the world). The speakers stated we are in the worst phase of the pandemic, and that 100% of the cases they are seeing are the Delta variant. They said this wave is much worse than any other. They talked about the shortage of ICU beds to come, its dangerous spread, and how it affects its victims, and how easily it is to pass on to others from vaccinated individuals. They even predicted a wave 5 (they said we are in wave 4 at the moment). These were top doctors and specialists from UTMB, Memorial Hermann, and St. Lukes's which are three of the top hospitals that make up the Texas Medical Center. This article was very informative today: https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/12/us/texas-covid-surge-hospital-staff-masks/index.html . I am NOT saying this to be negative. Not at all. I am just sharing information for other's consideration. I am glad to see the many positive posts of people who are willing to forge onward and COVID be damned, and secure with their decisions to move forward with their trip. There are lots of posts with positive outcomes on travel in and around France. I am also most appreciative of CleartheAir and JR and others for sharing accounts of the possibilities one may face. They may be minute, but they are real. I don't think anyone is being "negative" at all here. I see both sides of the fence presenting a case, and we all take the information shared and make the best decisions for ourselves. Yes, France is willing to let you in. And only you can decide what is best for you. As a French Citizen, I would be concerned with the influx of tourists, especially those coming from a Level 4 Red zone country. Even the vaccinated can pass it on. Sure the chances may be slim, but they are real. I think there were a few less than friendly comments targeted on some posts, and let's remember this is a travel forum, and all points of view should be shared without criticism. The number of posts one has made should have no bearing on the information presented. We all started on this forum with 0, and I for one welcome all information shared. Statistics are going to change daily, and it is going to be hard to keep up with it all. I too have a trip scheduled for mid-September, and up until a few days ago I was "damned the torpedoes, full speed ahead." I have since taken a step back to consider all information presented and am grateful for info shared that I didn't think about before. I still have a couple of weeks to see how it all plays out. I am hoping that it will be a go. Kim, Bets, Ashley and others with boots on the ground have been most helpful in giving us insight. While we are all strangers here, I do consider this forum as a travel family who for the most part, I think has everyone's best interest in mind. There is no one way of thinking, no right or wrong. Clearthe Air, I really hope you keep us updated on your family, and wish the young lady in the hospital a speedy recovery. I also wish everyone who moves forward with their travel plans to have a safe and fulfilling trip. Keep us posted!

Posted by
21067 posts

Today's news about vaccine efficacy is disappointing to say the least. This is a short article about a not-yet-peer-reviewed study conducted in July by the Mayo Clinic. (For non-Americans, that's generally considered one of the best diagnostic hospitals in the country.)

https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/mayo-clinic-covid-breakthrough-risk-may-be-much-lower-with-moderna-than-pfizer/ar-AANeSmO?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531

Efficacy against infection: Pfizer 42%, Moderna 76%

The vaccines' efficacy against serious disease/hospitalization/death is much, much higher, as has been previously reported. When thinking about possible risks of testing negative while away from home, this new information seems pertinent.

While not what anyone would be hoping for (except perhaps stockholders in vaccine manufacturers working on boosters), this information seems consistent with both the surges in case counts in highly vaccinated countries and the ongoing anecdotal reports of substantial numbers of infections (often asymptomatic) in vaccinated people.

Posted by
72 posts

I'm pretty sure the info I posted above from today's Chamber function was accurate. They were providing first-hand "boots on the ground" current real-time situations. And while some responses can present themselves as argumentative, the medical professionals today were sharing information with the community that needed to be heard. They spoke of how important it is to continue to wear masks in a crowd while probably 75% of the people in the room were maskless, which shocked them (and me). I also look at what was presented and factor it in with my decision to still consider moving forward with my trip as long as there are no major changes in France. And just because they will let me in doesn't mean it's in my (or their) best interest a month from now. A lot can happen either way in the next couple of weeks. Not everything is false info, or subjective. People present info, and it is your responsibility to sift through all the information out there to make a decision for yourself. But we have to educate ourselves, and if posters have info to share, to me it's worth reading and up to me to investigate what was written. I suspect the Texas Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic vet their info. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, the Level 4 travel advisory for both countries will drop.

Quick note: Just went to Insuremytrip.com and talked with an agent there. I inquired about traveling to a Level 4 country (France) and what type of coverage I could get. I was told I could be eligible for medical coverage but cancellation resulting from the travel advisory would not be covered. If things got worse, they would not cover the cancellation. She recommended one plan of all the covid plans offered that would cover quarantine. PM me for more info. She mentioned the plan would only cover up to $2,000 per person in quarantine lodging, which really isn't bad. If two were traveling, the other person would have to return home or pay out of pocket for staying (assuming you tested positive last test before returning home) Our quote was $353 or $600 for anytime cancellation.

Posted by
230 posts

Efficacy against infection: Pfizer 42%, Moderna 76%

I got the Pfizer shots in March, and I intend to get a Moderna booster - either when boosters are approved for my cohort, or on my own if they prohibit "mix and match" boosters in the US.

Posted by
5784 posts

Yes, check your medical insurance coverage and limits for foreign travel. Also check on your medical evacuation coverage in the event you are a hospitalized long hauler. And does your non-hospitalized travel companion have any insurance coverge hanging around while you recover sufficiently to self-evacuate?

For those of us on Medicare, Medicare does not cover medical care outside of the US and US territories. Some supplemental medicare policies cover up to a life time amount of $50,000 but that amount is reimbursement and you would need to file a claim after paying the foreign medical care provider.

Posted by
4 posts

We returned Aug. 10 from two weeks in mostly France (small jaunt into Germany for two days at the end). Myself, my husband and our 18 year old daughter and we are vaccinated (hubby and I Moderna, daughter Pfizer). When we left home, France was still at a low level and things were looking great. We had a wonderful trip! We are not ones for typical travel, so we did not do Paris or some other big places. Instead we did one night in Chartres, 5 in a gite in the Dordogne village of Eymet, 3 in a gite in a very small hamlet in Burgundy, 2 in the heart of Colmar in a rental, and then two nights in Germany at motels. My take aways (and no, there were no cerfews--we arrived in France July 28 and left for Germany Aug. 8):
*We saw almost no tour busses (three total the whole trip) and almost no tour groups (two total the whole trip).

*We heard almost no English or other languages being spoken. Then French were vacationing in France, few outside tourists.

*Most French (again we did not do Paris, Varsailles, etc but we did do Lyon, Colmar, and other sites) do not speak English. They were much happier with my very poor French and our Google Translate than trying English.
*Mask wearing was 100% for indoors, and very common outdoors. Mostly medical style (paper ones either the pleated or N95)--in Germany these are required (no cloth ones allowed).
*We were allowed in museums and larger wine estates but only with proof of vaccination--our US cards worked just fine. Our airport hotel also required it.
*We drove from France into Germany without any trouble. I expected some sort of stop as Germany (at the time we traveled, anyway) was requiring proof of full vaccination for travelers entering, but it was just like pre-Covid.
*Everything was open---there was nothing we wanted to do but could not due to closure. Restaurants were open indoors and out. Some did ask for contact tracing info for indoor dining. Now there may have been things we were not interested in that were not open, but we did not encounter any.
*Getting our Covid tests to return home was very easy, and I booked them well in advance. You can do it at the CDG airport, but I chose to have appointments for while we were in Strasbourg (they have facilities all over cities, and I chose one just a 5 min. walk to the Cathedral) so it was 3 days before our departure, and they emailed us the results which we were able to show at the airport. Cost was 45 euros each, if I recall.
*To fly home (CDG) we arrived 2 1/2 hours before our flight time and only got on the place during final boarding! Our return flight originated on Lufstansa (even though all the flights were booked through United) and the ap did not allow us to upload our Covid results nor purchase luggage check, so there is a huge line at the airport to do all this when you first arrive. That alone took over 1 1/2 hours, plus TSA, etc.

In all I am thrilled we were able to travel. I see now some others did not have such a pleasant experience. Maybe we were lucky but I am very grateful. It really nourished my soul.

Elena

*

Posted by
498 posts

Thank you, Acraven. Very informative. I had just decided this morning to not meet with anyone, even outside without us both being masked. I felt like I just didn't have enough information about the Delta variant and vaccinated people. So much for the big block party that's planned for this Saturday. My husband and I have been debating about whether or not to go. We really miss seeing our neighbors. I've heard some wisdom about picking your poison, i.e. if you go to a bar don't go to church, if you go to school don't go to a restaurant. Unfortunately, my hearts desire is to travel to France. I would give up all restaurants, bars, churches and school and, for that matter block parties if I could just go to France. I am very very much hoping, due to vaccinations as well as many more people being infected that there might be some sort of herd immunity by next spring. That said, it does my heart good to read about everyone's travels.

Posted by
72 posts

Wow...this thread is certainly giving me pause for thought. I've already cancelled a trip to Italy this summer (indeed, I'd be there right now if I hadn't changed my plans, and now wishing I'd gone since showing national vax certification doesn't seem to be a problem at all - the regs were due to change the day I arrived, so was nervous about that), and am thinking about a week in Paris for September in lieu of that. I am fully vaccinated.

I am sorry for those who have had family members fall ill, and it certainly makes one reconsider. But the fact is, certain countries are allowing tourists right now - that window may close again for another 6 months to a year. I am fully vaccinated so am not worried about testing positive (although I know that is a possibility). I'll deal with it if it happens. I guess it really is a roulette wheel right now for traveling internationally. I've been encouraged by this forum recently, but now, not so much.

Posted by
165 posts

This thread so very helpful, even if it’s up and down and sideways. The many thoughtful and detailed posts…I long to hear what others hear and read. And also their experiences and that of others. I feel all of you are cautious and lean toward vetted arcticles, seminars and studies. I understand your factors for decisions. I tend to be hopeful….But also am a realist. Still not quite cancelling…yet…for Oct 1st to France. I lhave always followed closely our US epidemiologists from Covid Day #1. This Delta variant was no surprise…however this surge has taken off earlier than the “fall” predictions. Tough time for schools beginning! Possibly this surge will turn the corner soon? Hopefully! The US has tended to follow Europe by several weeks. Maybe soon France and Europe’s rates improve and are downgraded again as more are vaxed. If continue red we won’t go. We’ll see how these next few weeks play out. Hope and help for the many that do struggle and suffer!!

Posted by
659 posts

Elena, thank you for the details! So glad you had a wonderful trip.

Posted by
152 posts
  1. The US as a whole has more active cases per million than does any EU country. (I got the data yesterday and processed it myself) - so its not just "parts" of the US. So I think you are at less risk to get the virus in EU than US.

  2. As sad as Clean's story is, it is a single instance, and it would be nice to hear of many stories, or better yet statistics to get an idea. Its like one person saying they got struck by lightning playing golf, and everyone cancelling their golf games. I am sure it happened, but there may be unusual circumstances.

Posted by
152 posts

Regarding what Elena said ...things might be far worse in the fall and winter - and so this might be your last window to go before harsher lockdowns

Posted by
8291 posts

“Efficacy against infection: Pfizer 42%, Moderna 76%”

That’s not what I’ve been reading.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.businessinsider.com/pfizer-vaccine-efficacy-dropped-when-delta-became-dominant-study-2021-8%3famp

This quote from this link is regarding Delta variant breakthrough cases.

“Over the course of the study in Minnesota, Moderna's vaccine was found to be 86% effective against a COVID-19 infection while Pfizer's was 76% effective. Both were also highly effective against hospitalization (Moderna 91.6%, Pfizer 85%), ICU admission (Moderna 93.3%, Pfizer 87%), and death from COVID-19 (no cases found).”

You can keep reading different sources on the efficacy rates of Pfizer and Moderna against the Delta variant.

https://www.google.com/search?q=pfizer+vaccine+efficacy&client=safari&sxsrf=ALeKk00q-VExxuP6YvnEkgMlhxPMTjEqRQ%3A1628875740032&source=hp&ei=26sWYbuNPNrK0PEPoL-smAU&oq=pfizer+vaccine+effi&gs_lcp=ChFtb2JpbGUtZ3dzLXdpei1ocBABGAAyCwgAEIAEELEDEIMBMgsIABCABBCxAxCDATIICAAQgAQQsQMyCwgAEIAEELEDEIMBMgsIABCABBCxAxCDATIFCAAQgAQyBQgAEIAEMgUIABCABDoHCCMQ6gIQJzoHCC4Q6gIQJzoNCC4QxwEQrwEQ6gIQJzoECCMQJzoLCC4QgAQQxwEQowI6CAguELEDEIMBOg4ILhCABBCxAxDHARDRAzoOCC4QgAQQsQMQxwEQowI6EQguEIAEELEDEIMBEMcBEKMCOgUILhCABDoICAAQgAQQyQM6BQgAEJIDOgsIABCABBCxAxDJA1C5DVjNUGD8c2gCcAB4AIAB6gGIAdoOkgEGMTQuNC4xmAEAoAEBsAEP&sclient=mobile-gws-wiz-hp

I was listening to an infectious disease doc on KCBS Radio yesterday who said the research is showing that most, if not all, breakthrough cases are a result of vaccinated people, thinking they are 100% protected, engaging in risky behavior… ie, not wearing a mask indoors, not washing their hands often, being indoors and outdoors in large crowds of people, etc. He said if you wear a mask indoors, avoid crowded situations indoors even with a mask, wash your hands often, your chances of getting a breakthrough case is basically zero.

Posted by
21067 posts

I would argue that at this point, it's really the effectiveness against Delta that matters, because that's what we're dealing with now. The original trials found 94% efficacy, but that was a different world.

If a study is done in such a way that it tends to sample people who are seriously ill, or even just symptomatic, versus the general population, I'd expect it to show better efficacy, because we know the vaccines are very effective in preventing serious infection. But for a traveler who has to test negative to come home, any level of infection can be quite a big deal, with financial and possibly even employment implications.

Posted by
8291 posts

I agree with you, my post is regarding the Delta variant.

Posted by
33 posts

The Pfizer vaccine was approved before Moderna and given to the most vulnerable population (nursing homes and hospitals) and that study didn't account for that difference so I wouldn't pay too much attention to it. Bottom line is everyone who travels is at risk of a positive test that you better have a plan for.

Posted by
8291 posts

Good point about the study being skewed.

Everyone who travels is at risk of getting sick with any number of illnesses, as I did and mentioned above, and you’d better have a plan for it.

Posted by
12886 posts

Exactly, I heard the same KCBS news report.

Bottom line is just keep the mask on regardless whether you're outdoors or indoors, unless you are in a place where no one else is around and do all the other safety measures. It's mandated here now...good.

Posted by
8291 posts

Thank you for posting that you heard it too Fred.

Posted by
103 posts

Hi all,
France and Italy are our favorite Western European countries so after hanging out on the Italy forum for months I decided to check out what's being discussed here and share our current situation which will sound familiar to all.

The ever changing landscape of covid. Because of the covid variant and the need to test negative before reentering the US we decided to cancel our international travel plans which was to be two months of travel within Italy that included an OAT tour of Sicily. We were to have departed mid September.

As you know, if you test positive before returning to the US you have to quarantine for 10 days in a hotel room and cannot leave, meals are delivered to you (at least in Italy) and if you again test positive at the end of the 10 days you quarantine for another 7 after which you're allowed to return. We are fully vaccinated, however, with break through infections becoming more commonplace we just weren't comfortable with that protocol. We're disappointed -- but it was wishful or aspirational thinking and realizing of course this is a first world problem.
Instead, we're traveling to SF (where we're from) for an extended period of time to be with family and friends and hang out in an area we love. We feel comfortable and safe there with people taking covid protocols seriously and being respectful of one another.
Wishing everyone good luck with their planning and wherever your spirit takes you.

Posted by
165 posts

Thank you for Mark-Arlene. I agree and I so enjoyed the Italy forum also all year…but that trip got cancelled in June. Switched to book a France river cruise and forum also. After your thoughtful reply I am likely to change gears…again. I have up to 2 wks prior to cancel cruise for full refund that begins in Oct. Even if vaxed and follow all protocol….the risk of a pos test the biggest concern. And cruises test quite frequently as they should! Yikes! Plan C is Maine coast for our 45 anniversary this fall. And yes… this is a first world concern!

Posted by
2914 posts

Regarding the golf comparison above, it does not work. 1. Every golfer I know gets off the course when a thunder storm approaches…or finds a shed. 2. The different numbers of people getting covid vs struck by lightening can’t be compared…and yet sensible people get off the course; no shame in people deciding this is not the time to travel to a red location.

I also don’t think it matters if numbers are equal or worse here…if you get sick, do you want to be in a foreign country? How would that look and feel? What do you need to do before hand to prepare for the worse scenario? It is part of proper planning for travel these days.

Posted by
258 posts

We’ve been in france since the 1st. Leaving today. It was a wonderful two weeks. You need a Pass Sanitaire or CDC card & passport to go into museums and restaurants ( unlike our home city). Everyone wears masks inside unless they’re eating. We stayed out of the subway but used buses ( everyone masked). We’ve been vaccinated and feel like we’d rather risk Covid than stay home. But we’re in our 70s and may not be able to do this much longer. Everyone has to do what’s right for them.

Posted by
15 posts

Thank you all for all these comments and for CleartheAir and others sharing specifically about break through cases. We are planning on traveling to a Chateau for 2 week art artist residency that was postponed from last year. Scheduled to travel mid Sept. We have plans to stay in Paris on the way there and on the way home.

This thread has led us to have some serious conversations about whether to go or not. We are artists on sabbatical so a delay won’t be terrible but it would be really inconvenient! BUT medical complications would NOT be good.
On a side note, not all airline crew members are vaccinated and not being tested regularly.
So technically trying to problem solved where you contracted it is quite impossible. I’m feeling like this will be with us for awhile and it becomes a daily risk assessment.
Again, thanks for input, also from those who are traveling successfully. It will all go into our decisions on whether to attend or not.