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Pass Sanitaire: whats the definition of long distance travel?

Many many sources say the Pass Sanitaire will be required for long distance travel on trains and buses.
I'm trying to find out exactly what long distance means.
I have a US CDC card which is not automatically convertable to a digital PS, quite a few people had managed to get one converted at pharmacies but the French government has just instructed all pharmacies they must no longer do so.
So I'm making the assumption that I can't get an electronic PS, and that trains etc. won't accept/recognize a CDC card, leaving no option but to get frequent tests every couple of days is travelling long distance.

And from there comes the question - what is the definition of long distance, does anybody, including the government/authoritiest themselves actually know?
Its said one isn't required for the Paris metro but I'm only spending a day or two in Paris so not interested in that, its elsewhere withing France I'm interested in. For example if tranvelling from Strasborge to Colmar is that long distance, what about Bordeax to Sarlat or Sarlat to Albi. Has the government actually defined any of this?

Posted by
6823 posts

Is your flight to France coming up in the next coming days or weeks or months? You may get more of a clear answer to your questions from the forum if you say what day you are scheduled to arrive in France.

Posted by
12 posts

I leave on Aug 7th, planning to start travelling around France on the 9th. So just exactly as things are comming into effect.

I just came accross this: https://www.connexionfrance.com/French-news/Health-pass-needed-in-TGVs-planes-and-coaches-in-France-by-August-10

"Local buses, TER trains and trams will not be concerned by the measure. It will relate to long-distance trains such as TGVs and Intercités as well as to inter-regional coach trips and internal flights."

How to I find out which are TER trains? If I get a train from Paris <-> Strasborg, Paris<->Bordeax, that will be intercity so it'll be required for that.

But if I travel around the Dordogne for example (such as Bordeaux->Saint-Emilion->Bergerac->Sarlat, Brive->Figeac->Toulouse). Or around Strasborge (such as Strasbourg->Colmar->Mulhouse) are these TER trains?

Posted by
6823 posts

Bordeaux to Sarlat is a TER
So is Strasbourg to Colmar.
You have to go back to Bordeaux to get to Albi via Toulouse. Bordeaux to Toulouse is a TGV or IC. Toulouse to Albi is a TER.
Sorry you are traveling in France exactly when the rules are changing and not set as France is fighting the spread of Covid while trying to save the travel industry.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for your replies.

I was thinking I could get to Albi by making my way slowly along this route Sarlat -> by BlaBlaCar to Brive or bus to Souillac then train to Brive ->Figeac->Najac->change at Gaillac->Albi. Then Albi->Toulouse->Paris). Presumably this is all TER except Toulouse->Paris.

How do you know what is TER and what is not? Is there some web site its easy to look at to find out? (I've been using here to look at all the routes https://www.sncf-reseau.com/sites/default/files/2019-04/MEP_POSTER_avril2019_POUR_LE_WEB.PDF)

Posted by
6823 posts

I have been to Sarlat from Bordeaux using TER. Both are in the region Novelle Aquitaine
I have been to Colmar on a day trip from Strasbourg. Both are in the region of Alsace.
I have been to Toulouse but not Albi but I know it is in the same region of Occitanie. It is only about 30 minutes from Toulouse.
All regions have TER (Transport Express Regional) trains. And each actually have their own websites. Though they may not have a English option like the general ouisncf site.
For example: https://m.ter.sncf.com/occitanie
I have been to France about 10 times over 20 years. I was in the region of Haute Savoie last week, I crossed the border into Italy last Wednesday where I am currently in Florence. I just got my negative Covid test to fly back to Chicago on Tuesday. You will need that also probably if the rules don't change. I actually got a Covid test in France last Monday at a pharmacy to be able to attend a jazz festival in Chamonix Mont Blanc. It will cost around 29 euros.

Posted by
3861 posts

Why, Ashley, it looks as if I planned my trip to go to those areas most heavily impacted by COVID. I don't arrive for a month or so, but. . . :(

Posted by
18739 posts

Martin, to check what type of train will be used for each departure you should probably use the SNCF website and pretend you're buying a ticket. Although a small town will have only TER service, there are some origin/destination pairs for which you might have a choice. The TGV train would be faster (assuming you don't have to transfer to a TER somewhere along the way and have a long layover) and usually (maybe always?) more expensive; that will not change. Under current rules it would also have stricter health measures, but as noted that could change.

When using the SNCF website, choose the date you expect to travel and adjust the time of day as well. I took a look at Strasbourg-Colmar for tomorrow. Most of the departures are TERs. There are few TGVs. I found one just listed as "OUIGO" (which is a less expensive option) with no indication of whether it is a TGV or TER. I would assume TGV.

Posted by
25560 posts

OUIGO is a cut price TGV service with extra restrictions, such as specific check in times, usually 30 minutes before booked time even if your train is running late, and luggage charges - sort of like a low cost airline on rails.

Posted by
411 posts

Thanks Ashley and Frank for the websites. It's good to know how various departments and France are faring. I take courage learning that France is figuring out a system whereby those of us from other parts of the world will be able to get the health pass. I always turn to the travel forum when I want to know what's really going on in Europe. So thanks everyone for posting.
Bon chance, Martin! Sounds like you have an ambitious itinerary. Be sure to spend some time around Sarlat and be sure not to miss Beynac and la Roque Gagiac. A canoe or kayak trip along the river is both delightful and easy. Albi is also 1 of my favorite places in France. It sounds like a wonderful trip!

Posted by
6387 posts

When you go to reserve any actual train, part of the information will be whether it is a TGV or TER (along with the train number).

OUIGOs are all TGVs.

Many many sources say the Pass Sanitaire will be required for long distance travel on trains and buses.

That’s because that is what the law says.

Posted by
189 posts

When I look at booking from Lazare to Bayuex, I see it’s a Nomad train. So I’m assuming I’m in the clear to not have to have a health passport to board. Right?

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you Kay. On Tripadvisor everybody says its impossible and crazy to go round Dordogne without a car, but there's some youtube vidoes of a couple of Canadian guys who did the same route. If one isn't in a hurry and has no set agenda and has the train and bus timetables to hand, then even if fairly sparse number of buses and trains I don't see why its impossible at all. But the current situation does add an element of uncertainty I could do without.

And thanks everybody else for all the info.

Posted by
7526 posts

St. Lazare station in Paris is not in the same region as Bayeux. So you would not be taking a regional train but an intercity. A health pass is needed

Posted by
18739 posts

I saw a good bit of the Dordogne in 2019 without a car. To make it work, I stayed in several different large towns, each of which had bus service to a smaller place I wanted to go. Those towns (including Perigueux, Brive-la-Gaillarde and Cahors) turned out to be very nice themselves. But many people have quite a list of really tiny places they want to go, and some of those have no public transportation at all, so it's really important to check out all the necessary links. In addition, because of the infrequency of the buses serving some of the tiny spots, you can't assume you can choose one base and day-trip to every place that has bus service. That might mean 6 or 8 hours on a bus to get to a little town with only 1 or 2 hours' worth of sightseeing.

Posted by
12 posts

Hello acravan
Were there any small towns you visited during your stay you would recommend?

Some of the small places that look interesting are places like La Roque Gageac, Beynac and Vezac.
Unfortunately none of these look reachable by neither train nor bus, and my wife can't ride a bike, so we may not be able to visit these. We're planning to base in Sarlat for some number of days, perhaps there might be a taxi (though expensive) from there, or the Sarlat tourism might have some suggestions, or maybe there's an airbnb nearby those which might be able to pick us up from Sarlat.
The trip will involve lots of planning but also some things like this where we won't know what/ifs possible until we arrive nearby.

But if you have any suggestions for places in the region to take a look that, that'd be most welcome.

TIA

Posted by
18739 posts

Martin, I'd suggest starting a new thread with a title like "What smaller towns can we see in the Dordogne without a car?" so you get input from more folks. Folks who've rented cars will not necessarily be sure about whether their favorite spots are accessible without a vehicle, but you can do an initial check on Rome2Rio to see whether there seems to be bus service from a nearby larger place. Just don't trust any of the details provided by Rome2Rio--not the bus fare, the travel time or the frequency. Use Rome2Rio as a starting point; drill down until you find the name of the bus company (supposedly) offering service. Usually there will be a link to its website.

I took a bus from Perigueux (handsome large town) to Brantome. Brantome was an attractive little place, but it wasn't really worth the effort. I arrived around noon and the weekly market had already closed up. I guess everyone was at home preparing lunch, because I was about the only person walking around. Not at all a bad place, but I think there are better options. Brantome is on flat land along a little river; it's not a hill town.

Sarlat would be a good base for a few days, I think. Even its Wednesday market was huge on a horribly rainy day; the Saturday market is said to be bigger. I would have liked to have a full day in town, but I balked at the cost of lodging and day-tripped from Bergerac (another attractive large town) instead. Take a look at a map of Sarlat to check the location of the train station vs. potential lodgings vs. the historic center. I recall a fairly long walk back to the train station.

Beynac is close to Sarlat, so I think it might be manageable by taxi. The distance seems to be about 7.5 miles. The trains weren't running at the time of my 2019 trip, so I took a replacement bus from Bergerac. As I recall, it passed very close to Beynac, but I don't think it went into the town. The TERs are running again, but there is no stop in Beynac. The question is: With rail service restored, are there still any buses into Sarlat that pass near Beynac? If there's still some bus service, It's possible you could hop off the Bergerac-bound bus and walk into Beynac.

I took a bus from Cahors (large town with nice historic center) that went fairly near St-Cirq-Lapopie. I was still left with a considerable walk, the last bit of which was uphill, but it felt like a safe walk. St-Cirq is very cute and atmospheric. I highly recommend it if the walk isn't too much for you and your wife.

I took a bus from Brive-la-Gaillarde (yet another nice large town) as close as I could get to Rocamadour. I had a very long walk (maybe 2 miles or more?), which turned out to be along a rural road with very little shoulder. Unfortunately, there was a beer festival on the outskirts of Rocamadour that day, so there was a lot of traffic on that road, and I was forever having to step into the weeds to avoid the risk of being hit. I would not recommend that anyone try Rocamadour by bus, because that walk was not safe. I believe the upper part of town (religious buildings) must be quite nice, but the lower part of the historic town is packed with cheap-religious-souvenir shops and tourist cafes. And tourists. It was a huge disappointment that my traffic-dodging had slowed me down so much that I could only see that unattractive area.

Also from Brive I day-tripped to Martel, an attractive small town that's definitely not as distinctive as St-Cirq. Martel is basically flat, so it might not be what you're picturing as a Dordogne village.

I suggest poking around on the internet to look for one-day bus tours going to multiple small villages like La Roque Gageac. I bet you'll find at least one option, but I don't know what the origin point(s) will be--maybe even Sarlat. Sarlat is very, very picturesque (and I'd like to stay there sometime), but it is very touristy, so there may be bus tours originating there.

TIA

Posted by
3861 posts

@Ashley, since you are more familiar with France than I, do you have any information on your source for information by department? I thought the information was quite useful and posted data from the same website yesterday, but Bets, is telling me that the information is unreliable. When I found the link by department yesterday, I thought it looked familiar and have been searching through forum posts to find when it had previous been posted. Perhaps you know about the organization providing the information or where I could find data from the French government. Bets, provided a phone app, that I'm finding a bit difficult to use for a few reasons.