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Questions about specifics of Covid testing in France

I know you can get tested in many pharmacies and that they're not overly expensive. However, I'm wondering about the specifics.
(Yes, I now about proctored tests I can bring with me.)

When you go to a French pharmacy for an antigen test to get on your flight to the US, does someone in the pharmacy swab you in the pharmacy?

Is it walk-in or should you make an appointment.

Do results arrive while you wait?

How are the results delivered in a form acceptable to the airline boarding folks? Is it just something on your phone (and do you need an app) or can you also a printed document (I'm paranoid about my phone failing and taking all my tickets, etc. -- 30 years in the computer industry taught me not to trust computers too much).

If I want a test during my trip for my own information (i.e., not to board a plane) can I buy rapid tests to bring back to my hotel?

Thanks!

Posted by
14288 posts

When you go to a French pharmacy for an antigen test to get on your flight to the US, does someone in the pharmacy swab you in the pharmacy?

—> Yes. The pharmacist swabbed me. They had a little private corner set up. I sat down, tipped my head back when she motioned me to and that was that.

Is it walk-in or should you make an appointment.
—> The particular pharmacy I went to near my hotel did not have appointments. I went in the day before I needed it to ask. Some have a sign in the window stating when they do testing and whether reservations are requested.

Do results arrive while you wait?
—> Some pharmacies are pretty small. At the one I went to she asked me to go walk around the block and come back in 15 minutes. I did and she had the results when I walked in the door about 20 minutes later.

How are the results delivered in a form acceptable to the airline boarding folks? Is it just something on your phone (and do you need an app) or can you also a printed document (I'm paranoid about my phone failing and taking all my tickets, etc. -- 30 years in the computer industry taught me not to trust computers too much).
—> Without my asking the pharmacist had already printed out the official form stating I was “negatif”. She knew it was for return travel back to the US. I have seen some say they’ve gotten phone results but mine was paper.

If I want a test during my trip for my own information (i.e., not to board a plane) can I buy rapid tests to bring back to my hotel?
—> I’ve not done this yet bit I’ve seen posts indicating the tests are readily available. When are you traveling? Asking because I will probably go in next week to purchase some unless testing requirements change and I can let you know my experience.

You didn’t ask… but the small pharmacies are literally everywhere. Within a couple of blocks of my hotel area I can think of 5 locations that are a 5-7 minute walk. If you go to google street view and walk the area where you are staying you can spot the green crosses. All the ones I’ve walked by in Paris in the last week all still are doing antigen tests. I’m in Colmar right now and passed 2 pharmacies today in my ramble that are doing testing without appointments. I wasn’t even looking, just walked by.

Posted by
18 posts

We tested at a pharmacy near our hotel. We did not need an appointment. At the register they had a QWERTY code to scan which led you to an app to enter your name and contact details, they gave us our receipt and sent us to the testing tent just outside the store. The attendant in the test helped make sure we entered the information correctly (you skip the social security detail as that is for French residents). After getting swabbed we received the results via email in less than 15 minutes.

In our case we were positive, but we did get multiple emails including a printable document. I was able to download and save the document to Google drive and the hotel was able to print it for us, along with our recovery letters so we could fly (7 days later than originally planned).

We did not try to buy rapid tests their, but I would recommend bringing tests from home, and testing regularly.

Posted by
8244 posts

I have done it twice. Last fall walked in and only had to wait for one transaction before my husband and I were swabbed filled out paperwork etc. We went to the market for 15 minutes, came back and had the paperwork including QR code which we then uploaded to the airline. Cost 25 each.

Just did it this week to send my granddaughter to the US. This pharmacy had a tent outside doing local testing -- since we don't have French health care, we went in and paid (20 Euro this time) and got a paper and went out to the tent where they swabbed her and did the test. The results were available 15 minutes later and they gave us a printout but this one didn't have the QR code; they had us download that from some central site that they had sent the link via email to. We loaded that to the airline site.

Pretty easy and straightforward.

FWIW. We tested her the day before with a home test in case we might have to organize a doctor for a doctor's note: I didn't want to have to start that process on Easter weekend.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks for a very helpful reply.

We have tickets to Paris for next week that we can cancel for full credit ("eCredit" with Delta) and are trying to weigh the odds of getting stuck. Looking at declining rates in France but maybe maskless flights make rates at your destination a moot point. Irrational as it is, I've even though "well, getting it on the plane over might be better than finding out the day before you're due to come home".

Pam, how does it feel to be over there now? Are folks generally wearing masks? (Crazy as it is, sometimes when everyone is wearing a mask I feel more at risk. Make no sense, I know.)

Posted by
27 posts

Travelcat, how did you get the recovery document? Telemedicine or local doctor? Also, if you don't mind my asking, did you have any insurance that paid for the extra time you had to spend in France?

Thanks!

Posted by
14288 posts

Rob, it feels great to be here. BUT the only places people are masked are in the Metro and on trains. A few masks in museums, none outside except me, none in restaurants.

I am wearing N95s all the time except when I am eating/drinking. I met up a couple of times with wonderful and interesting groups of friends where I did not wear a mask. I have found it very crowded in Paris even in the garden areas and here in Colmar the streets are pretty full of tourists.

I brought 2 test kits with me for a total of 4 tests. I used 1 a few days after arrival as I was having major allergy symptoms and wanted to make sure it was allergies vs covid. I was negative (so it apparently was blooming chestnut trees, lol). Plus the older woman seated ahead of me on the plane had her mask off most of the time and was complaining loudly that she thought she might he getting sick due to the chilly temps on the plane. I’ll use another one next week, then I’ll do one before I join up with a Road Scholar tour. I want to have one or 2 available to do before the end of the tour to make sure I am negative before the official one at the end, as Janet did with their granddaughter.

Besides masking I am doing a couple of things to try and help me avoid picking up any bugs.

Btw, Hand gel is still very much in evidence at hotels, museums and restaurants.

Posted by
9902 posts

Rob, to fill in the one part of your question that Pam couldn't answer as she hasn't experienced it yet — yes, self-test kits are readily available for purchase in pharmacies. I bought a couple more the other day. I can’t remember what I paid, but maybe €3.90 each.

Otherwise, you can trust what she said, she described everything exactly right.

Posted by
8244 posts

Pam -- even with mask rules and almost total compliance on our flight there was a woman right in front of me positively braying most of the flight maskless - spewing whatever germs she might have had. And we are really getting hit by allergies too. Lots of men on the metro with their noses hanging out and few people masked in stores. We are masking indoors most places and of course on transport -- so far so good.

Our granddaughter wore a cloth child size mask while here and tested negative to go home. We all have our fingers crossed.

Posted by
18 posts

We got our recovery documents through QuickMD, I’ve been meaning to update my original post with details. It was an easy process, download the app, fill out your details and request an appointment. We were able to secure same day video appointments. The time zone was a bit confusing, I selected times that would work for us in either EST or CEST because I was not sure which zone was being displayed - turned out to be CEST (Paris time) which was perfect. The appointments were $75 each, the recovery doc was emailed to us within half an hour.

Using a French doctor would have been cheaper but I was too stressed to want to navigate that.

We did have travel insurance, booked through Allianz with our flight, and that should cover most of our extra expenses - but I’m still processing all the paperwork!

Posted by
27 posts

What was the remote appointment like? Did they ask for your original test and just ask questions about symptoms?

Posted by
10369 posts

They only need to count the days. My doctor in France just counted the days from my positive test and asked about my fever and other symptoms. Then he wrote the letter so I could fly to the US. 25€.

Many credit cards have referral services to doctors, dentists, and other medical services when you are away from home. We’ve always used referrals from our hotels or landlords.

Posted by
14288 posts

even with mask rules and almost total compliance on our flight there was a woman right in front of me positively braying most of the flight maskless - spewing whatever germs she might have had

Janet if I didn’t know for sure you flew from Chicago and me from Seattle I’d have thought we were seated behind the same woman! My word…there are 2 of them loose on the world!

Posted by
70 posts

Bets, the US requires 10 days of isolation but I think it's different for France. Had you already done your 10 days when you went to the doctor? Is it possible to get the letter of recovery at 7 (or is it 5?) days after the positive PCR test? If you get the letter a few days before your flight, it's still in force at the time of your flight, right?

I'm so muddled about this I might not even have my questions right, so any clarification will help. I'm kind of resigned to coming down with covid, hopefully a very mild case, on our upcoming trip and if I have to get it, I'd like to time it just right. Like that's possible.

Posted by
10369 posts

As soon as we received our results, we made our doctor's appointments for the day after quarantine ended. It was back in November with the Delta variant, so quarantine was 10 days. I don't know what the timeline is now.

The letter is valid for 90 days since it was considered that you could continue to test positive for up to 90 days even if you are recovered. Today, with the vaccine and boosters, most people test negative much more quickly.

You probably won't get COVID. I've been back in France for two months, am out and about daily, wear a surgical mask indoors and double mask sometimes, and all I have is allergies--like a bunch of other people right now. (Yes, I tested to be sure.)

Posted by
153 posts

We just got back from Paris this afternoon, and at the boarding line for our Air France flight to Houston there was a young woman who understood for the 1st time that a covid test is required for entry to the United States. She was not allowed on the flight and was astounded that "nobody had told her that she had to be tested to come home." Air France sent notifications and information about the US and Frence requirements and even a link to the US site stating the requirement. For the return flight home there was a form with requirements with ways to drag and drop files with the necessary information onto their forms. When completed, we received a "ready to fly" notification and the "ready to fly" notification was on our boarding pass we received by e-mail from Air France which we printed at our hotel. We went to a neighborhood pharmacy to get the test without a reservation and the cost was 20 Euros each. After the swabbing, they told us to leave, and they would e-mail the results. My e-mail results didn't arrive, so I went back and got a paper form which I photographed so I had a jpeg image I used the jpeg image to drag and drop to the AF form.