- How to get a Government-approved day two test
- The 20 most beautiful corners of France
- France lifts UK travel ban from Friday
- Full details to be published in a decree on Friday
France will lift its ban on UK holidaymakers, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has announced, giving the green light to thousands ski holidays.
From Friday morning, British travellers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter France if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure. Full details will be published in a decree on Friday.
Today’s news comes as a great relief for skiers and travel firms as the peak of the winter season approaches. “Resorts have been crying out for the UK restrictions to be dropped since day one, and we’re certainly glad to see them ease now, whilst we still have two especially busy periods ahead with half-term and Easter,” said Richard Longsdon, founder of the Oxford Ski Company.
“At the end of the day, we’re not here as a business to play a political game, we simply want our clients to be safe and be able to enjoy what is already a formidable season in French resorts.”
The ban, which came into force on December 18 and shattered festive holiday plans, has been called ‘pointless and discriminatory’ by industry bosses, who fear many skiers have been forced to switch alliance and will now ski elsewhere in the likes of Switzerland or Italy.
“The whole ski industry has been praying France would bring an end to their pointless and discriminatory ban, with customers already booked waiting on tenterhooks,” said Richard Sinclair, managing director of specialist agent SNO.
“Tens of thousands of customers, previously loyal to skiing in France, have booked holidays in the other big Alpine nations over the last month, so this will have caused long-term damage.”
Scroll down for the latest updates.
France travel ban has done ‘untold damage to Eurostar and airlines’
Amidst the celebrations of the the end of the French travel ban, some in the travel industry are lamenting that it continued for so long.
Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency and former Director of Eurostar, said:
At last France has reversed its damaging position on entry for UK visitors. It is a policy which has wiped out holidays and family visits for so many people during the crucial Christmas and New Year period. It hurt both UK and French citizens and has done untold damage to businesses, including Eurostar, small tour operators and airlines, especially in the ski sector. Border closures never, ever work – they don’t prevent infection spread and they don’t help economies.
The re-opening of borders from tomorrow will now enable things to pick up for the latter half of the ski season, as well as help families see each other again across France. I hope the French look back at the policy and realise that it achieved absolutely nothing, apart from cause immense emotional and financial stress on both sides of the Channel.
How France’s Covid passes work
Everyone in France who is aged 12 and over needs to demonstrate their Covid status using the Pass Sanitaire in order to access services and venues.
This includes leisure facilities, such as bars, restaurants, museums and cinemas, as well as public transport. Travellers can access the pass via the TousAntiCovid app, provided they have certification of full vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid, or a negative test taken within 24 hours. France recognises the NHS Covid Pass for this purpose. The TousAntiCovid app can be downloaded on Android or iPhones.
If you have the app, there is an option to ‘Scan a QR code’ from your test or vaccination certificate. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can show the proof on paper.
However, this print out must include a QR code. French Prime Minister Jean Castex has also pledged to introduce a law in January, which would make vaccination near-mandatory for visiting public venues, and prohibit access with just a negative test.
From January 15, those who are aged 18-64 years old and who have been fully vaccinated for more than seven months will need to demonstrate they have received an approved booster injection in order to access the pass in France. This also applies to visiting tourists and those residing in France, and tighter rules currently apply for those aged over 65.
France no longer offers free tests for tourists, so there is a charge of €29 (£25) for an antigen test and €49 (£42) for each PCR test. The test must be taken in France, so you cannot use the pre-travel test for entry to venues.
France reopening to British holidaymakers is ‘a shot in the arm’ for ski companies’
A travel chief has spoken of the importance of France’s reopening for the UK winter sports industry, highlighting that almost a million British skiers head to France on an average season
James Gambrill, general manager of the Ski Club of Great Britain:
The news of France reopening to British holidaymakers is an important ‘shot in the arm’ for the UK winter sports industry. Whilst this season is very much underway in Italy, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere France remains the single most popular destination for UK skiers with close to a million choosing to ski there in an average season.
Availability is tight for the peak dates such as the February half-term but there are still some spaces especially in smaller resorts, and for the rest of the season plenty of opportunities to book, but we do expect demand to be very high, especially coupled with the easing of the return restrictions into the UK which itself provoked a significant increase in bookings and enquiries.
At the Ski Club we are still incredibly busy with enquiries both for our own Fresh Tracks holiday programme and for members travelling independently and with other operators. We expect demand to only increase with this news.
Was the ban even necessary? That debate will roll on, every nation has to make the choices to protect their citizens and it does seem that for this omicron driven wave France may have been a few weeks behind the UK, but as we have seen in every instance since the pandemic began international travel restrictions especially between neighbouring countries have been very ineffective at containing outbreaks.
A combination of vaccines and sensibly considered testing requirements does seem to be the most sensible and effective way forward to both keep borders open and everyone in every country as safe as possible.
Why Paris should be your first city break this year
With trips across the Channel possible once again, it’s time for Britain to reignite its love affair with the French capital, writes Eleanor Aldridge.
Alluring and infuriating in equal measure, Paris is a city that takes seconds to fall in love with and a lifetime to understand. There’s nowhere else quite like it.
I fall under its spell from the moment I step off the Eurostar. My heart skips a beat to the mêlée of blaring horns, taxi touts and chaotic terrasses. I even love the smell. It’s the scent of crumbling Haussmanian stone, of grainy espressos half-drunk on wobbly tables, of dusty pavements and faintly wafting cigarette smoke.
In Paris you always have permission to order a glass of wine at lunch, to spend an afternoon reading in a sunny window seat, to critique the latest exhibition as if you’ve studied the great masters for decades.
Here, you’re free to be yourself. Parisians don’t hide their emotions or kowtow to social niceties. They protest, argue and speak directly. They stay out late and don’t apologise for it the next day.
France lifts travel ban reaction: ‘Snow conditions in the Alps are near perfect’
The ski industry is reacting to the welcome news that France will finally lift its ban on UK tourists.
Charles Owen, Managing director Seasonal Businesses in Travel:
This is very welcome news not only for the thousands of UK holidaymakers and people visiting friends and family in France, but also for the thousands of UK ski tour operators that have been in an effective shutdown for 22 months,.
There is huge demand for travel and the industry can be a vital engine contributing to the recovery of the UK economy. Snow conditions in the Alps are near perfect and we expect demand for holidays to be very high over the next few weeks.