Holidays in France this summer: what you need to know

To allow you to explore or re-explore France in complete safety this summer, tourism professionals are working hard to put relevant and effective health measures in place. Here's an overview.

The health situation in France has improved significantly in recent weeks, leading public authorities to allow holiday departures this summer, to anywhere in the country.

Since June 15, the entire French territory (with the exception of Mayotte and Guyana) has now moved into the 'green zone'. This means the full reopening of cafés, bars and restaurants in Ile-de-France, of which only terraces were open since June 2, in compliance with social distancing measures and the health protocol applicable to this sector.

The government has published a poster stating 'Our establishment is committed' which all professionals can display at the entrance to their establishment, subject to having implemented the measures and recommendations to ensure customer safety.

The poster is available to download here (External link) .

The main health measures taken by tourism professionals

Transport

There are no longer any restrictions on movement on French territory. However, pre-booking and wearing a mask (from the departure station to the arrival station) are compulsory for access to SNCF TGV, TER and Intercités trains. Airlines are imposing mask wearing at the airport and on board. Hand sanitising gel is distributed free of charge at stations and airports.

Air France
SNCF (External link)
Paris airports (External link)

Accommodation

Hotels, guesthouses, campsites and other group accommodation are now open without restriction across the country. All accommodation is adhering to strict health protocol as approved by the government. In addition, certain French hotel chains have private labels attesting to their health measures (disinfection, flow limitation, use of floor markings for social distancing, etc.), such as that developed by Accorhotels with Bureau Veritas.
Erecting plexiglass screens in common areas and keeping a tally of the number of people present in a specific place at any one time are additional hygiene measures taken by campsites and groups such as Pierre & Vacances-Center Parcs, to allow everyone to enjoy a peaceful, stress-free holiday in France.
At campsites, swimming pools will be fully disinfected and staff are trained in the necessary health measures, highlights the National Federation of Outdoor Hotels. Hand sanitising gel and masks will also be distributed. Campsites also have flow systems in place, even in their open spaces.
Summer camps were permitted to restart from June 22.

Hotel, café and restaurant sector: official health protocol (French only) (External link)
Campsite and leisure park sector: official health protocol (French only) (External link)
Good practice guide for tourist accommodation and holiday rentals (French only) (External link)
Good practice guide for tourist residences, clubs and holiday villages (External link)

Beaches, lakes, other bodies of water and aquatic activity centres

French beaches have been open to the public again since June 2, as have lakes and aquatic activity centres. Whether by the sea or lake, static activities are still prohibited for the moment. So you can jog, swim or go paddleboarding or surfing, but you can't sunbathe or read for now. However, these rules are likely to change during phase 3 of the lockdown easing (up to July 13).

Swimming pools

Swimming pools and other watersport complexes reopened to the public on June 2 in the 'green zone', and on June 22 in the 'orange zone'. Special water treatment measures with chlorine or additional ultraviolet radiation are being taken, online booking is compulsory, entry to the pool is in small groups, and social distancing must be observed in changing rooms.

Shopping and shopping centres

Most shops reopened on June 2 with specific health measures: social distancing, mask wearing, hand sanitising gel and limited customer numbers. In the 'orange zone', the opening of any centres exceeding 70,000 square metres may be prohibited by the town in question.

Bars, cafés and restaurants

Bars, cafés and restaurants reopened in the 'green zone' on June 2. In the 'orange zone', only outdoor terraces and outdoor spaces have been permitted to reopen to date. Delivery, takeaway and room service activities are also available. Strict health rules are in force throughout France: a maximum of 10 people per table, a metre's distance between each table, and mandatory mask wearing for staff and for customers when moving around the establishment.

Theatres and performance spaces

Behind the scenes, activities resumed on May 11, when performers were able to restart rehearsals. Theatres and other performance spaces then reopened on June 2 in the 'green zone' and on June 22 in the 'orange zone'. Mask wearing is compulsory and social distancing measures (such as blocking out seats between each spectator) have been put in place to ensure public safety.

Sources (French only): Service-public.fr (External link) and Gouvernement.fr (External link)

Festivals and concerts

Festivals and concerts this summer will have a special atmosphere: only 5,000 people will be able to attend at a time, respecting social distancing rules. The differences between open-air and indoor events still need to be clarified, as stated by Prodiss, the main national union for musical and variety shows in France. Note that many festivals and public events have been postponed to the autumn or to 2021. A good excuse to come back next year!

Source (French only): Service-public.fr (External link)

Cinemas

Cinemas unanimously decided to reopen from June 22 throughout France. The government and the National Federation of French Cinemas agreed on the protocol to be followed, which is available here (External link) (French only). Wearing a mask is strongly recommended, as is prebooking seats. People coming to see a screening with family or friends will be able to sit together, but otherwise, a seat between two people must be left vacant.

Amusement parks

Good news for fans of Disneyland Paris, Parc Asterix and Puy du Fou. Amusement parks officially reopened on June 2 in the 'green zone' and on June 22 in the 'orange zone', with a maximum capacity of 5,000 people and additional social distancing and disinfection measures (especially in queues).

Source (French only): Service-public.fr (External link)

Museums and cultural landmarks

Although permitted to reopen throughout France on June 2, not all museums and landmarks are open to date. The reopenings have actually been spread out from the end of May to the beginning of July to allow culture professionals to take all the necessary precautions. Mask wearing and online booking are compulsory, and visitor routes are staggered to reduce the number of people present in the same room at any one time.
A map of reopened cultural spaces is regularly updated on the Ministry of Culture website, accessible here (External link) .

River cruises

River cruise companies have found their way back to the waterways. And the Voies Navigables de France (VNF) argues it's a great way to enjoy holidays in "little-known natural areas", "in small groups". Small boat rental is ideal for social distancing in all circumstances. All vessels are also regularly disinfected. As a reminder, France's network of inland waterways extends to over 8,500km of rivers and canals. A beautiful watery playground!

VNF information (External link)

Finally, please note that tourist offices are working hard to identify all cultural and leisure spaces, museums and restaurants already open. Find specific information on their individual websites.

As a reminder, lockdown easing in France following the coronavirus pandemic is being carried out in three phases:

  • Phase 1: from May 11 to June 1, 2020
  • Phase 2: from June 2 to June 21, 2020
  • Phase 3: from June 22 to mid-July 2020.
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