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Traveling to France during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

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a body of water with a mountain in the background: France's coastline, including the rocky coves of Provence, is one of Europe's best. © sam74100 / Getty Images France's coastline, including the rocky coves of Provence, is one of Europe's best.

If you're planning to travel to France, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

France has some of the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions in the world. Although it reopened to visitors over the summer, it went back into full lockdown in November. After tentatively reopening in late January, several regions in the country were put under a new, less restrictive lockdown in March 2021.

But as cases continue to rise rapidly, president Emmanuel Macron has placed the nation under another strict lockdown beginning April 3. Arrivals are limited to residents of the European Union, Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the UK and those who fulfill the French government's exemption criteria.

What's on offer

The historic boulevards of Paris, the fashionable sweep of La Croisette in Cannes and the rolling lavender fields and vineyards of Provence. France remains one of the world's most enduring tourist destinations.

With superb food, even better wine and landscapes and cities to satisfy every kind of traveler, it never disappoints.

Who can go

From March 12, travelers arriving from Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the UK, as well as EU countries, can enter provided they submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure and a declaration indicating that they have no Covid symptoms.

Cross-border commuters are exempt from the mandatory test requirement.

Those from all other countries outside the EU must have a "compelling" health, family or professional reason for their visit.

As of April 14, all flights to and from France and Brazil are banned due to concerns over the spread of the Brazilian variant, which was first identified in January.

What are the restrictions?

Travelers entering France from countries outside the EU for "compelling" reasons are asked to spend seven days in quarantine at a location of their choice.

The list has been widened to include further family situations so that couples and parents split between France and another country can travel to visit each other and/or their children.

What's the Covid situation?

France has been one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, with more than 5.2 million cases and over 100,000 deaths as of April 15.

Cases have soared in recent weeks, with 117,900 new cases reported on April 11. The situation remains critical, with ongoing concerns about hospital capacity.

Officials have accelerated France's vaccine drive in response to the latest rise in cases. On April 6, Stade de France, the biggest stadium in the country, was converted into a huge vaccination center, and at least 39 similar centers are set to open in the coming days. Over 15 million vaccination doses had been administered in France as of April 15.

France relaunched its test and trace app in October. TousAntiCovid is available for iPhone and Android devices.

What can visitors expect?

France is in national lockdown yet again as of April 3 due to a sharp increase in coronavirus cases.

The nationwide nightly curfew, which came into effect on January 16, has been reduced by one hour to 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

School and nurseries are closed for three weeks from April 3 and people are being asked to work from home if possible.

Bars, gyms, museums and theaters, nonessential shops, excluding book and music shops, are to remain closed.

Masks must be worn at all times on public transport and in enclosed public spaces.

The new measures come after 19 French regions were placed under lockdown in early March.

Individuals are allowed to go outdoors to walk or exercise, provided they have an approval "certificate" and go no further than 10 kilometers from their homes.

Outings for essential reasons such as grocery shopping, medical appointments, going to work or taking children to school are also permitted, but travel between regions is banned unless there's a valid reason.

Useful links

French government official site

Advice for foreign nationals planning trips to France

Tous Anti Covid app

Covid-19 official advice

Our latest coverage

Read more about how France has imposed new Covid-19 restrictions and how feminist street art is becoming commonplace around Paris.

In other developments, the European country has passed a law protecting the "sensory heritage" of its rural areas, and its future for sleeper trains looks bright.

Want to know what it feels like to try to become French? CNN's Channon Hodge gave it a go back in 2008.

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