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France is Open!

Today (June 9) marked the opening of France to the world!

Here we come!

Well, with exceptions based on your country of origin and vaccination status (see below). For vaccinated American tourists, we can now easily head back over the pond!

Phase 3

As we know, France is taking a measured and systematic approach to re-opening. Today marked the start of Phase 3, which includes:

  • Restaurants and bars can open indoor dining at 50% capacity (limit of 6 people per table)
  • Most museums are open (except those closed for other reasons). However, a majority are still requiring a timed reservation for entry. Be sure to check the website of the museum before attempting to visit.
  • The curfew is pushed back to 11pm. If you are out and about between 11pm and 6am, be sure to have your attestation with you!
  • Shops can increase the number of shoppers, using 4 sqm per person as a guide.
  • Movie theaters and live venues can have 65% capacity, with a cap of 1,000 people without requiring health passports and 5,000 if passports are required. Check with the venue for the specific event details.
  • Nightclubs still remain closed and are currently not included in the next re-opening phase either (though that may change?).
  • Masks are still required in all indoor spaces and on the streets in most major cities, including Paris. Failure to wear a mask can result in a €135 fine. There are no health exceptions, including vaccination.

Exceptions

Not all sites have chosen to reopen with the rest. The Eiffel Tower is waiting until July 16, though you can buy tickets now. They will have reduced capacity to start, so if you need to experience the Iron Lady, be sure to reserve in advance!

Mickey and friends are also waiting a bit. Disneyland Paris has opted to open June 17th. They will also require pre-booked tickets for entry.

For your adult entertainment needs, the Moulin Rouge, Lido, and Crazy Horse have tentatively rescheduled their re-openings for September. For more traditional (and more clothed) cabaret entertainment, Au Lapin Agile is now open for matinee performances. Evening performances will hopefully return when curfew is lifted. For a fun look at the history of the Agile Rabbit, check out French Frye in Paris’ recent video.

One agile rabbit

Assuming that everything goes well, most of these restrictions will be lifted on June 30th (barring nightclubs-maybe). As with everything in the last 100 years 15 months, all of this is subject to change based on infection rates.

Vaccinated vs Not-Vaccinated

While the United States has dithered on its vaccination certification policies, France and the EU have focused on creating systems to make it easy to determine vaccination status. This gives them greater ability to safely manage transit, large crowds, and the return of tourists. But how does this work?

Internally, France has a government-run COVID app, TousAntiCOVID, that contains your vaccine status, testing status, and other COVID related information. All you need is the app and voila! However, this is not yet available to those outside of the French healthcare system. We will need to keep our paper documentation handy.

On the EU side, an EU-wide digital vaccination certificate scheme has been announced. Basically, this system will accept your vaccination proof, testing information, and prior infection history and create a QR code that you can use across the EU. The exact details of this process are still a bit fuzzy, but we expect more information by the launch on July 1. There is hope that eventually Americans will be included, but I assume the priority will be on EU member states. We may also be hampered by our lack of a national digitized records system.

For the Vaccinated

So how do vaccinated Americans get to play in the reindeer games? First make sure you are vaccinated and that you have the documentation to prove it. Second, have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. You will need both documents to get into France.

Once you make it through that hurdle, you are free to roam about the country! Vaccinated tourists do not need to quarantine. Once you have escaped CDG, you are free eat all of the pain au chocolate you can get your hands on (I assume I’m not the only one who does this?).

Caveats & Reminders

A few last notes on vaccinated travel:

  • Even though we have seen examples of American vloggers not having to provide their information at French Border Control, remember that most of them have residence permits and are not considered tourists by France. Assume that you will need to present everything when you land.
  • For sites and activities that require vaccination proof, it is not yet clear how vaccinated non-French folks will be granted access. We don’t know if our vaccine documents will be accepted or if there will be additional hurdles. Or—possibly—we will be denied access because we don’t have a QR code certificate. Pay attention to the news and inquire directly with the site/organizer if you have questions.
  • To come back home, currently the U.S. also requires a PCR test for the return trip. Check out that info here. The test on the French side may be free but could cost up to €54, it’s a tad unclear. The Local has provided some resources for finding a test in France.

Lastly, France is open to vaccinated Americans. This is not true of the EU on the whole, though more and more countries are opening up to us. If you plan to visit other countries in the near future, be sure to check their rules before entering.

Don’t forget this important document, too!

Not Vaccinated Blues

Not vaccinated? France would prefer you don’t come over. Thus they are making it appropriately difficult to do so. Non-vaccinated U.S. visitors have to continue to abide by the pre-June 9th rules. You will need:

  • A valid (non-tourist) reason for travel with a signed attestation supporting that reason.
  • A negative PCR test taken within 3 days of departure
  • You must quarantine for 7 days upon arrival

You will most likely also find attending group events more difficult (in some cases impossible), including concerts and theater performances. It is strongly recommended that you vaccinate before attempting international travel!

If you do find a way to make it work, don’t forget to get the PCR test on the way back to ensure re-entry into the United States. The CDC also requests that the unvaccinated quarantine for 7 days upon return to the US and get tested 3-5 days after you land.

Paris in Summer: Heatwave Prep

As I melt in my unairconditioned apartment, this story stood out for me. France is becoming increasingly more proactive in its heatwave mitigation preparation. This is excellent news for the residents of Paris and for travelers unlucky enough to have hotels or rental apartments sans A/C.

The newest changes to “le plan national canicule” (national heatwave plan) involve the safety communication systems. There will be TV ads, SMS messages, social media announcements, and messages on convenience store advertising screens*. And, in good news for us anglophone francophiles, the safety posters are now in French and English.

Stay safe out there…

While it is no laughing matter, I am charmed by the idea of Meteorological Vigilance. France has a three-tier “vigilance” system that can be monitored here. There are yellow-orange-red levels of danger that help people assess their risk.

It is easy to get sick in the heat, especially when you are pushing to sight-see. Take it easy, stay cool, and stay hydrated!

One Thing We Didn’t Miss

Just to make sure that you know you are in France, there are rumors of airport worker strikes in the first week of July. C’est la vie. If you will be there, make sure to pack an extra pain au chocolate for the transit gauntlet!

Your Travel Plans?

In my earlier post on the re-opening of France, I was feeling very reluctant about returning too early in the re-opening process. I still feel that reluctance-we don’t know how this will playout and not everything is open again. But I admit to feeling much more excited after researching this post! Paris is a powerful siren, isn’t she? 😍

What about your plans? Ready to head back to Paris? Being cautious? Or vacationing a bit closer to home this year? Let me know below!


*No, I didn’t know this was a thing that could be done! I couldn’t find good info on this—are the screen owners mandated to share alerts? Can the French government just flip a switch? Please let me know in the comments if you have any intel! Also, check out this article from 2019 on France’s “war” on public advertising, especially digital screens.


Image Credits

AirFrance Plane: Photo by Vincent Genevay on Unsplash.
Eiffel Tower GIF: Giphy Eiffel Tower. Source: Bustle.com.
Lapin Agile: Au-Lapin-Agile.com Original Painting by André Gill, ~1875, Paris, France.
Passport Photo: Unsplash.com. Photo by Henry Thong at www.youtube.com/henrythong; Instagram @henryzw; Twitter @GLO.
Canicule Posters: Created by the Santé Publique France, as part of their Canicule Plan. 4 June 2021.


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