Travel restrictions have recently been eased by the French Government and it is now possible for fully vaccinated travellers from South Africa to enter France with no test and quarantine restrictions. This means that travellers do not need a compelling reason to travel to France or conduct a PCR test upon departure and arrival nor do they need to quarantine once arriving in France.
However, there are ways to make sure that your visit to France is as simple and enjoyable as possible as the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. Air France, who have just received a 5-star Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating from Skytrax (the international air transport rating agency) shares a few tips on how to plan the perfect French getaway.
Keep your vaccination card close by
Not only will you have to show proof of vaccination before you board the flight, but also you will have to show it throughout your trip. Agnes Angrand, deputy director of the French tourism authority, Atout France, recommends that visitors bring their original vaccination card with them. It is also a good idea to carry extra copies of the card in your luggage or have a photo of it on your phone.
On 1 August, France rolled out the ‘pass sanitaire’ health pass. This is proof that you have been vaccinated by one of the approved Covid-19 vaccines and grant the holder permission to enter museums, concerts, sporting events and even cafés. As this is only available to people who live in Europe, carrying your original vaccination card will be key. Unvaccinated travellers would need to visit Paris with a compelling reason, show a negative coronavirus test results from the past 48 hours or proof that they have recovered from covid-19 in the past six months.
The following vaccines are accepted for entry into France: Pfizer/Comirnaty, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Vaxzevria/Covishield, Janssen.
Reservations are key
The Covid-19 pandemic means that less people are crammed into spaces. This means that your favourite restaurant or attraction is open to fewer visitors on a daily basis. However, many have made use of online reservation systems during the pandemic, making it easier than ever for foreigners to make reservations ahead of their trip. Not only will making a reservation guarantee that you enjoy attractions, like seeing the Mona Lisa up close at the Louvre, without the usual crowds – a rare opportunity. This is also true for rental cars and train tickets.
Other restrictions are still in play
While vaccinated tourists are now welcome in France, there are other Covid-19 restrictions still in place. While wearing a mask outdoors is no longer mandated and the curfew has been lifted, masks are still needed in public indoor spaces, on public transportation, in taxis and in ride-hailing vehicles. Tourists are encouraged to keep an eye out on signs around the country about masks and limits to the number of patrons allowed inside a particular area.
Returning back to South Africa requires all passengers to show a negative coronavirus test result less than 72 hours before departure – no matter your vaccination status. Finding a testing site in France is relatively easy. If you would rather get tested at the airport before your flight, you may need to make an appointment before you arrive, and the fee may be more expensive.
Take advantage of Air France’s ‘Ready To Fly’ service
Since the beginning of the COVID crisis, Air France has been doing everything possible to assist its customers by enabling them to easily check the health documents required by the authorities of their destination country. This information is updated in real time on the airfrance.traveldoc.aero website.
With ‘Ready to Fly’, the airline goes one step further by offering its customers the certainty of knowing that they have all the health documents required for their trip before they arrive at the airport.
A few days before departure, customers travelling on eligible flights receive an email inviting them to upload their health documents on an Air France online platform. These documents are then checked and if they are complete and correct, a confirmation message is sent to the customer. The boarding passes issued will then be marked “Ready to Fly”, enabling them to be processed quickly by Air France teams at the airport on the day of departure. If a document is missing or incomplete, customers receive a notification message inviting them to transfer the missing documents or to present them at the airport on the day of their trip. With “Ready to Fly”, Air France ensures its customers enjoy a relaxed start to their journey, knowing that they have all the documents they need to board their flight. This free and optional service also ensures a smoother customer journey through the airport, by eliminating successive checks. This service will be expanding to flights out of South Africa during the worldwide rollout of the service later this year.