Coronavirus and cycling in France

Published by Lyn on 11 May 2021

The coronavirus pandemic and cycling in France - the latest guidance and local advice.

Coronavirus and cycling in France

France's COVID track and trace app can be downloaded here

LAST UPDATED May 11:

Here is my understanding of current coronavirus restrictions. 

Can I cycle in France? What's open?

The French border remains open to other European Union countries, but you require a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old to enter from most countries. You may also need to have travel documentation supporting your need to travel. Check guidance from your individual country/embassy from both within the EU and farther afield.

The following restrictions are in place until May 19:

* Non-essential shops are closed. Bike shops are an essential service and are able to open.
* A nationwide curfew is in place from 7pm to 6am. You need an attestation to be away from home during this time. See here for the attestation.  
* Bars and restaurants remain closed. It may be possible to order pickup/takeaway, depending on the venue. Boulangeries and supermarkets are able to open. Bar and restaurant terraces will open on May 19.
* Hotels, B&Bs and campsites are allowed to open but with additional hygiene rules. Please check in advance with individual establishments in terms of their opening policy if you need to stsy somewhere for work, etc. 
* Unlimited cycling is permitted. Guidance here in French for clubs and groups. Maximum group size should be 6.
* Most cycling holiday businesses are taking bookings for the 2021 season but with flexible booking policies where possible. Please book ahead for both 2021 and 2022 if possible as indications are that it will be busy when things do finally open up (lots of people from 2020 have deferred trips, which will create extra demand).
* All work to be done from home wherever possible.   
Public transport is running but services may be on limited timetables. Face masks are required on all public transport.

English-language official French guidance.

Where can I ride my bike in France?

Anywhere you like as long as you are home by the 7pm-6am curfew. Check also for additional local restrictions. 

Guidance here in French for clubs and groups. Maximum group size: 6.

Note that masks are now compulsory in all indoor public spaces, so keep one in your pocket if going to the shops. And take hand sanitiser.

The French government is in fact encouraging cycling as an alternative to public transport througout the pandemic to help minimise infection risk. You can read more information here.

Travelling to France from abroad

Please see here for official guidance.

There are no restrictions on travel between other European Union countries as well as Andorra, Vatican City, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland, but you also need a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old. You also need to carry a sworn international travel statement – see here.

Travel from outside the EU is difficult with the except for a few countries on the French exception list. People arriving from the following countries can enter without proving the need to visit: Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, United Kingdom. However, a negative test, a sworn travel statement and other paperwork is required (see above, COVID test and self-quarantine are still required). Again, see here and here.

There are certain self-quarantine recommendations also in place - you should check official guidance before travelling. Also check guidance from your own country's embassy before travelling. Dual citizens, for example, may find the system more flexible. 

In reality, travel to and from the US, Canada, South Africa and many other countries at the moment is very difficult due to flight availabilty and other logistics. Travel from Australia and New Zealand is particularly difficult due to border closures and quarantines in those countries.

If you are visiting France from another country, please take all care to minimise any risk of bringing the infection with you or circulating it while here.

Note that masks are compulsory in all indoor public spaces (see below for graphic with more information) such as shops, banks, post offices, undercover markets, etc. Masks are also compulsory on all forms of public transport, including on Eurostar and on ferries in French waters.  

Note some regions and cities have additional requirements for masks to be worn in all outdoor public spaces - watch for local signage or check ahead with the tourism office if visiting.

Social distancing and hand washing guidance also remains in place.

Hand sanitiser gels and masks are widely available at pharmacies and supermarkets.

How can I get to France with my bike?

For all travel I recommend documenting all correspondence and confirming phone calls in writing (email, social media messages, etc) and taking these messages with you when you travel in case you have problems at the port/station. This is because information is constantly changing and can be inconsistent via different customer service outlets (call centres and social media accounts, etc).

Note there may be quarantine requirements depending on your country of residence. You should check guidelines with your embassy (see weblinks above). There may be additional paperwork to complete at ports and airports based on these requirements.

Ferries

Brittany Ferries have resumed ferry services, however schedules have been drastically cut. You should check ahead for the latest route advice. Face masks are needed on board to comply with French public transport guidance.

DFDS are taking cyclists as foot passengers on all services, including Newhaven-Dieppe, Dover-Calais and Dover-Dunkirk. You can book via their website. Again, schedules are subject to change. Face masks are needed on board to comply with French public transport guidance.

P&O Ferries are accepting cyclists and that tickets can be booked online for their Dover-Calais service. Customer services assures me that cyclists are accepted as foot passengers. Again, schedules are subject to change. Face masks are needed on board to comply with French public transport guidance.

Condor Ferries are taking cyclists as foot passengers on their Channel Islands ferries (Poole/Portsmouth to St Malo via the islands). Numbers are limited so book ahead. Schedules are subject to change. Face masks are recommended on board to comply with French public transport guidance.

Irish Ferries have recommenced services, including Dublin to Cherbourg. Cyclist and foot passenger tickets are available online. Face masks are recommended on board to comply with French public transport guidance. Schedules are subject to change.

Trains

Eurostar are running trains but they have stopped their 'bike on board' tickets. Eurodispatch has also halted Eurostar baggage services for bikes. According to their coronavirus information page, only folding bikes and children's bikes no longer than 85cm in length and packed in a protective bag that covers the whole bike are allowed as regular hand luggage. See my page here if you need to ship your bike ahead. Or this page for bike hire help.

Eurotunnel usually accepts cyclists as foot passengers. However cuctomer services told me that their cycling service is currently suspended until further notice. Details are usually here. I was told the website would be updated soon. You can still take bikes on the backs of cars/vans.

Planes

Airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Air France are selling tickets but services are subject to regular cancellations. You should check individual booking and cancellation guidance.

Passengers on flights from France must wear single-use surgical-type mask upon boarding. 

There are now compulsory COVID tests for arrivals from certain destinations at French airports. You should ask your embassy or airline about requirements. 

Hiring a bike or shipping your bike

Hiring a bike or shipping your bike ahead may be options for you to faciliate easier travel to/from France once the current lockdown is lifted. You can email me at lyn@freewheelingfrance.com if you need help with these.

Where do I need to wear a face mask?

It is now obligatory to wear a face mask in indoors public spaces in France. There is a €135 fine for failing to comply.

Face masks are required in shops, banks, post offices, undercover markets, museums, etc. Masks are also compulsory on all forms of public transport, including on Eurostar and on ferries in French waters.   

This graphic shows where masks are required across the entire country. Some cities and towns also require them in all outdoors public spaces. Watch for local signage or ask a local. 

 Face masks in France are compulsory to stop the spread of coronavirus

 

Cycling in France in 2021 - will it be possible?

Vaccines are coming to the rescue, which I hope will put this entire nightmare behind us. Obviously the situation is subject to change.

Tour companies, bike hire and accommodation providers are taking bookings for 2021 and, assuming the situation improves with COVID, it should be a busy second half of the year. Most operators are still offering flexible booking conditions in case of COVID cancellation.

Many people have postponed 2020 trips until 2021, so many smaller operators may book up fast (or already be full with held over bookings. Please book well ahead if you plan on coming in 2021. Likewise if you are coming in 2022, book early as – again – it should be busy with travellers who deferred 2020 trips.

I have a bespoke planning page here if you need help finding a good tour, and a similar one here for bike hire.

See also our Where to Stay section above if you are planning a DIY adventure.


Will the 2021 Tour de France be on? Can I watch it in person?

The 2021 Tour de France is planned to go ahead. See here for the route. See here for accommodation.

Official Tour de France tour operators are already offering packages to watch the 2021 event, and are offering 100% cancellation guarantees just in case. If you need bike hire or an accommodation/transport package for the TDF, I can point you to reputable local companies via my bespoke service.

Please book early - with a double ascent of Ventoux on the menu and with so many spectators having missed 2020, it is sure to be a big year. 

I will post amended information above as it comes to hand.

You can also join my Facebook group to discuss issues relating to COVID-19 with other cyclists, including many riders based in France.

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