Coronavirus and cycling in France

Published by Lyn on 15 September 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and cycling in France - the latest guidance and local advice.

Coronavirus and cycling in France

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

LAST UPDATED September 15:

Here is my understanding of current coronavirus restrictions. 

Can I cycle in France?

France is opening for all vaccinated travellers and to travellers who can prove a negative COVID status.

The French border remains open to unvaccinated travellers but the entry requirements are much more rigorous. You will need a negative PCR test less than 72 hours old to enter from most countries. (Not 72 hours is cut to 48 hours for some events once inside France). You may also need to have travel documentation supporting your need to travel and you may also need to self-quarantine, depending on where you are coming from.

Check guidance from your individual country/embassy from both within the EU and farther afield.

Vaccination rules and 'health pass' info

A 'health pass' ("pass sanitaire") has been introduced. It is available for phones and ipads through France's Tous Anti-Covid tracing app or you can request a paper version.

It testifies that you are 12 years or over and:

* have been fully vaccinated with a Europe-approved vaccine
* have COVID antibodies (i.e you have had
 COVID more than 15 days ago but no longer than 6 months ago), or 
* have a recent PCR trest with a negative result.
 

EU vaccination certificates comply with the French app/system. Vaccination certificates with QR codes in paper format from other countries are also accepted. See here if you are non-EU and want to make sure your vaccination documents comply with the French health pass.

IMPORTANT:

From August you will require a "pass sanitaire" to use restaurants, cinemas, museums and other public amentities. Without vaccination you will need a PCR or antigen test less than 48 hours old to uses these facilities. Full details here. Children aged 12-17 will be included from the end of September.

To be covered by vaccination it needs to be:

  • 2 weeks since your second Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca dose;
  • 4 weeks since your Johnson & Johnson/Janssen shot;
  • 2 weeks since your first injection if you have also had COVID.

Please read this page (in English).

Note that tests cost €49 for PCR and €29 for antigen for people not in the French healthcare system. 

What's open?

* All shops and services are now open again. Bike shops are an essential service and have been allowed to open the whole time.
* Bars and restaurants are now open for both inside and outside dining. Additional precautions are in place with social distancing and masks. Reservations highly recommended. See above for restrictions for unvaccinated people. 
* 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.
* Museums, cinemas and other cultural sites, zoos, sporting venues, etc are open again, though there are limits in place in terms of capacity/tickets available. See above for restrictions for unvaccinated people.
* Unlimited cycling is permitted. Guidance here in French for clubs and groups. Maximum group size should be 10 for social and club rides (though it does rise to 50 for some organised events).
* 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).
Public transport is running. Face masks are required on all public transport.

General English-language official guidance.

Where can I ride my bike in France?

Anywhere you like.

Maximum group size: 10 for social and club rides (50 for some organised events).

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

For vaccinated travellers

France is opening for all vaccinated travellers for this summer, as well as travellers who can prove a negative COVID status.

A 'health pass' has been introduced. It is available for phones and ipads through France's Tous Anti-Covid tracing app or you can request a paper version. It testifies that you are 11 years or over and:

* have been fully vaccinated with a Europe-approved vaccine
* have COVID antibodies (i.e you had
 COCID more than 15 days ago but no longer than 6 months ago), or 
* have a recent PCR test with a negative result.
 

It covers international travel into France, as well as
 access to events with large crowds.

Travel between EU countries, as well as Andorra, Vatican City, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland, is permittedfor fully vaccinated travellers. You also need a sworn international travel statement for entering France (to say you believe you are negative, not recently exposed to COVID etc) – see here.

The French COVID app is aligned with the EU's app – if you are travelling to more than one EU country it may be best to just download the EU app here.  

Vaccination certificates with QR codes in paper format from other countries are also accepted.

Please read individual country guidance as some COVID rats are higher than others and the French government, while not restricting travel, does recommend against travelling to some countrires. 

For unvaccinated travellers

There are no restrictions on travel between France and 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 if you are not vaccinated (or an antibody test to show you have had COVID recently). You also need to carry a sworn international travel statement – see here.

Self-quarantine remains in place for unvaccinated people travelling from some countries. A negative test, a sworn travel statement and other paperwork may be required See here and here.

Please check guidance from your country's French embassy before travelling. 

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.

Masks and other rules

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 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 – general info

Vaccines are coming to the rescue.  

Tour companies, bike hire and accommodation providers are taking bookings for 2021 and 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.

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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