The information shared below is up to date as of September 1, 2021.
Life around the world has been far from normal for well over a year and a half now. From lockdowns and quarantines and closed borders to now digital health passes, life in France as we know it was more like a dystopian novel than our reality. But the reality is that coronavirus is not yet a thing of the past, so is it safe to travel to France right now? Is Paris safe for tourists? Let’s talk about it.
Is Paris safe for tourists now? Is France safe to travel around?
Should you travel to France right now for vacation? What’s it like? Is Paris safe for tourists? What do I think about traveling to France right now? These are the most common questions popping up in my DMs and email inbox in recent weeks and they’re valid and important ones since Covid is still around.
Let me start out by saying I don’t have all the answers. My opinion is my opinion and while I can share what life is like right now along with some questions for you to think about, the decision to travel to France right now is yours and you have to make the best choice for your personal circumstances.
Also, what I’m talking about here is for people wondering if traveling to France for vacation right now is a good idea. For urgent family matters, medical reasons and things like that — not tourism — I think the answer is a bit easier because sometimes an urgent situation takes precedence over all else (which was the case when I traveled to the US earlier this summer).
People are frantically searching for the answer to “Can I travel to France from USA” and the answer is technically yes. But just because you legally can travel to France right now doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A lot depends on one’s personal situation.
I can see both sides of the argument and people have very strong opinions. One side says to stay home and not travel anywhere at all under any circumstance so that way we are sure to not catch Covid or spread it to others. Then there’s the other perspective that says if we travel as safely as possible and reduce our risk and the transmission to those around us, isn’t it time to get on with our lives? Then there’s everything in between.
Only you can make the final decision, but consider what I talk about here. I think there are ways to travel relatively safely in France and reduce your risk of catching and spreading the virus. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. For healthy vaccinated travelers who aren’t traveling in large groups, Paris and most areas of France are safe(ish) for tourists.
Can I go to France now? Current France travel restrictions
First, let’s start with the current situation in France. Fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to enter the country and there are no France travel restrictions on movement once you’re here.
Fully vaccinated means you’ll need to have had two doses of one of the four EU-approved vaccines, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. You’ll need your second dose (of the 2-dose vaccines) at least two weeks prior to travel.
If you’re not vaccinated and from a “green” country, including the US and Canada, you need to have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure. Full details and further country-specific information can be found here.
At the very end of August 2021, the EU voted to remove the US from the list of safe countries, but France has not yet made any official changes to the rules for non-essential travel to France for American tourists. If/when that happens, I will update this post.
There are about 20,000 new cases of the virus per day in France (stats from the WHO). A digital health pass called a pass sanitaire is now required to go to places like restaurants, the movies, on trains and other modes of public transport, museums, festivals, and even the hospital (for non-emergencies). This has been the case since the beginning of the month. Instructions for getting yours are here if you were vaccinated abroad.
Masks are required in public indoor spaces, including public transport, pretty much everywhere and even outdoors in some places, as was the case in Saint Malo when we were there just a couple of days ago. This is most common in historical centers and places where there’s a high density of people.
I’ll also point out that the US State Department’s website has a France Travel Advisory from August 9th that is “Level 4-DO NOT TRAVEL” (the highest level).
It reads, “Do not travel to France due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in France due to terrorism and civil unrest….The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for France due to COVID-19 indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country. There are restrictions in place affecting U.S. citizen entry into France. Your risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms may be lower if you are fully vaccinated…”
Do I feel unsafe in France? No. I actually felt more unsafe back in the US a couple of months ago. But I understand the State Department’s warning. There are protests. There’s a lot of Covid. But we can try to be safe and avoid areas where civil unrest has been reported.
Life almost feels back to normal — compared to what it was at least. People are out enjoying life again. Is the risk of the virus still there? Absolutely. Is it something that should deter you from traveling? Only you can make that decision.
Questions to ask yourself
Before traveling to France for vacation or if you’re wondering, “is Paris safe right now?”, here are some questions I’d ask myself:
-Are you traveling solo (or with one or two others) or will you be in a big tour group?
-Are you traveling around France by rental car or public transport?
-Will you be spending most of your time outdoors or in places with very few people or are you attending a big indoor wedding or something like that?
-Are you vaccinated? What about the others in your group?
-Do you live with someone who is immunocompromised or elderly? (or are you?)
-Could you easily postpone your trip until next year instead or is it now or never due to a terminal illness or something of that nature?
-Are you able to buy travel insurance? Will losing money on a cancelled trip be a major stressor?
-Does your health insurance at home cover you if you’re hospitalized from Covid abroad?
-Do you hate wearing a mask? France requires them indoors pretty much everywhere and even outdoors in some areas as well.
-What’s your comfort level with risk, uncertainty, and rules? Risk of catching the virus, uncertainty of changing rules, getting a health pass and Covid test and other France travel restrictions, etc.
-Do you speak enough French to understand warnings about protests and civil unrest if a situation arises? Or if you need to see a doctor?
Final thoughts… is France safe to travel?
I completely understand wanting to travel to France and being on the fence about it. I know many of you out there have postponed your trip and others have decided to go ahead and travel as safely as possible and abide by the France travel restrictions in place.
It’s not an easy decision, especially if we live with someone who is immunocompromised or are elderly ourselves or for a whole host of other reasons.
If you do decide to travel to France now, make sure you’re vaccinated. I’d recommend that you get yourself up to date on the current set of rules and restrictions from both the French government and your airline before travel. Then make sure you abide by the rules that are in place in France while here.
For Americans and many other countries, upon returning to your home country there’s no quarantine either.
For those of you who are able to visit, there’s a bit of a bright side. For one, there are fewer tourists, so major tourist attractions aren’t quite as busy as they’d normally be. Also, small businesses and shops are happy to see tourists and you’d be helping the local economy by supporting them after a devastating year.
What would I personally do? Is Paris safe to visit right now? If I lived in the US and was healthy, fully vaccinated, traveling in a small group and ready to follow the rules of the airline and those set out by the French government, I’d book my trip to Paris if it was something I couldn’t easily postpone.
What’s your take — is France safe to travel to in your opinion? Are the France travel restrictions from the US a deal breaker for you?
Official information in English about France travel restrictions, Covid, and what you need to know before you travel to France to help you answer, “Can I go to France now?”:
P.S. This goes without saying but I still have to say it. If you’re going to leave a disrespectful comment for me or another commenter attacking us, don’t waste your time. I don’t tolerate that BS here. We can have a respectful discussion even if we disagree with each other.
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