When will Paris (and France) reopen to tourists?
If you're considering a trip to Paris or France after the
coronavirus crisis, read this before making plans.
ABOVE: To minimize your exposure to coronavirus
when Paris reopens to tourists,
try visiting places that don't attract crowds--such as the
Cathedral Basilica of
St-Denis, the burial place of French kings and queens. It's an easy
Métro ride from central Paris.
By Durant Imboden (May 17, 2020)
In the wake of Europe's
"first wave" coronavirus pandemic, France has begun to relax the lockdown that
was imposed on March 16. In Paris, most shops have reopened, the Seine
embankments can be visited freely, and public transportation is being restored
Still, many restrictions remain: As of mid-May, French restaurants and cafés
still closed, along with entertainment venues such as movie theaters,
nightclubs, and sports stadiums. Most public parks are still closed, although
the Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes have reopened.
Transit passengers over the age of 11 are required to wear
masks, and gatherings of more than 10 people are forbidden until June 2.
French borders will remain closed to foreigners at least until
mid-June, Paris-Orly Airport remains closed, and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport
has a drastically reduced schedule of flights.
Until further notice, tourists from outside the EU, the
Schengen Zone, and the UK are
forbidden to enter France. However, transit passengers from outside the EU are
allowed to change planes at Paris CDG.
(The restriction on travel from within the European area will
likely end on June 15, but it could be months--possibly as late as early
October--before tourists from outside Europe and the UK will be allowed in.)
Our advice for planning a visit to Paris when France
reopens for tourism:
If you're in a high-risk group
(e.g., over 60, especially with underlying health problems),
use common sense in deciding whether,
when, and where to travel. The coronavirus won't disappear overnight, and
while France has one of the world's best health-care systems, a COVID-19
infection could be life-threatening.
When you book
hotels, B&Bs, or apartments, make sure that your reservation can be
canceled without penalty. (This year is a good time to avoid low
prepaid, non-cancellable rates.) For maximum savings, keep an eye on rate
changes and be prepared to cancel and rebook if you can get a
better deal closer to your visit.
Hotel rooms are usually easier to cancel without penalty than
Be aware of cancellation policies or change fees when you
book your airline, train, or cruise tickets. Airline fares and other
transportation tickets vary in their cancellation and change policies. If
you can't afford a fully-refundable ticket, budget some money for ticket
changes just in case. (Good news: Many airlines offer waivers on change fees
during periods of severe weather, epidemics, etc.)
Dont expect travel insurance to protect you if you need to
cancel your trip because of coronavirus fears. Most insurers are treating
the current outbreak as a "known event" and are turning down
coronavirus-related claims unless travelers have bought high-priced "cancel
for any reason" plans.
Avoid prepaid sightseeing tours unless they're fully
cancellable. Instead, book excursions when you come or immediately before.
If you've already booked a trip for 2020, check with your
airline, hotel, cruise line, etc. to learn their plans and what your options
are. You may need to rebook.
As of this writing, we think early 2021 could be a great
time to visit Paris if you want to enjoy the city with less crowding than
usual. Our prediction assumes that the coronavirus pandemic has faded,
tourism has resumed, and you aren't in a high-risk group. (The situation
could change at any time, so build as much flexibility as possible into your