France second home-owners: Up to €457 for Covid tests to visit from UK

May 17 has been given - but not officially confirmed - for foreign travel to open up again for UK residents. We look at what Covid tests - and the costs - would be needed to visit France.

9 April 2021
By Connexion journalist

UK residents are expected to be able to visit second homes in France, or come for general holidays, from May 17 – however several Covid tests will be required, possibly costing in total up to €457 per person.

A report by the UK’s official Global Travel Taskforce, released today, details the ‘traffic light’ rules that will apply once leisure travel reopens (travel is currently only permitted in certain urgent situations).

Restrictions will be lightest for countries designated as green, medium for ‘amber’ designated and, as now, strict for those that are red-listed.

Notably, no self-isolation would be required on return to the UK from green countries, whereas coming from amber countries a 10-day self-isolation at home would be required; as now, quarantine in a hotel would be enforced on return from red-listed countries.

However Covid tests costing in total up to €319-€457 per person could be required for a trip to France regardless of France’s colour code.

This is because even for green and amber countries, the UK says it will require a test prior to travellers departing their destination country to return to the UK (this is already required) as well as:

  • For green countries a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival back in the UK
  • For amber countries a PCR test on day two and day eight, with the option for ‘test-to-release’ on day five to end self-isolation earlier. The same would apply from red counties, without the latter option.

This means three tests in total for the journey UK-France-UK if France is classed as green and four if it classified as amber or red.

Proposals released today state the government will give a list of providers of tests with which those coming back from abroad can book in advance.

They will consider the possibility of ‘cheaper tests’ for people returning from abroad, the report says, however a private test in the UK typically costs around £120 (€138), which is what we have based our estimates on. The cost would be somewhat reduced if for example the day two and eight tests are at a cheaper home-testing package rate as is currently offered by some providers to those travelling to the UK. 

Confusingly, the proposal also states that the government will look at whether it may be able to ‘provide pre-departure tests’.

It is unclear how, for example, the UK government can provide a test in France. The Connexion has asked the British Embassy and Department for Transport for clarification on this point.

We note that France also currently requires people arriving from the UK to have already taken a PCR Covid-19 test, and there is no suggestion that any change to this is imminent.

A French test costs €43.20 and is usually arranged online at a private test lab, or otherwise some towns have their own municipal testing centres (check the mairie’s website). 

Click here to find a Covid-19 testing centre near you in France. 

Results are usually available in 24-48 hours.


If France is green – which is uncertain, considering concerns expressed in the UK in recent weeks over the higher rates of new variants in France compared to the UK – three tests would be needed: Before coming to France, before leaving France, and then two days after returning to the UK. Total cost at current rates: €319.

If France is orange, currently considered a more likely scenario – it would be the same as the above, but two UK tests would be required. Total cost at current rates: €457.

The UK states it will advise in early May which countries will fall into which category, as well as confirming the date at which international travel (for leisure purposes) will resume. 

Read more 

How to get a Covid test in the UK and France 

Fact check: Is France about to be put on UK’s travel red list 

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