The French government advisory body Conseil scientifique has recommended that people take a Covid test before meeting friends and family this Christmas.
If you are resident in France, you can access Covid tests from a range of sources and will not have to pay if you are fully vaccinated.
However, if you are a tourist you will be charged up to €29 for rapid antigen tests and up to €49 for PCR tests. This is also the case if you are unvaccinated and do not fulfil certain criteria.
You can carry out an antigen test or buy a self-testing kit at many pharmacies around France, and it is not always necessary to book an appointment.
Most pharmacies will have a notice in their window telling customers whether or not they have tests available.
The pharmacist will normally show you into a side room or separate area, before taking a sample from one or both of your nostrils using a long cotton swab.
You will normally be sent your results via email or through an online portal within 30 minutes.
If you are struggling to find a test centre, you can also search online using the Sante.fr directory of laboratories. Here you will also be able to find out which tests are offered by the centre in question.
Alternatively, you can use this Sante.fr map and zoom in on your local area to see the pharmacies and test centres displayed.
If you take a PCR test you should be sent your results within 36 hours.
Will I have to pay?
Since October 15, PCR and antigen tests have not automatically been covered by Assurance maladie.
Public information service Service-public.fr states that: “For unvaccinated adults, PCR, antigen and self-administered tests taken for ‘comfort’ – that is, to obtain a valid health pass or to travel, or just to find out perhaps before a gathering – are payable.”
Unvaccinated people can only take a test for free if they have a doctor’s prescription from the last 48 hours or if they have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case.
However, the Assurance maladie website states that tests are still covered if you “are fully vaccinated, have a certificate of recovery from the last six months or are medically exempt from getting vaccinated.”
So, if you are fully vaccinated, you can continue to take tests for free, whether they be for reassurance, travel, or because you think you may have Covid symptoms.
If you do have to pay for your tests, a PCR will cost you at least €44, while antigen tests will start at €22 and self-administered tests taken under supervision will come with a minimum charge of €12.90.