Eurostar, air, ferries: Readers share UK and US to France travel tips

Print off the required documents, be prepared for long queues, expect police checks at your home during quarantine and more…

Connexion readers have given their advice for people planning journeys to or from France
Published Last updated

Thanks to all the Connexion readers who have shared feedback on their experiences of and tips for travelling to France from locations around the world.

We look at the considerations they stressed as being particularly important. Please note that all of the travellers quoted here are classed as being fully vaccinated.

Read more: Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France

Read more:Four Covid tests now for Christmas visit to UK family from France

Travelling by plane

  • Lisbon - Nice: Make sure you book a test early and remember this is possible at the airport before departure. We got to the airport an hour earlier and took the test (prebooked) there.

Read more:Which French airports offer pre-flight PCR and antigen Covid tests?

  • London - Bordeaux: On the plane they mentioned using the EasyJet website to find information on entering countries. I had checked that the day before and it was inaccurate as it said no quarantine was needed in France. Fortunately I knew from The Connexion that quarantine was required.

Read more:UK to France travel: How do police checks and quarantine work?

It was really slow at Bordeaux airport as they asked for all the different documents then questioned us on where we lived, what time and where we had our pre-flight Covid test. So I would advise that you remind yourself what time your Covid test was if you are of the older generation like me and tend to forget.

  • London Gatwick - Montpellier: EasyJet were very good and sent plenty of emails to remind travellers about Covid travel rules. The opportunity to change flight plans last minute with them is invaluable.

I travelled four times between July and November. The only problems were when the restrictions had changed recently, either on the UK or French side, and the staff – both airline and customs – were unsure of the new rules. Generally there was a feeling of stress from the staff, and they were annoyed with people who made mistakes with the rules rather than being helpful. I can't say I blame them.

Travel with a reliable mobile phone and keep it charged! Keep checking government websites: don't rely on the transport provider to give you up-to-date information. Have hard copies and digital copies of as many documents as possible and keep digital copies in a file on your device which is not reliant on internet connection to be viewed.

  • Boston - Toulouse: I have travelled many times with British Airways. The staff were incredibly helpful, patient and kind. Many people didn’t have their papers in order, meaning they didn’t download certain attestations and as a result made check in more timely and a bit frustrating for all of us who were well prepared.

I would say that to simplify your travel, make sure to check government websites to see what the latest rules are, even on the day of travel. If you don’t have all your paperwork, step to the outside of the line, don’t fill in paperwork at the check-in desk where others are waiting, thus holding up the line.

Be patient with others and tolerant of mistakes. The airline staff also have to keep up with the latest rules, which can be confusing. Check and recheck before leaving home that you have all the right documents. Take note that some documents must be filled in online to produce a QR code (not printed out and filled in by hand!).

  • London Heathrow - Nice: Immigration seemed to check everything including for Monaco residents, who should have been exempt from the requirements to quarantine and fill in the éOS form - total confusion and frustration! I would advise patience.
  • UK - Marseille: I experienced an hour-long delay arriving in Marignane (Marseille) airport as border officers asked for the prefectural decree for quarantine and the QR code that was generated when I filled it in.

I had downloaded this form to my laptop but not to my phone as had several of the other passengers, and this was adding to delays for checks. Make sure you have the prefectural order and QR code on your phone - or at least printed out.

  • London Gatwick - Nice: I flew with EasyJet and realised that in the hurry to complete the quarantine form I had mistakenly entered my home address instead of where I would be staying in Nice.

The following morning I received a phone call from the local gendarmerie who were at my house and wanted to know where I was!

  • Toronto - Paris CDG: Fifteen minutes through international customs. They didn't ask to see my PCR test. They asked for my vaccination papers and my residency card.
  • London Gatwick - Geneva: The EasyJet check-in staff were great but it helps them to have hard copies of all documents ready in a plastic folder. They get delays when people fiddle with phones to find Covid test certificates etc. Allow at least two and a half hours to get this sorted.

Geneva airport has long queues for check-in during the winter season. On my return journey it took an hour to reach the desk. Get kids to the loo before you join! They now have a brilliant new fast security checks area but the EasyJet plane gates are a good 15-minute walk away from passport control.

Book a lunchtime or afternoon return flight back to the UK if possible in case your pre-departure (PCR) test result is late. Mine came in very late last Tuesday and my flight was 11:25 the next day so it was a bit of a cliff hanger!

  • New York - Paris: It was stressful to get the PCR Covid test result on time before the flight to Paris! Received it 10 minutes before arriving at JFK airport. It is very easy to get tested in France: almost all pharmacies do rapid tests and there are tons of other options.
  • London Gatwick - Marseille: Travelling with EasyJet. Extra stress at the departure lounge due to FFP2 masks being 'cloth' and 'unsuitable'. With minutes to go before gate closure there was a mad scramble to get to a malfunctioning machine where white, paper FFP2 masks (inferior to those everyone already had) were on sale for a £5 a shot.

And yet until recently all passengers were apparently allowed on flights wearing either blue surgical masks or FFP2 masks previously bought at French pharmacies.

Travelling via Eurotunnel

  • If travelling with Eurotunnel all documents can be uploaded to the website and checked before departure so no need to show paper copies. Gendarmerie called at house to check we were quarantining about 48 hours after arrival in France.
  • Things ran very smoothly as I had uploaded all necessary travel documents onto their website. Print all documents where possible and ensure you upload a digital copy to the Eurotunnel website to make your passage and that of other passengers as smooth as possible!
  • Our travel plans changed last minute but if you are planning travel make sure you have booked your within-24-hours antigen test in advance.

You need access to a printer to complete the attestation and the reasons for travel form as they are PDFs which you then complete, sign, scan or photograph and upload. Allow plenty of time to do this.

  • Remember that the statement of honour form that you need to fill in cannot be completed online and needs to be printed, filled in and scanned. Although a faff, the paperwork is straightforward to complete once you have found the correct documents needed.

It is strange that the specific quarantine decree form required for travel to metropolitan France from the UK asks where your journey originates from. Why is that needed for a specific form for UK travellers? For anyone resident in France and returning, I would definitely recommend they have the carte de séjour handy, as they will ask for it as proof.

  • Abide by the quarantine. We have been visited by the gendarmerie on both days of our quarantine so far; we have to sign their paperwork as proof that we are observing the rules.

Travelling by ferry

  • DFDS Ferries Newhaven - Dieppe: I would recommend having paper copies of everything.

The border officers at Dieppe checked that we had our cartes de séjour prior to leaving France and the éOS locator QR code was checked into their system upon return. We had our visit from the gendarmes today (48 hours after) to check that we are quarantining by checking our cartes de séjour.

The other piece of advice I'd offer is to do as much research on what is required for all journeys and keep checking this information everyday until you leave.

  • Brittany Ferries Portsmouth - Caen: It is much less time consuming if paper versions of all documents, especially ones with QR codes, are given to the staff at check-in. Passport control at Caen was slow, due to them having to scan everything.
  • Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth: The major issue was French border control. It took 1.5 hours to get through and the boat was barely half full.
  • Brittany Ferries Portsmouth - St Malo: Very helpful check-in staff provided us with a copy of the ‘compelling reasons’ form to fill in on the boat. My research had led me to believe we didn't need that one.

The staff also alerted us to the barcode section on the prefectural decree which we'd need to show on disembarking. I didn't realise that that online form had a barcode section which needed printing out: the end of the document appeared to be the signature at the end of all the legalese, but there's then a space and a whole new page!

  • Brittany Ferries Caen - Portsmouth: I had my Randox PCR day two and lateral flow pre-departure tests delivered to my UK address before I left France and organised the PCR test Drop-box delivery so my results came back the same day.
  • Portsmouth - Caen: On arrival at Caen, it took over three hours to get through Passport Control, despite the boat being practically empty. Be prepared for ill-informed gendarmes to visit your home too - even after our quarantine was completed!

Travelling by Eurostar

  • London - Paris: There were long queues at Eurostar to go through the French checks. I would recommend that you print out all documents. Do not just keep them on your phone; it took ages as people scrolled through their phones trying to find the right document.

You can find out more about France’s entry requirements and travel rules on the Interior Ministry website.

Have you travelled to France under the current Covid restrictions?

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