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Last update: 13 May 2020
Lockdown * is a new term to me. Honestly, I never thought something like this would happen anywhere in the world in times of peace. Yet here we are, a few weeks into the first lockdown in Paris, France.
Many of us had to cancel vacation plans because of the Coronavirus and travel ban **. Canceled trips suck at the best of times but staying safe and healthy is the most important right now.
But this is the best thing for the world right now. And so we wait. Though that doesn’t mean you cannot dream or start planning your future trip to Paris! When all this is said and done, you will want to travel again. Whenever that may be.
Table of Contents
- When will the lockdown end in Paris and France?
- When can I visit Paris again?
- How to Visit Paris after lockdown. Do’s and Don’ts
- Paris Travel Planning
When will the Lockdown End in Paris and France?
End of Lockdown in France Updates
28 APRIL 2020: M. Edouard Philippe, the Prime Minister, presents at the National Assembly the main guidelines to ease lockdown in France:
The plan will be rolled out in 3-week phases, being the first phase from 11 May to 2 June 2020. After this date, the results will be evaluated by the State, and decisions will be taken depending on the situation.
7 MAY 2020: M. Edouard Philippe, the Prime Minister, presents a two-color (red and green) map of France. This map is based on 3 criteria (virus circulation, hospital saturation, and testing capacity in the department) and should make it possible to adapt the lockdown release to “local realities” from May 11. The two-color map will be updated based on the evolution of epidemic monitoring data, not on a daily frequency.
Four regions, Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, as well as the department of Mayotte, have been classified in red on the lockdown release map
The lockdown in France ends on 11 May 2020 in all the French departments except in Mayotte where the number of new cases is increasing.
When can I Visit Paris Again?
PHASE 1: 11 May to 1 June 2020
Ca y est! Lockdown in France is over. From 11 May 2020, people don’t need a certificate to leave the house and can move freely up to 100 km from home. But what about travel in France?
Domestic Travel. From 11 May 2020, people will be able to travel beyond 100 km but only for imperative reasons, family, or business. “This is not the time to leave your department to go on weekend”, the Prime Minister said.
Bookings for TGV and Intercity trains will be compulsory with terms and conditions adapted to the type of train and their occupancy will be capped at 50% of total seats.
International Travel. There will be a time gap between the end of lockdown and the day when international travelers are allowed to visit France.
An easing will come in due course when sanitary conditions allow and it will be decided with all the states concerned. Borders remain closed until further notice.
In regards to the borders shared with its European neighbors, France has decided to keep them closed until 15 June at least. The free movement of cross-border workers remains preserved.
There will be NO quarantine for people coming from the UE countries, Schengen countries, and the UK when they can travel.
UPDATE 13 May 20: The European Commission calls for a tourist boost, for a gradual return to tourist activity in the countries of the Union, after the restrictive measures put in place to deal with the coronavirus.
Germany, as well as its French, Austrian, and Swiss neighbors, have “the clear objective of a return to free movement in Europe from mid-June”, declared the German Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, at a press conference. He also announced a relaxation of the controls in force from May 16.
How to Visit Paris after lockdown  Do’s and Don’ts
Paris is always a good idea? We imagine that crowded cities like Paris suddenly become less appealing in favor of quiet getaways closer to home, in the mountains or the countryside.
However, people who decide to travel to Paris will be able to experience the City of Lights almost entirely to themselves. This happened to me during the last days before the lockdown in Paris when I was wandering around Palais Royal to see the magnolia trees. The Gardens were quiet but not deserted. It was just wonderful.
(!!) This will likely last a couple of months at best, providing an opportunistic window to travel without the usual crowds you would expect in a bucket list destination like Paris.
PHASE 1: 11 May to 1 June 2020
Getting around Paris and Ile-de-France: Access to public transport in Ile-de-France will be reserved during peak hours for people with a certificate from their employer or with a compelling reason. Peak hours= from 8.30 am to 9.30 am and from 5.30 pm to 6.30 pm.
Wearing a mask on public transportation will be compulsory. Failure to wear a mask in public transport may be subject to a fine of 135 euros.
Additional measures are being implemented in the metro. On the picture below you can see stickers blocking some seats to keep the distance between passengers.
The City is encouraging the use of bicycles in Paris. Since 11 May, rue de Rivoli is reserved for pedestrians and bicycles. Also, 50 km of additional lanes usually reserved for cars will be devoted to cycling throughout the capital.
Life in Paris
In general, these are the main guidelines for all the departments, red and green:
- From 11 May, certificates to leave home are no longer mandatory, except for traveling beyond 100 kilometers. Trips beyond 100 kilometers will be authorized only for “imperative reasons, family or business”.
- Companies are called upon to maintain telework for the next three weeks and to set up staggered schedules.
- Shops (less than 40.000m2) and markets will be allowed to reopen on 11 May, except cafes and restaurants, whose reopening date will be decided in late May. The Grands Magasins Galeries Lafayette and Printemps will remain closed until 1 July.
Beaches will be closed until at least 1 June.The beaches of Finisterre and the Atlantic coast are open since 13 May. La Manche (English Channel) and the Mediterranean beaches will open this weekend. Possible activities: walking, swimming, individual sports, fishing.
- Gatherings will be limited to 10 people maximum.
- Small museums will be able to open on 11 May, but the biggest museums, cinemas, and theaters will remain closed.
- Major events, concerts, big gatherings, etc, won’t be allowed until September.
- Parks and gardens will open only in those departments where the virus does not circulate actively. Cemeteries will open.
UPDATE: the small museums that belong to the City of Paris will re-open on 15 June 2020 (Petit Palais, Musée de la Vie Romantique, Maison Balzac, etc). You can find more information about these museums in this post.
UPDATE: Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes will reopen on 11 May.
Then, depending on the color of the department, there will be more or less restrictions.
Today the department of Paris is: RED
Suggestions for Phase 1
- Walk along the Seine banks or along Canal Saint-Martin banks (no picnic or drinking allowed)
- Bike along Canal de l’Ourcq
- Street Art in Paris 13 Walking Tour
- Hike in the forest (Bois de Vincennes, Bois de Boulogne, Fontainebleau, Vallée de la Chevreuse)
Paris Travel Planning
HEALTH & HYGIENE: Most of all, we expect to see a change in is the levels of hygiene and self-awareness from travelers. Probably wearing masks in public transportation or crowded places will be a new normal just like in Asia that when you’re sick and if you must go out you wear a mask to not spread germs.
Health insurances like SafetyWing’s Remote Health Program, which covers the testing and treatment of coronavirus, will be very interesting to consider for future trips abroad.
FLIGHTS & TRAINS TO PARIS: Passengers should expect an increase in fares with airlines or trains having to operate with reduced capacity due to a lower request or to leave middle-row seats unoccupied to maintain a distance between passengers.
For some, however, it’s going to be a while before they want to get on a train for a long ride or on a plane for an overseas flight.
- If you want to buy flight tickets, Kayak.com is a metasearch engine that always finds the best deals.
- If you need to book trains in France, Trainline.com is a comprehensive, easy to use site. It is fully written in English which is KEY to understand all the policies and small letters.
PACKING LIST: apart from the main travel essentials and comfortable outfits, you may want to add one of the items below to your packing list for your peace of mind
ARRIVING TO PARIS: The wearing of the mask will be compulsory in public transport and their capacity will be reduced to respect the safety distances.
We expect that private or shared transfers in mini-vans (up to 8 people) from the airport to the city will become even more popular after the travel ban. First, you may want to find your bearings in the city, understand how it works before venturing into the Parisian metro or other public transportation.
We recommend Welcome for a door to door private transfers. Welcome tries to remain the safest and most reliable transport option from the airport and all their drivers follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) plus they have added extra facilities in changes of cancellation.
Shared transfers, with a maximum of 8 people per transfer, are a very convenient option for getting from the airport to Paris, especially if you are traveling alone. This is a comfortable door to door service, without the crowds, for not much more than a train + metro ticket.
PARIS’ TOP SIGHTS: places like the Louvre Museum, Versailles, or the Eiffel Tower may want to lower their maximum entrance capacity numbers to avoid overcrowding which will mean that we will need to book the tickets as soon as you book your flights.
For sure, lines to visit a place will be longer to keep a safe distance between people so skip-the-line tickets will be gold.
In addition to your skip-the-line tickets, you may want to know when is the best time for visiting the main tourist attractions to avoid the crowds inside.
The reopening date for cafes and restaurants will be decided in late May.
If you have been to Paris before, you may know that cafes, restaurants, and bistros are not spacious places but quite the opposite. Perhaps these places will be obliged to leave some tables free to maintain distances between guests. If you are interested in dining in a particular restaurant or bistro, be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointments.
At some point, hopefully not too far out, we will be able to travel again, to book the flight /train tickets for that dream trip to Paris. But let’s just make sure we do so wisely, and safely.
Until it is possible to travel again, we tell you how to visit Paris without leaving home.
As for me, I am still under lockdown in Paris, with limited access to the city, to Spring in Paris. However, as long as I can connect with Paris this way for a few minutes each day, I’m pretty sure I can endure the rest.
Let’s finish this article with an extract from The Plague, the novel by Albert Camus published in 1947 about life under quarantine for the inhabitants of a small town in Algeria. Despite being fiction and a novel written more than 50 years ago, this classic of French literature seems more actual than ever.
“A pestilence does not have human dimensions, so people tell themselves that it is unreal, that it is a bad dream which will end. But it does not always end, and from one bad dream to the next, it is people who end,” (…) “There have been as many plagues in the world as there have been wars, yet plagues and wars always find people equally unprepared.”
Join France Bucket List – The France Travel Planning Facebook Group
You are also welcome to join France Bucket List our France Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Paris or France!