France has banned tourists from the UK from entering unless they have a ‘compelling reason’ to travel.
Here, the Holiday Guru has a French special in which he answers questions about flight connections in French airports, travelling by Eurostar and wrangling refunds for cancelled ski holidays.
Q. We booked a ski holiday in a chalet in Morzine in January. But now that it is impossible for tourists to travel to France, what should I do? Can I get a refund?
Sylvia Simpson, via email.
No go: The French ban on UK visitors is a bitter blow for those who’ve booked ski trips. Pictured is a skier in Chamonix in the French Alps
A. This depends on whether you booked the chalet and flights at the same time as a ‘package’ holiday or not.
If you did, you will be due a full refund within 14 days of the holiday being cancelled, as it will be closer to the date of departure — usually about two/three weeks beforehand — if the French travel ban on British visitors, which began on December 17, continues. This refund is the law under the Package Travel Regulations (2018).
However, if you booked the chalet and flights separately, you will have to contact the chalet provider to request a refund or to postpone. Whether this is possible is down to the discretion of the provider; most should be reasonable.
Airlines have different cancellation policies: for example, easyJet allows you to transfer you flight for free to another date, BA offers a voucher.
Q. We were planning to visit my brother’s family in Cannes over Christmas. Will this be possible?
Edward Chase, via email.
A. No. The new French rules state that you must have a ‘compelling reason’ to travel from the UK to France. These include being a French citizen, a student enrolled in France, or a spouse or child of a French citizen — and a negative Covid result taken within 24 hours of travel will be required. Upon arrival, you must self-isolate for 48 hours, after which time a negative PCR or antigen test is required.
Compassionate ‘compelling reasons’ include the death of a close family member or a terminal prognosis.
The Holiday Guru tells one reader that their trip to Cannes (pictured) isn’t likely to go ahead this winter
Q. I have a connection via Paris to Buenos Aires — what happens now? Can I travel?
Jen Ballard, via email.
A. Yes, you may go as long as the connection takes less than 24 hours.
Q. We have a second home in Provence and were planning to drive there next week for Christmas and the New Year — what are the rules? Surely we can go if we own property?
Mr and Mrs Johnston, via email.
A. Sorry, no. As above, you must have a ‘compelling reason’ and home ownership does not count.
Q. Can I travel by Eurostar to Brussels?
Jan Lewis, via email.
A. Yes. As France is not your final destination and as you will be in transit through it for less than 24 hours, this should be fine. The same is true of services to Amsterdam.
According to the Holiday Guru, UK tourists are permitted to travel via Eurostar (pictured) if France is not their final destination
Q. My partner and I booked flights from Edinburgh to Paris for a weekend away in late January to celebrate an anniversary — should we accept a voucher or postpone now?
Damian Kenworthy, via email.
A. Hold your horses. It is possible that the French ban will be lifted before then. If not, your airline may cancel the flight; BA, easyJet and Ryanair often do in such circumstances.
You would then be entitled to a full refund. If the flight goes ahead, you could still claim a voucher or postpone to a later date.
Q. I am fully vaccinated and have had my booster. Do the new French rules still apply?
Sally Somerville, via email.
A. Yes — your vaccination status makes no difference for travel to France.
Q. We are in France now on holiday. Should we curtail the trip and come home?
Pete Kiddle, via email.
A. There is no need to rush back. Return on the date you previously intended.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
If you need advice, the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email [email protected]