Ski bookings surge as France lifts UK travel ban

·32-min read
ski holidays to France are back on  - Getty 
ski holidays to France are back on - Getty

Ski bookings to France are surging as the country announces it will lift its ban on UK holidaymakers.

All-inclusive ski giant Club Med has reported a 60 per cent increase in web traffic this morning after the announcement from French tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

It says sales to France have skyrocketed in the past few days as it became clear that the ban would be lifted, with the country now its best-selling destination. The company noted that bookings for its Les Arcs Panorama property are up 73 per cent and La Rosiere holidays up by 336 per cent versus last week.

Estelle Giraudeau, managing director, UK & Northern Europe at Club Med, said: "This has saved the season. After two years away from the slopes, Britons are desperate to get back to France and some of the most loved ski domains in Europe – and this is the final barrier to be removed."

Businesses in French ski resorts are also preparing for the “unprecedented demand.” Ski instructor booking platform Maison Sport is forecasting a 300 per cent rise in bookings over the next two weeks.

From Friday morning, British travellers who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter France if they have evidence of a negative coronavirus test taken within 24 hours of departure. Full details will be published in a decree on Friday.

Scroll down for the latest updates.

05:08 PM

Today's key headlines

Here's a recap:

  • France to lift ban on UK tourists on Friday

  • Ski bookings surge as France lifts UK travel ban

  • IATA chief blames omicron ‘over-reaction’ for air traffic fall

  • Ski bookings doubled yesterday in anticipation of France lifting ban, says leading tour operator

  • UK January flights to France up 144 per cent on last year

  • Cathay Pacific to ban UK travellers from transit services at Hong Kong International Airport

Catch-up with the rest below.

04:50 PM

What are the rules for travel to France

Now that France has lifted its ban on UK tourists, our expert Eleanor Aldridge, explains the rules for entry and what to expect on the ground.

From the pass sanitaire to masks, here's everything you need to know.

04:28 PM

'Our charter planes are on standby': French ski resorts ready for Britons

The travel industry and holidaymakers alike are still welcoming the return of ski trips to France, just in time for the weekend.

french alps - Getty
french alps - Getty

Nick Morgan, managing director of Le Ski, said:

As soon as the restrictions are lifted Le Ski are ready to start taking guests again to our 33 chalets in the French Alps, possibly as soon as this Sunday 16th January. Our charter planes are on standby, our chalets are stocked with logs for the fires, the wine racks are all full and our chalet staff are raring to go. Our guests, staff and airlines have been incredibly patient waiting for restrictions on British tourist to be lifted and we are grateful to them all. It seems nothing will stop the desire of Brits to hit the empty slopes.

04:14 PM

US Centers of Disease Control to ease rules for cruises

Cruise sailings in the US will now come with slightly less red tape after the CDC confirmed that it will let the Conditional Sail Order (CSO) lapse on January 15.

The current CSO will be replaced by a new voluntary Covid-19 cruise programme available to US and foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in US waters.

What initially started as a ban on cruises in US waters evolved into a CSO to meet certain health and safety measures, which will now become voluntary.

Clia said that the move to a voluntary programme from January 15 recognised the industry’s “unwavering commitment to providing some of the highest levels of Covid-19 mitigation found in any industry”.

03:58 PM

UK accepts EU Covid pass as vaccination proof for 13 more countries

The Government has expanded the list of nations from which travellers can use the EU Digital Covid Certificate to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid.

Passengers coming to England from Albania, Andorra, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Israel, Jersey, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Panama and Turkey can now use the EU Covid pass as proof of vaccination on their passenger locator forms.

Travellers must have had complete course of an approved vaccine.

Find more details on the FCDO website.

03:42 PM

How to prove you've recovered from Covid in order to travel

If you have recovered from Covid, you may be exempt from testing – or even vaccination – requirements when travelling overseas. The likes of Iceland, Croatia and Turkey accept proof of recovery in lieu of a negative pre-travel Covid test result, in recognition of the immunity booster that a natural infection grants. But where can you get that all-important certification? And which countries accept it instead of a test?

Here’s everything that travellers need to know.

03:27 PM

France news likely to drive last-minute winter trips, says Skyscanner

In the wake of the France news, Skyscanner has predicted a surge in last minute winter trips and a return to normalised travel planning for 2022.

Laura Lindsay, Travel expert at Skyscanner commented:

This news will go a long way towards further boosting confidence for travellers who are hoping to return to their favourite places, planning and booking trips in 2022.

France is a popular destination for Brits and we expect to see a rise in demand from UK holidaymakers following the scrapping of restrictions for UK travellers, in addition to the removal of pre-departure testing and self-isolation requirements on returning home for vaccinated travellers.

This news will likely drive last minute winter trips and a return to more normalised seasonal travel planning for 2022, with France traditionally enjoying a large share of UK tourists for city breaks in the Spring and Autumn as well as many choosing la Republique for their summer holidays.

03:08 PM

British Airways launches four new London City routes

British Airways will add four new European routes from London City Airport in time for summer.

The carrier will fly to Barcelona, Luxembourg, Milan and Thessaloniki from the small East London airport.

Daily flights to Luxembourg and Milan will launch on March 27. Meanwhile, a weekly route to Thessaloniki will commence on June 18. The airline will fly to Barcelona six times a week from June 19.

02:57 PM

International travel remains unpredictable, warns Which?

Consumer watchdog Which? is urging caution to would-be trravellers who may be caught up in the excitement of France lifting its ban on UK holidaymakers.

The group is advising travellers to book package holidays where possible and to always purchase robust travel insurance.

Rory Boland, Which? Head of Travel, said:

France’s decision to lift the UK travel ban for vaccinated tourists will be welcome news for anyone hoping to travel there soon. Fully vaccinated travellers will be required to book a Covid test via a private provider and show evidence of a negative result before arriving in France.

However, international travel remains unpredictable and anyone booking a trip abroad could risk losing some or all of their money if rule changes mean they can no longer travel to their destination.

If you’re planning a trip abroad, book a package holiday if possible, as these come with stronger financial protections, and choose a provider with a flexible booking policy to safeguard your money. A good travel insurance policy will continue to be essential, and it’s also advisable to book with a credit card to give yourself further protection.

02:42 PM

Netherlands to ease Covid restrictions, reports suggest

Coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands will be eased from Saturday despite a wave of new infections due to the omicron variant, Dutch media reported today.

Non-essential stores, hairdressers and gyms will be allowed to reopen for a limited number of customers, broadcasters NOS and RTL said, citing government sources. Students will be welcomed back to their colleges and universities.

Bars, restaurants, theatres, museums and other public places will remain closed.

The government will decide formally on the changes tomorrow.

02:33 PM

IATA chief blames omicron ‘over-reaction’ for air traffic fall

New figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), have shown that demand air travel was recovering prior to the emergence of the omicron variant.

Iata said air traffic in November was down 47 per cent compared to the same month in 2019, an improvement on the 49 per cent decrease seen in October.

Iata director general Willie Walsh, said:

The recovery in air traffic continued in November. Unfortunately, governments over-reacted to the emergence of the omicron variant at the close of the month and resorted to the tried-and-failed methods of border closures, excessive testing of travellers and quarantine to slow the spread.

Not surprisingly, international ticket sales made in December and early January fell sharply compared to 2019, suggesting a more difficult first quarter than had been expected.

If the experience of the last 22 months has shown anything, it is that there is little to no correlation between the introduction of travel restrictions and preventing transmission of the virus across borders. And these measures place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.

If experience is the best teacher, let us hope that governments pay more attention as we begin the New Year.

02:19 PM

Poll: With France lifting its ban on British tourists tomorrow, do you plan to visit the country in 2022?

02:12 PM

The five new golden rules for booking a holiday

If news of France reopening to Britons has you hovering over the book now button, be sure to follow these rules for a stress-free holiday, advises Nick Trend.

Holidays are back on to the south of France – but follow these rules before you book - Getty
Holidays are back on to the south of France – but follow these rules before you book - Getty

The news that France is re-opening to British travellers is another welcome confidence boost and it will add rocket fuel to the huge surge in advance bookings that is currently being reported by the travel industry. It is a wonderful relief to be writing in such positive terms about the prospects for 2022 and I certainly don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm. But I do want to sound a note of pragmatic caution.

It certainly feels as though we are driving down a one-way street out of restrictions: borders are re-opening, there are no more countries on the red list and pre-departure testing has ended. And I am genuinely optimistic that we won’t have to negotiate any more u-turns. But we aren’t out of the covid woods yet. Omicron was only identified on November 23 – a little over seven weeks ago. This pandemic has been going on for two years. We simply don’t know what is around the corner and while I certainly think that for many of us it is time to start booking again, it is also vital that we do so with our eyes open.

Here are five golden rules to follow.

02:03 PM

Surge in ferry bookings to France, says comparison site

Ferry holidays to France are back on.

Niall Walsh, chief operating officer at Direct Ferries, said France lifting the UK travel ban was a relief to the industry. He added:

We have already noted a surge in ferry bookings to France. Bookings from Dover – Calais today are ahead of 2019 (the last normal period without Covid) which just shows the significant pent up demand for European travel. We hope this optimism will continue with no further disruptions to travellers looking to book a holiday. It will be the first step towards the industry making a much needed recovery.

01:56 PM

Secret France: 20 hidden corners to discover in 2022

With the French ban on British tourists lifted, holidays across the Channel are back. Our expert offer 20 suggestions, from unsung rural regions to overlooked coastlines.

His tips include:

Montpellier, Languedoc

montpellier - Getty
montpellier - Getty

France’s most seductive city? It’s not Paris, but Montpellier. It is elegant, cultured and tolerant, with Mediterranean blood coursing through its veins and dynamism to spare. Lacking industry, the place has majored on brains and bravura. World-class architects are forever turning up to add showpieces. The trams – designed latterly by Christian Lacroix as moving tableaux – have been called the sexiest in the world. It takes a startling city to make trams sexy.

Behind the Place de la Comédie, France’s most graceful central square, the medieval squeeze of the old town scurries with a sense of conspiracy in which everyone can join. Before rise some of the country’s more enviable contemporary developments. And, beyond them, the sea is a 50-minute cycle ride.

Find out more about visiting seductive Montpellier.

01:45 PM

Delta Air Lines announces £297m loss

The US carrier has announced a loss of $408 million (£297 million) in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Ed Bastian, chief executive of the airline, said 8,000 employees (of about 74,000) have tested positive Covid-19 over the last four weeks. Sickness and winter storms have led to more than 2,200 cancelled flights since 24 December.

"I don’t think we’re going to see a pickup in bookings or travel during January and probably the first part of February," Bastian said in an interview.

"It’s always the weakest part of the year, and it’s going to be that much weaker because of omicron. We need confidence in travel returning once the virus recedes."

01:33 PM

Ski resort that's a favourite among Britons 'delighted' to welcome them back

Gilles Leonard, the director of Méribel, a key French resort for British skiers, said:

We are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome visitors from the UK again. We were waiting with impatience for the government’s announcement and were very relieved to find out that from January 14, people coming from the UK can travel to France again.

Méribel was created by a Scotsman, Peter Lindsay, in 1938, and since then we have enjoyed a very close relationship with our British friends.

01:22 PM

Thailand to introduce tourist fee from April

Thailand is set to launch a tourist levy of 300 Thai Baht (£6) in April. The charge will be priced into airline fares.

phuket - Getty
phuket - Getty

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Reuters that part of the fee will "be used to take care of tourists" as there have been times when insurance didn’t cover them.

The money collected will also be use to help fund developments.

Thailand has suspended its Test & Go scheme under which foreign visitors could enter any part of the country with a PCR test on arrival and a short period of quarantine.

However, several areas are still accessible through its "sandbox" schemes, which allow visitors to remain in a certain region for seven days before travelling to the rest of the country.

01:09 PM

Look out for last-minute ski breaks in France, says travel boss

Rupert Longsdon, founder of the Oxford Ski Company, is among the travel bosses welcoming the end of the French ban on UK tourists. The number of cancellations during the period in which Britons couldn't visit France could offer up an opportunity for last-minute holidays, he suggests:

Resorts have been crying out for the UK restrictions to be dropped since day one, and we’re certainly glad to see them ease now, whilst we still have two especially busy periods ahead with half term and Easter – of course this will only go so far to making up for the lost holidays over Christmas and New Year.

Availability was already thin on the ground with especially high demand for this season combined with deferrals from last season, however, there has been some flux of late with people not wanting to cut it fine on whether travel to France would be possible, so there could well be some last minute availability across the French Alps for those who can pack-up-and-go at a moment’s notice.

12:59 PM

How to get a Government-approved Day Two test

Test  - AP
Test - AP

Regardless of their vaccination status, all travellers entering the UK must take a day 2 test.

As the Government has rolled-back its omicron-related travel restrictions, this can now be a lateral flow test instead of a more costly PCR test and the need to self-isolate until receiving a negative result has been scrapped.

Those who are not double jabbed still face a pre-departure test, 10-day quarantine sentence and two PCR tests.

Read our advice, here.

12:53 PM

Jet2holidays reports 'sharp spike' in bookings to France

Jet2holidays has reported an "immediate" spike in bookings following the news that France will end its ban on UK holidaymakers.

Jet2holidays chief executive Steve Heapy said:

This is the positive news that skiers and snowboarders have been looking forward to, and the spike in bookings for ski flights has been both sharp and immediate

The snow conditions in the French Alps are said to be excellent, meaning our customers are jumping at the chance to get back on the slopes. We know how much our customers want to get back to the French Alps and we are very pleased to be flying them there again from next weekend onwards.

This is yet more great news for the travel industry and further reinforces our already strong belief that 2022 is a year to look forward to with real confidence.

The tour operator said it will resume ski flights to Lyon, Chambery and Grenoble from January 22.

12:39 PM

Cathay Pacific to ban UK travellers from transit services at Hong Kong International Airport

Cathay Pacific Airways said that transfer and transit services at Hong Kong International Airport will be banned to passengers coming from places deemed at high risk of coronavirus from midnight on January 16 until February 15.

‘High-risk’ places include the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Japan.

Passengers on flights arriving from cities in the Chinese mainland and Taiwan may continue to connect to onward flights, the airline said in a statement on its website, saying the measure is in response to the rising number of omicron cases around the world.

12:28 PM

The world’s most exciting hotel openings for 2022

Greece’s glitziest isle will see another high-end opening this summer with Cali Mykonos 
Greece’s glitziest isle will see another high-end opening this summer with Cali Mykonos

This year’s hottest hotel openings are a varied bunch, from bumper-size projects that were half a decade in the making to little island retreats that have quietly cropped up.

Revival is a key theme, with former landmark hotels restored to their former glory on Capri and the Costa del Sol. Unbridled luxury also features with starry openings such as the South of France’s Maybourne Riviera and Cali Mykonos. Elsewhere, there’s a focus on pared-back stays with a new resort in Thailand attempting to recapture a time before mass tourism.

Here, we look at the world’s most anticipated new hotels in a year in which we can truly get excited about travel again.

Find the full list, here.

12:21 PM

France reaction: 'Variant paranoia must not define the coming years'

As France finally lifts its UK ban, travel experts are warning that the border closures and travel bans most not become embedded as a way of tackling Covid in the coming years.

Jenny Southan, editor and founder of travel trend forecasting agency Globetrender, says:

What France demonstrated in imposing a futile and fickle ban on travel from the UK was that it is motivated by its own political gain. (If it was so concerned about Omicron, why did it not completely close its borders?) Many governments around the world are using the pandemic as a means of undermining civil liberties, spreading fear and asserting greater control on populations – and as we are discovering, the freedoms we once took for granted can be swiftly erased. Not only that but France set a dangerous new precedent in suggesting that vaccination status holds no worth (not even fully jabbed travellers have been allowed in).

What's the point of getting vaccinated?' some people might say. Globetrender hopes that 'Variant Paranoia' will not become a defining trend of the coming years and that countries realise that imposing travel bans are ineffective and unacceptable.

12:09 PM

Ski bookings doubled yesterday, says leading tour operator

A leading UK ski operator has said that bookings for ski holidays to France doubled yesterday – before the announcement that the country would end its UK travel ban

Chris Logan, Managing Director of Crystal Ski Holidays, said:

Like the rest of the ski community I’m delighted we’ll be able to hit the slopes in France once again. It’s been a challenging start to the season with Switzerland and France both imposing short terms bans and complex, and ever changing testing requirements. But with the relaxation of UK testing and the Alps open to the UK again I’m feeling really optimistic.

We’ve seen a steady increase in search and bookings in the last two weeks. Bookings to France doubled yesterday even before the announcement and we would expect to see another very positive uptick now it’s official. The outlook is good, there are great deals available so now is the time to book!

11:58 AM

Last-minute winter sun: 10 of the best destinations to visit in February

As the mercury drops, we are thinking about where our next intake of vitamin D is coming from. Chris Leadbeater offers a guide.

Winter sun doesn't get more alluring than Zanzibar - GettyImages
Winter sun doesn't get more alluring than Zanzibar - GettyImages

February can be a bleak prospect in terms of European weather. But with school half-term holidays falling in the middle of the month, parents have the opportunity to whisk their children to a destination where the sun shines in earnest.

This may cause crowded beaches in popular places, but with the Caribbean at its hottest and driest, there is plenty of time for travellers without offspring to find their own escape zone.

Find the list, here.

11:27 AM

What test will I need to enter France?

Vaccinated UK travellers will be able to enter France from tomorrow, but they must show evidence of a negative test taken within the last 24 hours.

So far it has not been specified whether this must be a PCR test or cheaper lateral flow test. However, given the limited time period, it seems likely a rapid lateral flow test will be accepted.

Full details will be confirmed in an official decree tomorrow.

11:16 AM

UK January flights to France up 144 per cent on last year

Aviation analytics firm Cirium has revealed that scheduled flights between the UK and France in January 2022 are 144 per cent higher than January 2021.

However, flights remain 66 per cent down on Jan 2020, before the age of mass border closures and travel bans.

Other UK/France flight statistics from Cirium:

Data for the month of January shows:

  • There are 2,179 flights scheduled between the two nations in January 2022 – equating to 367,164 seats

  • In January 2021 only 894 flights were scheduled, and 6,364 in January 2020

For the remainder of this month, 13th to 31st January 2022:

  • Air France (including HOP) has the most flights scheduled to/from the UK and France, with a total of 667 flights. This is followed by easyJet (424 flights), British Airways (414 flights) and Ryanair (356 flights)

  • The busiest route, by flights, is London Heathrow to/from Paris Charles de Gaulle (424 flights), followed by Manchester to/from Paris Charles de Gaulle (184 flights) and London Heathrow to/from Nice (139 flights).

11:07 AM

The 20 best ski resorts in France and holidays to book in 2022

British skiers will soon be back on the slopes in France - Elina Sirparanta
British skiers will soon be back on the slopes in France - Elina Sirparanta

After a month-long hiatus, due to the untimely travel ban imposed by the French Government, ski holidays in France are back.

From the luxurious corners of Courchevel to the family-friendly slopes of Morzine and the adrenaline of Chamonix, here's where to go and the best packages to book if you're joining the race to return to the French mountains this winter.

La Rosière

Set on a shelf on the sunny side of the Isère valley, La Rosière is a great place for the whole family – from little kids to grandparents. The ski area links to La Thuile in Italy to give 154km of mainly easy slopes, with a few tougher reds on the French side. Kids have a wonderful fun run, with objects to ski through and bells to hit. There’s a lovely cleared path through the woods that is lit at night, a lift pass that allows non-skiers to admire the views from the summit and a special snowshoeing map.

Morzine

Morzine is a well established resort that is as popular in summer as it is in winter. Priding itself on its ability to appeal not only to skiers and families, but non-skiers well, the resort has its own ski area with 110km of pistes that is shared with Les Gets, offering terrain for all standards. Keen skiers will also want to explore some of the slopes in the rest of the huge Portes du Soleil area. There are a couple of fun areas for kids on the local slopes and it’s a great area for snowshoeing, ice skating, watching weekly ice hockey matches and snowmobiling; there’s even a good aquatic centre.

Find the full list, here.

10:58 AM

France lifts UK travel ban: Twitter reaction

Social media users have been responding to this morning's news that France will lift its ban on UK tourists from Friday morning. Here are some key reactions from the travel industry:

10:48 AM

Finland cuts quarantine length to five days

In some non France related news, Finland has cut its quarantine length to five days for most cases

When announcing the news its health ministry said it will still be possible for doctors to order a longer quarantine period of up to 10 days if need be.

With the omicron variant, "the progress of infection development has speeded up and therefore the quarantine length of ten days is no longer justifiable the way it was before," public health authority THL's chief physician Otto Helve told reporters.

Finland reported 53,600 new Covid cases over a week, up by more than 27 per cent from the week before, but authorities said the numbers were no longer reliable due to lack of testing capacity caused by the rapid spread of the omicron variant in the country.

The country's total death toll from the pandemic is more than 1,700.

Read more on our Covid live blog

10:40 AM

France is back – and here's why it's the greatest holiday destination on earth

It's all change, as the country lifts the British travel ban, reviving hopes for the ski season and so much more, writes Anthony Peregrine.

France has an abundance of lovely châteaux like Chenonceau in the Loire - Manfred Gottschalk
France has an abundance of lovely châteaux like Chenonceau in the Loire - Manfred Gottschalk

From tomorrow, Britons will be allowed back into France for non-business, non-vital reasons – for fun, in short – and about time, too. Talk about over-reaction – as, I’m sure, those deprived of the slopes have been doing ever since President Macron slammed the door on December 18. Certainly, potential hosts were irked beyond measure. I was in Val d’Isère when the red light lit. The wailing and gnashing of teeth enveloped the Alps.

So, good news for the skiing milieu, the more so that this year’s snow is apparently spot on in the Alps and Pyrenees but also in the Jura, Vosges and Massif Central.

And then there’s everything else. France did not get to be the planet’s number one tourist destination by skiing alone. A key element is the country’s diversity, by which I don’t mean it contains lots of different peoples and all main sexes (though it does). What I mean is that it contains most of Western Europe within its frontiers, from German and Flemish influence in the north to Spanish and Italian down south, via Celtic in Brittany and the Frenchest of French in the Loire Valley. Great cities – Strasbourg, Nice, Bordeaux – reflect great differences.

Read the full story.

10:28 AM

Pre-pandemic UK tourism to France worth 8.4 billion euros, suggests data

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has joined the chorus of those welcoming the news that France will reopen to UK tourists.

WTTC President and CEO, Julia Simpson, also highlighted the value of UK tourism to France. The WTTC's 2021 Economic impact report suggests that UK travellers account for 14 per cent of all visitors to France –who usually spend a total of €60 billion, This suggests UK holidaymakers are typically worth around €8.4billion to the French economy.

Read Julia Simpson's full comments:

WTTC welcomes the reopening of French borders to UK travellers. Once a variant is endemic closing borders is pointless and only damages livelihoods especially in travel and tourism one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic.

France is one of the biggest markets for UK tourists who, according to WTTC’s 2021 Economic Impact Report, account for 14 per cent of overseas visitors. Total international visitor spend in France was worth more than €60 billion pre-pandemic.

10:09 AM

France travel ban has done 'untold damage to Eurostar and airlines'

Amidst the celebrations of the the end of the French travel ban, some in the travel industry are lamenting that it continued for so long.

Paul Charles, CEO of travel consultancy The PC Agency and former Director of Eurostar, said:

At last France has reversed its damaging position on entry for UK visitors. It is a policy which has wiped out holidays and family visits for so many people during the crucial Christmas and New Year period. It hurt both UK and French citizens and has done untold damage to businesses, including Eurostar, small tour operators and airlines, especially in the ski sector. Border closures never, ever work – they don’t prevent infection spread and they don’t help economies.

The re-opening of borders from tomorrow will now enable things to pick up for the latter half of the ski season, as well as help families see each other again across France. I hope the French look back at the policy and realise that it achieved absolutely nothing, apart from cause immense emotional and financial stress on both sides of the Channel.

09:58 AM

How France's Covid passes work

Everyone in France who is aged 12 and over needs to demonstrate their Covid status using the Pass Sanitaire in order to access services and venues.

This includes leisure facilities, such as bars, restaurants, museums and cinemas, as well as public transport. Travellers can access the pass via the TousAntiCovid app, provided they have certification of full vaccination, proof of recovery from Covid, or a negative test taken within 24 hours. France recognises the NHS Covid Pass for this purpose. The TousAntiCovid app can be downloaded on Android or iPhones.

If you have the app, there is an option to ‘Scan a QR code’ from your test or vaccination certificate. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can show the proof on paper.

However, this print out must include a QR code. French Prime Minister Jean Castex has also pledged to introduce a law in January, which would make vaccination near-mandatory for visiting public venues, and prohibit access with just a negative test.

From January 15, those who are aged 18-64 years old and who have been fully vaccinated for more than seven months will need to demonstrate they have received an approved booster injection in order to access the pass in France. This also applies to visiting tourists and those residing in France, and tighter rules currently apply for those aged over 65.

France no longer offers free tests for tourists, so there is a charge of €29 (£25) for an antigen test and €49 (£42) for each PCR test. The test must be taken in France, so you cannot use the pre-travel test for entry to venues.

09:50 AM

What are the current Covid rates in France?

Pressure mounted on the French government in the past few days to lift the UK travel ban as France's Covid rates soared.

Here's a look at the current Covid rates in the country.

09:38 AM

France reopening to British holidaymakers is 'a shot in the arm’ for ski companies'

A travel chief has spoken of the importance of France's reopening for the UK winter sports industry, highlighting that almost a million British skiers head to France on an average season

James Gambrill, general manager of the Ski Club of Great Britain:

The news of France reopening to British holidaymakers is an important ‘shot in the arm’ for the UK winter sports industry. Whilst this season is very much underway in Italy, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere France remains the single most popular destination for UK skiers with close to a million choosing to ski there in an average season.

Availability is tight for the peak dates such as the February half-term but there are still some spaces especially in smaller resorts, and for the rest of the season plenty of opportunities to book, but we do expect demand to be very high, especially coupled with the easing of the return restrictions into the UK which itself provoked a significant increase in bookings and enquiries.

At the Ski Club we are still incredibly busy with enquiries both for our own Fresh Tracks holiday programme and for members travelling independently and with other operators. We expect demand to only increase with this news.

Was the ban even necessary? That debate will roll on, every nation has to make the choices to protect their citizens and it does seem that for this omicron driven wave France may have been a few weeks behind the UK, but as we have seen in every instance since the pandemic began international travel restrictions especially between neighbouring countries have been very ineffective at containing outbreaks.

A combination of vaccines and sensibly considered testing requirements does seem to be the most sensible and effective way forward to both keep borders open and everyone in every country as safe as possible.

09:30 AM

Why Paris should be your first city break this year

With trips across the Channel possible once again, it’s time for Britain to reignite its love affair with the French capital, writes Eleanor Aldridge.

Alluring and infuriating in equal measure, Paris is a city that takes seconds to fall in love with and a lifetime to understand. There’s nowhere else quite like it.

I fall under its spell from the moment I step off the Eurostar. My heart skips a beat to the mêlée of blaring horns, taxi touts and chaotic terrasses. I even love the smell. It’s the scent of crumbling Haussmanian stone, of grainy espressos half-drunk on wobbly tables, of dusty pavements and faintly wafting cigarette smoke.

A city break to Paris in the springtime cannot be beat  - istock
A city break to Paris in the springtime cannot be beat - istock

In Paris you always have permission to order a glass of wine at lunch, to spend an afternoon reading in a sunny window seat, to critique the latest exhibition as if you’ve studied the great masters for decades.

Here, you’re free to be yourself. Parisians don’t hide their emotions or kowtow to social niceties. They protest, argue and speak directly. They stay out late and don’t apologise for it the next day.

Read on, here.

09:23 AM

France lifts travel ban reaction: 'Snow conditions in the Alps are near perfect'

The ski industry is reacting to the welcome news that France will finally lift its ban on UK tourists.

Charles Owen, Managing director Seasonal Businesses in Travel:

This is very welcome news not only for the thousands of UK holidaymakers and people visiting friends and family in France, but also for the thousands of UK ski tour operators that have been in an effective shutdown for 22 months,.

There is huge demand for travel and the industry can be a vital engine contributing to the recovery of the UK economy. Snow conditions in the Alps are near perfect and we expect demand for holidays to be very high over the next few weeks.

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