Brekdancing when visiting the Eiffel Tower is optional. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP
Tourism to France is gradually opening up over the next month, but visitors may not be able to visit their favorite spots. Here’s a roundup of when some of the country’s biggest attractions reopen.
The French government has laid out a four-step process for reopening, and some bigger venues have already announced their reopening dates.
Louvre – the iconic museum will reopen on Wednesday, May 19th, the first day that museums and cultural spaces are permitted to reopen under the French government’s roadmap out of lockdown. Museums have strict rules on the number of visitors they are allowed per square metre, which will limit the number of tickets available. Entry via pre-booked tickets only.
The Musée d’Orsay will also open on May 19th, again entry is via pre-booked tickets only.
Disneyland Paris – Europe’s largest tourist site, which is about 30km out of the city itself, announced that it will reopen on June 17th. All guests over the age of six will have to wear a face mask and there will be extra health protocols in place to avoid crowding. Entry by pre-booked tickets only.
Eiffel Tower – no confirmed date.
Nightclubs in France have been completely closed since March 2020, but the Moulin Rouge has announced its first post-Covid show will be on September 10th. This marks the longest shutdown in the club’s history, even including during World War II. The other renowned centres of Parisian “nude chic” will reopen around the same time: Crazy Horse on September 9th and Le Lido on September 16th.
Paris cafés – the city’s cafés are a tourist attraction in themselves and they will reopen their outdoor terraces on May 19th, followed by indoor dining and drinking spaces on June 9th. There will be strict limits on capacity, however, and groups of no more than six per table.
Monet’s House and gardens in Giverny will again reopen to the public on May 19th.
In Bordeaux the Musée du Vin reopens on May 19th, with limits on the number of visitors. There is no requirement to pre-book tickets but you could be turned away if the museum has reached its maximum capacity under the new rules.
In Lyon the Institut Lumière, which celebrates the life and work of the Lumière brothers, widely regarded as the fathers of cinema, reopens on May 19th for pre-booked guided visits.
In Normandy the spectacular Abbey of Mont Saint Michel reopens on May 19th. Pre-booking is not compulsory but is advised and can be done online.
At the other end of the country but equally spectacular is the Medieval cité of Carcassonne. Currently the castle and walls are closed to the public, with no confirmed reopening date, but the cité itself is open and all shops will reopen on May 19th.
Museums – under the government’s plan all museums can reopen from May 19th, but many have extra health restrictions and booking conditions in place.
Parks and gardens – parks and public gardens did not close during the most recent lockdown measures, so are all currently open. Some parks, especially in Paris, did however ban drinking alcohol.
Churches – all places of worship remained open under the most recent restrictions so France’s historic churches and cathedral are open to visitors (apart from Paris’ Notre-Dame which is still shut for repairs after the devastating fire of 2019).
Shops – all shops can reopen from May 19th, albeit with strict limits on the number of customers allowed per square metre, so don’t be surprised to see queues outside some stores.
Bars, cafés and restaurants – can reopen their outdoor areas from May 19th and indoors from June 9th. Strict limit on customer numbers for the indoor reopening means booking would be advised for popular places.
Health rules – do bear in mind that if you are visiting France you will need to abide by the country’s health rules. Masks – worn so they cover your nose and mouth – are compulsory in all indoor public spaces and on the streets in many of France’s larger towns and cities.
Failure to wear a mask correctly can net you a €135 fine and there is no exemption for people who have a health condition or who are fully vaccinated.
Depending on when you visit, you may also need to abide by the curfew, which will be gradually relaxed over the summer before ending – health situation permitting – on June 30th.