Five weeks since a travel corridor was put in place to France, the government has now advised against all but essential travel as coronavirus cases continue to rise.
As of Saturday at 4am you will need to quarantine for 14 days on return from France. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warning against non-essential travel also means travel insurance for future holidays to France will no longer be valid.
The quarantine and FCO warning will mean many people no longer want to travel, but claiming a refund could be difficult. Unlike with Spain, where many holidaymakers were booked to travel on package holidays, most travellers to France book accommodation and transport separately. This offers less protection.
Package holiday providers, such as Jet2 Holidays and BA Holidays, are likely to cancel forthcoming holidays to France. That will allow customers to claim a full refund under the Package Travel Regulations.
But airlines are unlikely to cancel – easyJet has already confirmed to us that its flights will continue. British Airways, Ryanair and all other major airlines are likely to follow suit. If the airline doesn’t cancel, you can’t claim a refund. You may be able to rebook, although some airlines, such as Ryanair, charge a fee. It will be the same situation with the Eurotunnel and most ferry providers.
Hotels and campsites in France remain open as there is no lockdown in place. You’ll be reliant on the policies and goodwill of the website or provider you booked with as to whether you can rebook.
Below you’ll find full advice on flights, accommodation, Eurotunnel, ferries and other France holiday bookings.
Can I still travel to France?
Legally, you can still travel to France. However, it is not advised by the UK government because of a spike in coronavirus cases.
The FCO warning invalidates travel insurance. If you do travel, you won’t be covered if your holiday is disrupted or you fall ill. There are some specialist travel insurers that specifically offer cover for destinations on the FCO travel advisory list
In addition, on return to the UK you must quarantine for 14 days. This means you must stay at home or an address you have provided or face being fined.
France has suggested it will introduce reciprocal measures, meaning UK travellers may have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. This policy has not yet been introduced.
Find more unbiased advice on travel and coronavirus, award-winning investigations and legal advice on holiday refunds and cancelled flights with Which? Travel
What’s happening in France?
On Thursday, France reported 2,524 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours. That is the highest daily increase since lockdown was lifted in May.
France has not imposed a lockdown, or localised restrictions. It has introduced mandatory face coverings in outside spaces in some areas.
Should I cancel my France holiday?
No. If you cancel your package holiday, you may lose your right to a refund. Most package holiday providers will start cancelling holidays to France due to leave in the next two to three weeks, usually in order of date of departure. You can then accept free rebooking, a refund credit note (RCN) or a refund. You are entitled to a cash refund if you’d prefer one, but by taking an RCN, you will help companies that have been hit hard by the pandemic. They are now confirmed to be financially protected if the company that issued it goes bust, so your money is safe.
EasyJet Holidays has said that it will not send passengers anywhere the FCO advises against all non-essential travel, or where there is routine quarantine. This means it will cancel your holiday and provide a full refund or credit as preferred. British Airways Holidays told us it too will offer a refund or voucher if you are travelling in the next three weeks on a package booking.
We have approached Jet2 Holidays and Disneyland Paris for their policies and will update this article when we have received a response.
Can I get a refund on my flight with Ryanair, easyJet or British Airways to France?
EasyJet plans to operate its full schedule in the coming days meaning you can’t claim a refund. It said: ‘Customers who no longer wish to travel to claim a voucher for the value of the booking or transfer their flights without a change fee. You will, however, have to pay the fare difference for the new dates you pick.’
British Airways said: ‘If a flight is still operating but a customer wants to change their booking they can or they can take a voucher for future travel anytime before travel at no cost.’ That means you can’t claim a refund if it’s still running, but you will be entitled to one if it is cancelled.
Ryanair has insisted standard terms and conditions apply if you want to rebook, which means paying a hefty fee. Unfortunately, if you decide not to travel or rebook, you will lose the cost of your flight.
Can I get a refund on Eurostar and Eurotunnel journeys to France?
Eurotunnel will continue to run all journeys and it will not refund you unless you originally bought a refundable ticket. However, you can amend your booking free of charge but you have to pay any fare difference.
Eurostar will not automatically trips to France – although services may be reduced in the coming weeks. If your journey goes ahead, Eurostar allows customers who no longer wish to travel up to September 7 the option to exchange tickets free of charge or request an e-voucher. You can do this up to a day before travel. If it does cancel your journey, you are entitled to a cash refund under the Rail Passenger Rights regulation.
Can I get a refund on my ferry booking to France?
If you booked with DFDS directly, you can either re-book your journey for free or cancel and get a full refund, provided you give 24 hours’ notice before your outward departure. To do this, customers booked to travel from Dover to Calais or Dunkirk should call 0344 848 6090, while customers booked to travel from Newhaven to Dieppe should call 0800 917 1201.
P&O Ferries will issue a credit note or amend your booking free for any sailings in August, but will not refund.
Brittany Ferries has previously said standard terms and conditions apply, and customers can’t cancel and claim a refund. We have asked it for an update on their policies in light of the news.
What about hotel and campsite bookings?
Hotels and campsites in France will remain open, meaning you won’t be able to claim a refund. If you want to cancel, you’ll have to check the T&Cs of your booking. Some online booking websites such as Booking.com and Airbnb offer last-minute cancellation on some listings, but not all.
Many individual properties may be willing to offer flexibility by rebooking for a later date, but you will be reliant on their goodwill.
If the hotel is ordered to close as part of a government-enforced lockdown, you’re entitled to a refund for any unused nights.
Will travel insurance help?
It depends when you took out the travel insurance. If it was after around the 10 March, when coronavirus became a known event, it’s likely the policy has an exclusion for FCO travel warnings related to coronavirus. That means you won’t be able to claim.
If you have travel insurance taken out before this date, an annual policy or one of a handful of policies that didn’t include the exclusion you should be able to claim but it will depend on the individual policy.
Read our travel insurance Q&A for more detailed information on what is happening with policies.
What happens if France announces local/regional lockdowns?
If you’re travelling to an area affected by an official government lockdown, your tour operator will likely cancel the holiday, in which case you’ll be entitled to a full refund.
Some holiday companies have said they will bring clients home early if the lockdown happens mid-holiday, in which case the Package Travel Regulations stipulate that you’d be entitled to a pro-rata refund for any unused days.
You don’t need to head home early in the case of voluntary lockdowns. But nor will you be able to claim a refund if you don’t want to travel.
I’m on holiday in France now. Do I need to return to the UK early?
The government has said holidaymakers don’t need to return to the UK early. You will still be covered on insurance (if you took this out before travel) provided your date of travel was prior to the FCO announcement being made.
The only instance where you’ll need to return early is if your travel company asks you to and you don’t want to pay for a new flight home.
When restrictions on Spain came about, Jet2 asked some customers to return to the UK early. The company decided it was too expensive to keep sending empty flights over and wanted to consolidate departures. It is possible this will happen with France. Which? has asked Jet2 to confirm. If this happens, you will be entitled to a refund for the nights lost.
Coronavirus – what it means for your travel insurance