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COVID Testing in France for Travel Demystified

I am writing this from Houston, Texas, after successfully navigating all the hurdles to travel from France to the US! It feels great to be back, and I am happy to report that as long as you have a game plan, everything is smooth sailing. It can even be a great travel experience since it seems there are still less people traveling than before! Our flight was at about 5% capacity - sad for the airlines but really nice for us:)

Travel, especially international, is a bit tricky these days - will anyone have a fever? Will our COVID test results come back in time? What if I didn’t get the right type of test in the correct time frame??? What was already a lot to prepare is now even more labor intensive, with plenty of uncertainty to boot!

We arrived in the US a couple days ago, and I wanted to share my tips for getting COVID tests done before your flight from France. I hope this demystifies the process for anyone planning to travel from France soon!

Our Empty Flight Back to the US!

To enter the US, anyone over 2 years old needs a negative test result 3 days before departure. The test can be antigenic or PCR.

For anyone 6 and up it's easy - just go to a pharmacy (they are everywhere… one of the most common types of stores in France!) and ask if they are doing antigenic tests. There are often tents outside, a sure sign they are testing. There are also testing tents set-up in some fun locations - like the one below set up right in front of the Opera Garnier! The test will be performed on the spot, and the results are ready between 15 minutes to a couple hours, and are either by sent by email or given in paper form on the spot. I would recommend stopping into pharmacies near where you’re staying to ask if they perform the test, if they have specific hours for the tests, and how long the results take.

A COVID Testing Tent Set Up in Paris

For under 6 years old it is a bit trickier - most (all?) pharmacies refuse to test 5 and under, so you’ll need to go to a laboratory. Search 'laboratoire' and check hours of PCR (labs only do PCR, in my experience) tests - often they seem to only be doing them in the morning. The wait can be long at the labs, be ready to potentially wait some! The results usually come the same day. It is worth asking at pharmacies you walk past just to check and see if they'll do a younger child, maybe you'll get lucky!

As far as prices - The cost recently changed, and is now fixed at 29 euros for antigenic tests, and 49 euros for PCR tests for foreigners.

It was quick and easy for both my kids (3 and 6) - I was really nervous, but they didn’t seem to be in pain at all!

As a backup solution, there is a pharmacy located before the check-in counters at the Charles de Gaulle airport, and they said they accept all ages for tests with 20 minute results.

Once at the airport, they checked the results at boarding, and had me sign a document saying we didn’t have any symptoms.

Voila, voilà! My main advice is to have a gameplan on where you’ll go ready for 3 days before your flight. This will ensure a smooth test day and no rushing or stress at the end of your vacation!

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