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Bonjour! France welcoming back vaccinated tourists

Vaccinated visitors from the US, UK and many other parts of the world will no longer need to quarantine on arrival.

WASHINGTON — A stroll in Pablo Picasso's footsteps in Montmartre; breathing in the scents of Provence; a humbling walk along D-Day beaches: These and all of France's other attractions will once again become easily accessible to most foreign tourists from next week — if they are vaccinated.

France is putting itself back on the menu as a destination for international tourists who have had coronavirus jabs. The government announced Friday that it is removing the need for coronavirus tests for vaccinated Europeans. It also is allowing vaccinated tourists from most of the rest of the world, including the United States, much of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North and central America to also come back, provided they have a negative test.

The relaxed rules will kick in from Wednesday, offering a boost for France’s tourism sector. For French tour guide Linda Zenou, the return of foreign visitors cannot come soon enough: unemployment payments that she's been surviving on during the pandemic stopped last month, leaving her with “no more resources, nothing.” The 61-year-old has had no foreign tourists to guide since she led a busload of English and Spanish speakers around the Palace of Versailles in February 2020.

“Every day there are announcements that the Americans — 'Whoopee!' — et cetera are coming back,” she said. “It's going to take time to put in place and since I'm desperate, it's hard to be positive.”

Tourism to France will still not be possible from countries wrestling with virus surges and worrisome variants. This “red list” for the moment has 16 countries, including India, South Africa and Brazil.

Outside of Europe, most of the rest of the world is classed as “orange” in the new travel rulebook released Friday by the French government.

Vaccinated visitors from “orange” countries — including the United States and Britain — will no longer need to quarantine on arrival and will no longer have to justify the reasons for their trip to France. They will, however, still be asked for a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours or a negative antigenic test of no more than 48 hours.

Unvaccinated children will be allowed in with vaccinated adults, but will have to show a negative test from age 11.

European visitors and those from seven countries classed as “green” — Australia, South Korea, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand and Singapore — will no longer need to undergo testing if they’re vaccinated.