With a slew of countries announcing plans to reopen or relax border restrictions, more of us are beginning to look into travelling overseas in the year ahead. And while the idea of finally being able to leave the country after the past two years may seem like a dream come true, there are a couple of things you need to prepare before jetting off.
In this pandemic world, countries have implemented different pre-departure test requirements that you would have to fulfil before you’re allowed to board the plane. Aside from that, there are also a few other things that you would have to do in the country you’re visiting before flying back to Singapore on your VTL flight. We know, it does sound like a chore, but if you’re well prepared for what’s to come, everything else will be a breeze.
Now if you’re planning a trip to France then you’re in luck. After spending a week in the City of Lights, I’ve summed up everything you need to know for your trip (what to do before, during and after your trip), as well as some useful travel tips, and a few places you should visit in Paris (besides the Eiffel Tower, of course).
Now there’s a list of things you would have to do if you’re looking to fly off to France this year. And while it may seem overwhelming at first, you don’t have to be discouraged because it’s genuinely quite manageable if you know what to do. Here’s a brief overview of what needs to be done:
– A valid passport that isn’t expiring in less than six months. (If you’re looking to renew your passport, you can easily do so on ICA’s website. It took me about five to seven days to receive my new passport)
– Pre-Departure Antigen-Rapid Test (ART) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test within 2 days before departure for Singapore
– Register with Ministry of Foreign Affairs (optional) (Register here: https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg/eregisterportal/common/preLoginEregisterView.action)
– Buy travel insurance (optional but recommended)
– Download the TousAntiCovid app (this is France’s version of TraceTogether, which is required if you’re visiting certain places. You will also need to convert your Singapore Vaccine Certificate from Notarise, which can be included by using the app to scan the QR code in your vaccination certificate)(Available on Google Play and App Store)
Print a copy of:
– Singapore Vaccine Certificate (Download here: https://www.notarise.gov.sg/)
– Commitment on Honor Declaration (Download here: https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/Actualites/L-actu-du-Ministere/Attestation-de-deplacement-et-de-voyage#from4)(Not compulsory for you to download and print if you’re flying with Singapore Airlines as it will be provided to you)
– International Driving Permit (Applicable for those intending to drive in France)(Apply here: https://idponline.aas.com.sg/pages/Application))
You might be wondering, how much cash should one carry for a week in Paris? Well, in my opinion, you don’t need to bring a lot of cash on your trip. In fact, most shops in Paris accept cashless payment.
I would recommend applying for a YouTrip card or the Amaze card by Instarem that offer pretty good exchange rates as compared to using your credit cards. Nevertheless, you can also activate your credit/debit card for overseas use during your trip too.
But still, there’s no harm if you want to bring some cash. For my trip, I brought about 700€, which is honestly more than enough, and I usually used it to pay for all of my meals.
Paris is generally a well-connected city, so you can easily travel from one place to another by train or even by foot, instead of taking a taxi. And trust me, when you’re in Paris, you would definitely explore every inch of this beautiful city on foot. Buying a ticket from the metro is generally quite easy. During my trip, I bought a book of ten tickets (22€), which allowed me to travel to any station I wanted to go to on the map. However, one ticket is only valid for that one trip, so if you’re making more trips in between, you’ll definitely have to buy a lot more.
Now, as for taxis, there’s nothing wrong about taking them, but it does burn quite a hole in your wallet especially if you’re taking it really often. Paris has its own range of ride-hailing service providers, like FREE NOW, Bolt, and Uber, so it does come in handy especially if you’re travelling to and fro the airport with heavy luggage or even if you have an early or late flight. So I would recommend downloading all three apps to compare prices when you’re there, as the prices do fluctuate depending on the demand.
Before travelling back to Singapore, it’s important to note that you would have to take an ART/PCR test, 48 hours before your departure. You can book a slot over at DoctorLib, or walk into any of the pharmacies that are conducting ART tests in France to get yours done. I recommend that you ask the pharmacy to print your result out so you can easily present it at the airport.
And on top of that, I would also advise that you arrive at the airport four hours before your flight, yes you read that right, not two but four hours, just in case there’s any delay. The snaking queues at the airport can take up a lot of time, so you wouldn’t want to miss your flight back home.
It goes without saying that Paris is a beautiful country that’s rich in history and is known for its dense cultural and artistic network. Some of the few places that you can check out include:
– Arc de Triomphe
– Eiffel Tower
– Musée du Louvre
– The Catacombs
– Disneyland Paris
– Palace of Versailles
– L’Atelier des Lumières
While these places are hot touristy spots, I recommend that you explore the city on your own as well for an immersive experience.
Arc de Triomphe
This massive triumphal arch in Paris, is also known as one of the world’s best-known commemorative monuments. Honouring those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the Arc de Triomphe is an emblematic symbol of the capital of France and it represents the various victories of the French army under Napoleon.
The site has been a popular spot for tourists so you can definitely expect large crowds, especially in the afternoons and the evenings.
Pl. Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris, France
Of course, this trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. Standing at 324 metres tall, the Eiffel is the tallest structure in Paris. But that’s not all. In fact, it’s more than just a global cultural icon. If you didn’t already know, high atop the tower, there’s a secret apartment that almost no one else was allowed access to, where Gustave Eiffel would occasionally host guests of the utmost prestige such as Thomas Edison.
There are three levels for visitors in the Eiffel Tower, of which you’ll find restaurants on the first and second levels.
I bought tickets to go all the way up the third level of the Eiffel Tower and let’s just say that the view whisked me away (quite literally).
And not to forget, if you’re going to visit the Eiffel Tower, be sure to come in the morning to avoid the long queues.
Champ de Mars, 5 Av. Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France
Musée du Louvre
Next up: The Louvre Museum. Otherwise known as the world’s most-visited museum, this landmark is well-loved for good reason. It houses some of the world’s most famous artworks like the Napoleon III Apartments, Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, Venus de Milo and the ever-so-famous Mona Lisa painting (not pictured above). Before making your way over, be sure to purchase your tickets to the museum so you can avoid the long queues, even on weekdays.
Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France
If there’s one place you’d have to visit in Paris, aside from the museums, it would have to be the Catacombs. It’s the underground ossuaries of Paris and it holds the remains of over six million people in a small part of a tunnel network. Sure, it can be creepy at first, but exploring and getting to know more about the history behind it is definitely one of the most unforgettable, spine-tingling experiences you won’t get anywhere else.
1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
Still a kid at heart? Fret not. Over at Disneyland Paris, you can expect to see two theme parks, seven Disney hotels, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, and a golf course. It’s located quite far from the center of Paris, so I recommend getting a ticket that offers a shuttle service so you can travel to and fro easily in less than 30 minutes. Otherwise, if you’re taking the metro, it would take about 1.5 hours to reach Disneyland.
Each theme park would take about a day to complete and it’s better if you purchase your tickets online beforehand. The queues for each of the attractions/rides can take up a lot of your time, with an average waiting time of 25 to 50 minutes each, so it’s better if you start your day early.
And of course, don’t forget to stay for the Disney Illuminations show at 8pm, for a spectacular 20-minute firework display in the centre of Disneyland Paris.
Bd de Parc, 77700 Coupvray, France
Palace of Versailles
Another must-visit spot that you have to check out is the Palace of Versailles. Housing over 60,000 artworks, the Palace of Versailles, former French royal residence and centre of government, is a national landmark that’s rich in history. As a matter of fact, The Treaty of Versailles, was also signed in June 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors (left) located within the Palace of Versailles in Paris at the end of World War I too.
Exploring the Palace of Versailles would take about up to a day to explore because of the extensiveness of its grounds. Alternatively, you also have the option of taking a tram or renting a buggy to drive around the area too.
Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Bought something from Galeries Lafayette? While there’s a limitless range of luxury brands to shop for at Galeries Lafayette, it’s also important to note that you can apply for a tax refund as long as you bring your passport with you. Here, you can enjoy a 12% tax refund on your luxury items which will then be credited back to your card, or a 10% tax refund if you’re paying by cash. Just note that if you’re paying by credit card, it will take about three to four weeks before you receive your cashback.
In addition, after applying for a tax refund at Galeries Lafayette, you would also have to scan your receipt over at the tax refund machine at the airport (located near the check-in counters), so it’s best that you do take some time for you to do that before your flight back to Singapore.
Once you’ve landed safely in Singapore, you’ll be glad to know that you won’t have to go through any PCR test upon arrival! As of 22 February 2022, the Singapore government announced that VTL and Category I travellers are not required to take a PCR test upon arrival. Instead, you can now take a supervised self-swab ART at one of the testing centres located across Singapore of which you will have to do so within 24 hours from your entry into Singapore.