Air travel from US to France & back: how get Covid test prior to return?
October 13, 2021 4:42 PM   Subscribe

In about 2 months, I probably have to travel to Paris from California. It looks like there is a US federal requirement to get a Covid test prior to return to the US. What are my best options to get the test done in France prior to the return flight? It looks like CDG airport offers on-site testing, but they don't recommended waiting until travel day to get tested.

I'd prefer to use a spit test, or really anything that doesn't involve someone shoving a stick up my nose.
posted by StrawberryPie to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There was a Washington Post article about this recently. I had a lot of trouble finding a covid test when travelling in the UK a couple of months ago and I would recommend bringing a BinaxNOW kit with you when you fly out, and have medical professional guide you virtually while you do the test, as described in the WaPo article. The company’s instructions are here. At least it will be you sticking a swab up your nose, not someone else!
posted by sizeable beetle at 6:34 PM on October 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

My one recent experience is with Stuttgart, two weeks ago, where they had in-airport testing. Their advance scheduling didn't work for me and I just walked up and there was no line. The guy did stick a swab up my nose, but it was comically shallow, almost like it was just covid testing theater.

I also saw such in-airport testing while connecting through Amsterdam's airport.

The down side is that the Paris airport (CDG) is The F---ing Worst at every form of logistics. I have passed through there 3-4 times and every time it has been a complete disaster (details omitted). I now refuse to ever ever ever go through there -- if I ever go to Paris again, I'm taking the farking train. So if anyone is going to screw up in-airport testing, I would expect it to be CDG.

A final factor is that you are talking two months from now, when all this should have eased a bit.

All that said, if I were you I would just rely on CDG testing, and go worry about something else.
posted by intermod at 6:39 PM on October 13, 2021

What kind of tests is required ? PCR or Antigen?
You can get antigen almost at every pharmacy you’ll come across in France. It might even be free given that you need one to fly out.
You’ll get results in 15 minutes.

PCR is less common and slower, you need to plan your test at least 48 hours before your flight
So no testing at the airport. Unless you’re in a very remote part of France it shouldn’t be hard to find a place where they can test you but you might need to search for one online.

I haven’t seen any spit test here yet, it might exist but I wouldn’t know how to find one. The nose thing is not that bad.
posted by SageLeVoid at 11:26 PM on October 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

Antigen tests outside pharmacies stopped being free this week (unless you have symptoms or a prescription). They are 22€ and PCRs are now 44€. You can still walk up to these without an appointment, and they are every 500m I would estimate. You get results in 15 minutes either by sitting waiting or getting a text or email.

You can (easily) find a PCR provider and appointment here, it is in French but it’s a map so just search Paris then by whatever area you need. The results come by email in 24 hours so I do this two days before travelling.

We haven’t had spit tests at all.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:44 PM on October 13, 2021 [3 favorites]

Dear Lord do not do the test at the airport. When I flew through there in September, the line was about two hours long.

Follow ellieBOA’s advice and walk into any pharmacy. Some might require appointments, so a couple days before you need to take it, pop your head into the most convenient one to you and ask.
posted by Liesl at 4:40 AM on October 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Adding to the above - if you end up going the BinaxNOW route, make sure you buy this type of kit (Ag Card) and not this type of kit (regular BinaxNOW). Only the former includes the video chat component that makes it legal for entry to the US.
posted by mosst at 5:07 AM on October 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

But also, in my recent travel experience, every hotel concierge and other traveler resource is VERY accustomed to helping travelers find COVID tests and it's generally no big deal to get one done, no matter where you are. Just make sure you know which type you need (the US is more permissive than most other countries, which typically require PCR).
posted by mosst at 5:10 AM on October 14, 2021

Best answer: Just got back to the US from Paris. We used BinaxNOW, the one with the video component. (It must have the video component to meet re-entry requirements.) We ordered it for home delivery before we left and took it with us. It was quick and easy to use and the instructions were very clear. You download an app, then connect to a person by video who instructs you on how to do the test and watches you, then confirms the result and sends you an email which you then show at the airport.

Having said that, it would have been just as easy to get the test done on the street in Paris, and probably less expensive. There are tents set up all over the city, and many pharmacies have little tents for testing set up outside their doors. They are everywhere, and if you walk around at all you will find a test location without even trying. If I'd known that, I probably would have just tested at one of those sites. Just be sure to check your airline's website for the testing requirements to make sure you get the right kind of test.

When departing, we walked past the pharmacy at CDG in terminal 2E which was offering testing. The line was 40 or 50 people deep. Unless you have lots and lots of time to kill, that's probably not a good option.
posted by MelissaSimon at 6:51 AM on October 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Update to the above post: Free covid tests for unvaccinated French residents ends today, so all the testing tents around Paris might be (probably will be?) disappearing soon. Booking through the Doctolib website should still be a great option.
posted by MelissaSimon at 9:08 AM on October 15, 2021

If the tents disappear the pharmacies they work with will still sell and do the tests.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:48 PM on October 15, 2021

The tents are still here.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:39 AM on October 26, 2021

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