The Foreign Office has not warned against travel to France

5 July 2023
What was claimed

Britain’s Foreign Office has warned its citizens not to travel to France because of the riots.

Our verdict

This is not true. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has advised people to avoid areas where riots are taking place, monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities and travel operators. It has not advised against travel to France.

Multiple posts on social media have incorrectly claimed that the Foreign Office is advising people not to travel to France. But this is not true.

The posts appear to have originated from a tweet by Jim Ferguson, a former parliamentary candidate for the Brexit Party, published on 1 July that has more than 5,000 retweets. Full Fact has contacted him for comment and will update this article if he responds.

The same text has been shared multiple times on Facebook.

The posts claim that “Britain’s foreign office is now warning UK citizens not to travel to France”, amid other claims about the riots and French president Emmanuel Macron that Full Fact has not verified.  

A Liverpool Echo headline published on 29 June says: “New 'avoid' France travel warning as Foreign Office changes advice”. But this is not exactly true—the article’s text goes on to say that the government advises people to “‘avoid’ the protests”, rather than France itself.

Riots have been taking place across France following the fatal shooting by a police officer of a 17-year-old boy, Nahel M, in the Paris suburbs on 27 June.  

Although it has warned travellers about staying away from the riots, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is not advising against travel to the country.  

At the time of writing, the FCDO travel advice page for France says: “Since 27 June, riots have taken place across France. Many have turned violent. Shops, public buildings and parked cars have been targeted. There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews. Locations and timing of riots are unpredictable. 

“You should monitor the media, avoid areas where riots are taking place, check the latest advice with operators when travelling and follow the advice of the authorities.”

However, it does not warn against ‘all travel’—or ‘all but essential travel’— to France as the posts claim. The FCDO says that it only advises against travel in cases of non-terrorist threat, such as “civil unrest”, when the risk to British nationals is considered to be “unacceptably high”. For countries where it has advised against all travel, that warning appears clearly and in bold at the top of the page.

Travel insurance policies are often affected by FCDO advice and may become invalid if warnings have been issued against travelling to a destination. But that is not the case for France.

Full Fact has written about other false claims relating to the recent riots in France, including claims about a photo that actually come from unrest during the 2016 Euro final and that zoo animals were released by protestors in Paris. 

This type of information can spread quickly online and create unnecessary alarm and confusion. It’s always best to verify information like this before sharing it on social media. For more help on how to spot this kind of online misinformation, see our guides on how to identify misleading images and videos.

Image courtesy of MercerMJ 

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