Details of a new roadmap out of the pandemic agreed by President Emmanuel Macron were leaked to the media on Thursday - ahead of Macron’s official announcement of the timeline later this evening.
It will allow the British – the biggest visitor group to Paris – and other foreign nationals back into the country if they have proof of being vaccinated or a negative PCR test.
France is currently in lockdown, but this will gradually be lifted in May as restaurants and bars are allowed to reopen.
The four-phase plan will see France fully reopened just nine days after the UK, despite its far higher infection, hospitalisation and death rates.
France still has some 6000 Covid patients in intensive care, and the vaccine rollout is far slower than in Britain.
But Macron’s full plan – which he is expected to confirm officially on Thursday evening – will see an end to a national travel ban on May 3.
Phase two will start on May 19, when the current 7pm curfew will be extended to 9pm and restaurant, bar and cafe terraces reopen.
Group sizes will be limited to six people and sports halls will reopen to the public.
Museums, theatres, cinemas, and non-essential shops can open doors on that date too, with a maximum capacity of 800 people indoors and 1,000 outdoors.
Cafes and restaurants will then be allowed to serve clients indoors from June 9, when the curfew will be pushed back to 11pm.
June 9 is also the date when the ‘health pass’ will come into action. Beyond being of use to arriving foreigners, it will be essential for those attending mass gatherings of up to 5,000 people, such as football matches or music festivals.
‘Foreign tourists will be allowed to return to French soil with the health pass,’ a government source told French regional media representatives.
June 30 will mark the end of the curfew and a return to near-normality, Mr Macron told the same source.
The roadmap will be nationwide unless the health situation deteriorates in a particular region, in which case ‘emergency brakes’ will be applied.
Macron told the regional press that June 30 would mark the end of the curfew and a return to quasi-normality, according to reports from the Telegraph.
Roland Héguy, head of France's main hotel and restaurant union Umih, said: ‘At last we have dates, we have the keys to getting out of lockdown and can organise ourselves to work over the three phases.’
But some French medics have blasted the leaked plan as “mad”, given the current situation in the country’s hospitals, the Telegraph reported.
Almost 6,000 Covid-19 patients reportedly remain in intensive care.
Epidemiologist Catherine Hill told BFM TV: ‘Today, we have more people arriving in intensive care than in the peak in November, so the situation is really very bad.
“That is the moment the government chooses to take its foot off the brake. It's absolutely not reasonable. The virus continues to circulate.’
Alain Ducardonnet, doctor and health consultant, said the average trend in hospitalisations is a drop of six per-cent, but it remained “relatively fragile”.
"We're starting off high and the margin is very small.
“The slightest rise will once again pose problems of tensions in hospitals," he said.
Macron defended his handling of the health crisis on Thursday, citing the need for “conviviality”, culture, and sport as reasons for ending lockdown.
"We were enlightened by science and took the decision to prioritise the human aspect above all," he said.
France has vaccinated 14.6 million people with at least one dose and is on track to reach 20 million by mid-May, and 30 million by mid-June.
The country has recorded 5.57 million Covid-19 cases and 103,947 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The roadmap will be nationwide unless the health situation deteriorates in a particular region
Cafes and restaurants across France will be allowed to serve clients indoors from June 9
The four-phase plan will see France fully reopened just nine days after the UK