This September, TierOne Travel’s President and Director Shelley Ewing traveled from Canada to France to visit her family, who she hadn’t seen for nearly two years!
In this short interview, she informs us about her experience of traveling internationally right now, how she sees that the international travel experience had changed since the pandemic, and what to expect when visiting France.
Tell us about your most recent trip to France! When did you go and what did you get up to?
I was in France for the first two weeks in September. It was wonderful to reunite with my family after two years!
Although I was in rural France, COVID-19 protocols were taken very seriously. Even in an open street market, everyone was wearing a mask and you are also required to show proof of vaccination before being seated. The French way of life is very relaxed, with lots of “people-watching” opportunities available from the quaint little cafes. The area has several “Bastide” villages, which are medieval towns built on hilltops for easy defense. Each village has a lovely town square with buildings dating back to the 1200s. In fact, my mom’s house was built in 1742!
We took walks along the Canal Du Midi; it’s also a great cycling route. It runs all the way from Bordeaux on the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. It was originally used to transport goods. Now there are houseboats and barges for rent which is a lovely way to experience the country. I highly recommend exploring it!
How was the departure process for leaving Canada? Testing/vaccination requirements, airport protocols, time spent at the airport, etc.
You definitely need more time than you think, and you need to be well organized with your documentation. I would recommend checking in 3 hours prior to your flight, as with the extra paperwork to be verified, everything takes that much longer.
I have a Nexus pass, so was able to bypass the long lineup for security. Once through security, you will notice that not all restaurants and stores have reopened. There are also many hand sanitizer stations throughout the airport.
How has the process changed since pre-Covid? Did you find a limitation of flight options or a change in prices or seat availability?
Flight schedule options are less than in pre-COVID times, but we are still seeing some good prices. I found that the planes were not completely full and it was a nice change to have an empty seat next to me.
How was the flight itself? What changes did you notice for flying internationally?
Naturally, masks are mandatory and can only be removed when eating or drinking. Everything seemed to be cleaner, even the bathrooms. As far as inflight service goes, it was of the same level of attentiveness.
How was the arrival process in France? Testing/vaccination requirements, airport protocols, time spent at the airport, etc. How has the process changed since pre-Covid?
The lineup through immigration was slow and they were very serious about having proof of being double vaccinated. If you are not double vaccinated, there are other protocols such as proof of negative PCR test. The good news was that I didn’t have to wait for my bag, as it was on the carousel when I got to the baggage area!
What was it like visiting France? Health Pass, general overview of what tourism is like there now, etc.
I was surprised that in rural France they would be so diligent about checking your proof of vaccination, but they were. Whether you were dining inside or out, you were required to wear a mask until seated. Everyone was wearing masks in the shops and grocery stores, with smaller bakeries limiting the number of people allowed in at the same time.
Any recommendations for travelers on how to prepare for their next international trip?
As much as times have changed and there are more hoops to jump through, it is so worth it.
Being well prepared with the correct tests and paperwork as well as giving yourself lots of time will alleviate stress while traveling.
WE CAN’T WAIT TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP!
When you’re ready to book your next international trip, contact one of our TierOne Travel agents. They have extensive experience in life-changing travel experiences and will be able to craft something incredible that is suited to your unique needs.