23 September 2021
Traveling to France during the Pandemic.
So you want to travel to France? During the COVID-10 Pandemic? Are you crazy? Are you irresponsible? There are so many “what-if” scenarios that people will play out for you and that you will play out in your own head. Trust me, I heard it all, felt it all, and we ultimately made the decision to go. I mean what the heck, sometimes you just have to get out there and live a little. And even if we couldn’t get off the cruise ship, at least we would have a change of scenery from our townhouse windows for the last 18-months. I wouldn’t have to cook and clean. And we would have way more wine to choose from on daily basis without have to make a run to the Liquor Store!
Hello friends! We’re headed to Paris! Yay! A destination my hubby and I have really wanted to visit. Why Paris, you ask? If you are asking me, it’s the food… all the way. And Hermes. If you ask him, it’s the history, architecture, the language,… He is so much more cultured than me!
Let me back this up a bit. We are on Day 4 of our Western European Cruise with Oceania. This is a vacation we are fortunate enough to have been invited to attend with my husband’s son and his new wife (I call them The Honeymooners in my cruise posts). We are also traveling with the bride’s parents. I guess this is kind of a bonding and “getting to know you” cruise. Either way, it’s been great fun exploring together and we truly appreciate their travel experience with cruising!
It’s the 23rd of September 2021 and we disembarked in the port of La Havre, France which is a couple of hours (drive time) from Paris.
We had an all day “Paris on your own” excursion booked with the entire family! France has some fairly restrictive COVID requirements in place if you want to go in to any public space. You (if Non-EU citizen) have to apply for and have been granted a French Health Pass QR Code through the French Department of Health. It’s a major pain in the ass, takes about 17-days to attain (so they say), and it is all done electronically which means you need to have an electronic device and cell/data coverage. This is what they told us 5-days before we got to France AND what is posted on every store and restaurant door. They are not messing around. You need this if you want to get in to pretty much any public venue. If you think you are going to be romantic and take a last-minute trip to Paris for dinner and shopping, forget it. You need a pass, and it takes time to get. You MUST be vaccinated if you apply for the pass. My understanding after being there is that if you are an EU citizen, then you can take a quickie COVID test (if not vaccinated) and get your QR code right outside wherever you are trying to access. They have tents set up all over Paris to perform the rapid antigen tests. If you are American, forget about it. Consider yourself educated on the subject, if you have gotten this far.
Keep in mind, in order to board any cruise ship right now, you MUST be vaccinated for COVID-19. It doesn’t matter how many other vaccinations you have had (at this point most of us have a slurry of vaccinations pulsing through our bodies) you must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. If you are lucky enough to get your QR Code in time for your visit, then good for you! I received mine and my hubby never got his. C’est La Vie. TIP: What we did find out, after walking around a bit is that if you are not EU, then make sure you carry your original passport AND your vaccination card. Having your passport and vaccination card, will in a lot of cases provide enough information to store owners that they will let you in. I know carrying your original passport goes against everything we have always been told, but if you want to fully experience any part of France and do not have your French Health pass QR code, then bring both items (passport and vaccine card) with you. Also, as a reminder, Paris is wrought with pick pocketers. When carrying important items BE SMART and don’t be a victim of loss.
So COVID aside, this was our first foray in to Paris and we were filled with complete excitement! On our two hour bus journey, we were immediately struck by the novelty of the roadside gas stations filled with healthy fresh made snacks. Fresh baguettes and French pastries abound. The only other somewhat shocking observation was how much people were smoking. Everyone was smoking! Not as in smoking “hot”, but smoking cigarettes. I thought it was interesting because there wasn’t really the abundance of fast food and other unhealthy crap that we have in America and folks looked to be in fairly decent shape but they were smoking. Hmmm?
As I mentioned earlier, Paris was a DIY type of tour. So after arriving in the city center, we hopped off the bus and made our way to the Arc de Triomph! On the way, we stumbled upon a small construction looking project in front of an art museum that was installing a Blue art glass installation that was a cool glass stairway in the entryway!
The Arc was way bigger than we had anticipated and was draped in what appeared to be a remodeling type of cloth? Later we found out it was actually an art exhibit and we were pretty lucky to be there while it was up!
We then headed east towards the Eiffel Tower and saw some gypsies trying to hustle money on the streets. They were all hustling with the cups and the ball. “Where’s the ball” slight of hand and I couldn’t tell if people were actually playing it or if the people playing were just a part of the actual hustle? I stumbled a bit and almost fell face first in to a huge statue of a very muscular male with an under developed penis.
You know what I am talking about? I was struck by how small it was and then I remembered an article I read years ago that explained that back in the day, a small penis was indicative of very high intelligence. Anyway, we made it over to the Eiffel Tower but couldn’t get in because it required the QR code health pass. So we hung around outside for a while.
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were soaking in the warmth.
We observed the elevators in the Eiffel which moved diagonal up the base to the top. We walked under the trees, took our obligatory pictures and saw a woman on a bike that looked like Doris Day that snarled at Jake.
Speaking of bikes. EVERYONE rides a bike.
They aren’t just for kids! Men in suits, women in skirts, construction workers, grandma on the way to the store… and I know it’s cliché but so many people had baguettes tucked under their arms, it was crazy!
We walked along the Seine River and across the bridge that was in Woody Allen’s movie and Emily in Paris. It’s the one that everyone takes a picture of the Eiffel tower in their hand. You know the one.
I was getting hungry (doesn’t take much for me) and we decided to grab fresh crepes from a street vendor. Trust me when I tell you to find a street vendor and enjoy a fresh crepe. Don’t fuss with a fancy place. All you need is a street vendor and you will find heaven! As a side note, make sure you can also find a toilet. Those crepes turn in to craps real fast!
Our time in Paris was coming to an end, so we headed back to the bus after finishing our crepes and started the long journey back to the cruise ship. Paris was awesome! We can not wait to go back and stay for at least a week. Hopefully the next time we get back, there won’t be a pandemic but, we won’t let that stop us if there is! Even seasoned cruise and/or world travelers will tell you that there is so much unknown right now with regards to travel. Each country is incredibly different. And even each town or city may have different COVID restrictions/requirements. Do your research before you go and be prepared to cast your fate to the wind a bit. After all, it’s vacation! It doesn’t have to be perfect, don’t beat yourself up if plans change a bit.