Maybe I’m crazy for traveling during a pandemic, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I wanted to get back to France mid-COVID.
In October, I decided to leave my home in Uzès to go to the States to help my family with some business matters. I promised myself I’d stay with my son for six months max. Little did anyone know the Coronavirus was around. Much less that it would literally paralyze the world.
The Big Wait
My six-month plan stretched to eight. Daily, I read news stories about the virus in Europe and the US. I kept a daily record of new virus cases and deaths. My macabre chart proved that if I cared about my health, I would be better off in France than in Atlanta. Georgia.
Should I contract the virus, medical care would be assured and more affordable for me in France now that I am in the French health system. If I were to come down with COVID-19 in the US, I couldn’t depend on available hospital space. Nor could I assure I could afford a long-term hospital stay or potential rehabilitation.
From my emergency hospital experience and rehab in France eighteen months ago, I knew I would be better off there.
Once my mind was made up, I had to wait until traveling from the US to France was opened and available. With a current Carte de Sejour and tax documents proving I’m a French resident, I didn’t expect any problems with border control on either side. Just in case, I had all types of official papers ready to show on request.
The lockdown ended, and the world was letting loose. I took the plunge. I booked the overnight Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta to Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in Paris, a train to Nimes, and a taxi to Uzès. In nearly 24 hours, I was transported from one space to another. It was as close to time travel as I ever expected to experience
When friends and blog followers, primarily through Facebook, discovered I was taking the leap back to France during the virus, they asked me to document the journey. Many people have their own reasons for wanting to travel to France as soon as possible. So here it is .. a near blow-by-blow recap, including photos.
Back to France Mid COVID
Step #1: Departure- Atlanta Hartwell Airport
Atlanta’s airport is the busiest in the world. Well, not today. The few people at the airport respectfully distanced, and most wore face masks. There were no restaurants open. The food court was empty. The only store operating was Hudson’s newsstand. The choices of snacks and drinks were limited, but hey-ho, I wasn’t there to eat — just water, please.
When it was time to board, passengers were admitted to the gate, standing six feet apart. The exception was for groups traveling together.
Back to France Mid COVID
Step #2: The Flight
Arriving at the TGV terminal, I saw the number of people standing around had increased significantly. Places to sit were clearly marked, and most travelers respected the guidance. Groups of armed guards walked around the waiting area frequently, scolding people who weren’t wearing masks. Eating or drinking in the area was forbidden since it would require taking off face protection.
Train to Nimes Pont du Gard
Like clockwork, the train to Nimes Pont du Gard arrived on time. Usually, a double-decker train with a dozen or so cars goes the route to Nimes/Montpelier. This time, it was a single-level train with maybe ten passenger cars. For the first time along my journey, I bumped up next to other people while trying to stow my luggage and find my reserved seat. Every place in the first-class car was filled. The saving factor was that everyone was covering their nose and mouth. A conductor came through the train several times to check for masks. During one inspection, I was scolded for letting mine slip below my nose.
Sur le nez!
The dining car was closed, but I’d brought a snack and a drink I picked up at the train station. Eating and drinking were allowed on the train.
Step #5: Nimes Pont du Gard GARE
To make my journey as safe as I possibly could, I chose to come into the new Nimes Pont du Gard train station because… well, because it was new. The station in downtown Nimes is quite old, and it’s in the middle of town. The Pont du Gard station is brand new. Exiting the train and finding my waiting taxi was a breeze — and all out in the open spaces.
How do I feel to be back in France? Ecstatic! I’m voluntarily quarantining for two weeks. No one even mentioned it along the way … except for the taxi driver.
Nevertheless, being a shut-in is helping me get acclimated to the time difference and food. Yes, my friends stocked my refrigerator with my favorite things: anchoide, tomatoes, cucumbers, and wine!
Hopefully, this step-by-step view of my trip back to France has answered some of your travel questions. On June 15, the restrictions for European visitors traveling to France are being lifted. There is no indication when tourists from countries outside Europe may be allowed to enter France.
Meanwhile, stay tuned … there are a lot more Barefoot Blogger adventures to share with you!