I hope everyone has had a great time during the holidays and stayed safe during this time. However, looking forward, there are some rumours flying around about the openings of ski resorts and many of us are raring to go! I am currently sitting here planning on how to get back to France in order to get to Val d’Isere... but it is not as easy as it was before. Brexit has taken effect, which makes it more difficult for Brits to be spending time in Europe, and Covid-19 is not helping either. So not the question is: What needs to be done before we are able to go back to France?
Well, it is not exactly simple. Due to Brexit, there needs to be a plan on when UK Passport Holders go abroad. Right now, there is a limit of 90 days in a 180 day period that you can spend in the EU and if I want to spend the whole of April- in my opinion the best month of the season in Val d’Isere. So maybe the best idea is to wait and head to Val d’Isere in February?
There is also the case of Driving licenses and Health Insurance. For driving in the EU it’s recommended that you have an International Driving Permit. It is super easy to get. All you need to do is take a passport-size photo and go to your local Post Office. There, all you have to do is ask for it to be sorted and it costs £5.50 and takes around 5 minutes. As for Insurance, I have a global provider and they still cover people who are travelling to the EU and other places. However from what I understand, the EHIC card is not valid anymore and you need to get a new GHIC card, which is the Global Health Insurance Card. You can do so on the NHS website. Even if you have an Annual policy, call to check with your Insurance provider that you will be covered. Due to government advisories against ‘all but essential travel’, many insurers have temporarily suspended their policies so be sure to double check and don’t assume it still stands even if there’s no information on the homepage of their website- it will probably be in the fine print of your policy and it’s not a risk worth taking!
In addition to the travel limitations, the French government is currently restricting Brits travelling to France without an essential reason due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As the UK has left the EU, the EU now has the right to prevent non-EU members from entering into nations that are members of the EU. British people are not generally able to enter into France until there are much lower rates of Coronavirus. So it means that in order to cross the border, I need a compelling reason and am hoping that my contract for my apartment is sufficient in order to be able to cross as that shows that it is my primary residence.
While we are talking about the effects of Covid-19 on travel, I had to take a PCR Covid-19 test in order to make sure that I am not currently infected with the virus. I was informed that I need to obtain a ‘Fit To Fly’ certificate that states that I am permitted to travel as I have a negative test result. The NHS are not providing this certificate and so the test had to be done at a Private Clinic. I used https://biogroup-laboratory.co.uk/ and found their service to be great. You don't need to book an appointment and just need to turn up to their clinic during their opening hours. I paid for the test beforehand but that is not needed as you can pay at the clinic. It took us all-in-all around 20 minutes to wait to take the test and then take it. The procedure (nasal and throat swabs) was also not as bad as I thought it would be. The test I took cost £135 and it was around the price of some other clinics, which took much longer to send back the results. Other clinics that I looked at were:
All of them do the exact same thing but you HAVE to make sure that they also send a ‘Fit To Fly’ certificate even if you are driving. For me biogroup worked the best because of the freedom of a walk-in clinic and not having to book an appointment.
Now we are going to wait for the results to come through, which they promise within 24 hours, and then book the Eurotunnel. My friend Dougie and I are driving together as we have stuff we need to bring out. I think that it is better to drive as you don’t come into contact with as many people as you would in an Airport, making the journey as safe as possible and minimizing the risk of catching Covid-19. The lorries that were stuck in the UK when the borders closed have now been cleared and now it is apparently back to normal with traffic in Dover & Calais. We are still sceptical about what they will ask and how they will treat us as we have been hearing varying stories from other people that had to do the journey but, fingers crossed, we will be alright.
There is also a question of roaming. Due to my contract being British, roaming may not be included and therefore I need to make sure that I am not spending crazy money on data when travelling to France. I have a contract with Vodafone and so far on their website it says they have no plans to reintroduce roaming charges when travelling to Europe. But your network may be different so make sure to check before you travel.
I hope that this gives a little more information on how it is possible to get out to France and start your Winter Season. We still have no information on when the Resorts will open up. I’ve decided that I would just rather get there and be ready as soon as the lifts start! I don’t want to waste any time with all of this Admin when the resorts are open and we have to miss those awesome days riding. I’ll write an update next week with how it goes and if I make it to Val d’Isere so be sure to check back.
P.S. If you are travelling - please be safe and let’s combat this together in order to be able to be free again!
DISCLAIMER: This is not official advice and I am just sharing my personal experience. All the information is to the best of my knowledge.