• Sasha

My Experience of getting to France: Part 2

Last week I wrote a post about preparing for driving out to France in order to be in the Alps... and it finally happened! So this week I want to update you all on how it went.

My good friend Dougie drove to London on the 1st of December from his home and we ended up going to get our Covid tests done at Bigroup Laboratory. (https://biogroup-laboratory.co.uk/) We paid for our tests beforehand and were able to go whenever it suited us at one of the two of their walk-in clinics. It took us 20 minutes as there were some people in the line in front of us but the procedure itself took no longer than a minute. The swabs were not as painful for us as the experiences other people have described, just a little tickly.

We were told that the results were going to take up to 24 hours but that there was a chance that we would get them even earlier. We ended up getting them in around 7 hours, which was a great surprise. As soon as we saw that the result came as negative, we were ecstatic and the feeling of excitement kicked in. The excitement was for the fact that we were about to embark on our journey to France, despite the fact that we still had no idea whether we would be able to cross the border or not.

The next morning we woke up early and booked our Eurotunnel ticket for the next morning. Like this, we had a day to sort out things that needed to be done such as making 100% sure that all of our documents were printed and that they were all in order. By the middle of the afternoon, I had realized that my passport was nowhere to be seen. I turned the whole flat upside down but I was still not able to find it. As a last resort, still thinking my passport was somewhere in the flat, I messaged Megan and asked whether she had by some odd chance taken it to her home in Dorset- about 2 and a half hours’ drive away. A couple of minutes later I got a response with a picture of my passport. My face dropped. It was roughly 3pm and our Eurotunnel was booked for 7.20am the next day, which meant that we had to be up by 4am. None of this was playing on our favour. At this point we, realistically, had 2 options. We could either drive to meet Megan and back or wake up a lot earlier than planned and take a huge detour in order to pick up my passport. We went with the first option and set off on an adventure towards meeting Megan. Luckily, she was really kind and agreed to meet us by getting the train part of the way so that we could save some time driving!

The drive went fine apart from one thing. We stopped at a service station on the way back because my car was running low on fuel. However when we tried to put fuel in, the lens cap was stuck and therefore would not open. I think it was because of the cold or something and it froze but who knows. Luckily, we had just enough fuel to get back to London and go to meet my family in order to say goodbye to them. As soon as we got to my family’s place the lens cap sprung open and the worry of it being broken disappeared. We had a nice time chatting with the family, played with my sister’s cats, got Dougie’s car and went home. We made it back home in plenty of time to have dinner and a chilled evening before waking up early to leave.

Next day was the day we were leaving for France. Both of us were beyond excited to be going back there and barely slept all night, so waking up at 4am was not ideal. We made it work and by 5 am we were in the car and already on the way to Folkestone (the start of the Eurotunnel). We were treated by a lovely sunrise and the drive went smoothly. Before you board the train that takes you to France, there are 2 different booths which control the border. One of them is the British booth and the other one is the French booth. At the English one, we had no problems at all, the officer took our passports, looked at them, confirmed we were who the passports said we were and sent us on our way. We were then directed to a random security check and the steering wheel was swabbed along with the door handles. The test came back and we were free to go within minutes. The next step was crossing the French border. The French officer took our passports and then demanded a certificate of the Covid test. We provided that and then he asked what the reason behind our travel was. We explained that Dougie is going there for work and that I am returning to my primary residence and have a contract for an apartment. He then stamped our passports and waved us through. After this, we were through and free to get into France and all of our worries from the previous couple of weeks went away. We made it! Next stop was, obviously, the terminal for a Starbucks and a toilet break. We got our stuff, drove to the queue to get onto the train and within minutes were allowed to board. Forty-five minutes later we were on French soil in Calais, the arrival port of the Eurotunnel!

After arriving in France, it took us around 10 hours to get to the point where we would stay the night, in Annecy. It was mostly motorways the whole way and therefore a fairly straightforward drive that just took a while and wiped us both out by the evening. Upon arrival, we took the bags inside and then decided to stretch our legs and go for a walk to the public beach. It was already dark so there were not that many people outside and it was great to breathe fresh air and move a little. After the walk, we ate, watched a movie and had an early night as both of us were incredibly tired and just wanted to rest.

I’ve got to admit, our journey was far from easy or straightforward compared to life before Covid-19 and Brexit. It was also quite stressful as there were many points where we thought we would not make it, but in the end it worked out. I guess we can say that we got very lucky as the next day, a nationwide lockdown was announced in the UK and the travelling situation for Brits got much more difficult. (You can read all about in Megan’s post called ‘Travelling to France in January 2020’, which you can find here: www.theriseguide.com/post/travelling-to-france-in-january-2020)

I am now writing this post from our beloved resort of Val d’Isere and in the posts over the next few weeks, I will explain what life is like here as well as what we have been getting up to while out here. But for now, it’s Peace out from me in Val d’Isere and I will be updating you very soon!