If you like logistics, well then this is the time to go to France! I just got back from a week in Paris, February 4-11, 2022 to be exact as things change every minute with regard to Covid restrictions. I will tell you what my travel experience was, never sure that it can be helpful but maybe it will encourage some of you to travel now.
I read up on Covid restrictions like I researched what it would be like to have a baby when I was pregnant with my first child. At the time I left the restrictions were that I be vaccinated and that if I wasn’t boosted, at least my last shot was within 270 days of taking off.
My status at the time of travel: Vaccinated with one dose of J&J in August 2021, and Fully recovered from a bout with Covid in January 2022. This counts for something in most of Europe. (They give you credit for having some immunity in the form of proof of infection at least 11 days earlier and not longer than six months earlier). Because I read up on this “certificate of recovery” I asked my doctor to write a letter verifying that I had had covid and that I had recovered.
When I left, a Covid “antigen” test was required within 48 hours of your trip. Thank God they dropped the PCR test requirement because I had had covid so recently that traces would have shown up. I live in Florida and at the time of travel getting Covid PCR test results back was 3-5 days.
I uploaded what I could to the Delta website including my Vaccination card and the details of my passport. Delta would not let me checkin online.
I got my rapid covid test the morning of my trip. I did this because I had heard stories of passengers “timing out” ie) their flight was delayed and their test was 50 hours earlier, not 48.
The urgent care printed the negative result, I gathered my things and went to the airport in West Palm Beach. I was over two hours early as requested and no one was in line at the time. This was a good thing because the gate agent was trying to read the two single spaced pages of fine print about all of the French regulations. She actually asked about a booster but I explained that I had been vaccinated within 270 days. Then she said well you really seem to know what you’re talking about and she offered to check both of my bags with no charge. As I was connecting through Atlanta I thought well maybe I’ll keep my bag and just check the one for my daughter. By the time I was boarding I had thought better of it, and I just gate checked it figuring I could re-outfit myself in Paris should something happens to the little black bag.
I changed planes in Atlanta and indeed my second flight was three hours delayed. We had already boarded the plane and everyone was getting cozy in their seats when they said “oh one of the engine starters isn’t working and we need to have our mechanics get on it.” I personally wish they wouldn’t be so detailed about the whole mechanical problem issue. Then I used the bathroom and I saw something which always instills terror: an Ash Tray – that is like seeing a wrinkled face. The funny thing was that post covid everyone has such low expectations of actually reaching the destination or following through on a trip that this group really didn’t seem to care about the delay. The galley was filled with conversations of “oh I’m going to miss my connection to India, I’m not sure when the next flight will be.” “Oh we are missing our connection to Lisbon, maybe we will get one later in the day” in a very la-de-da type of tone.
During our flight we had to fill our a form which gave the French authorities the right to track us down. I remember in the old days, there was a square “landing card” that we had to fill out. This was more like an 8×10 sheet of paper with informations of our whereabouts in France.
When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport, there were Very few passengers going to Paris. Most were transferring on to other places in Europe. The immigration lines were Empty. There were about 15 people with EU passports entering France. There were about 5 of us non-EU passengers going to Paris. The weird thing was that upon arrival, no one asked me for anything other than my passport. I am only assuming that they leave the responsibility to the airlines.
I was in Paris primarily to see my daughter Bettina who is studying there for the semester and to catch up with my European friends. I was staying with a good friend, so I cannot attest to the requirements of a hotel. But I went to many cafes and a few museums. I also spent time with two French friends who were not vaccinated.
That left me in Paris, with a US passport and a US vaccination card with one dose of JnJ on the log. I had with me my Positive covid test from back in January, and my US doctors note explaining that I had had covid and was fully recovered.
I went to a pharmacy in my neighborhood and showed them my passport and my vaccination card and my letter from my doctor and asked them to get me the famous “Q code – pass vaccinale”. The pharmacist said 36 Euros. Fine. Then he said but you don’t have the booster. But I said I had had the shot within 270 days. He said to get the pass vaccinale it had to be within 60 Days. I explained my bout with covid. He said that he, a pharmacist, was not authorized to convert my documents to a pass vaccinale, that I would have to go to a French Doctor to do that. Lesson here is that there are different rules for different things. It’s one thing to get into the country, it is another to get this darn QR code on your iPhone. My friend gave me the name and address of a medical clinic and I went, but with the lines there I could see that I could spend my time enjoying Paris or getting the pass and I opted to roll the dice.
With my Passport and my CDC vaccine card with one dose of JnJ I got into :
Every cafe and restaurant that I tried to go to
Versailles inside and out
Musee Rodin (although when they started to ask about the booster, I just started to show them my file with the letter from the doctor and the positive covid test)… Trust me no employee wants to deal with that, so they just sort of ushered me through.
Things which required no documentation
Walking around in beautiful Paris
Getting takeout in a food stand in a park
Going on subways/ RER/ Busses
Taking a Taxi
To take a Regional train, you must have a QR code and pass Vaccinale.
While in Paris I went on Delta’s app and much to my amazement I could change my return trip home to a non-stop Air France flight to Miami. They even refunded me $60.
One day before departure, I went to a local pharmacy, paid 20 or 25 euros, uploaded some information on my iPhone from the pharmacy QR code, and went into the neighboring tent to get a rapid covid test. They emailed me my negative results within an hour. I took a screen shot of the negative test and added it to my photo album on my iPhone titled “Covid documents”.
At Charles de Gaulle I simply showed the gate agent all of my documents in my folder and that seemed to satisfy them to let me on the flight.
Now that I have had covid so recently and since I didn’t get covid in Europe (where it would have been properly documented) I don’t think I can go back for now.
If you are fully vaccinated, Go, Go, Go. There are no lines anywhere and very few Americans. (The time of year may have contributed to that, it was February when the days are short and cold). But it was still beautiful. If you are an art lover, you can see all of the wonderful museums without lines. You may need reservations but every place has a website and even places where it said reservations were needed, we didn’t need one.