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What Traveling To Europe In November 2020 Is Like

05 Nov
Blue sign warning of that face mask is mandatory due to Covid-19 or coronavirus in airport.

What Traveling To Europe In November 2020 Is Like

We Just Flew From Chicago To Paris… Here’s What You Should Know

Kathleen and I returned to France this week.

We traveled first from the United States to Ireland, as Irish citizens. From there we caught a flight to Paris.

First Stop: Ireland

Cork City view from St. Patrick's Hill.
Alamy/Michael Walsh

Getting to Ireland wasn’t a concern. Returning Irish citizens are allowed to enter Ireland from anywhere. You have to complete a form online that includes where you will be staying for your first 14 days after arrival, as the Irish government wants you to self-quarantine for that period.

However, no destination information is required if you’re not staying in Ireland for 14 days.

In that case, you’re required to tell them where you’ll be until you leave… or nothing at all if you’re flying out within the first 24 hours.

That’s what we did. The afternoon of the morning we’d arrived in Dublin, we caught a plane to Paris. The free wi-fi made the seven-hour wait tolerable.

Getting To Paris, France

View of the Seine river with the Eiffel tower in the backgroundWhile we weren’t worried about the Irish letting us in, we weren’t sure we’d be able to make the inter-EU hop to France. Macron put new pandemic restrictions in place last week, in response to significant increases in case counts, and we’d read online that France was closing its border not only to the non-EU world… but to those traveling from within the union, as well.

We didn’t know if we’d be able to travel to France from Ireland… or, if we were, what documentation would be required along the way.

In theory, at a minimum, we believed we needed an Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire. This is the form required when going anywhere in Paris right now. If you want to leave your home to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, you need to fill out an “attestation,” as it’s referred to.

The Irish government website suggesting France had closed its border entirely also indicated that we’d need an international travel certificate and a form stating we didn’t have COVID-19. Both are self-reporting documents, as is the attestation.

However, the France government websites I consulted continued to state that inter-EU travel was allowed.

“Maybe we’ll be turned away when we try to check in for the flight to Paris,” I said to Kathleen. “No way to know… so let’s just show up and see what happens.”

That’s what we did… and it turned out the French government websites were right.

What Entering France Was Like

We didn’t need either of the forms mentioned on the Irish government sites… just a tracking locator form, which they provided for us on the plane, in case they needed to find us to tell us someone else on the flight had tested positive for the virus.

We were never asked to produce the attestation. The taxi driver didn’t seem concerned. Driving from Charles de Gaulle to central Paris, we saw the police stopping cars to ask for the form, but no one bothered our taxi… or the hundreds of pedestrians and bicyclists we passed.

We arrived at rush hour and, while the streets weren’t packed with cars like they normally would have been, they were busier than we expected with cars, bikes, motorcycles, and pedestrians.

All in all, a painless trip. No crowds, no lines, no hassle, no stress.

We’re comfortably reinstalled in our apartment in Paris… where we’ll self-quarantine for 14 days.

After that, we’ll be allowed outside for an hour a day… at least through the end of the month, when the current lockdown restrictions are meant to be lifted, in time for the Christmas holidays.

No problem. We can order groceries online, and Amazon is as quick with deliveries here as they are in the States.

Why return to Paris rather than staying in the United States or heading back to Panama?

We’d accomplished what we’d come to do in Illinois, and that’s not a place to stick around this time of year. Temperatures were regularly below freezing, and we’d already had the first snow of the season last week.

Panama has reopened to tourists, but restrictions remain in place for businesses. Half our staff is back in the office, and most of the team will be back on-site later this month, but we won’t be able to fit everyone with the distancing requirements. Kathleen and I not in residence frees up two more spots.

The real reason, though, that we’re in Paris rather than anywhere else is so we can spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with our granddaughter who lives here.

We’ll head back to Panama mid-January… assuming the world situation allows it.

Meantime, even under quarantine, Paris isn’t a bad place to be.

Lief Simon