When we moved from France to Hampshire, I spent time looking at what were the highlights in the county and of course I read about the famous New Forest. It’s the first place we visited and I must say we just fell in love with that gorgeous forest and all the wild horses!
Since 18 months that we have been living in the area we went many times to the New Forest as our kids love it too! Today, I’d like to share with you our favourite spots to enjoy the New Forest with your family!
But first a bit of history: the New Forest was a royal forest at the time of William the Conqueror ; Later the Royal Navy used the timber for the boats. Today it is home to a lot of animals including birds, deer, cows, wild pigs, donkeys, and thousands of wild horses! Every time you go the New Forest you are sure you will meet a lot of ponies, which for my kids is always a magical moment!
With February half term approaching, you may have planned a trip to France to visit Paris or other beautiful regions or to go skiing in the French Alps of course! Now, you have your train or plane tickets but you feel lost regarding the Covid rules to enter France and the Covid rules in the country? I completely understand! That’s really confusing! As you may know, I am a French mum living in the UK so I can totally agree with your “lost in translation feeling”! My country has really not made things easy! That’s why, with that article, I will try to summarize the main Covid rules you need to know to enjoy your holiday there!
What are the Covid rules to enter France?
For France, the UK is an “orange” country. Here are the rules:
Show that you’re fully vaccinated. Please note that to enter France your Covid Pass will be valid if you had your booster no later than 9 months after your 2nd dose. But as your Covid Pass will only be valid 4 months after the 2nd jab for the activities you may have in France (visits, restaurants… see below), then it means that between the 5th month and the 9th month after your second dose, yes you can enter France but you won’t be able to do much while in the country.
No test needed for vaccinated people since February 12th, 2022
Children that are older than 12 years old but not fully vaccinated can travel with their vaccinated parents (no quarantine) but they need to take an antigen testin the 48 hours (or PCR in the 72h) before your trip to France (NHS tests not allowed as proof).
For everyone above 12 years old, a paper declaration form must be filled in (you declare you have no symptoms and that you have not been in contact with anyone with Covid in the 14 last days).
No travel restrictions for children under 12 years old.
Adults that are not fully vaccinated will have to quarantine 7 days and still need to take an antigen testin the 48 hours (or PCR in the 72h) before they travel to France.
NEW : From March 15th, 2022 you won’t need the Covid Pass anymore for restaurants, museums, transports, cafés…
Covid Pass needed: for a lot of activities, you will need a Covid Pass. For instance to eat in a restaurant, to stay in a hotel, to visit a museum, to go to the movie theatre, etc…
What is the French Covid Pass? For adults AND for 16 to 18 years old children, a Covid pass is a proof of vaccination OR a Covid recovery certificate. For 12 to 15 years old children, the same proofs are valid but they can provide a negative antigenic test instead. For children younger than 12 years old, there is no Covid pass needed.
Be careful: the Covid Pass is only valid during 4 months after your second Covid jab or 4 months after you recovered from Covid (if you had 3 doses, then you’re completely fine!). For 12 to 15 years old children who are using antigen test to get the pass, the validity of their pass is only 24 hours! Therefore, they need to test every day to be able to participate to any of the activities I mentionned earlier. Some examples: 1/ if you had your 2nd Covid jab on November 1st 2021, it will be valid until March 1st. After that, you will need to show you had a 3rd jab. 2/ if you had Covid in January 2022 and got a recovery certificate, then your Covid pass will be valid until May (4 months after the date on your certificate) even if you had no Covid vaccine before. 3/ if you had your third jab on December 1st and you want to travel to France in May 2022 (more than 4 months later), then even if not specified, it’s still ok for the moment because there is no 4th jab campaign in France.
How to show your Covid Pass? if you live in the UK, you can show the QR code you got from the NHS (vaccine QR code or recovery certificate QR code). If you live in the EU, your country has also given you a QR code that works in all the EU countries. If you don’t use an app, you can show your QR code on paper. If you prefer, you can also scan your QR code in the French Covid app called “Tous Anti-Covid”. Your choice!
Covid rules on ski resorts in France:
Covid Pass needed for ski lifts of any kind: controls can be done when you buy your ski pass or when you take a ski lift or by the ski teacher of children above 12 years. If your 12 to 15 years old children need to test to get their Covid pass, I recommend you book antigen test appointments in advance in a local pharmacy. Cost is 25€ per test. The Covid Pass is also necessary for all the other activities in the resort: restaurants, hotels, swimming pools, spa, etc…
Wear a mask in ski lifts queues and on ski lifts: you can use any usual type of Covid mask or buy a warm Covid neckband. If your ski resort is at the border with Italy, be aware that only FFP2 masks are allowed there.
I hope you feel ready for your trip to France in Covid times! Bon voyage!
After our family trip to Mallorca last year, we chose to discover Menorca this year: we wanted to enjoy the Balearic Islands but with fewer tourists because Mallorca is a beautiful destination but it is even more overcrowded in August than any other islands we know in the Mediterranean region.
In short: goal achieved! It was much less crowded than Mallorca because the capacity in terms of accommodation is much more limited; it also means that prices are a bit higher and that you have to book ahead.
Our itinerary for a week in Menorca with the kids:
Day 1: Late arrival in Ciutadella: first family walk in its picturesque port and amid its medieval alleys.
At the beginning of Easter break, we went to Crete with the kids. A wonderful family trip that confirmed our fondness for Greece! Do you remember? Last April, we spent our holidays in the Peloponnese; then, in July, we sailed around Corfou in a sailboat. What do we love about Greece? The landscape, the climate, the low cost, the food (fresh fish!) and above all the warm welcome of the locals! Here in Crete, we discovered amazing hospitality and generosity! In a word, a destination you shouldn’t hesitate to explore with your family!
As Crete is a big island, we focused on the western part and I organized the road trip detailed below, for a duration of 9 nights. As far as the weather is concerned, we had 7 sunny days (18 °C and big blue sky) and 2 rainy days. Also, unlike the same time last year, the temperature of the water was quite cool (I’d say 16-17 °C), so we only bathed once. Let’s say
that in April, it is entirely possible for the sea to be warmer, but there is no guarantee. Anyway, my program was more focused on hiking and sightseeing. The summits were still snowy. This early in April, on the most famous beaches of the island, we were lucky enough to be almost alone; during the summer it must be very crowded!
On Easter week-end, we went for a family getaway to Dorset, with the grandparents. Dorset is in the South of England, along the Channel, between Hampshire where we live, and Devon that we discovered in February. For this 3-day week-end, we settled in the seaside resort of Weymouth. We had such a perfect weather, that I was sorry I didn’t take my bathing suit. Besides, the beaches were crowded! The South of England really brings an air of holidays!
Our visits in Dorset
Durdle Door: probably the most famous place in Dorset! You have to admit it’s pretty heavenly! I’d rather specify something: you have to go up and then down quite a steepy cliff so you’d better think about sneakers!
West Bay: famous beach with wonderful golden cliffs that you probably have already seen on the TV show Broadchurch.
Lyme Regis: it’s the most famous spot of the coast for… fossil hunting! The children loved it!
Corfe Castle: a ruin full of charm in a setting so typically English! A National Trust site.
Weymouth : it’s the seaside resort where we chose to settle to visit the surroundings. In its very cute harbour, the children fish crabs while the parents drink pints 😊. There is also a big beach that was quite full! Not far from here, don’t miss the dunes. And a few kilometers away, the village of Abbotsbury.
Bournemouth: huge beach with fine sand, bordered by coloured cabins! It was crazy how many people were here! We will go back on a quieter week-end!
First Campervan outing of the year!
Since our excursions with our Campervan in the New Forest last Autumn, we hadn’t taken our camper out. Firstly, in Winter, it’s too cold for the children to sleep under the roof because the air passes through the fabric. Secondly, since our camper is French, we had a procedure to follow to register and insure it here (the first few months, it was okay because we were still covered by our insurance as tourists, but now, we are “English”!). Anyway, for this first spring excursion, we chose a combined formula. We booked a family bedroom in a farm for Ticoeur, Titpuce and their grandparents; while with Papa Voyage we slept in the camper on the farm field, with a view on the sea, and we gathered with the rest of the family to eat a delicious English Breakfast provided by our hosts.
Practical information and good addresses to visit Dorset:
From Portsmouth, it will take you 1 hour by car to get to Bournemouth. If you are coming from London, it will take 2 hours.
Accommodation: I recommend Swallows Rest, the farm where we stayed in the periphery of Weymouth. The children were amused by the “collection” of hens and the beautiful garden. The homemade breakfast is excellent!