My husband and I have booked a tour to Paris, Normandy and Loire Valley in June of next year. We were thinking of visiting Belgium first for a few days before going to Paris for the start of our tour. I recently checked the US travel advisory and it recommends not to travel to Belgium as their Covid rates are increasing. I would like some advice, especially from those who are currently in Belgium, whether it’s safe or not. I am very eager to get our airline tickets asap but I couldn’t decide whether to go for it or forgo Belgium altogether. Thanks in advance.
Whatever is happening right now may be completely different than what the situation will be next June or even late spring when you will likely make your final decision on travel. I returned 4 weeks ago today after having spent a month in France and already my information on how to do things and Covid requirements is outdated! The ground is shifting quickly.
You might consider planning to fly in/out of Paris if you need to purchase soon. Spend your arrival night in Paris then catch the fast Thalys train to Brussels. You can get a ticket that covers onward transit to “any Belgium station” with your Thalys ticket so you could continue to perhaps Bruges for a few nights, then return to Paris. IF things are bad in Belgium at the time, you could just spend extra nights in Paris as there is never enough time to see everything.
I will add that I hope each adult in your travel group has an up to date smart phone as well as their own email addresses (not shared). If you don’t, now is the time to move forward on new electronics and get your skills up to date. Many of the Covid related QR codes and other approvals are now transmitted via email and apps are used to be able to show appropriate verification. You did not ask this BUT at our local Rick Steves meetup yesterday we had a big discussion on this and both of us who were able to travel to Europe this fall feel it’s a necessity.
We are starting to plan a trip to Italy and Switzerland for September of next year and are in the same boat as far as the constantly changing Covid landscape. My impression is that travel insurance is more important than ever because of that, altho perhaps with a tour that's a non-issue for you. Hopefully by June though the increase in cases in Europe will have lessened substantially because it will be a few months past winter. Anyway just chiming in about Bruges, it's a wonderful few-day experience. We started in London a few years ago and took the Eurostar under the Channel to Brussels and then a train to Bruges for 2 nights. It is a super charming town and the canal is lovely. We stayed in a really nice AirBnB that was actually one of the largest we've ever had. There's a market on some days that's super cool and several museums (which feature numerous very well-known Dutch paintings) and a historic convent within walking distance thats really ethereal outside. And of course lots of interesting shops and restaurants as well. After that we took the train to Paris for a week and spent a day in Normandy as well (which was amazing) but those few days in Bruges were really worth the stop.
Thank you so much for your very helpful advice, Pam and Emilie. That really helps me a lot! Thank you!