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Home from France…well 2/3 of us are!

We are home from France….at least most of us are!

We had a lovely trip…explored Normandy with a great tour guide, somehow managed the tight train schedule from Bayeux, to Mont-Saint-Michel, to St. Malo, weathering a train cancellation and taking a bus for part of the trip! Back to Paris over Christmas, then rented a car for our trip through Loire/Anjou area. Very little tourists…maybe heard 2-3 English speaking families. Breezed through the Orsay and Louvre. None of us wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower but if we had, we saw no lines.

On the 30th, we checked out of our cottage in Anjou, went to a pharmacy and 2 of us tested positive. The pharmacist unofficially advised us negatives to leave France ASAP, wearing good mask gear on the plane. From there, it was the Great Escape for us negatives! We cancelled our hotel room at CDG, my husband dropped all the negatives off, we caught a plane leaving that day (we fly standby through an airline employee agreement), and I made an AirB-n-B reservation for my husband and youngest daughter in Paris. They are hunkered down there. The US Embassy provides a list of English speaking doctors. Most are out until after New Years, but they have one doctor calling them on Monday. Thankfully France just announced a reduced 7 day isolation period. Those of us at home now have not been able to get any additional testing as all centers have no appointments and all home tests are sold out. So I guess we will never know! We don’t feel sick, but neither did my husband or daughter in any significant way.

All in all, it was worth it completely. We got to meet the family we exchange kids with in the summers and we felt like instant family. We both have big families with matching ages and we have a lot in common. They gave us a fabulous tour of their vineyard and winery. We shared lots of meals (and apparently COVID) together, and we got to see their newly purchased 16th c. home they will start renovating - a home whose top half burned in the Revolution! The home is more of a small estate right next to the village church…complete with outside stables, an outdoor latrine with 3 toilet holes, various barns and buildings, a big garden area…simply amazing.

If you go, remember trip/medical insurance and pack enough essentials to tack on a stay at the end. For us, we packed enough contacts and diabetic supplies for my child with Type 1 Diabetes, but the biggest thing is to go with the right attitude. If you can’t handle the unexpected or go with the flow of the current uncertainties, stay home, but otherwise get out and enjoy!!

Posted by
34 posts

Wow, Jill, that’s quite a story! Glad your family had such a good time, and best wishes for your husband and daughter’s recovery and safe return. Happy 2022!

Posted by
2126 posts

Glad to hear the trip went well. I agree that if you are in an unsure Covid situation, and you have a negative test in hand, best to return to the US ASAP.

A number you might want to keep close is for SOS Médicin (Emergency doctors). They will dispatch someone to wherever there is a need. Cost is nominal:

https://sosmedecins-france.fr/

Posted by
351 posts

Decent chance you got a false negative result on your test, per the current research. Upwards of 62 percent chance for someone who has Covid and is asymptomatic but tests negative. The members of your party who tested positive almost certainly have Covid; there are very few false positives.

Posted by
2745 posts

Yikes! Sound like March 2020 all over again 😧

Posted by
7871 posts

So you are close contacts of Covid-positive patients, but went ahead and put yourselves on an airplane with a bunch of other people. Nice.

As JoJo Rabbit points out, it's possible/probable you are also positive.

Posted by
8680 posts

Yes and no, Kim.
If exposed, we aren't considered contagious until we have symptoms--if both negative and asymptomatic, they are officially good to go. Let's next assume Jill and the kids kept N95 masks on and lowered them briefly only to get food or drink into the mouth.

It's not a given that they will become positive. My daughter-in-law never got Omicron though my son did, and that's sharing a small Brooklyn apartment. Her booster worked better than his Right now the Austrian side of the family has 3 out of 4 positive. The 4th has never tested positive.

Finally, if one does become positive four days or so after the first positives, does the whole family continue a non-required quarantine until the last family member is out of isolation. Overlapping positives could continue keeping them in France for weeks.
It's a tough call.

Posted by
392 posts

Also know a couple, both of them vaccinated and boosted, whose husband tested positive (asymptomatic) and wife continued negative results for the 10 days afterwards. So no, the rest of this family might very well never test positive.

Posted by
257 posts

"If you go, remember trip/medical insurance and pack enough essentials to tack on a stay at the end*..."
I appreciate your upbeat attitude and careful planning for this contingency, including the need for at least a week's extra medication, etc. and sharing your experience for others either traveling now for a vacation or planning to, soon (why?!).
It's fortunate you had 2 legal guardians so you could safely split up as you did. It's fortunate you have the travel savvy and resources to arrange quarantine as you did. Others should take heed to have a back- up plan if this happens to you, as well as arrangements at home if you are delayed a week or more.
*Lastly, seems like you could also test positive on arrival and need to quarantine at the outset! Hope you are all reunited soon.

Posted by
351 posts

It's fortunate you had 2 legal guardians so you could safely split up as you did.

I would love to hear the OP's backup plan if the 2 parents had been the ones with Covid...

Posted by
7871 posts

Lastly, seems like you could also test positive on arrival and need to quarantine at the outset!

Unfortunately for public health safety, France doesn’t require vaccinated persons to test upon arrival into France (although you sign a form saying you would be willing to submit to such a test), so this isn’t a real possibility.

Posted by
337 posts

Thank you for posting. Was there any issue getting lodging for the two with Covid? (That is my my biggest worry.) I hope it all works out well for your husband and daughter.

Posted by
109 posts

@kim - We can't live currently in this world just by possibilities...that is why guidelines are so helpful. The CDC guidelines are pretty reasonable. Boosted individuals do not need to quarantine...they should monitor themselves for symptoms and wear a mask, which we did. Interestingly, 3/4 of us non-symptomatic also had Covid previously, so they have double the protection theoretically.

We have since tried to test since coming home but there are zero tests here. We drove to the one testing area advertising they were open today. They opened at 9 am. We were there by 9:30 and were turned away due to the number of cars in line, saying they were out of tests for today. Online, I cannot find any appointments this week and all pharmacies are out of tests! Crazy! Honestly, I would like to know if our status changed, but on the other hand, no one seems sick either.

@jojo rabbit - Since our two oldest children are both over 18, our plan was send whoever was negative back home. If ALL adults were positive, well, we would have rented an airb-n-b for all of us. Our trip/medical insurance pays up to $250/day for extensions due to medical issues.

@mnannie - none at all using the airb-n-b. Most are contactless arrangements, although I did picture them homeless for a bit, in the first few moments of figuring things out.

Posted by
525 posts

Thanks for the great post, Jill. very helpful. l soundsike you did your homework and were well prepared, good for you! If you don't mind would you post the name of the trip/medical insurance you used? My backup insurance for Medicare will cover us for 80% of emergency costs in France after $200 deductible. One of my concerns was how to pay for 7 or 10 days in a Paris hotel if necessary and how much the Pfizer pills might cost if, in fact they were available. Being covered for $250 a day for hotel and/or food sounds like a really great idea.

Posted by
109 posts

Sure! We are using IMG Travelinsured LX. There are different levels of plans other than this one, of course.

Posted by
698 posts

Thanks for the information Jill. Unfortunately, I knew your post would elicit public shaming and judgement replies (which it did). Please ignore them and be glad your trip worked out. From one who has a couple of Euro-trips scheduled for this year, I appreciate your informative post.

Posted by
1285 posts

Hi Jill, thanks for posting. I am glad your remaining family are still doing well. If you don’t mind clarifying, you mentioned that 3/4 of you had previously had Covid after getting vaxxed— I’m guessing you meant Delta? Did the two who came down with what is likely Omicron also have that prior breakthrough after vaccination?

Obviously this is all not just individual response-driven, but anecdotal. I’m still curious however.

I hope their return is smooth and soon. I’m sure you’ll be glad!

Posted by
109 posts

@aimee- Sorry to be confusing. I meant that they had Covid (Delta) first in September, then had their vaccination series. France only requires one vaccine if you’ve had Covid recently but we opted for both shots just in case we had difficulty proving recovered status, plus the second shot acts more like a booster in the recovered.

The two with covid now never had it before. My husband has had 3 Moderna shots. Our 13 y/o (who just couldn’t seem to catch Delta…slept in the same room with her sister who had it in September, and had been exposed multiple times) had both Pfizer shots.

Posted by
3224 posts

Jill,

Thanks for the post! Interesting read. Great to have been vaccinated and to have those CDC guidelines, eh?

Posted by
210 posts

Thank you so much for this informative post. My husband and two daughters and I have a trip planned for May/June and this is great information.

Posted by
70 posts

Thanks Jill & forum folks for all the info. We are flying from Atlanta to Paris to Barcelona Feb 3-11 & back to Paris the 11-18th. My wife & I have both the Pfizer vaccines plus booster. I came down with a Covid positive test January 4th with symptoms (very mild cold like) starting Dec. 31st. I’ve been told not to retest because some of the viral material may be detected up to 90 day. I have a Dr’s appointment next week. What do I tell him I need for a physician certificate of recovery? I hope this will be good until we fly home.

Posted by
109 posts

I wondered this question, too. American doctors don’t really issue “certificates of recovery.” I worried so much about that that even though 3 of my children were within 3 months of prior infection, I still vaccinated them fully because I was worried about that “certificate of recovery “ being accepted. In hind sight, I shouldn’t have worried (and I regret making them get both shots, instead of one).

The certificate from the French doctor was very plainly stated, on regular paper.

“Certificat Medical”

Then she states her name and certied that FIRST NAME LAST NAME, aged XX, tested positive fir COVID on DATE. She has been symptom free over 48 hours and is authorized to travel beginning DATE.

And then a line more of legal verbiage : certificate given today at the request of the patient to serve and assert what is right.

Signed by doc.

I would suggest that you get your letter translated before traveling - keep original and translation.

Posted by
92 posts

Thanks for this report! I find it very helpful and reassuring to hear about the practicalities of issues with travel/exit testing, etc. I also have Type 1, so this is a good reminder to make sure to pack extra supplies in case of issues. I also pack extra anyways, but should make sure I have enough to quarantine and get home if this happens to us in July. Sounds like you really had a great trip!

Posted by
943 posts

Great information for those who have been wondering what to do. Thanks for being so up front with it all.

Posted by
1 posts

Thanks for the insight!

"I came down with a Covid positive test January 4th with symptoms (very mild cold like) starting Dec. 31st. I’ve been told not to retest because some of the viral material may be detected up to 90 day."

Just FYI, I tested positive on Jan 2 (antigen test) with similar symptoms after exposure on Christmas Eve/Day. We were able to find home tests locally. My son tested positive 12/30 (he had already gone back to his apartment from Christmas. I tested that day as well (antigen test) and was negative. I did my 5 days of quarantine per CDC but still had slight fever and congestion so I waited til Jan 9 and tested again (Antigen test). My neurologist (I am immunocompromised due to MS meds) suggested I try and get a PCR test. On Jan 16 I took another antigen test. It was negative. I also took a scheduled PCR test that same day and it came back postitive. Long story on why I took that last antigen test.....family member that exposed us all DID NOT have covid per her and refused to test until my husband's sister was hospitalized and went the family member went she got an antigen test (14-15 days after her symptoms) and of course it was negative.....so I wanted her to know that she did indeed have covid and would test negative that far after symptoms.

Anyway. Some countries are saying if you have proof of covid in the last 90 days and test positive with a PCR test. If you submit said proof and test results along with a current negative antigen test, you may enter the country....this is Curacao....not sure if France has anything similar.