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Report: COVID test results after Road Scholar two week bus tour of France

So we are just finishing up a bus tour with 19 total group members. Of the 19, 13 are going right back to the US so Road Scholar brought in a travel nurse to do the tests at our Toulouse hotel. Of the 13 who tested, all were NEGATIVE.

Everyone was pretty nervous about how it would play out - we’ve been on that bus every day for 13 days, we’ve dined together without masks etc.

Anecdotal evidence only but interesting.

Other France travel topics have been covered recently by others, so I will leave the rest out but I think few posts have covered how tour groups are playing out.

Happy to answer questions. We’ve had a blast. We’re one of the first Road Scholar tours to head out and it’s worked out great. No itinerary changes due to COVID - all sites up and running.

Posted by
7997 posts

Valerie, this is really great to hear, thanks for posting. France has a high fully vaccinated rate which really helps. Much higher than many US states. We’ll be there in 4 days and glad to be going.

Posted by
4622 posts

Hi Valerie,
You mentioned that there were 19 tour members and 13 of them tested negative, what happened to the other 6?

Posted by
1970 posts

We are four of the six. We didn’t test with our group because, after the tour, we are going to Antibes for 6 days. We’ll test later on. Two other tour members are heading to Paris for a few days and will test later too.

Posted by
7720 posts

Another regular poster on this website started that identical Road Scholar tour last weekend.

Yes, the fully vaccinated rate is 85%, and the latest positive rate is under 4,000 per day.
With stats like that, I’d be really surprised at any positives. Enjoy.

Posted by
4622 posts

Valerie,
Thanks for the explanation.
After such a tour, it would have been interesting if everyone in the group had been tested.

Am I right to presume that everyone on the tour was fully vaccinated?

Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Posted by
1970 posts

@Priscilla - Yes, 100% vaccinated. And it was interesting - everyone was up front and vocal about it - positively giddy to be vaccinated. We had many with their 3rd (booster) shot already.

This was a group of people that were just so happy to be out touring again.

We’ve really had a blast!!!

Posted by
4622 posts

Ha! You and I have something in common when it comes to 🍷
I‘ll take the cracker!

Posted by
1189 posts

The tour company brought in a nurse to test those who were leaving the tour? That is real service. I hope other tour companies follow suit or will point us in the right direction. This is a concern of mine for next year when there are going to be a lot more of us traveling and perhaps not enough test kits available.

Posted by
1970 posts

@Mary - Yes, Road Scholar apparently just decided last night to send a travel nurse to our hotel in Toulouse. He showed up this morning, got a conference room, and all of the tour members had a chance to get tested with him. It was 35 Euros each. It was a great service, for sure!!!

Posted by
1970 posts

@Meg - Thank you! It’s a great area to travel! The RS tour will be awesome! I think that’s the one that goes to Oradour sur Glane - just an incredible place to walk around!

Posted by
1078 posts

Thanks for posting, Valerie. And Bets, too!
I'm leaving for France in 3 weeks and the numbers are reassuring.

Posted by
2886 posts

We took the RS Loire to the South of France Tour in 2013. We made many of the same stops. It was like deja vu. You mentioned Oradur-Sur-Glane. We were there the day before the Presidents of France & Germany visited. They walked hand in hand with a survivor. Oradur was a life altering experience. https://amp.dw.com/en/german-president-gauck-visits-site-of-oradour-nazi-massacre-in-france/a-17067261

As far as DaVinci, I recently reviewed his accomplishments and am still blown away! You also mentioned Archimedes. We visited the Archimedes Museum in Ortigia- another genius.Well worth a visit.

I got a kick out of your reference to having a travel nurse on the tour. On one of our RS Tours (Portugal) their were about 6 of us RN’s. Trust me, we were consulted a lot. ;)

I enjoyed your photos of food. The omelets looked delicious. Did I miss if you were in Sarlat at Saturday Market? My favorite market.

Last but not least I love your stories of Ron. He reminds me of my DH. Some resemblance as well. Separated at birth?

Merci

Posted by
1970 posts

Holy cow, I just woke up here in France and saw all of these messages - you’re making my morning with your really nice comments!!!!! Thank you!
@Andi - you’re my very best commenter! Someday I hope we can cross paths on one of my Rick Steves’ Helpline meetups!
@Patricia - Thank you! I do love travel more than anything else, as you can probably tell:)
@Janis - Thank you, as well! And, yes, we did get to do the market in Sarlat. Sarlat was just such a picture perfect little spot, wasn’t it? The more people that visit Oradour sur Glane, the better. It’s just such a powerful reminder of what the remains of evil looks like. I’ve never been to a site quite like it and I was so relieved I finally sorted out a way to visit.

Posted by
1028 posts

Glad you had a great trip. Regarding COVID testing, it would be interesting to know about broad statistics on how many people have positive tests when returning to the USA.

Posted by
1970 posts

France is running a really cool App for tracking COVID stuff. They update statistics pretty regularly.

It’s called TousAntiCovid and has been discussed on here a ton in regards to storing the QR code there. But it has tons of other helpful info.

The most recent update says 123 positive tests for 100,000 for UNVACCINATED.

It says 16 positive tests per 100,000 for the VACCINATED.

Posted by
7720 posts

Valérie, those stats are a 7-day total, so divide them by 7 for a one-day average. Scroll down and you'll see where it's the week's total.

Posted by
1970 posts

Updated info from my original post - 3 more tour members tested. All negative.

That’s 16 of 19 negative. 3 more people need to test. We’ll be 2 of those 3 but we’re still 4 days out.

Posted by
1970 posts

Final report - we also tested negative! So that’s 18 out of 19. I don’t know what happened for that last person - they are still in France. But I’ll say that’s a pretty good outcome!!

Posted by
8430 posts

Well, well, glad you bumped this to the top, lol!! I’d not been checking the forum so hadn’t seen your thread. So happy it turned out well!

As Valerie and Bets both know I’m the one who was a week behind her on the same tour itinerary. Today (Tuesday 10/19) is our farewell dinner. Those who are leaving France tomorrow were tested yesterday, same deal with the nurse coming to the hotel and setting up in a conference room. We’ve got 21 tour members and 18 were tested with all being negative.

There are 3 of us who are staying in France a little longer. One couple is joining another tour and I’m headed back to Paris tomorrow and will get tested Thursday.

We had one itinerary change as the tapestry museum had closed for the season. There were several restaurants who were staying open to serve our group and were then closing for the season. I do not think it’s Covid-related but more end of season. There is another tour starting Friday, I guess and they will have even more changes in both restaurants and activities. The little train at Domme is finished for the season. Lots of shops seemed to be closed in Rocamador and today in Carcassonne. The boat guys at Gouffre du Padirac were also saying they are having reduced visitor numbers and winding down.

Posted by
1970 posts

@Pam - great news for your tour group! Sounds like you had a good time as well! Wasn’t that cave at Gouffre de Padirac unbelievable??!!? But OMG those stairs - did you walk it?

Posted by
8430 posts

No…did not walk the stairs and could not have done anyway as I have a silly fear of heights. The prehistory caves were marvelous, this one was just not for me. Glad you enjoyed it!!

Posted by
4383 posts

I’d imagine that the odds of anyone in that group testing positive would be nearly zero…probably more likely to get struck by lightning.

Posted by
8430 posts

I’d imagine that the odds of anyone in that group testing positive would be nearly zero…

Not sure I understand your reasoning? All were vaxxed but had traveled thru multiple airports and been in a number of restaurants without masks.

In my group many were going maskless outside as the locals were and often had to be reminded to mask when it was “obligatoire”.

Posted by
4383 posts

Pam, I saying that a vaccinated person who wears a mask and socially distances is quite unlikely to get COVID, so it should be no surprise that the tour group was all negative. The OP seemed to convey that there was anxiety and stress around a possible positive. I'm saying that there are better things to worry about - such as getting struck by lightening. Of course I understand that even a vaccinated, masked, socially distanced person can still get COVID, but the odds are very, very, very, very low....

Posted by
8430 posts

I am saying that a vaccinated person who wears a mask and socially distances is quite unlikely to get COVID,

Well, that’s the issue. There was often little to no ability to social distance. All were vaxxed, a few had gotten boosters. Masking was sporadic by some. A couple had physical conditions that made it difficult to mask.

My group and I’m sure Valerie’s, was not socially distanced on the bus. Nor were we when we visited the 3 prehistory caves or other sights in France. In Bordeaux where the tour started the streets were jammed shoulder to shoulder as we did our city walking tour. Winery visits were distanced from other groups.

Restaurants were often very busy and often our group was closely surrounded by locals. Since we were eating and drinking all had their masks off.

We were supposed to mask on the bus but only about half wore them correctly-often nose or mouth was uncovered. It seemed to me that many had not been masking at home because they sure weren’t used to them. Driver and guide were scrupulous with mask wearing as was I.

For myself, in Paris I took public transport before the tour and now afterwards. There is no distancing possible on the Metro and in some instances it’s as jammed as it was pre-Covid. If I find it really jammed I’ve been getting off when I’m close enough to walk “home”.

So, lack of distancing and sporadic or improper masking are what caused concern for me.

Posted by
1970 posts

Pam makes some really good and accurate points. And I’ll add this: we were told by our guide that - for the tour before ours, traveling 7 days ahead of ours - there were 3 of 19 positive tests. Those 3 people were apparently still quarantining at our Toulouse hotel when we arrived there. I have no further info than that - and my info is not firsthand knowledge, but I assume our guide was getting accurate information from the tour ahead of us.

And likewise, when we toured with Ingrid of Best French Riviera tours, she said she had spent a day with 6 tourists earlier in the fall and that they contacted her a couple days later - after they tested to return home - to tell her that some of them had tested positive. Ingrid herself tested negative.

Normally, I don’t like to report details that are not my firsthand knowledge but given these circumstances and to try to elaborate based on Emily’s post, I am. But I’m obviously not offering these as the truth of the matter asserted - I’m trying to show that we did actually end up worried that we could test positive and I’m trying to show why.

And ditto on the mask wearing on the bus. Ron and I were the ONLY people who regularly wore our masks on the bus.

Posted by
4383 posts

I’d bet money that the tourists, if they did test positive, were not vaccinated. Again, I’d be more worried about other things if you’re vaccinated and take precautions…

Posted by
1970 posts

@Emily - to maintain accuracy of information here, all Road Scholar guests are required to be vaccinated.