This is long with some detail so if that bothers you it’s better to move on to the next thread, lol!
Basic Trip Outline: I’d signed up for a Road Scholar tour of SW France and the Perigord last winter. I was biting my nails as to whether the tour would run or not, particularly since Rick decided not to run his tours this year. I made my final payment in July so was committed. I always add time in Paris before and after any French trip so this time had about 2 weeks before the tour in Paris, one week with a friend and one week on my own, plus 4 nights afterward. That turned out great because it gave me the right amount of time to get my Covid test to return to the US. Early on I had considered adding in UK but decided it would be better to keep things to one country and I think this was a wise decision. I “only” had to keep track of one set of Covid rules. My thought over the next year is that fewer countries is probably the way to go.
Traveling in the time of Covid: Well, I caused myself a lot of anxiety over whether I should or should not travel and how to handle things once I was there. This is a decision each person has to make themselves. I had input from good friends here on the forum giving me trustworthy info on France’s statistics/stance on vax/etc. but I was still worried. As one person said to me….we’ve all experienced trauma over the last year and although I had not identified that in myself she was 100% correct. I live in Idaho, land of Covid deniers. I’ve been masking and very cautious the whole time and it threw me for a loop to see unmasked crowds outdoors in Paris. The difference of course is they are at 80% or more vaxxed (sorry did not look this up) while Idaho is still under 50% and hospitals remain under Crisis Standards of Care. Since March 2020 I’ve eaten out about 4 times, all well distanced from others. In France, there is no distancing in cafes now either inside or outside and everyone has their masks off. Of course they have the Pass Sanitaire which I found was checked maybe 60% of the time in Paris (and almost ALL the time in SW France). In retrospect going was a wonderful adventure and a good brain break. I did wind up spending a bit more time in my hotel room, especially in the afternoons…just needed to get my mask off.
Masks/Masking: I took 34 N95 masks with me even though I knew they were available in France. I wore them inside and outside every day. I only had them off in my hotel room or when eating. On the tour bus we were supposed to wear them but many did not, either not at all or with mouth or nose exposed. The guide and driver wore them religiously. Most of the locals were wearing the blue, black or pink paper masks. A few were wearing KN95 and very few were wearing the N95.
Social Distancing: There are signs everywhere on distancing but there is no way this can be observed. When I was on my own I took the Metro quite a bit and it was crowded. Like shoulder to shoulder rush hour crowds even when it was not rush hour. To me Line 1 was the worst but I was only on it between Concorde and St Paul although over several different occasions. I had different experiences in different museums. The Orsay was nearly empty when I visited (except for the special exhibition related to early Cinema) and the first Louvre visit it was not crowded. I goofed and went the 2nd time on a Sunday and it was really crowded (including the special exhibition) then the last time was last Friday and it was not crowded. Musee Jacquemart-Andre was very crowded and the Botticelli exhibition was shoulder to shoulder and uncomfortably so. We did eat at the lovely café where I think we were the only Americans there for Sunday lunch. Orangerie was not terribly crowded until we got downstairs to the Soutine-Kooning exhibition which was crowded.