We are following events very closely with regards to the impact of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on travel and the likelihood of France being taken off the government's 'safe' list.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the critical source for status updates regarding foreign travel: Latest UK Government Travel Updates
ADVICE TO CLIENTS:
Paying Your Balance:
Some but not all suppliers have amended their payment terms so that you do not need to pay your balance until maximum 28 days before the holiday starts. When your balance is due we will be in touch to advise you of your options. If the holiday is operating, you will need to pay your balance or lose your deposit.
Clients With Existing Bookings For 2020:
The 14-day infection rate in Spain (10/08/20) is 76 cases per 100,000 and Belgium 63 cases per 100,000 compared to 26 in France (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control). The cases in Spain relate to very specific areas as they do in the UK and France.
There have been reports of a 'spike' problem in France (see: https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus/carte-et-donnees); this is currently far away from the south west coast but we do appreciate the UK government could apply a countrywide advisory notice to the whole of France.
Government travel restrictions were lifted on 10 July as was the quarantine arrangement with France. For bookings made since 10 July, the following applies:
Do bear in mind that the FCO issues advice not laws. We've spoken to a number of clients lately who are so fed-up they will choose to ignore whatever advice the UK government issues. A change of advice does not mean you cannot travel or that the villa won't be available. It remains your choice. As an EU citizen (until 31/12/20) you have free access to French healthcare using an EHIC card. Do check the details of your travel insurance policy to be sure which elements are invalidated if you travel to France against FCO advice. In addition, there are insurers who will cover you for travel to destinations with an FCO advisory in place, for example Battleface offers insurance for a family of four to European destination under an FCO advisory for less than £100 for the week. Please follow the Battleface link for a quote and policy details (age restriction - unders 60s only - applies).
Clients going on holiday to France this summer must:
It is vital that you have adequate travel insurance in place for your holiday.
For specific insurance advice related to the Coronavirus, this Money Saving Expert link is useful: MoneySavingExpert article on Coronavirus, your rights and obtaining travel insurance
Also, ABTA has just launched a new travel insurance product, which includes medical cover for coronavirus - ABTA Travel Sure.
OTHER USEFUL LINKS
We strongly advise using official advice - i.e. government sources and regulatory bodies - at all times. These links are robust:
Q. Can I cancel my holiday?
A. All airlines, travel companies and insurers take their lead from the FCO. The FCO is currently advising against 'all but essential' international travel to some destinations but has recently updated its advice to exempt France from this. Since travel is now possible between France and the UK you will not be able to cancel your holiday and make a claim on your holiday insurance should you be disinclined to travel - normal cancellation terms will apply, i.e. your deposit/monies paid will not be refunded and you would not be able to make a claim on your insurance. Insurance policies do vary considerably, so we would advise contacting your insurance company as soon as possible to ensure that you have adequate cover.
Q. What happens if my flight (or ferry) is cancelled because of Coronavirus travel restrictions?
A. You should contact your travel provider directly for advice.
Q. What happens if there is a Coronavirus outbreak in the destination whilst I am on holiday?
A. The information sources above suggest to follow the advice of local authorities. Your insurance policy may well cover this eventuality under their "Curtailment" clause - please check before you travel. It is worth noting also that any claims will need to be made as soon as possible, so do get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you are aware of the situation, so that they can advise you.
Q. I'm over 70 and concerned about the government's advice surrounding self-isolation. What can I do?
A. If you have a future booking where your accommodation can be fulfilled, our normal booking conditions and cancellation charges apply. We recommend that you speak with your travel insurance provider to see what cover you have in place in light of the latest government advice surrounding self-isolation. If your GP has advised against travel, and they have provided you with official documentation to confirm this, you should also speak to your travel insurance provider for advice.
The UK is now in a transition period whilst it negotiates its arrangements for leaving the EU; this transition period will last until 31 December 2020. During the transition, the existing travel rules will apply. Do have a look at ABTA's excellent latest travel advice page which provides helpful & important information regarding visas, transport, travel documents and insurance; this confirms that there are NO CHANGES to travel up to 31 December 2020.
GOVERNMENT BREXIT ADVICE
The latest published Government advice on Brexit can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/brexit and there is also specific infomation on visiting the EU after Brexit here: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-brexit
TRAVEL ADVICE FOR DRIVING IN FRANCE
The AA's provides helpful general travel advice for driving in France: http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/overseas/.
TRAVEL ADVICE RELATING TO PETS
The current pet travel rules apply which means that, as previously, you will need a UK-issued pet passport in order to travel to France with your pet. From 1 January 2021, the UK will become a 'third country' as far as the EU is concerned and then new rules for travelling with pets will apply; these are yet to be agreed.
FOREIGN OFFICE TRAVEL ADVICE FOR FRANCE
|Travel Services||Travel Guides||Holiday Admin|
|Flights||Biarritz||Agency Ts & Cs|
|Ferry||Biscarrosse||Arrival & Departure|
|Rail Travel||Cap Ferret||Cleaning|
|Travel Insurance||Hossegor||Rental Guidelines|
|Airport Transfers||Lacanau Ocean||Security Deposits|
|Stopover Hotels||Moliets Plage||Travel Insurance|
|Local Hotels, B&Bs||Saint Jean de Luz|
|Driving in France||Arcachon Bay|
|France Survival Guide||Bordeaux|
|Holiday Weather||France Basque Coast|
|In-villa Pampering||Landes Coast|
|Ile de Ré|
|Food & Wine|
For stop-over ideas & famous sites to visit try this great resource:
100 Things To Do in France
Clients of Alternative Aquitaine can book their travel arrangements directly with the supplier - we've provided a few signposts below...
Airport Transfers in Aquitaine: Sea Lifts transfer to/from airports, railway stations and ferry ports as well as offering chaffeur services during your holiday. Child and baby-seats available free of charge. Fleet includes mini-buses.
Another option is Europe Transfer who offer 10% discount to Alternative Aquitaine clients. Pop on to their website to book direct using code AA10. Europe Transfer is an independent transfer company providing luxury yet affordable airport transfers from Biarritz, Bordeaux, Bilbao and San Sebastian to destinations throughout Aquitaine and north west Spain. We provide a transfer that forms part of the holiday rather than just getting you from A to B and so we offer clients a business class style transfer at affordable prices. We do this through the quality of our vehicles and drivers, together with added features such as WiFi, iPads packed with films and Netflix, headphones, USB charging points and cables. We also offer clean MaxiCosi child and baby seats free of charge, for those requiring them. Our VW Caravelles seat 8 passengers, with leather seating, individual climate control and plenty of luggage space.
Ferry Crossings: Brittany Ferries offers multiple options for cross-channel routes, plus the long crossings to Spain - very handy for the south west corner of France!
Car Hire: Holiday Autos is a well-known brand name and has excellent coverage at low-cost flight destinations in France. Sixt is a good alternative. To cover yourself against extortionate car hire excess charges, you could buy an annual policy from Insurance for Car Hire.
Rail Travel: Very few clients think of the train when planning their travel to France. But we think this is a very civilised option, taking you all the way to south west France and you arrive in a relaxed mood. Biarritz and Arcachon are rail-friendly destinations.
Airport Parking & Chauffeurs: Purple Parking is the UK’s largest airport parking operator, and has specialised in car parking for the business and leisure travel market for over 18 years. You can park your own car at the airport, or choose a chauffeur collection service. Parking4less is used by over 50,000 people each year to book their airport parking and airport hotels at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Stansted and Birmingham airports.
Travel Insurance: The Voyager policy has been designed exclusively for self-drive holidays to France and mainland Europe and it has the security of being underwritten by AXA Insurance - one of Europe's largest insurers. Flexicover is an established travel insurance provider which has been trading for 25 years.
TRAVEL ADVICE FOR LESS MOBILE CLIENTS
We know all of our properties very well and pride ourselves on having visited every location in our portfolio. If you or any member of your party have any special requirements, we would be very keen to ensure that we find a holiday property that will be suitable for your needs. Please contact our offices on +44(0)1395 576655 or email email@example.com before completing any reservation to ensure compatibility for the holiday that you choose.
There is a very useful Checklist for Disabled and Less Mobile Passengers available on ABTA's website.
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