Back to Europe. It had been 5+ years…definitely longer than I would have guessed back in 2016. As detailed, we had a trip to Spain and Portugal planned for 2017, but that ended up getting canceled with the house project.
After wrapping up the house, we owned two houses for a while – not exactly an ideal factor for international vacations. Then Covid happened.
In actuality, this trip wasn’t even supposed to be a trip to Europe. It was initially an attempt to reschedule our Japan vacation planned for fall 2020, which was canceled because of Covid and ended up being the California/Texas trip.
Mid-summer, it became evident that Japan would again not be happening. That was ok, as we now had far more options as alternatives. We considered a couple options and itineraries, but ended up with France. We actually had planned to conclude the trip in San Sebastian (instead of Nice) up until roughly a month before we departed, but too many flight cancellations made that not feasible…and likely for the better.
On that topic, planning with Covid was really not much of an issue except for one thing – flights. Really, it probably made things like reservations easier to come by. We did have to obtain the France Covid “Pass Sanitaire” – which was slow, but otherwise painless.
Flights, on the other hand, were a moving target. Initially, we were booked in both directions on the British Airways MSY-LHR direct flights. They were canceled, then the replacements were canceled. I ended up lucking into two saver Air France business class flights there (MSY-ATL-CDG) and booked those by transferring AMEX membership rewards points to Air France. On the return, our flights were booked with AA miles. Once the initial flights were canceled, they give you a much wider selection on AA flights (not other carriers though). So, we ended up on American Airlines in business class connecting in London on the return (NCE-LHR-MIA-MSY).
Why France? It made sense given the timeframe and given the fact that it would be just Alyce and I (because of the wine-ing and fine dining). Plus, all of these locations had been on our list of places to go for a while – in fact we had planned to go to several in our initial France 2016 itinerary. On the specific stops…
Paris – Paris is one of both of our favorite cities. There are endless dining options, from the highest of high end to causal bistro fare. The public transportation is fantastic, and there are plenty of interesting things to see. Plus, Alyce was pregnant the last time we were in Paris, so she missed out on some things.
Initially, we were going to spend 5 nights in Paris. However, we lost a night to flight cancellations, and I cut a night to make Champagne a stop rather than a day trip (the other night came from Burgundy). We ended up with 3 nights in Paris.
Champagne – as mentioned, this was initially going to be a day trip from Paris, but that did not seem to do the area justice. We turned it into a 2 night stop.
Burgundy – we were going to spend 4 nights in Burgundy in our 2016 trip. We made some changes, and I’ve been wanting to make to Burgundy since then. Plus, Burgundy wines are some of favorites – if not our #1. I was considering 4 nights here initially, but we ended at 3.
Northern Rhone – we planned 3 nights in the Northern Rhone…though at multiple locations within the region. This is another premier wine region of the world, so wine and food would again be the focus.
Nice – Nice was a stop I’ve wanted to make for a while, but we were going to initially fly from Lyon to San Sebastian because of how much we enjoyed San Sebastian on our 2016 trip. Flight cancellations made that too much of a headache, but this itinerary was really what it should have been anyway. We concluded the trip with 4 nights in Nice.
Traveling was relatively simple in that we’d fly into Paris, rent a car, drive to Nice, and fly out from there. No trains, additional flights, etc.