Chris Slade describes the son et lumiere presentation at the abbey of Bon Repos called "Le Pays de Conomor" in Brittany, which takes place during the first two weeks of August.
9 months away from France
We haven’t been to France since January. It is now September. Like thousands of holidaymakers, we have already cancelled two trips to France due to Covid complications, and re-scheduled a few more. For us, spending 9 months without going to France is absolutely unheard of. This morning, 7 more French départements have entered what is called the Red Zone, where the circulation of the virus is higher than in the rest of the country and where stricter restrictions have been put into place. We are now due to travel late September. So, what do we do? Do we stay or do we go? This is indeed causing concerns…
Crossing the Channel
We always travel to France with our elderly dog and have been using Brittany Ferries’ Portsmouth-Le Havre crossing for years, as it offers pet-friendly cabins. We are big fans of theirs and understand that their current position is a very difficult one.
To cut a long story short, the reshuffling of their timetables has led us to rebook our crossing several times already. Not a problem, we have always either got our money back (without even having to ask) or been rebooked. However, due to worries caused by Covid complications, we decided to postpone our trip to France planned for early September and to travel a few weeks later, only to find out that the Le Havre-Portsmouth route will be discontinued from September 7th and the Connemara ship will be taken out of service. Panic on board (or not on board, in our case!).
As we live in Swindon, the cancellation of our pet-friendly crossing was a big blow. Our beloved dog is almost 17, there is no way we can leave him either in an on-board kennel or in our car. Leaving him with a dog-sitter is also out of the question, as he has so many medical needs and suffers from separation anxiety.
The only other solution seemed to be the Channel tunnel, but living in Swindon and driving to Bordeaux, we didn’t really relish the thought of such a drive. A simple tweet to Brittany Ferries was the answer to our prayers: they offer pet-friendly cabins on the Portsmouth-Caen route (a popular route that stands less chance of being discontinued). So, problem solved: we have now rebooked for the umpteenth time, but on a different crossing, and very happy with that, thank you very much.
The French attitude
All is well now, we are ready to go! Or are we?
Covid complications and the whole situation have had one positive effect. It has certainly improved my relationship with my French mother, who lives in Bordeaux (yes, right in the middle of the red zone)! We now speak on the phone every day, which is great. We fell into this habit back in March, at the beginning of lockdown, when I naively thought my poor mama was all alone, bored and in need of conversation.
So last night, during our daily catch-up, she said to me: “I am calling you a bit earlier tonight because I have been invited next door for drinks and nibbles with a few other neighbours. Oh, and tomorrow I will call you later when I get back from Aaron’s birthday party”. (Aaron is my sister’s 4-year-old nephew, who has invited all his aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, to his party).
Is there even any point in arguing? I made my disapproval very clear, perhaps even mentioned that it seems like they couldn’t care less about living in the red zone, and all she could say was: “Oh, it’s ok, we don’t kiss, we elbow”. Well, that’s ok then, they MUST be safe!
So what happens next?
The honest answer is we don’t know and the decision is probably out of our hands. Every day that goes past, the number of new cases goes up in France, around 8000 to 9000 new cases on average at the moment, and with the way people are handling the situation, our concerns are growing. The thought of going to France without travelling to Bordeaux to visit my family doesn’t appeal to us. We could just go to our Brittany house near La Roche Bernard and stay there by ourselves, but is there much point? Covid complications aplenty. Covid concerns, definitely.
Do you have any thoughts on the matter? Have you been to France recently, and if so, how did you handle it? We would love to hear your views.