Updated: Jun 12, 2022
It's time to travel again. Put these fabulous spots on your bucket list!
The Instant French Blog is back after a two month hiatus during my spring trip to France―four days in Paris at Roland Garros and then a late-spring séjour with friends on the Gulf of St. Tropez. Meanwhile, my partner, Julie, has been busy welcoming her first-born into the world―lovely little Anaëlle. But now we're back!
First of all, is it a hassle to travel to France now?
If you're going to put four gorgeous medieval villages on the Côte d'Azur (French Riviera) on your bucket list, you've got to get there, right? So what was it like travelling to France reccently in May of 2022? Not bad, really.
Masks are no longer required in either airports, on the flight, or anywhere in France.
The "vaccine pass" is no longer required to get into cultural, sports, or entertainment venues. In fact, it's done―not required anywhere.
You DO have to be fully vaccinated (two shots) and be prepared to show your documentation (for US residents the paper CDC vaccination card you received when vaccinated is all that is necessary, although you can also take a photo and keep it on your phone.)
You WILL be required to fill out a European Digital Passenger Locator Form (EU-PLF) which can be done on-line prior to departure (https://app.euplf.eu/#/). It's easy, and in English. Only one form per family is necessary. I flew on Air France which provided ticket holders with easy to follow instructions and the ability to easily upload both vaccination documentation and the EU-PLF ahead of our flight.
The only real hassle is that you WILL have to get a rapid Covid test to fly home to the US if you live in the states (the only western nation requiring a Covid test for entry these days, regardless of vaccination status.) The test must be performed on either the day before or the day of your flight. Happily, rapid tests are readily available at almost any pharmacy in France. Plan on getting one the day before your flight. Most pharmacies will email you your results in several hours, so you don't have to wait. If worst comes to worst, both Paris (CDG) and Nice airports have pharmacies where you can get a last minute test, but you better allow plenty of time for that prior to your flight. While you are waiting, you can write a letter to Joe Biden asking why he is the only western leader still requiring this test for already vaccinated people. LATE EDIT: This requirement will be lifted at 12:01 AM on Sunday, June 12, 2022. A Covid test will no longer be required to enter the US.
For more info click here.
The St. Tropez Peninsula
Now on to our four medieval gems surrounding the Gulf of St. Tropez, all within a 10 to 30-minute drive of each other―Grimaud, Gassin, Ramatuelle, and St. Tropez. The peninsula is in the Var departement of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, and is formed where the Massif des Maures mountain range juts into the sea. You can explore all four villages comfortably in about two days. There are many beautiful restaurants―most outdoors―in each village, and you will have a very difficult time choosing among them!
Grimaud has been my home base in the south of France for many years. This magnificent village is my personal favorite and you can find lots of detail and photos in an earlier blog post by clicking here. The post will open in a separate tab, so you won't lose your place in this blog.
Gassin, officially listed among Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, is a storybook hilltop village overlooking St. Tropez and the Gulf. The views are spectacular, the 16th century buildings and public spaces are in near perfect repair, and the many restaurants on the east side of the village offer unsurpassed outdoor dining elegance. Click here for more info.
Gassin, officially listed among Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, is a storybook hilltop village overlooking St. Tropez...
The third stop on our two-day tour of the villages of St. Tropez Peninsula is Ramatuelle, another beautiful medieval village rising to the top of its hill in spirals, and overlooking the Bay of Pampelonne and its magnificent 4 km beach. The village is a cultural powerhouse on the peninsula, with annual theater, classical music, and jazz festivals during July and August each summer. Click here for more info.
The ancient port of St. Tropez is the glamorous epitome of French Riviera chic and is the most famous resort town in Europe. Dozens of sidewalk cafes surround the port where over a glass of rosé you can watch the crews working on multi-million dollar yachts, buy an original water color painting on the docks for as little as fifty euros, and, of course, watch the beautiful people stroll by.
The city is unquestionably beautiful, and on the top of the hill is an ancient fortress, the Citadelle de St. Tropez, which houses a very worthwhile maritime museum. Right off the docks on the front street there is also a very credible fine arts museum called Musée de l'Annonciade that includes works of many French impressionists.
If you like to party, the night life in St. Tropez is among the best on the Côte d'Azur and goes on until the birds start singing. A word of caution―the traffic in high season on the coast between St. Maxime and St. Tropez is absolutely horrendous. Late spring or early fall after mid-September offer much more pleasant conditions. Click here for more info.
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