Arriving in France in the time of Covid-19!

We were so excited to be exercising our itchy feet again! We were up and about by 7 for our 10am ferry from Dover. We had our trusty Igloo on Wheels at the ready and we loaded it with frozen meat from our freezer. We intend to eat dinner in the villa most nights and get lunch out, on sightseeing days. Loaded up the car. There was just enough room for Daisy to get in the back seat. It reminded us of uni days – taking her back with all her “stuff”. We’ve got one large suitcase each, the igloo, a smaller soft thermal picnic bag, and we had large bags for life full of non frozen groceries. We will go to a local farmer’s market tomorrow to buy cheese, bread, charcuterie, vegetables and…. a few bottles of wine. Most of the rest we have brought with us.

Arrived at the ferry port at about 840 and things went a bit wrong. Despite having been there lots of times, we took the wrong lane on entrance to the port and ended up in the bit for dock workers. There was no reverse option and a security guard had to fill us in a special form, call ahead and then send us on. We were ushered to the exit by numerous guards all pointing the way at strategic points…. it was a bit embarrassing. We entered the port again and this time made it.

Approached the French Border security, and Bob, who was clearly traumatised by his lane mistake, attempted to drive through them without stopping. Obviously we got called back so they could check our passports… red faced we drove on….. There were two lines open for P&O Ferries car check in. We got in the shorter one. This was a mistake. It was either staffed by a 2 fingered cretin or there was something wrong with the technology because our line barely moved while we saw about 80 cars going through in the other lane. Eventually we were processed and told that our 10am departure was now going to be 11am. Sigh… Never mind gave us time to buy coffees.

In the end it was more like 1130 before we pulled away. The experience on board was pretty normal except everyone was wearing a mask and the seats were distanced so some were out of access. There were plenty though. We sat in the forward lounge and had coffees and watched the white cliffs of Dover disappear into the grey day. The sea was very flat and it was an uneventful crossing. Discipline was very good and people were observing the rules and keeping their distance.

We arrived at a little after 130 French time but had to wait about 10 minutes because there weren’t any French dock workers there to tie the ship up. Eventually they arrived and we got off. Traffic around the docks was reasonably heavy but once we were on the motorway, it was as light as usual.

The trip took about 3 and a quarter hours. A bit tedious but no problems. The Marriott Vacation Club resort is laid out like a village. Quite Disneyesque. Very reminiscent of the town in Beauty and the Beast. The main building that holds reception is a copy of a typical French Mairie. All the houses are externally different and arranged on beautifully landscaped streets. It’s quite quiet at the moment but there are people here. It is a kilometre or so from the Disney park which it normally “feeds”. Not our interest this time. We’ll be doing a little local sightseeing and also relaxing around the resort. There are pools and a golf course. Disney opened again yesterday so I imagine that will crank it up.

Each villa is a 2 storey village house with a hallway, downstairs loo, large lounge/diner and kitchen on the ground floor with a laundry room. French doors lead out to a private patio and in our case then continue down to a garden and the main swimming pools beyond. Convenient!

Upstairs are 2 large double bedrooms with 2 bathrooms, charmingly decorated and furnished, all very in keeping. Very comfy beds. Our ensuite has a massive jacuzzi bath with a shower over. Daisy’s room has Jack and Jill access to a family bathroom with a large double shower.

There is a strong emphasis on covid safety. When we approached the gatehouse in the car, the guard came out and gave us a large envelope with all our check in stuff in it ie keys, map, papers….. We then drove straight to the villa without anymore contact, no queuing at reception or anything like that. The reception manager and the hotel manager then rang us to check everything was to our satisfaction and to welcome us to the resort. Inside the villa, there is hand sanitiser all over the place, disinfectant wipes and a new package of toilet rolls, still sealed for us to disperse. Ditto paper towels in the kitchen. There was soap in the bathrooms and the usual products but all sealed in plastic bags. The remote controls for the tvs are all in plastic wrappers. A note explains that our villa has been deep cleaned with at least 24 hours since the last guest departed and that there will be no further maid service till the end of the week. No tea or coffee, salt and pepper has been left. Other than the individual envelope of information we were handed on arrival, there is no literature ie manual, magazines etc in the villa. It feels well thought out.

The outdoor pool is open with a reduced number of loungers around it. A staff member greets guests and allocates you a place with the right number of loungers for your party and you must keep to that. At busy times, pool access may be timed but not at the moment. You have to shower with provided soap before entering the pool for the first time. None of the jacuzzis or the indoor pool are open. The gym is open with extra hygiene in place. The bbqs are open for use. The children’s playground is open for use, subject to distancing (not sure how this works!!).

We unpacked all our stuff and relaxed, pretty tired. Cooked a little dinner. One odd thing is that there are no cook’s knives, not even a bread knife. I rang reception to inquire and was informed they’d been removed “for security reasons”. Odd. We will have to buy a bread knife at least. If I’d known, I’d have brought one with me.

We turned in early, tired but happy.

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