I did it – I left the country, I managed to travel to the French Alps and I safely returned. All with the minimum of fuss … all things considered.
My route to the French Alps took me from London to Annecy via Geneva. Sadly I didn’t make it up to any ski resorts, but I did enjoy views of the sun kissed mountains from beside Lake Annecy.
Departing the UK is definitely the simple bit; very little differs from what one would normally experience. You need to show your proof of vaccination before boarding a plane (I had mine on the NHS app) and off you go. Gatwick seemed as busy as usual, right up until I cottoned on to the fact that everyone was in the North Terminal with South effectively mothballed. We have a long way to go before flight volumes are at their pre-COVD levels.
The onboard experience is pretty standard, but with the need to wear a mask at all times (unless eating or drinking). The trolley service was up and running (I flew with easyJet), but there were no well thumbed menus in the seat backs. All info re drinks, snacks and other purchases was provided by a QR code on a small sticker. The coffee was as tepid and uninspiring as ever.
Arriving in Geneva again required a display of vaccination status; the UK NHS app was accepted. One step I had nearly missed was the need to complete a Swiss Passenger Locator Form. Fortunately I had cottoned on to this requirement the night before flying and was able to show the QR code that was generated. A few fellow passengers had not completed the form and had to do so before being allowed to pass through customs.
I had also completed the sworn declaration required to enter France, but nobody asked to see it as I crossed the border from France into Switzerland. Will they do spot checks if this step is still needed come the ski season? Who knows, but it is a very simple form to complete so better safe than sorry.
When out and about in France mask wearing is far more prevalent than seems to be the case in most areas of the UK. You will be asked to don a mask if, for example, you enter a shopping centre without one.
It is also important to have your proof of vaccination ready to be scanned before entering any cafe, bar or restaurant. The easiest way to do this is by having the French TousAntiCovid App on your phone. It is quick and easy to set up as long as you have the QR codes from your UK vaccinations to hand. It in turn generates another QR code.
Returning to the UK requires two important steps be completed. The first is to pre book your Day 2 PCR test (to be replaced by the cheaper Lateral Flow test on 24th October). I booked mine via NWP Online and paid £40, significantly less than some of the other options I had found online. The reference number from this purchase is then needed for the UK Passenger Locator Form. This form manages to be slightly too long and disproportionately irritating, but I may have had my fill of bureaucracy by then.
Guess what it generates? You got it, another QR code.