Small group tour-October 8
Hello, back from this trip. Claudia and Kim have done some nice summaries and I will try not to repeat what they already mentioned. Regarding travel documentation etc. After some angst about it, we did the get the French Health pass and used their app throughout. I did not see any issues from any of our fellow travelers with using the CDC card. Every restaurant, museum, etc that we went into throughout the trip asked for proof of vaccination. Our TD did pre-clear us in the hotels and certain other stops. It sounds like Macron and France is headed towards requiring the "pass" through July, 2022, but I believe that is a work in process. Our TD arranged for a nurse to come to the hotel to do our COVID testing in Paris prior to our flights home. Tauck paid for the nurse to come to the hotel and we went out for a few minutes during breakfast. Our cost was 40 euros cash. Everyone was clear and we scanned the negative test QR code to the French APP.
We feel like we are particularly jet lagged after this trip and I chalk it up to being "out of practice". It felt wonderful to travel again, and the French could not have been more welcoming even with our limited French language skills. We have to evaluate whether we want to do another land tour with so many stops. We just felt that packing and unpacking every two days took away from the enjoyment of the second evening in the towns especially with early starts the next day. Having four nights in Paris at the end was a treat.
We were on the last small group tour of the season. We had 15 people on our tour (it had showed sold-out up to two months before) but there were cancellations. We had six couples and three singles. We had a full size bus and Tauck did give out assigned rotating seats. There obviously was lots of room to spread out. Masks were required on the bus and all indoor places. There were two from our group that regularly "forgot" their masks on the bus, but "found" them when the TD gently reminded everyone of the French rules. We also had assigned seating for our group meals until the very end. We were assigned a time and table for these meals and were able to order from an a la carte menu and two glasses of wine, beer, or soft drinks were included. All of our breakfasts were buffet except for the Le Meurice in Paris which as a la carte from a menu. Overall it was a collegial group and everyone was very happy to be back "on the road".
We were very lucky with the weather. Apparently two weeks prior to our trip it was pouring rain for many days. Even locals that we spoke to talked abut all of the rain. The temperatures ranged from mid 60's to low 70's daytime and 10 degrees cooler in the evening. Overall, I would say our hotels were very good to excellent. The "love boat" hotel Miramar La Cigale Hotel, had nice rooms, facilities and food. An issue here was that the hotel had switched off their air conditioning for the season. The two days we were there it was very warm and some of the rooms that were facing the sun were in the low 90 degrees. They did move some of our guests to rooms on the other side of the building, but we had to keep the balcony door open in the evening to get some relief. They said it would take two days to restart the A/C and by then it would cool down and we would be gone. Our least favorite of the hotels was the Chateau de Rochecotte. It was fine and some found it quaint and very enjoyable. Just our personal taste. Claudia had said they stayed in Dinard rather than Deauville. We stayed at the Normandy Barrier Deauville. We thought this was a very nice hotel with seaside rooms, but we were in the hotel such a short period of time, we didn't get a chance to enjoy the amenities. We understand they might not use this hotel for classic tours as they can no long accommodate the larger Tauck groups. The Le Meurice in Paris is currently used for the small group tours. We used our "Gift of Time" for this hotel. In our opinion this is a true five star hotel, the location excellent and the service was impeccable.
Our TD was very good. She was very knowledgeable, informative and helpful. She lives in France and was able to embellish the tour information with what it is like to live near Paris. Our local guides were very good to excellent, with our guide in Paris at the Louvre and Orsay one of the best we have ever had anywhere. The Louvre after hours private Tauck tour was a highlight of the trip. Imagine seeing the "highlights" such as the Mona Lisa with only a handful of other people. The guide for D-Day, a retired major general from Britain was also excellent and extremely knowledgeable. as an aside, on the flight home, we watched the movie "The Girl who wore Freedom". We thought this documentary was very good, but seeing some of the places on the film that we had just visited was special.
I am pleased to answer any questions for others taking this tour in the future. We covered a lot of ground and it is unlikely that we would have been to some of these places on our own and especially on one itinerary. We thought that Tauck did a very good job, we are very glad we went and look forward to our future trips with them.