France Update May 2020

Greetings from Port Chalmers.
 
Level two has brought the cars and people back onto the streets and, as businesses start opening, the first signs of a possible ‘return to normal’.   Alas, overseas travel is still impossible and it looks as though it’s going to be impractical for some time.   After liaising with our clients we cancelled our Scotland-France tour and now have a bunch of credits for 2021.  Virtually all our operators/suppliers are issuing credits, valid for 12-18 months, against bookings that cannot be completed because of covid 19.  Like you, we are hoping that travel to Europe will be practical and desirable in 2021 and that we can use some of these credits.
This month France is loosening their restrictions and people will no longer need to download a permit to leave their house.  Most of the canals will re-open to pleasure craft on 29 May but we don’t expect there to be many takers.  Claire, from the hotel barge Serenity, tells me that they only have two September cruises left in the diary for this year, as virtually all their bookings have been re-scheduled to 2021.  Penny from the Luciole is having a similar experience and 2021 now has more bookings than this year.  
 
For 2021 we had a tour planned around a barge cruise in Champagne and a minibus exploration of Burgundy and Provence.  If social distancing becomes the norm, travel and flights could become more expensive, so we are now looking at lower cost options.  That means a rental boat, instead of a barge, with Robert as captain and Barbara as housekeeper-cum-tour guide.   This offers a flexible, hands-on boating experience without any worries.   We’ve successfully used rental boats for our tours in the past, cruising the Canal Lateral de la Loire, over to Dinan in Brittany and up the Charente River to Angouleme.     
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There are lots of four cabin boats with ensuite bathrooms and Le Boat now has a deluxe 5 cabin boat that would give us the option to take one or two single bookings.   Le Boat also has some very good one way routes suitable for 10-14 day cruises, so if you are hoping to explore the French waterways with friends and would like the security of Barbara and I on board, please get in touch asap.  Have a look on our web site for some ideas on how the tour might work – http://www.bespokefrance.co.nz/private-tours-sample-boating-itineraries/ – 
 
Finally we encourage you to be positive and be thankful that we live in relatively safe NZ and with a bit of luck we can get over to Europe in 2021.
Best wishes to you all,
Robert & Barbara
BESPOKE FRANCE
Robert Buchanan & Barbara Keen 
52 George St, PORT CHALMERS 9023, New Zealand
ph 643 472 7856, freephone (NZ) 0800 147 856

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