This is part one of a two-part story of my cancelled trip to France this year due to the pandemic and how my husband and I celebrated from home.
Going to France has always been on my list of places to visit and explore. Our friends, Lisa and Johnny Pruitt went two years ago for a long trip and really enjoyed it. Lisa is such a Francophile and was even taking French lessons. I loved seeing their photos and hearing their stories of that trip and it just made me want to visit all the more.
Then they decided they would go again this year and put out the word to close friends to see if anyone was interested in joining them. Well, I was all in! The timing of the trip hit perfectly with my husband, Eddie’s plans for retirement this year. I mean, why not? I had retired in July 2017 and we really didn’t do anything special since it happened rather quickly . This would be a celebration of both of our retirements! I was pumped!
Lisa and I started making plans. This trip was a food and wine river cruise and we would begin our journey in Paris – the city of lights! We would spend a few days there with various exciting events planned by our tour planner and then be transported to Lyon for the river cruise. We chose a Tauck trip because Lisa and Johnny had used them when they went the previous year and were really impressed with what they offered. Lisa said they were planning to add a few days on the front end and back end of the trip because they wanted to do a little more exploring and hoped we would too. I figured, what the heck! Eddie and I had traveled to Namibia, Africa several years prior and I was still disappointed that we didn’t do a little more while we were there so this seemed like a chance to make that right!
Lisa selected several side tours for us and I was all for them. She kept asking me what we wanted to do but in all honestly, I had no idea. I mean, I was ready to do whatever they wanted to because they had been there and knew what was worth visiting. My only requests were the Eiffel Tower, the chance to see the Moulin Rouge and maybe visit a French flea market. Other than that, … I was wide open for suggestions. We made our final payments for the trip including airfare and all we had left to do was wait for May 15th.
But in February we began to get a little concerned. There was talk of a global pandemic and we weren’t sure what all of that meant for us. In all honesty, I didn’t pay much attention to it thinking it was something that would quickly pass. I’m sure many of us felt that way…and how wrong were we?! I was in Colorado visiting my daughter and son -in-law when Eddie, Lisa, Johnnie and I began texting and Eddie was the one being pessimistic that we wouldn’t get to go. I really thought he was overreacting. Surely by May things would settle down, right? I got back to Alabama and a few weeks later I was headed to Torreon, Mexico for a friend’s wedding. At this point though, I was a little concerned. I had heard talk that the president might close the borders because of the pandemic that seemed to be hitting Europe pretty badly. For a bit, I wasn’t sure I should go to Mexico but went ahead. While there, none of us were really paying much attention to what was going on in the world with all the festivities going on until a few days into the trip when one of our group said, “what the heck is going on with toilet paper back in the states?!” Our final day at the hotel, notices went up about using hand sanitizer and a few other precautions. No one was talking about masks yet.
When I got back to Alabama it was pretty clear the trip to France wouldn’t happen. In fact, I returned on March 10 and by March 16, my husband was officially working from home and my daughter who is a teacher said her school had closed and teaching had begun virtually. It was so disappointing but we were able to rebook the trip to May 2021. Now we just have our fingers crossed that the pandemic will be gone by then so we can make the trip.
So, when it got close to May, I was really starting to mourn the loss of this trip. I mean, we had been planning for a year and it was to be a celebration trip. I started thinking about ways to experience France in the safety of my home when it occurred to me that I could find ways to celebrate France for the entire month of May! I called this celebration #31DaysofFrance and I began posting about it on social media – mainly insta-story – as a way to celebrate the trip that didn’t happen.
In part two of 31 Days of France, I’ll share some of the things that I did to celebrate our France trip from home.