Monday, June 15, 2020

June Covid19 Deconfinement Update

Needless to say, it’s been a confusing time for not only travelers but also for those of us living in France with both not being certain of what is coming next due to the Coronivus pandemic along with who and what countries will be allowed to cross the border into France for either business or pleasure.

As of last night, June 14, 2020, President Macron indicated in his speech to the country what would be steps would be coming next.

Besides what is happening now with the pandemic and how far we have all come, along with the economy, it was announced what countries would be allowed past our borders.
Here is the main confirmation people have been waiting for as France is now in Phase 3 of the lockdown:

From June 15th France has reopened its borders to travelers from within the EU, UK and Schengen zone with no more need for international travel permits.

People traveling from the UK are "invited" to quarantine in a mirror of the UK's quarantine restrictions, but in France this is optional.

However, for people wanting to travel from outside Europe the restrictions remain in place until at least July 1st.

This will continue to be dependent upon how each country is doing with the containment of Covid 19.
It is extremely exciting that people are allowed to visit the beautiful country of France again but please keep in mind there are still various basic rules to follow, such as:

1. No public gatherings of more than 10 people
Seems tricky but it can be done and the better we all progress the sooner this gets lifted.

2. Masks
Masks are compulsory on all forms of public transport (including taxis) and in many shops and public buildings.

Masks are not compulsory in public spaces like the streets, but are advised, and in spaces such as beaches, parks and gardens local authorities can decide whether to make them compulsory or not so check out the signs at the place you are visiting.

3. No getting closer than 1m
The advice for social distancing and hygiene measures in France remains unchanged - people are asked to follow basic health advice including not getting closer than 1m to other people, washing their hands frequently, using hand gel and coughing into their elbows. It really seems to have become second nature here for the most part.

4. No cinemas
Although a lot of venues are reopening not all have been given the go-ahead just yet, with cinemas set to reopen on June 22nd. Word is nightclubs may be allowed to open at this same date but with a limited number of people allowed in attendance.

Bars, cafés, restaurants, tourist accommodation and museums have all now been given the go-ahead to reopen fully after the whole of mainland France became a 'green zone' on June 15th.

Venues are obliged to put in hygiene measures and ensure that their customers and staff can safely social distance, so some businesses are not reopening straight away while they put the extra measures in place.

5. No sports matches or concerts
Mass gatherings of more than 5,000 people are still banned and are unlikely to come back before September. This means that concerts at bigger music venues are still banned, as are professional sports fixtures.

6. Attestation on the Paris Metro
If you're in Paris and traveling on public transport at rush hour, who will need an attestation stating that your journey is for essential work-related reasons. Outside of rush hour (7.30am-9.30am and 4.30pm-7.30pm) there is no requirement for a form.

This rule runs until June 22nd.

7. No cars (in some streets)
If you're in Paris, watch out for changes to the traffic rules as local authorities have declared many streets off-limits to cars. Some of them have been closed to allow café terraces to expand while others - like the Rue de Rivoli - have been turned into bike lanes to encourage more people to take up cycling and stay off the crowded public transport. This has also happened in a lot of local cities such as in Nice and Cannes.
I encourage everyone to come and visit, just take those one or two extra steps of caution so that as a whole community we can continue to fight this virus together.

Stay safe.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Deconfinement in France

Yesterday it seemed that the whole of France was watching the French Prime Minister give his live press conference pertaining to the next level of deconfinement pertaining to the Coronavirus situation in the country.

Life has been slowly getting back to normal in France with a feeling of renewed optimism in the air since the first level of restrictions were lifted earlier this month.

As of Tuesday June 2nd, France is lifting restrictions nationwide reopening of bars, restaurants and cafes from June 2, albeit with restrictions, and lifted limitations on domestic travel in time for the summer holidays. 
“Freedom will be the rule and restriction the exception,” said Philippe, adding the country was “in a better place than where we expected to be” after the first two weeks post-lockdown.

Museums and monuments are to reopen to visitors nationwide from June 2, though face masks must be worn.

Holiday resorts will reopen too, from June 22, and parks and gardens from next week.

Cinemas can open from June 22 while theaters can also open from June 2, although social distancing rules will have to be observed, he said.

Phillipe urged people to continue respecting social-distancing measures and maintain a strict hand-washing regime, and said gatherings of more than 10 people in public places would remain prohibited.

It is already mandatory to wear a face mask on public transport.

As for dining out, a mainstay of French culture, Philippe specified people can meet in restaurants and cafes in groups of no more than 10, and with a minimum of one metre (3.3 feet) between tables.

In Paris, only outside tables can be occupied. 
This unfortunately does not mean that the nightclubs, bathhouses and establishments of such are able to open just yet but business owners have been working diligently with the government with word being a possibility of opening on June 21st with precautions in place. LGBT establishments with an outdoor terrace will be allowed to open as of June 2nd.

This also means that the borders to France are not yet open but word is there will be another announcement about that concern on June 15th.

Step by step things are improving for everyone to enjoy their summer in the beautiful French Riviera.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

On The Sea With Riviera Boat Tours

A big reason people love to live here and those visiting cannot get enough of the French Riviera is because we are at the edge of the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

If a memorable experience is what you are after then you have to book a trip on the sea with gay-friendly Riviera Boat Tours! I spoke with the owner, Patrick for more about his remarkable business venture...

Hello Patrick,

Can you tell us a little bit about what brought you to the beautiful French Riviera?

My life on the French Riviera started around 25 years ago. I came here for family vacations in St Paul de Vence, Cannes, Antibes and Mougins.

Then eventually as many others have, I moved to France and discovered Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. The views as with everywhere along the Cote d'Azur left me breathless but because St Jean is a peninsula that extends south towards the sea, I was overcome with how St Jean seemed to be more intensified in its natural beauty.

No wonder artists such as Picasso, Cocteau, authors such as Somerset Maugham, Fitzgerald and the politicians such as Churchill, the Kennedys, royal families and movie stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor, David Niven to name a few flocked here.
When did you start your business, Riviera Boat Tours?

Four years ago I decided to get my yachting license in Beaulieu sur Mer. My intention was not to start a business but purely for personal pleasure, as an experience, an extension of my learning and personal growth.

After I got my license, friends with boats would ask me to skipper for day journeys, allowing them time to relax and spend time with families, or business clients, as I undertook the responsibility concerned with handling everything. Eventually boat operators would call me on recommendations from friends to collect clients, business partners from places like the Royal Yacht Club Monaco and bring them to lunches at the surrounding beaches and portside bars.

With this demand, combined with my absolute love of the area, I decided to take it a step further and fully commercialize my license, a bigger step forward than I imagined but the added training was great fun.
Can you please tell our clients about your background in the boating industry?

With my international commercialized license, I started to worked for a tour boat company. The owner of the boat was delighted as were the clients. Within 3 months I was #1 on TripAdvisor, Airbnb Experiences, Viator and most other platforms. Eventually through all of this I decided to form my own boat tour brand and expand upon what clients can do and see on such boat trips.

Where is Riviera Boat Tours based?

In the Port of St Jean Cap Ferrat France. A beautiful peninsula fishing village nestling between Nice and Monaco. So easily accessible by car and bus. 15 minutes from Monaco and 20 minutes from Nice.
Are there specific times of year you operate or is it also based on demand year-round since we have such an exceptional climate in the region?

Peak seasons are May until the end of September although we operate year round as the weather for the most part is so sensational and sunny here.

How many guests can go at one time on one of your tours?

Our boats are a maximum of 5 persons. We limit this for client comfort and ecological reasons. The boats run more fuel efficient with less capacity. It also allows me, the Captain to take special care of all on board, safety, service and to answer any questions regarding the tour. It's a very personal experience and I invest so much of myself into the guests on board.
We also have the capability to charter boats for larger numbers. At Riviera Boat Tours we have a wonderful relationship with the Marinas and local yacht agents, so we can accommodate any request for boats regardless of size. Our team is qualified in both Sailing and Motor boats up to 24 metres (80 feet).

We have a bilingual crew speaking 5 languages.

During the tour, can guests go swimming and/or snorkeling?

Swimming, snorkeling and cliff jumping too. All equipment is supplied along with towels and a fresh water hand shower for after swim rinse. I am a pro-active skipper and nearly always use our swim stops to jump in alongside our guests, if asked. We have buoyancy aids available as well for those a bit nervous of the sea.
Are you able to arrange special tours for guests seeking a memorable moment or celebration such as a birthday, engagement or anniversary?

Absolutely. At Riviera Boat Tours we have wonderful relations with hoteliers and restaurateurs, to arrive by boat to a special location with tables reserved and specially arranged. We also have the capacity to charter, skipper and crew a variety of different sail or motor boats, with full catering, for any special occasions.

This year we are arranging beach picnics as part of our tours. This idea would work particularly well in the early evenings after a day or half day on the water, to disembark and be able to sit on the beach, relaxing and sipping something cold as the sun dips low westwards as the sunsets here are spectacular.
What locations do you offer on a tour?

Riviera Boat Tours departs from the port of St Jean Cap Ferrat. On the full day tours we cruise on over to the magnificently picturesque Port of Villefranche, enroute we go around the two headlands that compose the peninsular of Cap Ferrat, stopping in the bays and small coves, with small beaches accessible only by foot or boat. A chance to swim and snorkel in the deep or shallow waters, observe marine life and on occasion see dolphins and whales.

From Villefranche we head across the wide open Mediterranean towards Cap d'Ail for our planned restaurant stop at Plage Mala. This area makes for a perfect Instagram moment as it retains its exclusivity because of how difficult it can be to access and surrounding natural environment. After lunch we head on over to the Port of Monaco, with a very special opportunity to see the Super Yachts close up, the famous Casino of Monte Carlo, and perched above it all, the old town of Monaco with its Palace and museums.

Leaving Monaco we head back towards Cap Ferrat but not before taking in the various bays surrounding Eze.
I must note that clients can choose a one way trip, perhaps stopping in Monaco or any other points along the route, to meet friends or shop as part of their experience.

Can boat tours be arranged for specific times of day, half day or full day?

Yes, we offer Morning, Full day, Afternoon and Evening Sunset cruises. On Half day morning our tours typically start at 9 to 10am and include a port side breakfast stop if the client wishes.

Afternoon Boat Tours start at 1 to 1:30 pm and can include a lunch stop at the gorgeous private bay of Cap d Ail or the Port of Villefranche Sur Mer if they wish.

Full day we take all destinations between Villefranche and Monaco which is approximately a 6-hour tour.

Sunset tours normally start from 6 until 8pm depending on the season.

We also offer Boat taxi services, collecting dropping and returning clients after a lunch or dinner, a shopping or business trip.

The boat trips during peak season is the quickest and most reliable way to get around. And one can be dropped directly into the heart of the city and town ports, refreshed and invigorated upon arrival.
Are safety requirements are met with approvals of local authorities?

All Crew and Captains are Registered and fully commercially licensed with the Royal Yachting Group.

Association with an Internationally recognized license.

All our training for safety takes place with Bluewater in Antibes. This includes fire safety, sea rescue and basic first aid and seas survival techniques and navigation.

All our boats whether it be our own or boats we charter for occasional use are equipped with Sonar and Satellite Navigation and sea to shore radios.
Where can someone find more information on your availability and rates?

Find us and contact us directly at: Riviera Boat Tours.
Instagram: @rivieraboattours
Merci Patrick!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Lifting Restrictions In The French Riviera

As years go, this is certainly a different one. With the Coronavirus pandemic all over media coverage it can make for confusing times on what safe steps to proceed with in daily life.

And usually at this time of year in France, the French Riviera is buzzing with anticipation for what would be the upcoming Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix this month that would bring together an international list of people from around the world.

Fortunately though as the weeks have gone by, people here in France for the most part seem to have been abiding by the restrictions (hefty fines help) meaning our Covid-19 numbers so far keep going down.

So much so that last month President Macron announced that as of May 11th our restrictions in the country will slowly be lifted as long as the virus numbers stay manageable and consistently decrease so that we do not have a second wave.
Since March 16th everyone has had to stay within the 1 km radius of their homes unless they are an essential worker or its an emergency type situation.

Starting Monday, May 11th we will now be able to travel up to 100 km radius of our home with the only option to move further if you have an emergency or special permission with your attestation forms.
The 100 km distance alone seems to have made people feel more relieved. And with the borders still being closed for some time yet it sounds like everyone here will just be making the most of it as things progress hopefully for the better.

In the meanwhile in the French Riviera, local mayors have been either adding to their local restrictions or lifting even more with permission from the Government of France.

At this moment when you go outside you can see small businesses preparing to open for tomorrow with city workers busy maintaining the parks and beaches for when the public are allowed to use them again in the following days.
This is great news as with the beautiful sunny weather here in the French Riviera, not having access to those public areas, especially the beaches seemed unfathomable.

Public transit will still not be available to the full extent it previously was but train and buses will be running but only allowing a certain amount of people at a time with social distancing at stations, on platforms and within transit itself. Plus you must always wear a mask when traveling or you can get a fine or not be allowed to travel.
For now bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs will still be closed until June 5th and that can change by week depending on the virus situation and even then the type of service might be different meaning a limited amount of people and more social distancing.
As it also will stand starting May 11th, the current number of social groups can only be up to 10 people with distancing in affect.

You can tell those of us in the LGBTQ community are very much looking forward to full on social events again like at the bars, private dinner parties and nightclubs.

Owners of local gay establishments have been watching the government news closely and keeping people up to date with information on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram with any fresh news they may get with many keeping a positive outlook to it all.

The feeling right now is as long as things keep safe and relatively normal, these establishments may open again by July. Fingers crossed.

 There has been a good patriotic spirit to this whole virus situation with many offering more support online and an overall optimistic viewpoint while restrictions gradually get lifted.

When the final news comes in that the border are open to visitors from around the world again, you can be certain everyone here will be letting the world know.

Stay strong, stay safe.