We are so happy to see in-person racing is starting back up around the U.S.  And, now we are starting to get the details on Europe opening back up to U.S. tourists.  Here’s what we know, and some tips for you to get ready to join in the fun.

In-Person Racing

Marathon in France - Running TourWe are already seeing in-person races being rolled out around the U.S.  Europe is a little behind the U.S. in this regard, but in-person events have started up there as well.

What changes can we expect in the post-Covid world?  Limited number of participants has been the most common change so far.  So, make sure you register for your race early — or, join a tour with us and get guaranteed entry!

Other common race features for Covid-19 safety:

  • Mask requirements at the start and finish
  • Limited pre- and post-race gatherings
  • Staggered start times
  • Pre-packaged food, or no food offered
  • Single-use water bottles, or “bring-your-own water” requirement

While the events may look a little different, we are excited to finally be gathering together and racing again!

Europe Opening

Run In Paris, FranceYipee!

The European Union “will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA [the European Medicines Agency],” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, told the New York Times. The three vaccines that have been approved for use in the United States—Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—have all been approved for use in Europe.

It’s great to hear that all of Europe will be opening soon, but von der Leyen didn’t give much information on when or exactly how that would be happening.

Luckily, France was more concrete with their plans.  French President Emmanuel Macron released a detailed road map for how the country plans to emerge from its current lockdown and begin relaxing restrictions. The plan includes allowing foreign tourists with a “health pass” to visit France again starting June 9.  Greece is already starting a phased opening, and Italy and Spain are not far behind.

What’s a Vaccine Passport?

Vaccine Passport EuropeThe truth is, we don’t yet know.  France’s plan seemed to indicate that either proof of a vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test would suffice to gain entry.  But, there is talk about a more strict requirement of proof of vaccine only.

A digital “vaccine passport” has been speculated by many in the travel and tourism industry, but actual details are not yet known.  The E.U. is working on “Digital Green Certificates,” to prove vaccination status, recent negative tests, or recovery from the disease.  We U.S. travelers may need to submit a proof of vaccine document to the country we plan to visit.  That country would then issue us a digital certificate to meet the E.U. requirements.  But, at this point it’s too early to know exactly what the process will entail.

We do know that Europe is eager for tourists, so I wouldn’t expect the process to be a difficult one.

Make Your Reservations

Race in Europe - Running TourA travel boom is coming, so be ready to make your plans!

A Travel Technology Association survey found that over 80% of Americans plan to travel this year.  And, AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky said, “we think there’s going to be a travel rebound coming that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”  We at Finish Line Travel agree – everyone wants to get out and run a race and TRAVEL!

What can you do to be ready to travel once the borders open?

  1. Keep an eye on flights – there have been some good deals popping up, so be ready to snatch that flight when the price is right.
  2. Pay attention to cancelation policies – most airlines are offering free changes and free cancelations.  But, don’t expect those terms to last past the New Year.
  3. Book early to guarantee your spot.  Our Finish Line Travel tours are small – so, they will fill up!  Book early to guarantee your spot, but also know that your tour can be canceled or changed without hassle.
  4. Go run, travel & enjoy!

We love the café scene in Paris. Sitting at a sidewalk café sipping a rosé and maybe enjoying a “croque” while watching the world go by – it’s relaxing and exciting at the same time.

But, there seems to be a million cafés to choose from. How do you know you are finding a good one, and not a tourist trap? Here are 3 quick tips:

1. Get away from the busy tourist spots. Sometimes we want to sit with a front-and-center view of the Eiffel Tower. But, just know that you are over-paying for that glass of wine, and the atmosphere & service may not be top-notch.

So, when you find yourself on a busy square surrounded by tourist sights, walk around the corner, or just down the street. Or, better yet, find a quiet alley nearby. You will be sitting with the locals, rather than other tourists. The service will probably be better and prices will not be inflated.

2. Look for a busy spot. This may seem to go against tip #1, but if you can get away from the busy tourist area, and find a busy café that means that you found a good spot. If the locals are flocking there, you want to be there, too. It could be that the café has great happy hour specials, or it means the food, drinks & service are great. Either way, it’s a win for you!

Now, it can be a little uncomfortable — you will probably feel like you are sitting on the lap of a Parisian. But, it will be worth the effort.

Paris Cafe3. Sit outside, facing out. Many cafés have cute interiors, but when in Paris, sit outside.  If it’s cool, don your scarf and sit by a heater.  If it’s warm, find a table under the awning, or just bask in the French sunshine!  Outside is the place to be!

Our favorite cafés have all the chairs facing out to the street. Sometimes, you just can’t find that setup, but when you do, grab a spot! People-watching is a favorite Parisian pastime, so a table with both seats facing out means that everyone get’s to take part. Sit back and watch the action of Paris.

Please note: European (and, Parisian) restaurant etiquette and procedures are a little different than how it works in the U.S.  Keep an eye out in the next week for our post on tips to make you seem like a local.

We are in Alsace, France right now, and we are enjoying the Crémant d’Alsace!  What is “Crémant d’Alsace,” you ask?

We first need to start with a little wine education.  Many people often use the word “Champagne” for any sparkling wine, but that is not correct!  If you are a wine-geek, you already know this, but the word “Champagne” can only be used for sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France.  So, you can get sparkling wine from California, Italy, Spain and from a bunch of wine regions in France — almost anywhere in the world where wine is produced.  But, it’s only called “Champagne” when it comes from a certain small area of France.

Glasses of Rose Crémant d'Alsace - Champagne - Sparkling WineSo, Crémant d’Alsace is the sparkling wine of Alsace — the wine-producing region in Eastern France right along the German border.  They make some great wines here – lots of Rieslings, Gewurztraminers and Pinot Blancs.  But, they also make great sparkling wine.  Crémant d’Alsace is generally a bit less expensive than Champagne, but the taste is outstanding. (The fancy name “Champagne” can often add a few bucks – or more – to your wine bill.)

We love to drink local and our taste buds are thanking us for Crémant d’Alsace this week.  (It’s a scorcher and it sure is refreshing!)  But, even between tours to Europe, we look for wines to remind us of our adventures – so, check your local wine shop for a Crémant d’Alsace and give it a try.

anthony bourdainBack in 2005, Anthony Bourdain’s first episode of “No Reservations” was entitled “Why the French Don’t Suck.”  (You can watch the late, great chef & TV personality here.)  Anthony’s first episode was a little strange at times, but we connected with his love of travel, his passion for food & drink, and his dark sense of humor.  And, we 100% agree that the French don’t suck!

 

The French Aren’t Rude

This is the first thing we hear from Americans who have traveled to France, or who are contemplating it.  But, it is a myth!

First, we need to pause and realize that the American culture & French culture are very different.  Things that we accept as the norm (like free public toilets, a waiter checking on our table every five minutes, smiling at strangers) are strange to the French.  So, the #1 thing to do when you think someone is being rude to you in France (or, any foreign country for that matter), is to pause and ask yourself if you are expecting something to be exactly the same as home.

Paris cafeA couple quick tips:

  1. It would be rude for a waiter or waitress to interrupt your meal every five minutes asking you if everything is ok.
  2. You can sit at that dinner table all night nursing a coffee or a glass of wine.  The wait-person will not bring your bill to get you to move along.  Just give him or her a wave when you want your bill.
  3. If you are at a very busy restaurant in a touristy area, your server will be busy – curt service is expected.  (And, in these touristy areas you may actually find some rude people – that’s why we frequent establishments with a more “local” vibe.)
  4. Politeness begets politeness.  The French always greet each other – when entering a shop or café, say “Bonjour” and when you leave, pause for a second and say, “Merci” – even if you are saying it into the void of a busy establishment – someone will respond back and appreciate your politeness, as it is expected in French culture.
  5. Not everyone speaks English.  And, even if they do, they may not speak English to you.  Our French friends have told us that this is another part of French culture – self-consciousness.  If they don’t feel that they can present perfect English to you, they will stick with speaking French.  They are NOT being rude!  They are just as nervous to try and speak English as you are to try to say something in French!  (By the way, all of our guides, drivers, hotel personnel & recommended restaurants speak English!  And we speak a little French ourselves.)  However, the French are extremely tolerant of your attempts to speak French and extremely appreciative as well.  We’ve been able to get a smile from strangers just from our attempts to go beyond what is expected and to actually speak French!

We have had some great experiences that completely dispel the myth of rude French – random people stopping in Paris and asking if we need help finding our way… Waiters speaking very slowly to us so we can practice our French… and, so many more.

The French Food & Wine is the Best

paris cheese board and wineThat first episode of “No Reservations” is a great introduction to French food & wine.  The French take their food and wine very seriously.  Can you say “non-pasteurized cheese?”  Can’t get that in the US!  How many cheeses are there in France?  There’s an old saying that there are as many cheeses as there are days in the year, but, truth be told, there are so many more.  We like cheese in this house, so we want to be anywhere that loves cheese that much!

Wine…need we say more?  French wine is amazing and our favorite.  Whether it’s a First Growth red or a house glass of rosé at a café, enjoying French wine is always delightful and a voyage for your senses.

Pastries, that’s what Jess goes for.  She always brings money with her on her morning runs, so she can head straight to her favorite patisserie.  The options are astounding and range from basic and delicious to elegant and mind blowing.  And the baguette…any place that has reverence for something as simple as the baguette, we want to be there.  Did you know that French law states that traditional baguettes have to be made on the premises they’re sold and can only be made with four ingredients: wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. They can’t be frozen at any stage or contain additives or preservatives, which also means they go stale within 24 hours.  As if they’d last 24 hours in our hands!

There is so much more to French food: steak frites, boeuf bourguignon, croque monsieur, the list goes on, but you get the idea.  You’re going to want to eat when you’re in France!

The French Have Life Figured Out

Paris - relaxing by the SeineWe Americans are always “go! go! go!”  And, when we only have a limited amount of time for a European vacation, we definitely want to see all the sights.  But, don’t miss out on the relaxation.  Be like the French and sit for hours at a sidewalk café with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and watch the world pass by.  Or, stroll leisurely along the Seine (and, maybe stop for a glass of rosé at a riverside bar.)  Linger for a few of hours over a four-course dinner — and, finish it off with an espresso, like the French always do.  Then follow up dinner by window shopping and taking in the Eiffel Tower twinkling on your way back to your hotel.  Take your time & see the real France.

Experience all the amazing experiences that France has to offer – check out our running tours in France here!

We are so excited about our D-Day Landings Marathon & Half Tour (plus Paris!) and we are can’t wait for you to experience it with us.  (June 14 – 21, 2019 or June 14 – 23, 2019 – click here to learn more.)

We’ll cut straight to the chase – we love France! I mean, really love it, and we love this race. And, we know that you will love this tour. Whether you’ve been to France before or it’s your first time, this will be an experience that will always stay with you.

D-Day Memorial

Normandy is beyond amazing. Not only will you see the beauty and hear about the history, but you will feel so much more. You will feel how much the French appreciate the sacrifices that American men and women made in the fight for freedom. You will feel what it must have been like to live or fight in this place during that time as your guide transports you back to 1944.

 

The race just adds to this experience by running through the French countryside with so many villagers cheering you on with “Allez!” and “Bravo!” Not to mention being able to start on Pegasus Bridge for the half marathon – the first bridge liberated by the Allies or running along the beaches for the full marathon. The cobblestone streets then lead you to the finish line to a roaring and enthusiastic crowd and French-inspired post-race snacks and Normandy delights.

Speaking of delights, in addition to igniting all of these senses, you will certainly ignite your sense of taste! Normandy, known for butter, Camembert, cider and Calvados, will have you reaping the rewards of your run. And moving on to Paris, you will, of course, enjoy the rest of what France has to offer with wine, more cheese, and pastries that are almost as religious of an experience as visiting Notre Dame.

Paris at nightAnd your time in Paris will not only offer you all the tourist things you’ve always wanted to see, but private experiences that you haven’t even considered. You will experience the capital city on a personal level with your local guide, eat at friendly, quaint restaurants and get to know what Paris is below the surface and beyond just a big city.

 

Book this once in a lifetime experience and come run with us!

Questions? We’d love to answer all of them. Feel free to call or message us.  Call Jessica at 970-445-0968 or Dan at 970-368-2326.

Check out the itinerary of this tour and get the specifics of all of the amazing experiences you will have.  Or, watch our video chat about the D-Day Marathon & Half Tour (plus Paris).