Update 14 August 2020
For travellers from the United Kingdom the Foreign and Commonwealth has updated its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel, exempting destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers.
The exempt destinations include Italy and Switzerland, but France is now among the countries with high infection rates, and travellers are advised not to go there. This obviously has implications for pilgrims, and it will exempt travel insurance. Anyone returning from France from 4am on 15 August will have to quarantine for 14 days on return. At present France is not on Switzerland’s list of countries from which travellers are required to quarantine, but check https://reopen.europa.eu/en for updates.
After months of lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Europe’s borders are beginning to open for pilgrimage and tourism.
The Confraternity wants to emphasise that all potential travellers should follow the guidelines and rules set down by their own national authorities. If and when you do set out, it is vital to have travel insurance that would cover cancellations, or unexpected delays and medical and hospital bills. This EU website https://reopen.europa.eu/en gives up-to-the-minute information on the regulations concerning entry to and exit from the countries of the European Union.
The EAVF (European Association of the View Francigene) website has regular updates on accommodation opening.
Update 24 August 2020: Travel between Dover and Calais – Covid update
During the Covid-19 crisis there is currently no possibility of crossing the Channel as a foot passenger. However (on date of writing) P&) inform us they will re-evaluate on 30 September.
The options are not many, and some are expensive:
- Four Eurostar trains each day run between London St Pancras and Lille. These are not stopping at Ebbsfleet or Ashford. From Lille to Calais there is a frequent train service.
- Blabla bus runs one service from Victoria Coach Station in London to Paris. Trains to Calais from the Gare du Nord are fairly frequent.
- Try a car-sharing (co-voiturage) site such as https://www.blablacar.fr/ride-sharing/dover/calais/
- Pay a friend to take you across on the ferry or via the Shuttle (Tunnel) as a passenger.
- It is possible to take a bicycle on the ferry, and second-hand bikes can be picked up cheaply in Dover. Maybe donate it in Calais to one of the many charities working with refugees – such as Help refugees at the Auberge des Migrants.
A member of the Via Francigena Facebook forum, Jemima Parker, has given us permission to quote her recent (early August 2020) experience:
“…Just wanted to make an update about the ferry situation for those concerned. I managed to find a ride from Folkestone through the tunnel on my second day. I found it on Blablacar and it cost £20, so very reasonable. I would definitely recommend looking on Blablacar as people seem to make the crossing frequently – although the first lift I found there left me behind, so I would make sure your accommodation bookings on the other side are flexible. Otherwise, buying a bicycle in Dover is definitely possible – there’s a second hand shop called ‘Stuff’ which sells old bikes for around £20-30, and I saw other bikes on Gumtree. It looks fairly straightforward to cycle onto the ferry, and the ticket is £35 I think. So not too expensive even if you have to donate the bike, and gives you more independence than the liftsharing. Finally, I want to recommend Dover Adventure Backpackers for anyone looking for really affordable dorm style accommodation. It’s a five minute walk from the ferry, right near the ocean, with a terrace at the back directly beneath the white cliffs, and incredibly reasonable (I paid £16 for a night, including simple breakfast of toast/cereal/coffee). It’s a little…rough, but in a characterful way, and the owner Paul went above and beyond to help me get across the channel, and gave me a tour of Dover too. Can’t recommend the place enough actually. It’s also the last pub in England!”
If anyone has found another option please email us at email@example.com.