Hello Marmoteers! We hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well and – hopefully – enjoying a little bit more freedom of late.
Since our last newsletter, we’ve been as busy as ever from our various home offices and have had some significant, positive developments.
First, our promised Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan turned up in the bank account (that WAS a good day!) and second, with the exception of Spain at the moment, the UK government has lifted its ban on non-essential travel to the European countries in which we run holidays. We are ever mindful that there are still travel restrictions in the US, Australia and Ireland, to name just a few, and that this may affect you and your holiday plans.
Please do check our blog (on our News page) that’s dedicated to coronavirus FAQs and of course, get in touch with us if you’d like to talk through your options. As you are well aware, this is a fluid situation and we’re having to roll with the punches like everyone else, as frustrating as that may be. In the UK at least, things seem to change quite quickly and with short notice but we are ever hopeful that we will still be able to run some trips this year, local lockdowns notwithstanding.
2021 Road Cycling Trips 50% Full Already!
Yep, you read that right – we’re actually just over half full for 2021 already, such is everyone’s appetite for getting away on a road cycling holiday in Europe next year. We’ll all be glad to see the back of 2020, that’s for sure!
Planning a Group Road Cycling Holiday?
Whether you’re a long-standing Marmot client or this is your first trip with us, we don’t want you to be disappointed and miss out on the holiday you were hoping for, especially if you’re planning to get away as part of a group. If this is the case, then don’t hang around, even more so if you had your eyes on a trip in one of our peak months – June and September. Simply get in touch now by dropping us an email and we’ll get cracking with securing your place.
What’s more, most of the airlines have now published flights and prices for next year and as they’re all clamouring for business, you might find yourself a great deal. Happy days!
Late Availability for 2020 Road Cycling Holidays
Did you miss out on a space on one of our most popular trips in a peak month when you first tried to book? Well now you might be in luck! As a result of many people moving their booking to 2021, we do now have some spaces this September on trips that were previously full.
The Best Flexible European Road Cycling Holidays for Mixed Abilities
If you had enquired about our Classic Cols trips to the Southern Alps, the Pyrenees or the Alps in September, then please do get in touch as we might now be able to fit you in. Just drop us an email and we’ll see how we can help you get pedalling.
Our Classic Cols holiday format is perfect for mixed abilities, where each person might want something slightly different from their holiday, or has a different set of personal goals. We finely tune our itineraries so that you’re able to get everything out of the holiday that YOU want – there’s no pressure to either keep up with or slow up for the rest of the group. It’s your holiday, and your mountain to climb!
So if you had your heart set on a trip this September and were initially disappointed, why not get in touch and see what we can do?
How do things look in the post-lockdown world?
With a number of our guides calling mainland Europe home, we thought it might be useful for them to give you a snapshot of how life is operating there at the moment. What’s the social distancing like? Where are people wearing masks? etc, etc.
Tim lives in the Limousin region in south-central France and had this to tell us:
As in the UK, it is now compulsory to wear a mask in indoor public places. All shops and businesses have clear signage referencing the obligation to wear a mask. People here have been very obedient throughout the crisis which I think is evidenced in the statistics. I think the more socialist politics of France contribute to the feeling that this is a collective effort and thus everybody is willing to play their part. Of course this obedience is helped by a stringent policy of enforcement.
Saying that, life still seems pretty relaxed; in some smaller shops there have been limits on entry but the big supermarkets are operating as normal and not with the queues and one way policies that have been happening in much of the UK. Many shops provide hand gel at the entrance and some even offer gloves and masks to those who do not bring them. Supermarkets have put in place a protocol for disinfecting trolleys throughout the day.
In most local communes the town halls have provided each citizen with two reusable masks, so this is what people are wearing.
Cafés, bars and restaurants are benefiting from the warm weather and most business is being conducted outside on terraces and pavements. The tourist season, which I always measure by the number of motorhomes parked at the local beauty spots, is well up and running.
And in the Haute Vienne the cyclists are out and about too, drawn by the former local legend, to the Circuit Poulidor.
Sure, the virus is here and there are risks but people are listening to the advice, respecting the control measures and getting on with life.
Martino lives in Florence, Italy and this is what’s going on there…
In Italy we have the same rules everywhere at the moment, as there aren’t big emergencies but only very small clusters (single families or similar small episodes).
Now getting around is pretty normal. At the moment, there are basically only 2 rules: 1) wearing the mask in public indoor (outdoor this is not mandatory, if you’re not in a crowded place) and 2) At least 1m distancing in public (outdoor or indoor).
In general all places where you really need to go are safe and well organized. Shopping malls and stores are safe and staff are in charge to make your safety guaranteed. Bars and shops have hand sanitizer for people entering. In food stores they also give you plastic hand gloves.
In general, each shop or building has a specific entrance and exit doors with signs. In very small shops (1 room), there’s a sign reporting how many people can stay inside at the same time. You have to wait outside until there’s space.
In a car/taxi you can use only half of the seats if you’re travelling with people not living with you at home. The same on trains or other public transport. Often the taxi driver is isolated with a transparent barrier from the passengers’ side.
I can say people are respecting social distancing but I would consider some places off limits if you prefer to keep social distancing. Pubs and discos just reopened a few days ago but in my opinion, you’ll not have always good social distancing there and you may find some young people drinking not wearing a mask.
Helen lives in the Ariège region of France, in the Pyrenees and sent us an update having gone out for dinner in Foix on Monday night…
We were out for dinner and it felt as busy as it normally would at this time of year. All serving staff are wearing masks. You must wear a mask when you are moving around inside the restaurant, but can take it off when you are sitting at your table. Table spacing seemed like normal (probably 1m apart from other people). When we sat down the waiter sprayed our hands with sanitiser then handed us a menu – a normal menu, not a single-use one printed on a piece of paper.
In shops (and any other public indoor space) you now have to wear a mask – same on public transport. There is hand sanitiser everywhere for you to help yourself.
The both-cheeks French kiss has really gone out of fashion – until a few months ago it was so popular that even the guys were doing it when they greeted each other! It has been replaced by elbows, the occasional fistbump and last night I saw some people doing the both-cheeks kiss while both wearing masks!
Here in Ariege in the Pyrenees there have been very few cases of coronavirus and the population density is fairly low.
And things we’re doing to keep you safe…
We thought we’d also try to put your minds at ease by letting you know some of the things we’ve been doing to mitigate risk and and allay any concerns you may have about going on holiday at the moment.
Some of the measures we’ve put in place are as follows:
- We’re communicating closely with our hotel partners to verify that they are doing what they need to, to keep us all safe and to comply with local regulations. This is an ongoing communication and it helps that we have good relationships (many long-standing) with the hotels we use
- We have carried out a risk assessment for our whole trip format to do everything we can to keep you safe, such as how we maintain social distancing, bag handling, delivering snacks and so on. If you’ve already been on a trip with us, you’ll know that we’ve had soap, water, hand sanitizer and disposable gloves on our van back doors for years, but we’re taking even more precautions now, in light of the pandemic.
- We will ask you to self-certify before a trip, saying that you are Covid-19 symptom free and that you have not, to the best of your knowledge, been exposed to someone with Covid-19 recently
- You will need to carry a face mask with you at all times so that you can go into cafés/restaurants/shops if you need to. Maybe you could keep this in your handy Marmot Tours velopac?! (FREE for everyone on a trip!)
- As ever, our guides will be on hand to manage relations with hotels and will be receiving enhanced briefings and support from us in light of the current situation.
It’s in Marmot Tours’ DNA to leave no stone unturned when it comes to planning your holiday. Needless to say, you can come away with us knowing that we’ve considered every eventuality and have your very best interests top of mind at all times. The fine detail is what sets us apart from the rest, even if we do say so ourselves!
Our blog is currently dedicated to the FAQs we’ve received due to the coronavirus pandemic. We update it whenever the advice from the UK FCO changes so please do keep an eye on this for updates.