'It’s killed the holiday': Britons in France react to new quarantine rules

By Rachel Obordo

France has been added to the UK coronavirus quarantine list meaning that anyone returning to the UK after 4am on Saturday will have to quarantine for 14 days or face a fine. With some travellers desperately trying to return before the deadline, others have decided to stay in France.

Meagan Hempenstall, 31, works in marketing, London

Meagan Hempenstall, (left) with her friend on holiday in France.
Meagan Hempenstall (left) with her friend on holiday in France. Photograph: Meagan Hempenstall

My friend and I flew into Nice on Wednesday night with Ryanair for a long weekend. Around 10pm last night we were on the beach when we received messages from friends asking if we would be returning home early. By the time we rushed back to our accommodation, airline prices were doubling, then tripling, then sold out.

Before we heard the news we were hoping to meet a friend in Marseille, but in the end we booked a train to Milan to leave France before the deadline. From there we’re getting a flight with Wizz Air to Luton due to arrive early on Monday morning.

It’s really killed the holiday and it’s quite stressful. We’ve lost nearly £800 on cancelled accommodation, flights, and the extra flights and trains we’ve had to book. We’re doubly unlucky as we booked to go to Alicante a few months ago, but when Spain was put on the quarantine list we changed everything to go to France.

Bob, 73, and Gabrielle Argent, 64, both retired, Antugnac, France

Gabrielle and Bob Argent.
Gabrielle and Bob Argent.

About a week ago we were told that our good friend’s terminal pancreatic cancer had become aggressive, so once we heard the news we put together a quick plan to visit him in Herne Bay, Kent.

We called Eurotunnel but we were in a queue of about 3,000 people. We left the phone on speaker for about an hour but when we were still number 600 we gave up. We have a booking for a train departing from Calais at 2am on Saturday and are just hoping that it will be honoured.

At the moment we are due to arrive two hours ahead of the quarantine starting. If there is a delay and we miss the cut off we will probably just turn around and return to France and visit some places we’ve not been to before. If we don’t make it though we probably won’t be able to see our friend again.

Sam Rees-Baylis, 23, works in a restaurant, London

Sam Rees-Baylis.
Sam Rees-Baylis.

I’m currently on a ferry to Livorno, Italy which left Corsica [an island in the French region] on Friday morning. After much discussion with my family yesterday, we decided it was best for me to leave Corsica early so I could return to the UK for work.

I woke up this morning at 6am, got a train from Calvi to Bastia and after four hours walking around got on a ferry to Livorno. From there I’ll be taking a train to Pisa, staying there for one night and then flying back to Manchester with EasyJet. I’ll then make my way back to London.

I was sad to be leaving a family holiday at short notice especially as I don’t live with them anymore. It’s a bit stressful as there’s not been much preparation and I’m heading into a part of Italy I don’t know, but there’s also a level of excitement as it’s a bit of an adventure.

Alex, 39, teacher and Jo Pull, 45, York

Alex and Jo Pull.
Alex (left) and Jo Pull.

My wife and I are staying at a campsite in the Loire Valley with our two sons, five and seven. We drove over on the ferry and originally spent 10 days in the Dordogne with some friends.

When we heard the news we weren’t really in a position to make any changes, as we had already decided about a week ago to extend our holiday from 8 August to 16 August to enjoy a bit more time away.

It’s slightly frustrating as many regions in France have had relatively low numbers of new cases compared to the UK. The short notice can’t be helped but the confusing message from the government has meant people have continued to go on holiday abroad. We’re both able to self-isolate at home and we have time before we return to work and the kids have to go back to school. We’ve had little faith in the government for a while now but won’t let the quarantine decision ruin our holiday.