Travel Advice – Government Sites

Updated Travel Advice – UK, Ireland and France

At Bel-Air Gites we care a great deal about all our family, friends and guests who come out to visit us every year. And we understand that the ongoing press reports and COVID-19 variations are a cause for concern which is why we want to keep you up to date with the latest travel advice. We are closely monitoring the coronavirus situation across various websites for advice on travelling in and around Europe. 

Travel advice - Family of frogs in a caravan

Travel restrictions

Since the beginning of the year the UK is no longer a member of the European Union (EU) which means that, even without the Covid issues, there would be different rules for travelling. In addition, because of the rising number of cases of COVID particularly across Europe, all countries have imposed stricter travel restrictions to try and contain the spread of the virus.

Holiday Insurance

We would like to reassure everyone that’s already booked their summer holidays with Bel-Air Gites, and all those who have made enquiries, that we are still open for business and taking bookings for summer 2021. Obviously if the situation changes then we will contact all concerned parties to discuss any new or existing bookings. We encourage all our guests to purchase the necessary insurance when they make any arrangements for travelling. This year it is vitally important that your travel insurance covers you for cancellations. And your car insurance also needs to cover European travel for the full period that you are staying and travelling in Europe. 

Remember to bring your driving licence, log book (V5C) and valid insurance documents if you are taking your own car. You will need to contact your insurer six weeks before you travel to get a green card that will prove you have insurance.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are planning a holiday in a country in the European Union (EU), and you already have a valid EHIC, then the card can still be used until it’s expiry date. The EHIC covers you for medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident in any EU country where the scheme is accepted. 

What is the GHIC?

If you don’t have a valid EHIC card then you can apply for the new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC). This replaces the EHIC for the majority of UK citizens. Only apply for the card on official government sites. It’s free but some unofficial sites may charge you. The GHIC can take a couple of weeks to come through so make sure you apply in plenty of time.


Your current passport will be valid as long as it is less than 10 years old and has six months left before it runs out. If your passport is due to run out then make sure you apply in plenty of time before your holiday start date. 

If you are travelling from the UK then sadly you can no longer use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes. Also, when you arrive in an EU country you should be prepared to show your return ticket. So keep all your documents close at hand. 

Travel Advice in Europe - Taking care of teddy with face mask
Keep Safe

Safety of our guests

The health and safety of our guests has always been – and always will be – one of our highest priorities. At Bel-Air Gites we want you and your family to enjoy your holiday. We also want you feel safe whilst you are here. This is why we provide lots of Covid-19 travel advice and information when you make a booking. There is also detailed information about the French COVID-19 rules in all our gites. And in addition we have implemented some changes of our own, including flexible check-in dates, and allocated areas.

If you have any concerns about travelling this summer, please get in touch with us. Alternatively, you can go to the following websites for up-to-date travel advice.

Events in Royan 2021

Planning your summer holiday

Positive thinking?

Since the beginning of November we have been bombarded with Black Friday deals, Christmas sales and online shopping bargains. And they have all helped to take our mind off being in and out of confinement. But now, there is talk about vaccines, and spending time together over the holidays. People are beginning to sound a bit more positive, and some have even asked “are you planning your summer holiday yet?”

What’s on around Bel-Air

For so many businesses, including ours, 2020 meant putting life on hold. We have had several months when we weren’t allowed to open, and even when we did, it was with some trepidation. So we have gone above and beyond the recommended government guidelines to ensure that our guests and staff at Bel-Air were completely safe whilst they were here.

While we’re still in lockdown in France we have been planning our Bel-Air Gites summer family holidays. But not for us. We are checking out what’s going on around Bel-Air for our lovely guests.

And here’s a list of just a few events planned in and around Royan starting in April 2021.

Royan Events Diary

April – Kite & Wind Festival – three days of shows on the beach for the whole family. The ever expanding festival includes aerial displays which will enthral adults and children alike. Each year the festival unfolds along the length of the beach and welcomes regional, national and even international kite flyers and visitors. This is always top of our list because it’s free to watch all the displays, but there are also sessions where you can learn how to fly a kite, water sports and even flights in a hot air balloon. If you can’t get away for the summer then why not plan a holiday earlier in the year?

May – European Museum Night – there are several online events throughout the year. But in May, normally the closest Saturday to May 18th, museums all across European open for the night, free of charge. According to TripAdvisor there are 57 museums in the Charente-Maritime so there is plenty of choice!

Bordeaux museum planning your summer holiday
Planning your summer holiday

Warming up for summer

June – Rendez-vous aux Jardins – The first weekend of June over 2,000 public and private gardens are open to the public. There are guided tours, exhibitions and gardening workshops for adults and children.

Each new edition focuses on a theme relating to knowledge, protection, conservation and gardening: “the child in the garden”, “the stroll”, or “colours”.

Rendez-vous aux Jardins

June 21st – World Music Day

Planning your summer holiday World Music day
World Music Day – Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Artists and music-lovers of all ages gather all over France, and now all over the world, to perform free of charge every year. It’s an unmissable summer event in the French people’s social calendar. So make sure you don’t miss it – wherever you are.

Just for starters

These are a few, just to start you thinking. If you can get away earlier then your travel costs might just be a little less expensive. So why not check them out, and see if you can’t bag yourself a bargain flight or a cheap ferry crossing? You can even use our Bel-Air Gites Holiday Planner to list your favourite events.

Coming soon

We’ll tell you all about the July, August and September events in our next post. So now, while everyone else is still wondering what to buy you for Christmas, you can be planning your summer holiday.

Wouldn’t that be the biggest and best surprise of all if you told them that you’d booked a holiday at Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime? And they just thought you were dreaming of Christmas.

summer events planning

Book now for 2021

Where on earth will we go today?

family of frogs in a caravan

Virtually explore the world – from the comfort of your own home

Following the announcement from the French Prime Minister yesterday, it would seem that from May 11th France will be slowly coming out of confinement. The plan still all depends on there being no more than than 3,000 new cases a day by that date. Unfortunately, holiday businesses like Bel-Air Gites are not included in the first stage. We have to wait until the beginning of June, to see if more businesses will be allowed to open.

Travel into France is still strictly regulated – for essential reasons only – and there’s no mention of a plan to change this. The EU’s borders to non-EU countries will not reopen on May 11th.

Google Earth

So, in the meantime, when we can’t work out in the garden and all the other jobs at Bel-Air gites are complete we go out and explore the world!

You can use Google Earth to virtually view almost anywhere in the world. We started off searching for Bel-Air Gites. Then we searched for the homes of all our family and friends in their various locations around the world. It’s really quite fascinating and so many unusual things show up on these aerial views.

explore the world
Explore the world from the comfort of your home

But now, our virtual tours are taking us to the tops of iconic buildings, like the Taj Mahal, and private viewings inside closed museums. 360° videos of streets, art, space and natural history. It really is quite incredible.

Entertaining as it is though, it’s not the same as sharing the perfect family holiday experience and making unforgettable memories with the ones you love.

So, after a quick virtual trip to Bel-Air Gites where you will be heading to next when you go and explore the world?

Have a safe trip and come back soon.

A young boy playing in the swimming pool

From Bel-Air Gites

We wish you were here x

Praise the Heroes

Elmgrove Primary School – Image credit:

Staying in Saves Lives

Since COVID-19 confinement in France began, at Bel-Air Gîtes we have strictly followed Government and WHO advice. Thankfully, because of our rural location it has been fairly easy to adhere to the restrictions. Inevitably lives and businesses have been impacted, and sadly some more than others. But, if it saves lives, it’s the responsible thing to do and we will wait patiently until restrictions are lifted.

Because of family and friends in Ireland, Belgium, USA and the UK , we watch with interest the changes happening there as well. We are deeply concerned and saddened by the impact this dreadful virus has had on families and communities everywhere. From the ‘darkness’ though, there are some brilliant, shining examples of bravery – the medical services in particular. But, we shouldn’t forget front-line and back-office staff who provide services, day and night, that keep the country ticking over. Everyday things that we take for granted – all over the world.

Unseen heroes

There are so many unseen heroes – postal and delivery workers, benefit office staff, refuse collectors, social workers, shelf-stackers, hospital porters, cleaners. The list is endless. They are the people who can’t work from home, that put themselves and their families at risk, to help others. So many are volunteers too.

Quarantined France also recognises and applauds its heroes as do people all across Europe…. and we applaud all of these heroes.

Positive Note

Although lock-down in France has been extended until 11th May, there are signs that the spread of the virus is slowing. The numbers of infected people have not risen dramatically for several days and more people are being discharged from hospital. Let’s hope this continues and that people don’t get complacent. The sooner we can all start getting back to normal, the better.

We are all in this together. And will get through this by taking care of ourselves and taking caring of others.

Inspiring Stories

We can’t go without mentioning and saluting one incredible person who has been in the news recently. Captain Tom Moore, the WW2 veteran approaching his 100th birthday, fundraising for NHS Charities Together. He had hoped to raise £1000 by completing 100 laps of his garden before his birthday on 30th April. At the time of writing, this inspirational gentleman has raised over £20 million.

I’m sure he’ll receive a lot more then the customary telegram from the Queen on his birthday!

We would love to hear your stories about people you know who are heroes. They might be friends, neighbours, members of your family or maybe people you work with. Share their stories and shine the spotlight on them.

Who is your hero?


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