Denise's CornerDisneyland Paris

Our Experience Traveling to Paris & Disneyland Paris in June 2021 (First Article of Series)

Hi everyone!

We returned back after a trip to Disneyland Paris/Paris one week ago and we’ve been asked a lot of questions since returning – about travel, about testing, about the Disneyland Paris parks, Paris and safety. I had hoped to write this general article days ago but we had a lightning surge in the house while away and we are still dealing with that.

Early in June, France gave details to allow Americans to start visiting a few days later. There were stipulations including vaccinations being mandatory for tourists and a negative COVID test (I have heard the latter is no longer needed when traveling to France). Everything is fluid of course, so if you plan to travel, keep up to date on the latest information.

We booked travel just a few days ahead of when we planned to travel, through Expedia. I have used Expedia for about 20 years for many trips but this was such a bad experience with them. That is for another story, but I won’t be using them again.

We took an antigen test at CVS, in fact we ended up with two tests due to a two-day delay in travel (the first was weather, the second due to not receiving help from Expedia and having to fix the trip myself). We chose the antigen over PCR in each direction because it is quicker to receive results. We did not pay for any test, but that is changing in France.

This is maybe my twelfth trip to Paris. We have a lot of friends there and are very familiar with the travel aspect and destination – more than almost anywhere else.  Our ultimate destination was the Hotel L’Elysée Val D’Europe, where we have stayed a number of times and enjoy visiting.

I’m going to skip our first visit to the airport, which ended with 9 hours of weather delay followed by going home and a two day delay. In that time we took our second antigen test and I somehow finally took control of the trip from Expedia. I will say, our luggage traveled to more locations than we did.

We brought our vaccination cards and negative tests to the airport a couple of days later. The agents we dealt with were very careful about making sure we had everything we needed. There was other paperwork we also didn’t know about on our first check-in that we had with us on the second.

We flew on Delta. The movies and TV shows were mostly older, except for some films like “Raya and the Last Dragon”. Movies including “Grease” and “Babe” were on tap. The food service was a little more basic than normal but fine. Masks were required on all flights except when actively eating or drinking. The domestic flights were completely full and the international flights were pretty busy too.

The Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport experience was about as normal, except it was faster through both border control and then for security on the return than we have usually experienced. Mask usage was high throughout our trip everywhere we went in the Paris region. A day or two into our visit, the outdoor mask mandate was dropped (not at Disneyland Paris, but in general). We were picked up by a friend at the airport and then took an Uber ride on the way back to the airport 10 days later.

The Hotel L’Elysée Val D’Europe was a very good place to stay as usual for our trip. It is across from the RER and across from a pharmacy. The Auchan hypermarket is about a 5 minute walk into the mall. Disneyland Paris is one stop away on the RER or on a free bus. We refilled our Paris Navigo weekly travel card and used the RER for all our travel except to and from the airport.

I am going to go more in depth on the Disneyland Paris part in a separate article in a couple of days (in addition to various Disneyland Paris articles I’m working on), but I’ll lightly cover it here. Prior to leaving Florida, we made reservations ahead of time for several days (three are currently allowed at any given time). We picked up additional days during the trip. During our 10 day visit, the Disneyland Paris resort excelled in so many ways in comparison to other trips – in food service, available characters for guests, in upkeep of the rides and horticulture. Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel is gorgeous, we dined there several times. The Disneyland Paris parks were very ready to open and it showed.

My plan was to visit Paris itself 2-3 times during our stay. Due to rain and other commitments, it ended up being just one day. Our next trip will hopefully be different. But during that one day, we went to a number of locations. One of those was the Bateaux Parisiens lunch cruise. That has become a regular part of our trips to Paris. It is reasonably priced and offers nice views of Paris and a decent meal. This lunch cruise was different than our previous visits in that the boat was a different layout; the lunch seemed modified; there was no entertainment and instead of leaving bottles of wine on each table, the server poured every time glasses went empty. Also, it seemed highly visited by locals instead of tourists. I think that will change soon, especially after the Eiffel Tower reopens on July 16th.

The Paris Museum Pass was not yet available during our trip. When I looked at activities online for Paris, there were quite a few but also others that had not yet started up. Fat Tires Bike Tours was one company I knew that jumped into business the second they could, and I’m hoping to take a tour from them again on a future trip. It was exciting during our visit to see the circular brochure rack become filled with leaflets from a wide variety of attractions, dining and shops.

We took an antigen test before our flight back at the pharmacy across from the hotel. Before that, I had spent hours trying to get Doctolib to work for me with no avail for a different location. A friend mentioned that the pharmacy had tests (which I had not seen when I stopped by there earlier in the trip). So we made a reservation two days prior to our test, walked over on the day and then the results were ready 30 minutes later. It was very convenient. At that time, it was free but that has probably changed. Disney Village also now has a testing location. And Paris has a lot. Reserve ahead if you can.

We did have a great trip to France and felt comfortable with the COVID safety protocols. Not everything was open but a lot was, with health and safety measures in place. RER and Metro trains could still be very full. Don’t expect to have social distancing everywhere, no matter what signs say. If a very full train comes, as usual I prefer to wait for the next. At Disneyland Paris, capacity was limited so it wasn’t hard to have distance from other guests if desired.

For the most part, our trip felt pretty normal. One of the biggest differences was going to the Auchan hypermarket and not hearing anything but French voices – the massive store is usually a big tourist draw along with locals. At the hotel and in Disneyland Paris, there were guests from various countries like Belgium, Germany and such (including many friends of ours).

My articles this coming week will include visiting Disneyland Paris, one about Paris and one on the Hotel L’Elysée Val D’Europe. If you have any requests, let me know!

I didn’t expect our first travel away from Orlando after almost a year and a half to be Paris, but I’m glad it was. I had really missed traveling, we usually take a number of trips per year. The price for our last-minute trip was very reasonable although it became a little more costly due to the Expedia issues.