Traveling during the Corona pandemic, our 3-week road trip to France, Italy, Austria, and Germany

Updated: Apr 15

( Nederlands scroll naar beneden )

Lago di Braies

Just after the European borders reopened, after the closure due to the Corona pandemic, we drove to France where we arrived in the town of Colmar in the evening. Check-in went smoothly and after a hot shower, we were ready to discover the romantic town of Colmar. From the hotel we were in the center in 5 minutes normally it would fill up with tourists here but this time it was quite quiet, the terraces were for choosing and we didn't even pay parking fees which are exceptional for such a tourist town.


Colmar France

Unfortunately, it was a bit rainy that night so the pictures didn't really get the wow factor we wanted so we decided to have something to eat and try again the next morning before continuing to the Ardèche. For the hotel room we paid 75 Euro without breakfast which is actually quite expensive, the rooms reminded us of Hong Kong so small you could not get your suitcase anywhere. Fortunately, it was only for one night. The other morning we walked around the town luckily it was now sunny but we had not taken into account the shadow that fell over most streets, actually the perfect time to take pictures here at night during the golden hour before sunset. For the rest, Colmar does not have much to offer, it is nice to stay overnight and continue again, although the area is beautiful and Strasbourg is also a beautiful city close by. We bought some sandwiches in the bakery and continued our road trip to the Ardèche. We noticed that mouth protection also started to disappear from the street more to the south, which is not so surprising because the virus had hit less hard here. as with the border with Germany.


Clos Olivier de Serres

Ardèche we drove along beautiful mountain landscapes deep ravines, wild rivers towards our apartment in a small village of Ruoms . The apartment was fairly new Clos Olivier de Serres used to be the post office of the village and has recently been completely renovated. The spacious rooms are fully equipped, dishwasher, air conditioning, washing machine, TV, WiFi, etc. We can stay here for a while. Down in the garden, we had a terrace where we seated during the warm evenings or could BBQ'ing. The pool was perfect and very clean, nice to be here in the evening to take a dip in after a day touring around the area. Clos Olivier de Serres has 4 rooms suitable for 4 to 6 people. The owner of the complex is very friendly and is happy to tell you about the area. Around the corner from the apartment, you will find a cozy street with many restaurants and shops. Then you walk a bit further and you find yourself in the old walled town of Ruoms very photogenic in the evening. Tip: there is a very large supermarket just outside the village.


Pont d Arc Ardeche

Pont d ARC Ardèche is known for its beautiful nature where there is plenty to discover all year round. Depending on the season, the region offers numerous colors and scents, markets with regional products, but also typical villages with picturesque streets and squares. On our first day in the Ardèche, we decided to take it easy and find a beautiful beach along the river with a view of Pont d ARC a monumental arch over the river popular with kayakers which you can also rent in the entire area. You will then be dropped off somewhere and you can sail down the river with a kayak, after which you will be picked up again by a van for a nice day out in nature, along the way you can stop everywhere to relax or find an empty beach for a picnic. In the afternoon it started to get a bit busier on the beach after which we decided to visit some villages in the. The villages of Balazuc, Bonnieux, and Vogue are picturesque villages on the river with some restaurants and nice beaches. We walked through one in a few hours and decided to eat in the apartment at home. In the evening we sat for hours in the garden enjoying the warm weather and the clear sky full of stars. The Ardèche is not really known for lavender fields, but not far from the apartment is a lavender museum with extensive lavender fields that bloom from mid-June to late July. The best time to take pictures is an hour before sunset when the lavender fields get beautiful colors.


Provence

Provence after a few days Ardèche we went looking for lavender fields in the Provence our first stop was a luxury hotel Benvengudo built in Provencal style with a beautiful swimming pool and terrace adjoining a large garden. We couldn't wait to take a dip in the pool but checked in first. We were allocated a room close to the restaurant with a nice soft shower and a small sitting area with a fridge and coffee machine. Unfortunately the first evening the restaurant was fully booked so we booked a table for the other evening. The hotel is within walking distance of the historic town of Les Baux de Provence, a beautiful picturesque town situated on a mountain with a beautiful view of the surroundings.


Benvengudo

It was around 7 o'clock and most of the tourists had already left so we could park for free at the entrance of the town. The town is not big, you can easily walk around in an hour, at the entrance there was a nice restaurant with good food, only the menu card is often in French, so you struggle with gestures and English through the menu card but they understand it and the food was great. The other morning we didn't have much to do after which we decided to drive towards Gordes to see if the lavender fields near the monastery were in bloom, the last time we were here the lavender fields were almost finished, now we're actually a few weeks to early. We first decided to stroll through the town of Gordes and have a cup of coffee with ice cream.


Lavender fields Provence

Gordes is a nice village to stroll around for a few hours with nice terraces very photo genius. Once the battery was charged again we drove 10 minutes to the monastery, when we were here years back you could anywhere freely walk. Now really everything was all lined with fencing in order to protect the lavender fields against the tourists. Apparently, this was necessary which I think is a pity, you see this in more and more places.

After some pictures of the monastery we drove back to the hotel and on the way, we stopped a few more times to take pictures of the lavender fields. In the evening we had booked a table in the hotel restaurant the food was really worth five stars the flavors and colors matched the surrounding very well.


Gordes Provence

After a few nights of luxury, peace, and comfort we drove further to Valensole in this area on the plateau de Valensole you can find the most and often beautiful lavender fields of Provence. We booked a room in a small BB with a swimming pool just outside Valensole in a quiet location with a lavender field within walking distance overlooking the town of Valensole. In the evening we drove around the area to take pictures with the soft light of the setting sun over the lavender fields. During sunset, we drove to Lavandes Angevin a popular spot for photographers and nowadays Instagrammers because the lavender fields here are directly in line with the setting sun and the end of the field has 3 trees that give a nice depth in the photo. A very nice place, here it was a bit busier than other lavender fields where you could walk alone which is very special at this time of the year. Normally it would be a lot busier here with tourists, even though most of the hotels were already full and the restaurants in Valensole were also full at noon. The next morning we were served breakfast on the balcony of our room, so you can easily keep away from other guests because of the coronavirus in the world. Most hotels take serious measures, it takes some time getting used to, but you feel a lot safer. For example, you can get breakfast in your room at the larger hotel or you can tick what you want on a list and this will be reserved at the table. In Italy there were hotels with block times , here you had buffet form but you could never touch bread or meat products yourself, this was all done by staff.


Valensole Provence

After breakfast we drove to Gorges du Verdon a reservoir located between large Cliffs very popular to rent a boat or a day at the beach, there is also a lot of people walking above the Gorges but we thought it was too hot for that. We had not made a reservation so the first place where the boats looked best was already fully booked for weeks according to the owner. We drove to another place where they luckily still had boats and rented a boat for 4 hours, this is about one and back to the weir. In this area you will find many campsites with restaurants, so you can eat well for a reasonable price. After a day on the lake, we drove back to the hotel after which we went looking for beautiful lavender fields.


The next morning, we drove to the coast towards Italy, we stopped at the town of Moustiers Sainte Marie really a nice town to walk around, as you often see in Provence, this village is built on and against a mountain with a beautiful view of the surroundings. We walked around the town in an hour and drove on to Menton Côte d Azure


Gorges du Verdon

Menton is a 15 min drive from the border with Italy, making the street scene in Menton a mix of Italy and France, the skyline is beautiful with the colorful houses and the church in the middle is the excellent view above the town. The boulevard has recently been renewed with much more luxurious restaurants, the price level here is much higher than the Provence and most hotels were also fully booked here. We have booked a sea-view hotel with a spacious room with a balcony for 170 euros per night, which seems expensive but for this environment in a 4-star hotel is actually not so expensive. We were lucky to park our car just in front of the hotel so it was free. Just outside the old part of Menton, you can find the cheaper hotels where you can go to the beach by bicycle or public transport, also the shops and supermarkets are in this area, but for 1 night we did not want to waste time so we paid a bit more at the beach.


Menton France

Portofino From Menton you drive 3 hours to Portofino Liguria known for its coastal villages on the coast with colorful houses very photogenic. We had already been to Cinque Terre a few years ago where you can walk from village to village or by train you can even visit the 5 Terre (villages) in a day, although this does destroy the beauty of the villages because you are rushed through the villages and you have nowhere to let everything come to you or dream for hours on a terrace of all the beauty around you. We had booked a hotel just outside the village of Portofino within cycling distance. In 10 minutes we were by bike in Portofino, this again saved parking stress and costs. In Italy it is usually difficult to park along with the coastal villages, it is almost impossible to do. Santa Margarita is a nice place on the Italian coast with beautiful pebble beaches and a clear blue sea. There are plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas, but beware these are pricey. We were looking for a free piece of the beach (we remain Dutch) which was also fully equipped, there were even a shower and toilet and a restaurant. In high season it can be very busy in Portofino, if you want to avoid this, go before the busloads of tourists in the morning or evening. In Portofino, a beautiful path runs from the harbor all the way up through a park, after which you arrive at a castle and church. From the path, you have a beautiful panoramic view of the harbor.


Portofino Italy

Venice After a few days on the Liguria coast we drove to Venice after an early breakfast in 4 hours. We parked our car for 32 euros at the central station of Venice from where we took the boat to our hotel. 20 minutes later we were at our hotel in the heart of Venice. We had paid 100 euros for a 5-star hotel with breakfast and on arrival, we got a bottle of champagne in the room. The room was fully equipped but we didn't have much time to enjoy the luxury, so we decided to spot some photo spots before the sunset. On the way, we found out that we had forgotten the ticket for the boat so we decided to explore the city on foot. It was quite calm and the water from the channels where clear we could see the bottom, even plants grew in the water like an aquarium. So this crisis also has benefits for nature and for us we didn't have to wait anywhere and at some point, we had the Rhialto bridge all to ourselves which will probably never happen to us again in July. We saw a restaurant under the Rhialto bridge which was well regarded on TripAdvisor and the prices for Venice are really cheap.


Venice

After dinner, we took some photos from the bridge to the bridge which gives a very nice effect. In a crowded city, I would never leave my camera alone on a bridge, but now it was so quiet that we could try this nicely and it would probably be a unique photo that you won't find on Instagram. After a good night's sleep and breakfast with a view of the Venice canal, we took the boat back to the parking garage and headed for the Dolomites.

The Dolomites has always been a great wish of mine to pass through this. I love the mountains and now was the opportunity. We drove in 3 hours to Paso Rolle where we would go for a walk to a lake with a reflection in the water of the mountains. However, our legs say no and we decided to drive around and stick to lunch with a great view of the mountains. After lunch, we drove to Lago di Carezza where we arrived in the evening. The lake was beautiful and can be reached in 5 minutes from the parking lot, outside you will find a few restaurants. A round of lakes is about an hour's really nice walk. After the walk, we drove to our hotel where we would stay for a few days


Hotel Aqua bad Cortina

Hotel Aqua Bad Cortino is centrally located in the Dolomites from where it can easily reach many places. Located in a popular ski village and mountain biking in the summer. The hotel has beautiful rooms in the Tyrolean mountain hut style. The dinner was included and is jointly eaten half 8 together with the other guests. The dinner is really great class with attention to detail. The hotel itself has a vegetable garden and a large Wellness area with Jacuzzi and a sauna and a lounge area outside to enjoy the sun by the river.


Lago di Carezza

After a good night's rest with always the sound of the river in the background, we drove to Lago Di Braies after breakfast, we had actually hoped that it would be a bit quieter here because of the corona crisis, but on arrival, the parking space was already full. Fortunately, it is bigger enough so once we arrived we didn't really notice that there were quite a lot of people. We walked around and decided to do a touristic tour with a boat on the lake to also take an Instagram photo on the lake. Unfortunately, the sun did not cooperate very much and it was cloudy, but we had a lot of fun. After an hour of paddling, we drove to Tre Cime to go for a walk there. A visit to the Dolomites is not complete if you have not visited the Tre Cime. Via a toll road of 30 euros, we drove up the mountain where we parked at the restaurant which also has a hotel. This is a must if you want to photograph the sunrise or sunset to stay there but we didn't have the time. The restaurant is not much I have rarely eaten so bad in Italy what a mess. Unfortunately, the mountains were shrouded in a foggy cloud mass, so we did not see the mountains properly, which is a great pity because we still paid 30 euros for a view that was not there. We walked to the next restaurant where we hoped we would clear some clouds but this did not happen so we went back and drove to our next destination Lago Di Sorapis .


Santa Madalena

The hike starts at Passo Tre Croci and actually we were already too late to start this hike but decided to continue so that we would probably miss dinner in the restaurant. Route 215 is the easiest and takes you through forests and snowy mountain trails to one of the bluest lakes I've ever seen. It looked like Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies but in the Italian Dolomites. If you walk briskly you need about 2 hours to reach the lake, take enough water with you, it can be hot in summer.

We arrived back at the hotel late and decided not to do anything the other day. We strolled through the village and took a bath in the hotel in the afternoon. Hotel Aqua Bad Cortino is the only hotel in the world with its own mineral water bath. An afternoon of wellness is a must in this hotel. Aqua Bad Cortina hotel & mineral baths are beautifully situated in the village of San Vigilio di Marebbe (1,201 m), in the heart of the Dolomites. From here you can reach the most famous ski areas such as "Kronplatz", "Alta Badia", "Gardena" and "3 Cime" by ski or bicycle and in summer the picturesque hiking trails of South Tyrol are within easy reach.

Everything is pretty remote here ... but don't worry about anything, everything is within reach!


Alpe di Susi

The next morning we drove to Seceda ridgeline where we went up with a chair lift for a walk. Unfortunately, this peak was also surrounded by fog and clouds and we had just one moment to take pictures after which it became cloudy again. We decided to take a short walk until it started to drizzle, after which we went to a restaurant, I have rarely had such a beautiful view in my life from the restaurant you could see the big peaks of this mountain like a painting.


After a few days in this hotel, we drove to Alpe di Susi where we would stay a few more days. Seiser Alm or Alpe di Susi is a very photogenic place with many mountain huts located in the green pastures with cows and surrounded by large mountain peaks. A perfect place to hike from mountain hut to mountain hut from restaurant to restaurant or spend a day on a mountain bike through the area. The area is only accessible by car if you have booked a hotel and is car-free during the day. You can get a permit from the hotel to drive to the hotel and in the evening after 19:00, you can also drive around again. Most days people park in Compatsch Bolzona but note that this parking space is quickly full, while there is also another parking space at the chair lift. Hotels on the Seiser Alm are fully booked soon, so plan early again. It was really enjoyable with beautiful views.


Hallstatt Austria

From the Seiser Alm, we drove in three hours to Austria where we would stay a few more days in the village of Hallstatt. Normally you can walk overloads of tourists here but now it was quite quiet we had an apartment 10 minutes walk from the village. The apartment had all the comforts equipped and very modern fine for a family to stay. The owner was so sweet that it is certainly true in this blog.

Hallstatt is a nice village to stay in for a few days, it has a nice street with restaurants and on a warm day, you can enjoy the park with a view of Hallstatt. We rented a boat for a few hours and spent the rest of the day lounging by the lake.


room view by the castle Neuschwanstein

After two days of Hallstatt, we drove back in 3 hours to Neuschwanstein Castle to photograph the castle at sunset and sunrise. We had a hotel overlooking the castle with a swimming pool and wellness area. Unfortunately, that day it began to drizzle, and it would not be dry after we returned us the rest of the day strokes in the Wellness and shooting about letting the other morning. It's about a 30-minute walk to the castle from the parking spot. During the day you can also take the bus, we drove a bit up the mountain where we parked at the restaurant there and then in 20 minutes to the Marienbrucke where you have a beautiful view of the mountain. If you walk a little further you can climb a bit up the mountain where you have an even better view of the castle. Please note that in the summer it is very busy during the day so you go early in the morning and you have the place to yourself. After breakfast, we drove back home in 7 hours the holiday had gone beyond expectations and with a bit of preparation you can do a lot in the car we had our own kettle for making coffee or soup on the way so that you do not have to road restaurants end up where the food is not much and so you also save in costs, the toll roads are expensive enough.


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Reizen tijdens de Corona pandemie,onze 3 weekse road door Frankrijk, Italië, Oostenrijk en Duitsland

Lavendel fields in the Provence

Net nadat de binnen grenzen weer opengingen, na de sluiting vanwege de Corona pandemie reden we naar Frankrijk waar we in de avond aankwamen in het stadje Colmar. Inchecken ging vlot en na een warme douche waren we klaar om het romantische stadje Colmar te ontdekken.


Colmar France

Vanaf het hotel stonden we in 5 minuten in het centrum normaal gesproken zou het hier vol lopen met toeristen maar deze tijd was het vrij rustig de terrassen waren voor het uitkiezen en we betaalden zelfs geen parkeergeld wat uitzonderlijk is voor zo`n toeristisch stadje. Helaas was het die avond wat regenachtig waardoor de foto`s niet echt de wow factor kregen die we wilden dus besloten we maar wat te gaan eten en het de volgende ochtend nog eens te proberen voordat we verder zouden rijden naar de Ardèche.

Voor de hotelkamer betaalden we 75Euro zonder ontbijt wat eigenlijk best duur is voor zon kleine kamer, de kamers deden ons denken aan Hong Kong zo klein je kon je koffer nergens kwijt. Gelukkig was het maar voor een nachtje. De andere morgen liepen we nog een rondje door het stadje gelukkig was het nu zonnig maar we hadden geen rekening met de schaduw gehouden welke over de meeste straatjes viel, eigenlijk is de perfecte tijd om foto`s hier te maken avonds een paar uur voor zonsondergang. Colmar heeft voor de rest niet zo veel te bieden het is leuk om er een nachtje te verblijven en weer door te gaan, alhoewel de omgeving is wel schitterend en Straatsburg is ook een mooie stad dichtbij.


Colmar France

We kochten wat broodjes in de bakkerij en vervolgden onze road trip naar de Ardèche het viel ons op dat we meer zuidelijker reden ook de mondkapjes uit het straatbeeld begonnen te verdwijnen dat is eigenlijk ook niet zo gek, het virus had hier immers veel minder hard toegeslagen als bij de grens met Duitsland.

Ardèche we reden langs mooie berglandschappen diepe ravijnen, wilde riviertjes richting ons appartement in een klein dorpje Ruoms. Het appartement was vrij nieuw Clos Olivier de Serres was vroeger het postkantoor van het dorp en recent helemaal vernieuwd. De ruime kamers zijn van alle gemakken voorzien, vaatwasser, airco, wasmachine, tv, wifi etc. Hier konden we wel een tijdje verblijven. Beneden in de tuin hadden we ook nog een terrasje waar we avonds konden zitten of konden BBQ’en. Het zwembad was perfect en heel schoon, Nice om hier avonds een duik in te nemen na een dagje rondtoeren door de omgeving.