Continuing with readers’ stories about trying to get back home, this one is from Languedoc Living reader Colin.
My wife and I had been visiting the UK to see my first born grandson. We had done this and were dog sitting our daughters rescue greyhounds at her home in Surrey. We had left our own rescue cats to be looked after by an American house sitter who had flown into Barcelona from San Francisco.
Our flight to Béziers was scheduled to leave from Luton on Wed 17th March. On Monday evening friends phoned us to say that French borders would be closed at 12:00 on Tuesday, the next day. Within 2 hrs we received an email from Ryanair cancelling our flight.
We had also heard the previous day, Sunday, that our American house sitter had to leave as the Spanish were closing their border to France on Monday. Hence we now had to rely on neighbours to feed our cats. Fortunately my daughters training in Doncaster had been cancelled as soon as she had arrived there so was on her way home.
My wife went into overdrive and managed to find two seats on Eurostar leaving St Pancras at 0540 Tuesday morning for Paris. These were business class seats, the only ones available, and cost £265 each. She also found the only car hire available in Paris was from Le Bouget airport at the cost of £137 for one way hire with limited mileage.
We arranged an Uber taxi for £45and got to St Pancras on time and grabbed a coffee and croissant which was fortunate since the French and Belgium authorities had insisted that no food or drink would be available on the train.
On arriving in Paris the available transport to Le Bouget airport was by taxi which cost £68.
Europcar provided a brand new Toyota Aygo and being unfamiliar with Paris we hired a Satnav. The journey was a challenge not least because we had had no sleep the night before and were driving a very small unfamiliar car through a very congested major city.
Two stops on the journey for fuel and coffee on the motorway two hours south of Paris were very much needed although we calculated that the limited mileage on the car hire contract meant there be an extra charge of £250 for the journey home. We finally arrived home at 1900. Taking into account fuel and Peage costs our journey back to France cost just over £1000.
To add insult to this financial injury at 22:00 that evening, Ryanair reinstated the flight!
We have attempted to claim a refund from Ryanair when they initially cancelled our flight and again once we had got home but on both occasions their website would not allow us to progress the refund process!
A very frustrating, expensive and tiring 24hrs but at least we got home and the family pets are helping us all to cope with the current isolation process.