Bixessari, Andorra to Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France

Travel is full of adventure and today we had an adventure that thank goodness ended well. I’ll get to the adventure in a bit.

This morning we drove down from the mountain where we stayed last night into the center of Andorra.

Hotel Parador de Canolich

We visited the Museum of Electricity. It’s a fascinating museum because it tells the story of how Andorra went from a backwater of about 800 people in 1930 to a major hydroelectric producer and a population of almost 80,000 people today.

Andorra Museum of Electricity

Our next few days we plan to spend in France. To eat in a restaurant or stay in a hotel in France You must have a vaccination passport with a QR code issued by the government verifying that you have been vaccinated. All four of us applied for the document at the beginning of September but Duke is the only person who has received his.

Our first stop in France was at the guest house in Tarascon-sur-Ariège where we planned to stay. We couldn’t check in until five. Our host verified the five o’clock check in time and the fact that we would need the QR code to check in. He also pointed out how the French are letting Americans into France but the Americans are not letting the French into the U.S.

So we went in search of covid tests, because a proof of a negative test will allow you to get the necessary QR code that will be good for 72 hours. By now it was about 12:30. We had paid for a 4:15 tour of the Niaux Cave.

We visited every pharmacy in Tarascon-sur-Ariège and the hospital. It turned out that the only place to get a covid test was at the pharmacy in the center of town and the sign on their door said they were closed from 12-2 and would start giving covid tests at 5. At this point I was about ready to give up. But we showed up at the pharmacy when they opened after lunch at 2. They were very nice and said that although they don’t usually give covid test until 5 they would give us tests immediately. So to make a long story short after 30 more minutes and $25 each we have our 72 hour QR code. And we still had time to get to our cave tour. One good side benefit is I now remember how to say I need a covid test for the QR code in French (J’ai Besoin d’un test covid por le code QR).

Covid Test

The Niaux Cave is one of the only places where you are still allowed access to see prehistoric paintings. In order to preserve the paintings the cave isn’t lit. We carried flashlights. The hike total inside the cave is 1.5 miles and the ground is very uneven and at times slippery. Tours were only available in French. We knew that was the case so we read up a bit about the paintings ahead of time. It was pretty cool to see the bison and horses painted between 17 and 14 thousand years ago. No pictures were allowed inside the cave and they did check our brand new QR code’s.

With our flashlights ready to tour Niaux Cave.
Sign describing the paintings
The entrance to the cave

We were pretty worn out by the time we checked into our guest house. He too checked our QR code’s when he checked us in.

Our room at Chambres d’Hôtes Domaine Fournié

It rained hard while we were eating dinner in Tarascon-sur-Ariège. They checked our QR code’s before they seated us.


We did manage to get in some cards before bed.