It ended up more of an adventure than planned, since Howard, who usually accompanies me on these occasions, had sent his passport for renewal and it didn't come back in time, meaning I had to do the trip solo.
I spent the night before the journey in Maidstone with my old flatmate and his partner, who made me very welcome and even got up early to make me boiled eggs and soldiers before I set off for the Eurotunnel.
I am no stranger to the Eurotunnel, but there were extra COVID boxes to tick, and of course I still panicked about doing the wrong thing or going the wrong way. But then I was on board, and 35 minutes later I rolled out into France, onto the autoroute, and as soon as possible off it again so I could enjoy some scenery.
Oh how I had missed France! The straight, tree-lined roads; the thin red lozenges of TABAC signs; chickens in the road and a cream 2CV parked against a wall. I went wrong on the Amiens ring road and did an unnecessary junction of toll motorway in the wrong direction, costing me 70 cents, but after that it all went smoothly, pottering more or less due south through Picardy.
I arrived at my destination, Chantilly, north of Paris, around 6pm, and not long after that ventured forth in search of something to eat. There was a pizza restaurant five minutes' walk away, and I was asked as soon as I walked in for my passe sanitaire, proof that I had been vaccinated.
Awkwardness followed as the NHS app failed to work and I briefly thought I might starve to death (it was fine the rest of the time), but the physical letter version was accepted and I got my pizza and a well-deserved glass of wine. Back at the hotel, I called Howard to report my safe arrival then watched a dubbed episode of Columbo.