Lockdown in France with a side of Covid-19 sounds like a horror movie that would never pop up on my radar. Ever. But it did, and I am glad to have made it through reasonably unscathed.
So, without further ado, here’s the reader’s digest version of our last few weeks before Corona, the lockdown, Covid-19, and (initial) life after lockdown.
The Mantra Lives On
I spent the first week of March gathering documents for the renewal of our Carte de Sejours (the residence card which allows us to remain in France, year by year). Thus the mantra. Being France, the necessary documents required was massive, but I pulled everything together without losing my mind. Step one completed. There has to be an easier way, please France. Please!
We had our appointment to meet a representative and drop off our dossiers at the Prefecture in Beziers on Thursday, March 12th (visas expire June 1st). Step two completed.
That weekend it was announced that France would enter into a lockdown beginning Tuesday, March 17th at noon. It was a surreal moment. All non-essential businesses, including government offices and post offices’ would be closed (REALLY?!…but our Carte de Sejours…), as well as schools, bars, cafes, restaurants, florists, the list goes on. We would need to carry an attestation (a signed, dated and time-stamped affidavit) when out of the house. They began with five reasons for you to be outside of your home: work, essential shopping, medical, helping family, and exercise (1hr, within 1km, 1time per day). Eventually, it went from paper to a phone app (well done, France).
Here Come the Gendarmes
Ray and I had doctor appointments on the first day of lockdown. After printing and filling out our attestations, we headed to the doctor (a ten-minute walk).
I saw them before they saw me. As we rounded a corner, six gendarmes were standing in the middle of the street just waiting for us. As we drew closer, they motioned us over.
Of course, I thought they wanted to be up and close and personal (I was wrong), so stepping forward, I pulled out my passport and attestation (Ray stayed on the curb with documents in hand). They waved me back while quickly looking at my papers. Although they were kind, it was an intimidating experience. I flashed back to memories of crossing the border from Detroit to Ontario in high school. Back then, it was always intimidating.
The Lockdown Plan
My lockdown plan was to spend quality time with paints, pads, and brushes, and to prepare the documents for our first French tax declaration, all 36 pages as requested by the accountant. Thank goodness we had recently submitted our US ex-pat federal and state taxes. One less worry.
I decided to paint for a couple of hours before the dreaded document chase began.
I was just starting to work on a watercolor of a Chanel 2.55 bag when I started to feel ill. Very ill. I thought if I could just lay down, I would feel better. Needless to say, the painting was never finished, and the rest of Spring flew by in a hazy blur of Covid-19.
Covid-19: IT’S NOT A HOAX FOLKS
In my almost 66 years, I have never been so ill. I won’t go into detail, but I never want to experience anything remotely close to that again. On a positive note, I saw JW up close and personal, which was priceless. I realize I am very fortunate/blessed to have made it through, but even now, I still deal with some lingering issues. I was advised full recovery takes time, and don’t I know that!
What I find interesting, though, is the fact that many folks still don’t believe that this virus exists or they think it is some kind of punishment. I was saddened (actually shocked) by a handful of messages I received from so-called friends telling me it was because my ‘walk’ was not what it should be or I was imaging it. Really? Really?! JEEZ!!
I guess some folks that have not been personally affected, just don’t ‘get it.’ I believe it’s fair to say that before it’s over, we all will be affected in one way or another.
The First Steps of Deconfinement
The gradual easing of lockdown began on May 11th. No more attestation forms, woohoo! Seriously, that was a biggie. Businesses in my town were able to reopen if they chose to (many remained closed). Restaurants, bars, and cafes remain closed, although there are a handful of restaurants offering take away.
We can travel up to 100km (62 miles) in our department (county), but our borders remain closed.
Social distancing is encouraged (one meter); however, the concept of space between folks is not part of the DNA here. So, although masks are not mandatory except on public transport (some shops require them also), we will continue to don them to compensate a bit.
Hand sanitizer is everywhere: outside shops, inside shops, and at the entrances of the Saturday market.
The Saturday Market is Back
I was thrilled that the Saturday market had resumed. Instead of the usual free-for-all, there are entrances and exits with adjacent tables of hand sanitizer manned by security. With the help of arrows, the market now flows in one direction, no more running back and forth.
It was fantastic to see our favorite vendors (I’ve worried about them). I waved instead of bises, and Ray received elbow bumps. If this is the new norm, I’ll take it.
The End, But Not The End
On June 6th, it will be ONE YEAR since we arrived in France. The time has flown by, and we’ve experienced so much, both good and not so good.
If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know, I’d do it in a heartbeat, and that is a marvelous feeling.
I’ve rambled on long enough. Thank you for taking the time to read my overdue post. It’s always appreciated.
***This is our experience. Your experience in France could be very different***
***Lockdown in France With a Side of Covid-19 first appeared on Chasing The Next Chapter.***