From our own correspondent: Life In The French Lockdown

So here we are in France in the same situation as everyone else… lockdown.  I think today is Saturday but I’m not sure, it may have been yesterday, but then again it may be tomorrow, but I know it’s one day this week.  I think there’s one next week too…

La Belle France has very strict lockdown measures to the point that you are not allowed out (particularly in our situation as my husband John is 75 and diabetic so high risk and Msr. Macron has said he is not allowed out for months) but you can go out if you need to go out.  I’m only just allowed out as somebody has to get fresh food from time to time. We don’t have the luxury of food deliveries or takeaways here!  I have searched our locality for fruit and veg delivery but only found someone who delivers foie gras, duck breast, whole sheep or half a pig. Only in France!  Eggs are scarce.  What’s happened to all the chickens?  We have loo paper in abundance in the supermarkets and also a bidet in the house, how French!  Our motto is if you can’t wipe it, wash it…

When you do go out you have to fill in a form with various tick boxes as to the reason you are leaving your home.  If you don’t have it on you, even if out on a walk by yourself or with a dog, and the gendarme stop you, the fine for the first offence is €135, the second is €1,750 and the third offence €3,500 and six months in prison.  It has to be filled in with date and time and the gendarme note it all down electronically.  A little draconian but it seems to be working.

I have to admit I feel nervous when I do go out which I limit as much as I can. I wear gloves, a mask but J thought the hazmat suit and diver’s breathing apparatus may be going too far.  So far, in the Lot, we have remained relatively untouched by the virus compared to some parts of France, whose death toll is almost on a par with Italy.  Very scary and unbelievably sad.   

I thought it would be easy to get wine delivered, a small amount of medication is helpful in times like these. Were any of the local wine houses interested? Mais non!  In the end I ordered several cases from Portugal and it arrived within 5 days, quell bizarre, mes amis. And it’s delicious. Sometimes it helps to think outside the box. Our tips are shut and we cannot dispose of recycling at the moment, however, every village bottle bank is open.

We are so lucky to have a large house and land (which we want to sell but there’s no chance of that at the moment!) and I can’t imagine how some people are coping who live in small flats with kids, dogs, etc.  J and I have been fortunate enough to live together 24/7 for nearly 16 years.  Of course there are times when our tolerance is pushed and we get snitty with each other, we’re human.  It’s forecast that domestic violence, alcoholism and pregnancies will all increase over the next few months. 

However, one saving grace in this situation is the internet.  I never thought I would say that.  We have had hilarious evenings with family and friends, doing quizzes and tonight we are in teams doing “Would I Lie to You”.  I have been doing reading online with my grandchildren and nature walks around the garden, spotting slugs, snails and other slimy creatures.  I decline when I hear the shout of “eeeuuuwww, Gloo, pick it up, show me closer!”.

This year, for the first time since we were given it as a housewarming present 13 years ago, our wisteria has bloomed.  Fabulous tumbling flowers of pale lilac and the noise from the bees is intense. One thing I have appreciated since lockdown is the lack of background noise.  Although extremely quiet and rural here, you don’t realise the slight hum of everyday life going on around you.  As the weather has been glorious recently we’ve been working in the garden and I noticed we couldn’t hear the sheep next door (lambing season) or the dogs doing their work.  I phoned Jean-Marie to check that all was ok to find out he had fully retired and sold them last November.  I loved watching the flocks from our terrace passing the gate every evening to go up to the top pasture, particularly at this time of year when the lambs were like large bouncing snowballs, stotting up the lane, vieing for pole position.  End of an era. 

I have days when I feel low and wonder when it will ever end and I will be able to see the family again. We should be in Lisbon as I type with my youngest daughter and family housesitting, children roaring around the garden living life to the full.  I wake up every morning thinking I’ve just had a bad dream. Groundhog day.  Stay safe, stay home.

A bientôt.

STOP PRESS: Our lockdown is being eased on Monday. We are allowed to meet in small groups, travel no further than 100km from the house and some more shops will be opening. We can open the b&b if we want but we have decided that it’s too risky with strangers in such close contact. Just wondering when this will end.  I am desperate to go and see the grandchildren…

More posts from across the Channel here