Life under lock-down in France

From midnight Saturday we had been following French government guidelines and indulging in social distancing. We weren’t the only ones even though the French are not renowned for toeing the party line. Indeed, the French locally appeared to be unusually compliant in the face of the current health threat. Maybe their hypochondria is greater than their desire to complain? More probably it was due to the rapid escalation in numbers infected in an area where 40% of the population is over 65. For the avoidance of doubt, I should just add that I’m not part of that high percentage. However, it appears in other parts of France that the rules were being routinely flouted.

Consequently, new orders came into effect from midday today. We can only leave our homes for work, assuming we can’t work from home, for purchasing food, for trips to pharmacies, hospitals or the doctors, for trips in connection with looking after children or oldies, or to exercise on our own near where we live. Everytime we go out we have to complete an attestation “self-certification” explaining why we’re out and about, in case we’re stopped by the police. Luckily we can still cycle (on our own).

In addition France’s borders are closed for 30 days. If – and it’s a big if – they open after 30 days, because certain countries such as UK and US are well behind France in terms of controlling the outbreak, I suspect traffic from these countries may still be banned!

The loss of economic activity is being underwritten by the French government so, in practice, no one will lose out.

I wasn’t sure what to think when the Corona virus first broke in China. Was the press being alarmist, overdramatic even? Experience has taught me that only 5% of what we read is in fact “true.” Instead, we spoke to business colleagues and friends over in China. None were in the affected area but all were confined to home and following government orders. We now know the Chinese acted swiftly and decisively and that pretty much everyone is now back at work after a 4-month hiatus which included Chinese New Year. South Korea, Singapore and Thailand have been similarly successful in containing the virus outbreak.

We then spoke with friends in northern Italy, in the most affected areas. The Italian health services were swamped and people were only too happy to stay home in splendid isolation. It’s been a similar story from friends in Spain. We then learnt of the death of a dear business colleague from the disease. That combination of events greatly changed our perception.

I should add that while my husband tends towards hypochondria and has a well-stocked bathroom cabinet, he has spent a number of years working in the area of infection control, a subject on which he’s pretty knowledgeable. So, while we had been out and about in the weeks prior to this last weekend, we’ve worn gloves, used antiseptic wipes and washed our hands more times that I care to remember.

It’s only day three of our self-imposed exile and cabin fever has yet to set in. Of course that’s partly because we already work from home. So, no change there. While the closure of bars, cafes and restaurants will greatly impact our social lives, we can still get pizzas delivered, McDonalds drive-ins are operational and I bet the traiteurs are doing a roaring trade. We can also get meals delivered from our on-site restaurant in the Domaine.

Fortunately, we can still ride so long as there’s no more than a couple of us in the group. However, you may already be aware that I ride either on my own or with my beloved. We’d both been for a long ride on Saturday so just needed a quick recovery ride on Sunday morning. Thereafter we decided to tidy up our balcony and tend to our large collection of succulents which have perked up considerably after some TLC. In the afternoon we went for a wander around the Domaine’s extensive grounds, meeting only a couple of our neighbours with dogs who kept their distance, not so the dogs!

Our week-ends are often spent enjoying sport either live or on television so that’s a bit of a hole which we won’t be filling with more television. Though I’m not sure we’ll resort to emulating MotoGP rider Alex Marquez (above) who’s clearly not handling well being stuck at home.

We’re not fans of binging on box-sets and don’t subscribe to either Amazon TV or Netflix. Since we can’t go to the gym or the swimming pool, we’ll be exercising at home. If my beloved feels the need, he can don his wetsuit and go for a swim in the sea. The time “saved” can be put towards tackling those jobs around the flat which we’re generally only too keen to postpone for as long as possible.

Usually the thought of having my beloved at home for an extended period of time without a few day’s grace would bring me out in hives. But, to be honest, after breaking his leg a couple of year’s ago, he’s travelled a lot less and instead of being away every other week, more recently it’s gone down to a week per month. Now he’s at home until further notice. I’m resigning myself to treating this as a dry run for retirement, when he’ll be underfoot pretty much all the time.

Unusually, after our most recent trip to Dubai we had very few trips organised this year, largely because my beloved is training to take part in this year’s L’Etape du Tour, one of the stages of the Tour de France, in early July. While this participation is now very much up in the air, he’ll continue to train. I have been able to postpone the three flights which we’d booked for up and coming trips at no extra cost. Given that we’re most fortunate to live in a wonderful part of the world, staying at home will be no hardship.

Neither of us has any underlying health conditions and we’re in excellent shape for our respective ages. Nonetheless, we’re not taking any unnecessary risks. The French, at least in our corner of the world, don’t appear to be stockpiling and there are adequate supplies of pretty much everything, including toilet paper, in the supermarkets. We’re keeping a close eye on some of our elderly neighbours who live alone and have offered to shop for them but, for the time being, they are keen to occasionally get out and about.

Fortunately, I have a stock of recent trips to blog about but thereafter I may well be indulging in some virtual travel. Please stay safe and follow your government’s or state’s guidelines. You know it makes sense.