The cupboards were getting bare and I was beginning to eagerly eye up the dog treats as alternative snacks, so it was time to get down to the supermarket. So with my trusty ‘attestation’ in hand with the relevant box ticked I drove down to my nearest town with the expectation of only finding a tin of peas and a tub of margarine on the shelves. I was psyched and ready to grab that last loo roll!
I am greeted at the entrance by a smiling young man sensibly disinfecting the handles and sides of the shopping trolly he offers me. In I go, the usual muzak is playing in the background and I spy my first fellow shopper who proffers the first bonjour, I happily do the same. The mood in shop is serene and the shelves seemingly full. I can see no rugby tackles in the aisles for the last packet of pasta or bust ups for the hot baguettes. People are going about their business in an orderly fashion, picking up items from their list and filling their trollies. It has the feel of early Sunday morning shoppers. People don’t really have to keep their distance because there is so much room anyway, so we casually bonjour each other as we glide down the aisles in search of essentials like chocolate and wine. If this quarantine lasts too long I’ll be in weight loss boot camp for months!
I get to the checkout and the young woman at her station is wearing latex gloves with a smile and very Chanel insouciance. She is cheery and chatty, despite the plexiglass barrier she is safely ensconced behind, and I leave with a sense that I’ve had a very untroubled and pleasant shopping experience. No panic, no cause for concern, just a general ambiance of this is what we do. Measures were in place to protect both shopper and employee, which can only add to a sense of security. We have successfully adapted to the current world events and we are all going to work together and get through this in a civilised manner. What more can you ask for. Vive la France!
Having come from London to live in rural France, I used to tell my friends my social life was busier than when I was in London. Obviously, this has changed in the light of recent events, but this change has had its benefits too.
The contrails that littered the sky above me have left the clear blue heavens untouched and contemplative peace has come to reign over the fields and lanes. I know everyone in my village and so neighbours are checking in on each other by phone to make sure they are ok and if they need anything. The sense of community here is very strong, and it’s something I’m very thankful for. When I lived in London I didn’t know any of my neighbours.
I’ve found time to write that review of an exhibition for a gallery I was asked to do over a month ago and hadn’t had the time to sit and think about. I have had time to mow the grass and attend to my overgrown garden. I am making plans to get the ceiling of my studio finished, so I can crack on and get work ready for an exhibition next year.
Our builder in the village can’t continue with other jobs, so we can now metaphorically grab him to come and start a list of all the small jobs we need doing that have mounted up in the last few months. Of course, he will be greeted with a distanced elbow shake and cups of strong coffee will be left on the doorstep to keep him going. Morale is good and people are buoyed up with a sense of humour in how to deal with our new restrictions. As the great American Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said ‘Patience and fortitude conquer all things’.
The measures put in place by the French government are clear, although it did seem a bit odd when I had to take my signed ‘attestation’ with me to walk the dogs this morning and there was nobody about to jump from the bushes to check I had it.
If you’d like to find out more about how to get started with living in France, download our guide about Moving to France here.