Welcome to the New Normal in France

Some things don’t change, whatever else is happening. And so the first two weeks of June have been pourries (rotten). The weather has been chilly, damp and generally miserable. We should be used to this; after all, it happens every year until the end of the third week. But somehow, when the May sun shines in cloudless skies, the pool nudges 30C and the barbecue sees some action, we are lulled into thinking summer has arrived.

Predictably, when we needed it last week, our boiler went on the blink. I won’t bore you with the long-running saga of our heating system, but we have been close to losing the will to live. Last week, I finally found someone who not only has the expertise to deal with it, but also came within two days to fix it. I was tempted to kiss his hands, but we’re still not allowed physical contact, so profuse thanks had to do. The system needs more work, but he seems to be on the case.

Progressive easing of restrictions

Life remains abnormal, even though France totters back to some kind of normality. Phase 2 of the progressive déconfinement began on 2nd June. The 100 km travel limit was lifted; parks, gardens, hotels and campsites could re-open; and restaurants and bars were allowed to re-open with restrictions. Customers must wear masks, except when eating, obviously, and tables must be spaced a metre apart.

Some restaurants had kept going before this by offering a fixed takeaway menu. We took advantage of L’Oustal del Barry’s (Najac) incredibly good value €10 per head menu one day. Unfortunately, Najac is almost 30 minutes’ drive away, so we couldn’t do it more often. But we reheated and dined on moules marinières, roast veal with potato purée and veg and tiramisu with lemon and strawberries. And then did nothing in the afternoon.

Najac

Summer fêtes at risk?

Work already carried out at Teysseroles

Public gatherings of more than 10 people remain forbidden until at least 22nd June. Our annual fundraising fête at Teysseroles, the 15th-century chapel we are helping to restore, due to take place on 28th June, is sadly cancelled for this year. There is no way we can assure sufficient social distancing during the meal, even if it is outdoors (only once in 10 years have we had to hold the meal in a marquee because the weather was so awful).  

The Teysseroles fête as it normally is
2013 – the year the rain didn’t stop in time

Many other fêtes and summer activities will be postponed or cancelled altogether.

Where now?

President Macron will talk to the nation this evening. He’s expected to give an update on the current health situation and announce plans to jumpstart the economy, which has taken a terrible hit. He may also set out what will happen in Phase 3 of déconfinement with possible amendments.

UPDATE: I posted before Macron’s speech. As expected, these are some of the main points (not all):

  • All French départements are green zones, except Guyance and Mayotte, meaning that cafés and restaurants in Ile-de-France can re-open.
  • Schools will open as normal, and attendance will be obligatory, from 22nd June.
  • The delayed second round of the municipal elections will take place on 28th June.
  • Visits to nursing and retirement homes can resume as normal.
  • State spending on the crisis will not be recouped from taxes.
  • Public gatherings remain highly regulated.
  • France opens its borders from today (15th June) and progressively to the rest of the world from 1st July. Visitors from Spain and the UK are invited to observe a period of quarantine.

The context is that the numbers are moving in the right direction, and Covid-19 is officially under control in France. However, it’s still with us, and it would be easy for a false sense of security to trigger a second wave. We are fortunate that our département has been one of the least affected by the illness, but we shouldn’t feel complacent. We need to find a balance between protecting people’s health and restoring everyday life.

The shopkeepers in our village serve from behind plexiglass screens, provide sanitiser gel for the customers and favour contactless card payment. But I am incredibly surprised by the small number of people in our village who bother to wear a mask in the streets or respect social distancing. The Mairie issued masks to all residents free of charge.

A friend said to me, “Après tout, ce n’est qu’une grippe” (after all, it’s only a kind of flu). He was not wearing a mask. If that’s the general attitude, we’ll be back in lockdown by the autumn.

I hope good sense will prevail. In the meantime, the SF and I continue to act with caution.

You might also like:

Simple Pleasures

How a French Fête is Run

When the Plague Came to Southwest France

Copyright © Life on La Lune 2020. All rights reserved.  

8 comments

  1. Thanks for reminding us that the weather pattern is normal! I have no excuse for not knowing this except perhaps that this time last year we were enjoying a holiday in Mauritius! What a difference a year makes… I am also a bit of an exception with the mask wearing. Hope we can all get through the summer without any second waves. 🤞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, last year it wasn’t normal, since we had canicule in June. But generally, and certainly in this part of France, it’s usually disappointing weather. We remain cautious, since I’m afraid we may get another wave.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another nice post! The weather is depressing, but at least I don’t have to water the garden for the moment:)

    I note here in Rieupeyroux that most women are making masks and very pretty ones too … however the men are not! Are they really vainer than women?!!

    I entered a local bar the other day to drop off a UPS package … on the window was written large Obligatory, masks!” and on entering I was confronted by a merry group of workers at the bar, all crammed in together and not a mask in sight, except from the two women behind the bar! I can’t help laughing, but it does seem extremely careless to me. It’s quite clear this is not a flu, but a really terrifying virus that causes huge damage to not only the old, but also kills the young. People, who have recovered, suffer from kidney damage long term breathing problems and more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some people think that, because the restrictions have been relaxed, the virus must have gone away. Of course, it hasn’t, which is why we continue to be careful. And, yes, I have also noticed that, for some reason, women are wearing masks more than men. I find a mask difficult to breathe in, and it steams up my glasses, but it’s not just for my protection – it’s for others, too. I do hope we don’t get an even worse second wave.

      Yes, no watering for the moment! But when the sun does come out, it’s a mad scramble to get everything done in the garden. Typical June…

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is annoying. There was, of course, some ambiguity about the efficacy of mask-wearing at the start, but, as you say, it’s now been proven to reduce the risk of spread. And, yes, for other people rather than oneself.

      Like

    • I was lucky to capture that shot, especially with my not very sophisticated point and shoot camera. Perhaps a bit of a cliché but appropriate in the circumstances. Hope you’re both well.

      Like

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