Life in Lockdown France
Caption: Kathryn Posselt
Caption: Kathryn Posselt
It’s almost four weeks since President Macron announced lockdown in France on 18 March 2020. A further four weeks extension was announced last night, taking us to 11 May 2020.
So, what is the connection between myself, my husband, living in rural France and Dorset?
My husband is originally from Ferndown, I’m Australian and we bought a large water mill property ‘Le Moulin de la Fosse’ in rural south west France in 2015. We have two holiday rental cottages on the property and enjoy meeting tourists that come to stay during the spring and summer seasons. However, this year it is going to be very different.
The French fishing season opened on Saturday 14 March and I welcomed our first guests of the season that weekend, a delightful young couple very keen on their fishing. We are located on the Boutonne River, so a perfect weekend getaway for them. Little was I to know that upon waving them ‘au revoir’ on Monday 16 March, that France would be in strict lockdown two days later.
In the meantime, on that same day, my husband Mark had disembarked from the ferry in St Malo, France, and was driving back home to our mill. Mark had been visiting his father in Ferndown, and luckily had secured a return voyage home to France two days before passenger ferry services were suspended.
Lockdown rules in France are very strict, and it happened very quickly. No gradual implementation as such, just total closure of all non-essential shops, public buildings, spaces and venues, sports centres, schools etc, etc. An attestation form must be completed and carried with you at all times when you leave your home, along with your identification, stating the purpose of your movements. Basically it’s a ‘tick the box form’ for food and essential shopping, necessary doctors/consultants appointments, professional work that cannot be carried out at home, and for exercise. With regard to exercise, you can only go walking or running within a 1km radius of your home, and cycling for exercise is not permitted. You can however cycle to a local shop for essentials. Therefore, stay home, really does mean exactly that.
So far, I have only ventured to the nearest supermarket once since lockdown. I wore a protective mask and gloves and planned my shopping trip for just after midday, when I knew the supermarket would be less frequented, as it’s very important to the French to sit down and enjoy a long slow lunch. I was right, there were no more than a dozen people in the supermarket, although this means less staff working the check-outs, so that process took a little longer. I’m pleased to say that besides less flour and pasta on the shelves, everything else was readily available, even toilet paper. I was pleased that I didn’t see any signs of customers behaving badly. There is a small store in the nearby village, which I prefer to visit and pick up supplies as I need them. I feel safer doing so and it’s nice to help out the small business owner.
Fortunately for us our property is large, so there is no time to be bored. There are plenty of jobs about the place to do, and of course spring is the time to get the garden in order. The vegetable patch has been rotavated and planted out, there is lots of lawn mowing to do, seedlings to grow and the repotting of many geranium cuttings grown in the greenhouse over winter.
Mark is busy in his workshop rebuilding a Vespa scooter engine, and our pet Schnauzer, Otis, is loving the 24/7 attention and company. The birdsong, the sound of the running water in the millstream, the absolute quiet of rural French countryside in this lockdown period is really quite beautiful. In summation, we are very lucky to be somewhere like this during these uncertain times. Sure, we will lose business this holiday season, but many people will lose much, much more, and our thoughts are with them.
For now, stay safe, stay home! When all this is over, if you are thinking of a relaxing holiday, look us up at www.moulindelafossegites.com
Kathryn’s report is the fourth from our series ‘Life in Lockdown’ featuring lockdown stories from people in Dorset and across the globe. ‘Life in Lockdown’ aims to shine a light on how people’s lives have been affected by lockdown and how they are surviving. They will share their experiences and tips for living in lockdown. We will be publishing the reports online over the next couple of weeks and in the upcoming May 4Dorset magazine. If you have a lockdown story you would like to share please get in touch as we would love to hear from you.
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