on living in france during the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic
On March 16, 2020 President Macron announced new restrictions to stop the swiftly spreading coronavirus: stay home. If it is necessary to leave the home, you must carry a paper with your signature, verifying your address and your purpose for leaving the home. It is called the “Attestation de Déplacement Dérogatoire.”
There are five legitimate reasons for leaving a home. Two apply to me; I can check one of two boxes: I can leave my apartment to buy food, or I can leave for a brief period to walk. In Antibes, where I live, I can go no further than 500 meters from the apartment.
During the first two days of the restrictions, I was stopped three times. Each time, I was challenged by a group of three officers. Others who might arrive were asked to stop and show their attestations. While walking, I saw officers stop cars at round-abouts where they asked for the paper. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
A distance of one meter from another person must be maintained if you are in a line. In some patisseries, for example, strips of tape on the floor mark the distance. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
A limited number of people are allowed in a supermarket. If too many are wanting to shop, a monitor will be at the door, and shoppers will be allowed into the market only when others have left.
In some stores, a barrier has been built to protect the clerks. Stripes of tape are placed on the floors to designate the required distance. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Epiceries, boulangeries, butchers, fish markets are open. Sit-down restaurants that serve take-out food are open but only for take-out. You can buy a pizza, for example, or a subway style sandwich or a falafel.
The hard part about being confined is not being able to plan for an event for the next day. All the activities that I have been accustomed to doing, such as eating in a restaurant, shopping at the Marché Provençal, taking the train to another town, taking a bus to a village, are not available to me anymore.
My big event one day was to walk to the local Picard. Picard is a franchise that sells frozen products. Imagine the frozen food section of a supermarket in the USA, but make it bigger and offer more kinds of frozen items. That is a Picard market. I had never visited one.
Each night at 20h, the church bells ring, counting out the hour, and before they stop, my neighbors and I have opened our windows and started applauding the health workers.
Cassoulet de Castelnaudry au confit de canard, Soupe de Poissons Corse, Cassoulet Toulousain cuisine à la graisse d’oie, Boeuf Bourguignon, Confit de Canard et pommes de terre à la sarladaise. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Several years ago, when I began spending several months a year in France, I would visit the supermarkets—Casino, Intermarché, Carrefour, and others—and would walk along the aisles and look at the canned goods and the packaged products. I wanted to see what the French might be eating when they were not in the restaurants or at home cooking fresh produce from the local markets and meat from the butcher shops.
In the transition, when restaurants are no longer open, I have turned to the canned products. Fresh produce and fresh meat and fish are available and soon I will cook. But in the first days I of the pandemic, I decided to try the ready-made meals.
My last meal before the restaurants were closed was at l’Arazur, a small restaurant in Antibes. In addtion to two amuse-gueules, I ate an entrée, « Tartare de Loup, pamplemousse grillé & estragon», a main dish, « Poitrine de Cochon fondante, purée de carotte à l’or », and a dessert « Fruits exotiques, crémeux mascarpone, crumble noisette & sorbet passion-mandarine ». (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)