on signs of the time during the covid-19 pandemic and talking about it in an interview
I was asked what it is like, as an American living in Antibes, to be in France during the Covid-19 pandemic. Annie from Join Us in France Travel Podcast talked to me and Patricia Perry, who lives in Paris, about our experiences with the mandatory home confinement in France. “What is it like sheltering in place in France?” she asked.
I am often stopped by the police; they want to see my attestation, the reason for going out. Leaving my apartment is becoming a privilege and not a right.
One late afternoon, I was walking next to the rampart that separates Vieil Antibes from the port. No one was ahead of me. I took one photograph of an empty street, put the camera over my shoulder, and stepped a few paces, when I heard motorcycles behind me. I turned. Two police officers stopped and asked for my paper, the attestation. After looking at it, one of them listed, sternly, the fines for breaking the rules. I was told that taking photographs is not on the list of approved activities. I was told to return home. I carry my camera still, but it is hidden under my coat.
Each day at le tabac near my apartment, I buy a national newspaper, Le Monde, and the local paper, Nice-Matin, that covers the news in my region. On Wednesday I want the Télérama, a cultural magazine. One day I asked the woman at the register if le tabac was going to stay open. Immediately, she said yes. It was necessary, she said, for freedom of the press to sustain itself. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
In addition to newspapers, local, national, and international, she sells cigarettes, lottery tickets, and phone service, as do other tabacs.
When I leave the apartment for exercise, I want to follow side streets, those that are parallel to the main ones. I want to avoid the police. I go to quiet neighborhoods where they will not go, because it would waste their time to be there. I walk in circles, dans un périmètre, as my French tutor describes it. We are allowed one kilometer from our residence when we go out for exercise. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Drones have been used to fly over the beaches. People are warned to leave. The beaches were closed a long time ago. The other day I saw helicopters fly over our beaches. I do not know if they were scouting or not. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
At major roundabouts, and there are many in France, the police, usually in a pair, stop the cars and ask for their papers, the attestation and an identity card.
It is during the evening hours when my life has not changed because of the virus: I read, I listen to music, I listen to podcasts, I watch movies, I speak to family and friends, and I do wonder, during those hours, what I might do the next day. It is the day light hours that have changed in my life. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)