Initially, coronavirus came as a shock to everyone in France: for a time, we were completely dazed. When the pandemic was at its peak, the media spoke of nothing else and statistics were frightening – and not just to those of us inside the country – there were so many victims, and the numbers were increasing daily.
On a more personal level, it was difficult not being able to leave the house without permission. We had to carry a document stating the reason for our movements – for example, to go food shopping or help the elderly. Each time we received an updated document, I put it on the inside of my car window so that it was easily visible for the police checks.
At this time, I was also receiving call after call from our partners – hoteliers, taxi drivers and car hire companies – all devastated by the situation and by the torrent of cancellations we were having to send them. Certain hotels, however, have since shared some more positive stories: they tell me how they have used this time to complete small-scale renovation projects and to put safeguards in place for when visitors return.
The country is now in a much better place than it was even a month ago. We are still not allowed to kiss one another on greeting – most of us are wearing masks, anyway! – but since 11 May, we’ve not needed permission to leave the house and, on 2 June, many hotels were given the green light to re-open and the 100-kilometre domestic travel restriction was also lifted. Before that, it was a postcode lottery as to what landscapes were available to you – residents of Bordeaux rushed to visit nearby Arcachon Bay but beaches remained off-limits to Parisians.
Where’s first on your list?
I plan to go walking in Brittany
– I haven’t been to France’s Atlantic coast since last year and I miss being beside the ocean.