Life in France after Coronavirus

I am very happy to say that things are starting to get back to normal here in our part of France after 11 weeks of lockdown which began on March 17th and was lifted on June 2nd (with a few exceptions such as mass gatherings and contact sports). We can once again roam free without pieces of paper authorising essential outings. I imagine that this must be how hedgehogs feel awakening from hibernation although I have a feeling that most of us emerging from weeks of confinement in France are better fed.

The initial stage of ‘de-confinement’ in France was the re-opening of shops, schools and markets. It is a cliché that you only miss something when it is gone but certainly there was much celebration and happiness the first day the local market re-opened with all the familiar faces and an abundance of local produce.

The second stage was the much anticipated and very welcome re-opening of the restaurants, cafés and bars. The simple pleasure of enjoying a drink on a sunny café terrace is easy to take for granted but it is such a fundamental element of French life that, without it, some of the soul of France was lost. Undoubtedly many of us have reassessed our priorities during lockdown and, more specifically, what is important in our lives and for many it turns out that it is these little daily pleasures that mean the most.

Of course, strict hygiene and social distancing measures are in place in cafés and restaurants which means that all the tables have to be one metre apart, everyone has to use hand sanitiser on entering and the waiters have to wear face masks. Customers on the other hand, only have to wear masks while going in and out of the premises but not at the table nor on exterior terraces.

On a day to day basis now, the only really noticeable difference post Coronavirus is that there are some people wearing facemasks, friends are wary about shaking hands or doing ‘les bises’ and there is a bit more social distancing in queues (although not on the road between cars sadly which would have been a very welcome change. I’m thinking of introducing a social distancing bumper sticker for cars asking for the driver behind to maintain at least two metres distance!) Most obvious when out and about now is the demonstrable joy as people reconnect with family and friends and once again rediscover the lost pleasure of meeting for a coffee, apèro or meal in France’s iconic restaurants and cafés.


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