The first French confinement, back in the spring, was eight weeks long. That’s a long time for such an intense shutdown, but at first, there was a sense of novelty, a thrill of danger, and a purpose: to save lives.
It was like when I lived in Texas, in tornado country. Every once in a while in the spring, the sky would turn green and we’d hear sirens. We’d turn off our ovens and go down to the cellar, chattering and wondering if our loved ones were safely in their cellars (or in their bathtubs or under mattresses). The wind would howl and branches would scratch across the cellar door. If it went on for any longer than fifteen minutes, we’d have a little sing-along or rifle through the assortment of cellar junk looking for snacks among the camping gear and canned goods. When it was over, we’d come out and review the damage: usually scattered tree limbs, maybe some broken windows, or even a car crushed under falling trees. Sometimes houses were splintered or gone. Sometimes worse.
But usually, tornadoes just meant a half-hour disruption and extra yard work. In French Confinement 1.0, that’s what we thought it would be–a few weeks of enforced solitude, then a national cleanup.
Boy, were we wrong! COVID-19 took a vacation this summer and came back stronger than ever. We gave her an inch, and she took a mile. Several miles.
Macron had promised we wouldn’t go into another lockdown, but the overloaded hospitals were a huge issue. To keep us from going bonkers, and to keep the economy afloat, the government found some ways to do things differently this time.
–The attestation (permit to go out) is much more user-friendly–you can save it on your phone, and there are more allowed reasons for going out: visiting shut-in relatives, going to work, taking kids to school, and going to judicial or administrative appointments. Strangely, one can move apartments, but there is no allocation for visiting apartments.
–Schools and parks are open, so you don’t see the same harried parents trying to corral their little kids on the narrow, dog-poopy sidewalks.
–Some shops are open for Click-and-Collect, which means you can go to the cordoned-off door of the shop and tell them what you want, or what you ordered, and they’ll fetch it for you.
–Some restaurants are open for take-away, so you have another option besides delivery and Googling yet another recipe. Or toast.
But there’s still a big difference between Confinements 1.0 and 2.0: my attitude. Now, I’m jaded and cynical. I haven’t seen my stateside kids and family in almost a year. Friends who lost their jobs in March are still unemployed, other friends have suffered from Covid, we know Confinement 2.0 will go on longer than the December 1 “end date,” and I’ve gained 10 pounds. Forget baking banana bread; I’m even ordering cocktails these days.
So, what’s an expat to do?
I’m planning a lovely, tiny Thanksgiving at home in Paris. I’m going to spatchcock a chicken and bake a pumpkin pie. Also, mashed potatoes that will make us cry with their buttery goodness.
I’m planning a beach vacation with my kids when this is over. We will drink margaritas in lounge chairs and hug, drunkenly confessing our love for each other over and over again.
I’m looking for non-Amazon ways to do a long-distance Christmas. Amazon has been a life-saver during confinement, but little businesses are feeling the squeeze.
I’m going to get a Christmas tree and decorate it with all those old, chipped decorations and probably cry.
I’m going to keep ordering meals and deal with the extra pounds in the spring.
I’m schlepping my way through NaNoWriMo, because now I have no excuse not to write that novel.
We just learned that stores are opening up this weekend. I, for one, plan to get out there and spread some Seasonal Cheer (masked and distanced) and practice retail therapy and help local merchants at the same time.
I’m among the lucky ones, because I haven’t lost anyone during this pandemic. I know people who have and it’s truly heart breaking.
I may not be able to be with my people right now, but I still have my people. And, like me, I know they’re in their cellars, hunkered down, waiting till the storm is over.
- If you’re in Paris and want to order take-out in the 18th, here’s a list of our favorite bars, restaurants, and cafés north of the Sacré Coeur
- Take a stroll down one of our favorite Montmartre streets while you stay at home
- Get a head start on holiday shopping with these French holiday gifts you can buy online
Written by Yvonne Hazelton for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.