Not the Siren’s Song We Were Hoping For in France

The most notable happening this week in Perpignan France is the unexpected air raid siren on Tuesday night at 8 pm notifying the population of the start of the curfew. You can hear the siren in the video below.

Previous lockdown articles: Our Lockdown Diary and How We Are Coping with Lockdown

Saturday, March 21

Diana Lockdown in France Day 5

As you probably know, we are in Perpignan, France, a small town of about 120,000 people. Today, we watched the police stopping all of the cars and people at the intersection right outside of our apartment. But, we needed to shop, so we gathered our papers and walked separately to the Boulanger and then the market. We didn’t get stopped and it was nice to get some fresh air. We haven’t tried to go out in the car since we got here last Sunday, but I sure would like to go to the beach.

There are big fines for going out for anything other than shopping or exercise. We can’t go more than 2 km from home. The place is empty and there are lots of police on the street. We are worried about Mike’s folks in the Bay Area, which is of course on lockdown too. The current fine is 135€, it goes up to over 3000€ along with jail time for multiple offenses.

Sunday March 22

Mike Lockdown in France Day 6

Folks here seem to have settled into a routine with current restrictions. The few people on the street are mostly shopping and keeping their distance. A few folks jogging or walking for exercise, some folks on bikes, possibly commuting or shopping. Many people wear masks or scarfs. A few cars are going around. I periodically see the same folks walking their dogs.

Cops are going around on bikes, rousting the few people loitering the park. We saw a brief police checkpoint asking drivers and passers-by for papers, but it was only about 15 min. Diana says “guidance” is to stay within 2km of home. A few times a night, a caravan of eight or so police vans quietly go by our window. I can’ figure out what they are doing.

All of the restaurants remain closed. No takeout or delivery. I think this is because the socialist government has guaranteed wages and delayed mortgages and utility bills. There is no strong financial need for restaurants to open.

To keep abreast, my routine is to watch French national news in English once in the morning along with the prior night’s US news. I watch French national news again in the evening. I may pick up the local news soon, but keeping up with the French presenters has been challenging.

Most days, we stretch and work on learning French. Reading and organizing my online life cover most of the rest of the day, with the occasional nap. Exciting? No. Reality? Yes.

Monday March 23rd

Diana Lockdown in FranceDay 7

Honestly, neither of us can remember what we did on Monday, but I do recall that the police presence seemed to have relaxed a bit.

I think today was the first day that Mike compared our life now to the movie Ground Hog Day, with Bill Murray. We seem to get up and do the same things each day.

Tuesday March 24th

Diana Lockdown in France Day 8

We had a really exciting day today, first, we went out shopping in the car. Well, really it was a fail, but a nice change of pace. We went out to a location that was supposed to have a Carrefour Drive, which is a much larger market than a regular supermarket. Something like a Target or a Walmart with a food store.

The problem was that it wasn’t in the location indicated by Google and we couldn’t find it, but we did find another market. It turned out to be like Whole Foods with lots of very expensive produce and specialty items. All very nice but it didn’t work for our shopping list. However, we were able to get a ready-made pizza that we ate for lunch in the car. What a treat!!!

On Sunday night, we were told there would be an 8 pm to 6 am curfew starting immediately, but we didn’t notice any change on the streets. Then tonight at 8 pm exactly, we were on the phone with friends when we heard an air raid siren. I don’t think I had ever heard one before but I’m not surprised that they have them in France. We assumed it was to notify everyone of the curfew, the government is very serious about enforcing the curfew.

In addition, just as we were getting ready for bed around 10 pm, I looked out the window and saw at least 10 police vans lined up on the street opposite our apartment. So naturally, we sat in our dark 2nd bedroom and watched to see what they would do. About 40 minutes later, they all got in their vans and drove off in a caravan. We have no idea where they were going.

Wednesday March 25

Diana Lockdown in France Day 9

Today it is bright, sunny, and a cool 56 degrees here, but we can see a line of fog hanging just to the east toward the Mediterranean. It doesn’t really matter anyway because we were planning to stay in today. Our routine has gotten to shopping every other day for groceries and goodies from the patisserie. Exercise has been further restricted to 1 hour within 1 kilometer of your home and obviously only during the day and with your papers.

As I’m sitting here writing this article, I thought you might like to see our apartment. I must say that confinement could be much worse, at least we have a big wide-open view of a square and about four different streets.

What topics would you like us to write about?


  1. Mike and Diana, I’m glad to be reading your blogs all the way from France. Not exactly what you expected but what an experience. Stay healthy and well, till we meet again, take care.

  2. I’ve passed though that city many times and have wanted to visit to at least hang out in the train station meditating on Dali. It sounds like you’re facing a surreal situation of a different kind. Best wishes and hopes that you stay safe and healthy. It sounds like the national government is taking this event seriously and doing the best to protect the population. Mike – I’m guessing you’ve heard that the entire worldwide Synopsys staff are working from home now.

    • I hadn’t heard about SNPS working from home, but I’m not surprised. I do feel some measure of comfort in the control the government is exerting.

  3. Looks nice. Papers please! Things here are similar to there but without the curfew. There is definitely a groundhog day feel. I wonder if there’ll be a new movie starring Bill Murray?

  4. Most definitely there is the feel of groundhog day here in the States, too. As I’m sure you already know, more and more States are joining in the shelter-in-place/stay-at-home orders. Strange to have this event be the shared experience for the population across the world! Keep up the lockdown diary – even if it is feels like you are writing about the same thing every day – these are historical times! Be safe and stay healthy!

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