We posted an article on March 16th to let everyone know that we were ok and residing in Perpignan, France. Apparently, we will be here in Perpignan at least until the middle of April, if not longer. So, we thought we would let you know what is going on and how we are coping with the lockdown in France.
Sunday, March 15th
We arrived in Perpignan to our new apartment having no issues on the Autoroute on the way here. We only rented the apartment for 3 days because we wanted to make sure it would be ok before we made a long term commitment. Fortunately, I did a much better job picking an apartment this time than when we arrived in Playa del Carmen so we are staying here until at least mid-April. I can’t tell you how relieved we were to be settled in somewhere with great internet, full kitchen, washer/dryer, plenty of space, lots of light, a view, and enough food for at least a few days.
Shortly after we arrived, we heard President Macron was making an important speech on Monday night. We figured a lockdown was coming.
We headed west this morning from our hotel in Toulon. I was anxious about several things: Would the Autoroute be open? Would we be able to get gas? Would our host in Perpignan meet us at our new apartment, as planned? These are, after all, uncertain times. Eventually, all was happily resolved and we settled into our new abode, thankful our plans had worked out.
Monday, March 16th
We woke to a dark and rainy day but we felt like we had to get to a store for more provisions because there was so much uncertainty. So, we dressed quickly, located the nearest Carrefour market and set out. We first stopped at the small grocery store downstairs from our apartment to see what they had. Fortunately, we were greeted with a pretty big store that had some of everything from produce, to beer/wine, to soda, to fresh baguettes, and a pretty good selection of other staples too. We decided we could get the heavy liquids and bread here on our way back from Carrefour.
On the way to Carrefour, we passed two different banks with ATMs. It’s always important to be able to get cash in emergency situations. We bought additional staples at the Carrefour and then water and soda at our local market. Unfortunately, by the time we got back to the local market they were out of baguettes, no French bread today. The rest of the day was spent in the house, watching the news.
At 7 pm, President Macron gave a rousing speech. Fortunately for us, the France24 TV channel covers French news in English so we watched the speech live with real-time English translation. Macron is a compelling speaker who repeated “we are at war” at least five times. He also made multiple calls for solidarity as he announced a full lockdown of the entire country and borders. As of noon on Tuesday, you would only be allowed out of your home to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, work, or some exercise. He also said that you would need authorization papers to do so, and 100,000 French police were being charged with enforcement. We were sure happy to be settled in a good apartment for the long term.
We hustled out in the morning to get more supplies before High Noon when the lockdown took effect. Our new digs are well-positioned in town, making it easy for us to provision ourselves regularly. A diet of baguettes, pate, brie, and Rhone wine isn’t a bad way to pass the time.
Tuesday, March 17th
Again, we got up and out right away on another cloudy and cold day. Our agenda for the day was to get to a bank to get cash for our rent and buy some baguettes. Since the local market had instituted a limit of 6 people in the store at once, we waited outside. Then we decided to divide and conquer. Mike waited to get into the store for bread while I went to the bank. After that, we decided to seek out a proper boulangerie for bread for another day. We also figured we could do with some exercise, too. In the course of our wandering, we found the center of this beautiful little town. I am looking forward to going back there when all of the cafes are open again and the boats are going down the small river that runs through the center of Perpignan.
The afternoon was spent filling out the forms required to leave our apartment, napping, reading, and practicing our French. For dinner, we had a nice salade verte, tortellini, and a glass of white Bordeaux.
There are noticeably fewer people out today. The lockdown seems to be working.
Wednesday, March 18th
We awoke to our first sunny day in Perpignan, but we had no plan to go out until our landlord showed up with printed copies of the papers we needed to go out. He said he would be over around 2:30 to collect a portion of the rent and drop our papers to us. Also, did I mention, he doesn’t speak English? Improving our French quickly is pretty important but Google translate is quite helpful too. Of course, we know we have plenty of time to practice our French. We are both using the Duolingo app to brush up.
The rest of the day was spent reading, watching the people outside, napping, looking for happy shows on Netflix, and watching the news. Last night’s dinner was pasta with broccoli and a meat sauce, yummy. I’m actually cooking again so that’s good.
The whole “walking papers” requirement seems silly to me. They won’t even allow an e-copy. Let’s cut some more trees to save the planet from illness. At least essential businesses are open, but I wonder why hardware stores are not considered essential. Stuff still needs to get fixed. Duolingo is helping me improve my French, albeit slowly.
Thursday, March 19th
The day started cloudily but the sun came out and the temperature went up to the mid-60s. We went out today!!! But first, we did a stretching routine using an application on my phone. Sitting around all day is making us stiff and my knee and hip are really hurting, especially when I try to walk. After we loaded up our passports and our papers giving us permission to shop, we headed out. Our first stop was the bank ATM, we wanted to be sure that we had enough cash for our rent. Then we headed to the really nice boulangerie that we checked out the other day.
Things seem to have calmed down a bit since Tuesday because there was only one other person in line. After getting some awesome bread, we continued down the street to check it out (without looking like we were loitering.) We arrived again at the pretty little river, looked at it quickly, saw a castle across the street and targeted a pharmacy.
There wasn’t anything that I really needed from the pharmacy but I wanted to see what they had. Then I saw hair coloring and decided that I would have to try it myself soon, so I bought some. We also bought some echinacea for our immune systems. On our way back to our apartment we found another supermarket, this one was much better than the one downstairs or the market we went to the other day so we bought some produce for dinner tonight, a bottle of wine and a few other goodies. We will definitely be going back to that market.
The stretching routine is really needed, definitely got to keep that up. I am happy to report the stores are maintaining a good stock of food so far. Next up, work on the more mundane tasks in life, mostly finance stuff. Not a problem because our frequent travel planning work has ground to halt.
We will decide next week if enough interesting stuff has happened in the last week to tell you. Otherwise, we will try to be creative with our content.
Please stay home and be safe.