France has rapidly changed their regulations since we went to Bordeaux on Friday. We are doing fine, but I want to share an update on the changes that have evolved over the past 72 hours. On Saturday, they announced that effective at midnight all non-essential shops, restaurants, and cafes would close.
What we didn’t realize is that this would also cause transportation disruptions. We heavily rely on public transportation here, whether it be the metro, trams, or buses. As we were leaving Bordeaux on Sunday, we needed to take a tram and a bus to the airport. When we woke up, we learned that public transportation was heavily disrupted and the trams were not running, but the buses were. We walked with our luggage about 15 minutes to the closest bus that would take us to the airport. We waited there for about 20-30 minutes and two buses should have come by in that time frame. The sign posted with the wait times for the bus stayed at “> 1 hour”, and it was clear that a bus was not arriving anytime soon. With no other options, we opened Uber and hoped that there were drivers available, and luckily there were! We ordered an Uber to take us to the airport and as the car arrived, a man that was nearby came up to us and asked if he could join our Uber to the airport. The bus would have been 1.70 each and the Uber was over 30 euros, so we let him join our ride to help with the cost. The trip to the airport was the most difficult part of the day. Our flight was on time, and transportation in Lyon was not shutting down until Monday, so we were able to make it back to our apartment with no issues.
The pharmacies and grocery stores that are open are limiting the number of people that can come in a store at the same time which creates long lines at times outside of the shops. Everyone will have to stay at least a meter from each other at all times.
Most restaurants have closed, but some have remained open and are only available through delivery services like Uber Eats. This includes our local American embassies, McDonalds (MacDoh) and Subway, if we want to eat any familiar foods.
On Monday, the government announced new regulations that would go into effect on Tuesday, March 17th for at least 15 days. The new regulations are much stricter and we are ordered to stay at home unless we are buying groceries, getting medical care, or going for exercise. The government is deploying 100,000 police officers to make sure that these regulations are followed and will fine those who do not comply. The French borders are also now closed for at least 30 days.
To be able to go outside, we have to complete a certificate with our name and address attesting that we are outside for the purposes of buying groceries, getting medical care, or going for exercise. Since we live in a small one-bedroom apartment with no balcony, we are going to see how we can utilize this to go on walks for exercise and fresh air, even if we are just circling our block.
As new expats living in France, there is an extra layer of complexity we are having to navigate. The new regulations will impact us more than just keeping us inside because we do not have a permanent apartment yet, which means we cannot apply for residence. We had planned to go on an official apartment search next Friday with our relocation company, but with the new regulations we are no longer able to do this until after the lockdown is lifted. Our AirBnB stay is up next month, and we are in contact with the host to determine if we can extend our stay while we have to wait to find a place to live. The uncertainty of where we will live is unnerving but we are planning as much as we can so we aren’t left scrambling, or left living in a hotel.
I always try to find a silver lining in any situation and we are staying positive while in the lockdown. We are healthy, have a place to live, and have food stocked in our (tiny) fridge. The bakery at the base of our building is still open and we are able to continue to enjoy chocolate croissants and fresh baguettes. We will have plenty of time to watch movies or shows in the evenings after work, so please send any suggestions on shows to watch on Amazon Prime, Disney+, or Netflix our way!