I love France. Especially the way the French deal with local Corona rules. When I enjoy a cup of coffee and a mini cake at the weekly market on Tuesday morning with Jo, I see everyone doing the same. “Ah, Marie ça va?” “Oui, ca va bien, et toi? Et la famille? “When a friend is greeted, the non-medical face mask is promptly removed and full cheeks are kissed twice. Another friend hooks up and there is more kissing. Then the mouth caps are half put on, preferably low on the chin and all look for fresh vegetables or a roast chicken for lunch.
This is France; a warm-blooded country where hugging and kissing is very common. Also at school where children have to wear a mouth mask inside and outside, children and parents greet in front of the schoolyard with two kisses on the cheek. The way the French wear that cap is quite special; always under the nose, because otherwise, it is too stuffy. Perhaps more attention is paid in the big cities, but in the villages along the coast, people shrug their shoulders about the Corona rules. The police hardly wear masks themselves; only if the press is around.
Didier Raoult, director of the Marseille hospital, is the hero in the South of France and the only one who tells the truth because he does not belong to any political party. In March he already showed that HCQ and zinc are good medicine against Corona and that masks do not help. “You just have to wash your hands more often, then you will not be bothered by anything.” When the media suddenly said that hospitals on the Côte d’Azur were filling up, he posted a furious video on Youtube that ‘they’ (the media) were completely crazy. “The ICs are just running empty, stop those lies!” Video statements from two fellow doctors skilfully defused this fake news.
Didier is a good friend of Brigitte and Emmanuel Macron; insiders whisper that this is why President Macron is not going to close the country with another complete lock-down like in March. That is why France opts for local measures; in Marseille, the restaurants closed for two weeks and can reopen tomorrow. Did it help? Perhaps.
Alpes Maritimes in Red
The Alpes Maritimes was a red zone in recent weeks, but what have we really noticed? Nothing. Only when we walk to a restaurant, we wear that mask from the parking lot to the restaurant. Once inside at the table, it is fun as always. Nobody wears a mask, there is not a meter a half rule of distance and there are certainly no plastic screens between the tables like in The Netherlands.
Since the French usually sit on a terrace more often a day (morning coffee, afternoon lunch, apéro, dinner), people actually only wear the mouth mask on the street and in shops. Funny thing is that when it is your turn at the bakery, the mouth cap is put down to pass the order. “Yes, because otherwise, she won’t understand me,” says a lady before me. I obediently imitate her because mumbling behind a mask doesn’t make my French any better either.
Thanks to all these draconian measures, we have gone from orange to green again last week. Although it was suddenly Alerte Rouge last week due to an approaching tropical storm. “We are free tomorrow, haha!” our girls explained with a laugh on Thursday; “Yes, there is a storm or something like that and everything is closed, including the shops.” The Méteo does indeed warn of heavy rainfall, as much as 30 centimeters in 10 hours. I decide to store our garden furniture and everything that is loose; after all, you never know.
On the day of the disaster itself, we all remain demonstratively in bed with homemade croissants, chocolate rolls and coffee. It is raining hard but we think: “if this is it, then we all be fine”. Suddenly the power goes out at 6 p.m. I look into the valley; it’s dark so we’re not alone. Now it feels a bit more exciting, without Netflix, Internet and light. Candles light up and we eat gingerbread for dinner. After 3.5 hours the power suddenly turns on again; the storm is over for us.
At the time, we had no idea what drama was going on 5 kilometers away, in the hinterland of Nice. There, a hurricane named Alex came through the valley in a devastating way. A dead forest was swept away and mountain streams turned into churning rivers. In Tende, a village in the mountains, houses on the waterfront collapsed, electricity masts disappeared into the water and a complete cemetery with 150 former residents was washed away. A bizarre and life-threatening situation in which 33 people, including various emergency workers, disappeared into the water.
President Macron is the President you need at this time; he is on the scene quickly, wraps his arms around people, offers comfort and comes to the rescue with 11 million euros. Corona is no longer an issue at such times; this was a real danger to the population.
At this time of writing; a week later, only 8 bodies have been recovered and several helicopters are searching day and night for victims. Extra lurid is the fact that 150 bodies (or what was left of it) were taken with the current into the sea. Fortunately, there is not much swimming now, but you are still startled when you swim against a skull. The sound of helicopters flying overhead towards the sea is a given this week; we sometimes see them flying back with something big on a long line, it looks like a box. Is Aunt Jeanne going back to her resting place there? We hope so.
In any case, this reunification of families is well in time for the upcoming Christmas period. A moment in which France has already said that Christmas remains a Christian family celebration that must be visibly celebrated with Christmas markets. And of course, the whole family comes together. Family is sacred in France; therefore there are no restrictions whatsoever on family visits or birthdays. Vive la Republique!