Dordogne Tales


Hope all is well in your self-isolation and lock-down world!!  What a very strange situation we're all living through.   It's quite surreal.

Spain at least seems to be levelling off with new cases diminishing, along with Italy.  In France and the UK the numbers are still rising.  All being well France should start to level off within the next week.   The UK was behind everyone, having adopting initially a 'herd immunity' policy and hoping that would bump off all the over 65's and save some money on health care and pensions, but the projections of possibly half a million deaths focused the minds of Boris and his lot.   And poetic justice clicked in and he got the virus!  

Currently we've some Aussie/Brits staying at the cottage.   They were travelling up through France from Spain in their motor home (having been travelling for a good part of a year in Europe) and were pulled over by the Gendarme up in Chalus (15kms north of us, Richard the Lionheart was killed there, you may recall) and told that they could not be on the road any longer and would have to get into a location.   They pulled into a small trucker's stop just off the main road and had been there some days when they met our friend Anita (who helps me in the summer) at the big Intermarche supermarket up there.   They'd heard Anita talking to a friend, and hearing English spoken they approached her for help and advice.  They were looking for the local town hall to find out about camp sites.   Camp sites are currently all closed.  So Anita taking pity on their plight gave them our number and said that she was pretty sure we would be able to help them.  And that there was plenty of room for their motor home, trailer and car.

This all happened a week ago Monday.  I must say it did throw me somewhat, as the gite is closed up and would need opening, airing, cleaning etc. etc.   Vic and I talked it over and we felt we just couldn't not help, as to be stuck on a garage forecourt for goodness knows how many weeks and or months didn't bear thinking about.  So we arranged for them to come on Tuesday, got them linked up with electric and water for that day and night and set forth with mops, brooms and dusters.   On Wednesday around lunch time, beds made and everything looking pretty good, I have to say, we got them in, two very stressed and now very relieved people.  And thankfully the weather's been lovely so they've been able to enjoy the lake  and she said to me last evening "We feel as if we've just landed in heaven and if it was possible to hug you, I'd give you the biggest hug anyone could give someone".    That was very nice.

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We're agreed we'll take it week by week and at this initial stage we've made it a month until 1st May and then obviously reassess the situation.    When they can move officially then it will be up to them and/or we have a confirmed booking.   We're all in the dark at the moment.

Despite living in the country, where supposedly nothing ever happens, we've always found from experience that there's never a dull moment.


We have to wait another week 11th May and then all our shops will be allowed to open and small museums and we won't have restrictions about the amount of time being outside and the Certificate restriction will end, unless making a journey of up to 100kms (maximum amount of distance allowed to travel).     If all goes well with the easing, then June 2nd will see bars, cafes, restaurants and larger museums opening.  Face masks will be required on public transport and shops can ask you to wear one, but generally it won't be obligatory.   Junior and Maternelle level schools will open from May 11th but that will be optional.  From June 2nd colleges and lycees will be open but there again not obligatory.   

At the end of last week the Government announced that anyone coming from anywhere in the world would have to quarantine for two weeks, but they've backtracked on that today, after an outcry from the tourism industry.   So there won't be quarantine restrictions for people coming from Shengen countries or the UK, which gives us some hope that the Dutch group will be able come at the end of June.  They will have to travel through Belgium, so it will depend on what the Belgians decide. But as the end of June is a little way off we have to think positively.

We're very busy here at this time of year, so putting on weight isn't really a worry.   We can still enjoy our glass of wine at lunch time with absolute zero guilt!

Our guests at the cottage are well entrenched and very happy.   They know they can't go anywhere at the moment and feel themselves blessed to have such a lovely spot and all the comforts.   We've currently agreed that they'll be here until 1st June and maybe then they will get the okay to move.  They will leave the motor home here in storage (we've arranged that with Bernard at the lumber yard) and they will drive back to the UK in their car and leave that there with relatives then fly back to Australia to conduct business and come back again later in the year and continue with their travels.    They've got their house rented at the moment and that contract has just been renewed. 

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We've a lovely morning here after a week of monsoon type rain.   After such a lovely March and most of April one just knew that we'd get another round of rain anytime soon.   It was a miserable week of dull, wet weather.   Today a whole new ball game.  Off to work now to start getting the plants out of the greenhouse.

t seems to me that the Spanish Government have certainly got some good organisation and implementation programmes.   So much more sensible to implement the phasing programme based on the actual figures.   The French are doing something similar, dividing the country by colour coding.   Most of the country is colour-coded green but there's still that big swath in the north east coded red  where that religious evangelical convention was allowed to take place.   Obviously, it didn't hold much water with the Almighty!!!  A lot to be said for religion - it could take off!!

Our lock down was eased yesterday.  Still social distancing very much emphasised, but people back to work, primary and maternelle level kids back to school (not obligatory, up to parents), all shops open excepting bars, cafes, restaurants and large museums.  Masks to be worn on public transport and if requested when entering certain shops, but not obligatory.   Generally masks supplied by the local Mairie.  In La Coquille a group of volunteers delivered them to every household.   No certificates having to be carried now and a limit on 100 kms from home base for travelling and even then with permission from the local authority (read Maire or higher administrative authority).
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Yes, the border issue was actually not helped by the French Government themselves (who generally we think have done/ are doing a good job).  At least everyone knows what they can, and what they cannot do.    This issue goes back over a week ago when they issued on a Friday that the border would be closed to everyone until June 15th, with emergency powers being extended into July.   The Ministry of tourism, the Ministry of arts and culture and any other Ministry you can think of with a vested interest in getting the borders open, threw a wobbly.  And over that weekend that was all changed.   The border would be open to other EU countries, Shengen area and the UK.   Then Boris adds that everyone coming into the UK would have to quarantine - you can currently still just walk off the plane, through immigration, baggage collection, customs and out of Heathrow without any checks!!!  Vic's 2nd cousin flew  in from Vancouver on Monday to see his father who is very sick (not the virus - ongoing condition) and just walked through.   Whether he's self-isolating away from family for two weeks (how many people were on that plane?) I don't know.  Not going there.   

Who got in touch with whom first, who knows, but more than likely it was Macron and it was changed again on the UK side. 

As you say that clears the way, possibly, hopefully for Brits.   We have regular guests booked from 8th July.   We have been in touch and they are still gungho to come.   And then more in September.   The French will be the main clients this year, if of course the situation continues in a positive vein and everyone can travel.    Next review date is June 2nd when it is  hoped the catering/hospitality businesses will be able to open up, plus larger museums and all the beaches.  My French neighbour here says that if they don't open the beaches in the summer, there will be revolution!!  Well you know the French, revolution is in the blood!

Well we're hopeful, that all things being equal, you'll be able to make the trip up in August.  As you say a lot of viruses to flow under the bridges until then.

I passed on your manana comment to our friends in England.  They wrote yesterday in like vein.  Quote:-

" I really don’t know where the time goes.  We go out for a walk and invariably meet someone we know and end up talking for twenty minutes or so.  Time we get home it’s lunchtime.  Do a few jobs and it’s dinner time and so on."

Vic and I are almost envious!!   He and Big Blue are working down at the lake this morning.   He plans to extend the length of the small pier and has also to do some reinforcing work along the barrier, where we are getting some erosion.  

Comment on a James O'Brien twitter feed today, re Boris's speech on Sunday evening:-

All I am hearing from Mr Johnson is the verbal equivalent of a noisy crisp packet during a search for the crumbs at the bottom."

There were some pther equally brilliant comments, but I thought this summed it all up really well.  There's a petition currently running on Change-org to have a public vote of no confidence in Boris.   

from a friend- we go back to 1977- with a gite in the northern part of the Dordogne- written over several weeks. We hope to be with them in August!

This added to below on the 6/5/2020

Bars, cafés and restaurants

Much excitement from Tuesday 2nd June when cafes, bars and restaurants were allowed to open again, albeit with tables well-distanced apart and most cafes have been given permission to extend their seating areas onto the pavement/promenade.  

There are a lot of hygiene restrictions for owners to abide by, including spaces of at least 1m between tables, and in orange zones - including Paris - only outdoor terraces can reopen.

The 100km rule

This rule is scrapped and people can now travel freely around France for any reason, without the need for a permission form.


The gradual reopening of schools is accelerated, with all infant, primary and secondary schools able to open from June 2nd. Maximum class sizes remain, however, so many pupils will only be attending for part of the week.

High schools (lycées) will only reopen in the green zones and universities will continue with online teaching.

Parks, beaches and gardens

These have now all reopened, with Paris reopening parks over the holiday weekend. Local authorities will make the decision on whether to make masks compulsory in parks, beaches and gardens.

Gyms and swimming pools

All gyms can reopen in green zones as of June 2nd and in orange zones as of June 22nd. The same goes for swimming pools.

Cinemas, theatres and museums

Theatres and museums can begin to reopen from June 2nd in green zones, while orange zones must wait until June 22nd.

Cinemas can reopen in the whole country as of June 22nd.

Wearing a mask will be mandatory in all these spaces.


Campsites can reopen on June 2nd in the green zones and June 22nd in orange zones.

There are still some restrictions in place and masks have to be worn on public transport and if you're requested when going into some shops.

Everyone is now feeling a lot more hopeful about the summer and looking forward to summer holidays.



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