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Bon weekend from the “new normal” France

The island town of Mont-st-Michel, topped by an abbey at dusk


I hope that you and yours are well.

Here in France, with lock-down restrictions eased, this week I went to one of my favourite local bars for the first time in more than 3 months.

It’s very hard not to kiss on the cheeks as we normally do, it’s become such a normal reaction when we see our friends. But we managed, wearing a mask to the bar is a pretty good reminder. We didn’t have specially adapted masks like some people apparently do with a flap to put a straw through! You wear your mask to go into the bar and then you sit at a table inside or out, observing social distancing, mask-less. It’s not normal that’s for sure, but it’s better than nothing.

I can’t tell you happy it made us to see people out enjoying themselves and to see the regulars back in their usual spots. Monsieur Martinez at the table nearest the bar where he can catch the eyes of Monique who works behind the bar accompanied by her yappy dog Petit Chou. From there he can nod to her to bring him a small glass of red wine. He likes the one which takes the skin of the back of your throat. I tried it once, never again, I sounded like Lee Marvin with a cold for an hour afterwards. A former postman, Monsieur Martinez has a penchant for story telling and told us how he has spent the last three months writing his memoire – a blockbuster in the making apparently.

Monsieur Dubarre who is an expert on everything was back doling out more expertise – on everything, from cheese to running the country. I had my usual Kir pettilant, a glass of cheap sparkling white wine laced with crème de cassis, blackcurrant liqueur. Mark had his usual glass of refreshing locally brewed beer. And for a blissful hour or so, we listened to people chatting and putting the world to rights. Monique was telling everyone how good the asparagus was from the local market. Her dog barked at everyone as usual. And it felt normal, apart from Arnaud the owner of the bar and Monique wearing masks to deliver drinks to tables and wiping everything down with disinfectant spray when anyone left the bar.

We take so much for granted most of the time but I’m not sure that I ever will again in quite the same way. I keep thinking back to times when I’ve travelled in France, experienced the most amazing restaurants, stayed in hotels where I felt like royalty, seen the most wonderful sights. It’s woken a creative streak in me and I’ve been busy writing away so you can expect a whole raft of inspiring articles coming up soon.

I hope that very soon we’ll all be able to travel again, in safety and without fear.

I wish you and yours truly well from my little pig sty.
Bisous from France

ps Every day on FacebookTwitter & Instagram, I share a daily dose of France in photos. The most popular this week was the top picture of Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy…

Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life

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