|St Amant de Boixe Abbey|
It’s Easter weekend and the village church bells have fallen silent, as French tradition tells us they’ve sprouted wings and flown to Rome for a Papal blessing. They will return joyous and jubilant to ring in Easter morning, bringing with them chocolate winged bells and Easter eggs.
I am not so jubilant as our wings have been clipped once more with the latest Covid-19 restrictions on movements that will come into force this evening. So long as we keep to a ten-kilometre radius from home (and within our dept) we can move freely for any reason, without a time limit, and won’t need an attestation for leaving home, although we must carry proof of address with us.
Travelling further afield it gets a bit more restrictive and our friend the attestation is back, but more on that later. One year into life with Covid-19 and I’ll admit, I have reached the point where I am craving normality, so even if the restrictions are less severe this time, I’m feeling them. Only a few weeks ago, Adrian and I bravely made a (fully cancellable) booking for a five-night break for our wedding anniversary later this month. It was an apartment, an easy drive from home, offering us a safe, self-catered, socially distanced place to stay, in an area we haven’t visited before. We hoped we could spend our days cycling along the Dordogne gorges, cross into the Cantal for a circuit around the Massif de Sancy and enjoy the backroads and local delicacies from the patisseries of the Correze. Following President Macron’s address on Thursday evening, we have cancelled our reservation, although we are hoping we can re-book for May.
|The stained-glass window in the abbey|
The last few days, the weather has been warmer, so we’ve taken the opportunity to get out and about on our bikes, ensuring we made the most of being able to be more than ten kilometres from home. On Thursday we cycled a fifty-three-kilometre loop around the Charente, stopping, as pilgrims have done for centuries, at the Abbey at St-Amant-de-Boixe, the bikes looking small and insignificant against its huge façade. The door was ajar, and the cool interior offered a welcome change from the heat outside, especially as the magnificent blue glow from the stained-glass window drew me in.
|Cornuelles, a local delicacy|
We treated ourselves to cornuelles, a local biscuit delicacy only made between Palm Sunday and Easter, that was traditionally sold at the entrance to church with a sprig of box tucked into the hole in the middle. It was an almost perfect afternoon adventure on the bikes, cycling through Cognac vineyards and wide, open fields offering vast vistas. The only thing missing being a bar or café for liquid refreshments, but sadly these have been closed since the end of October.
|Flapjack at the lavoir|
On Friday we went north from Melle, in the Deux-Sèvres, for a thirty-seven-kilometre ride through narrow lanes surrounded by fields of flowering colza (rape), its zingy yellow a cheery sight after a dark winter. The land here is hillier than our usual routes from home, so an old lavoir (wash house) provided a great refreshment stop for a homemade flapjack and as the boulangerie in Melle was open on our return, we also enjoyed our favourite treat of flan, a little compensation for our cancelled holiday and impending restrictions on movement.
We had plans for today too, but when we awoke to a cold north-easterly wind that was bending the trees outside the bedroom window, we opted for indoor chores, some gardening and getting the washing dried outside instead. It feels a little cruel that the weather is against us on our penultimate day of freedom for the month of April.
EDIT - blog updated Sunday 4th April with new attestation
The attestation can be found online (download here)
Here are the valid reasons to leave home:
1 – travel to and from work, for essential work meetings, deliveries, to and from a place of study
2 – health appointments including vaccinations
3 – family emergencies or to assist those who are vulnerable
4 – admin or court summons
5 – moving to a new house
6 – essential shopping, collecting parcels, visiting libraries or religious places within your department (if you live close to a dept border, you may travel to within 30km of a neighbouring dept).
7 – outdoor physical activity, within a ten-kilometre radius of your home (but officially only staying within your dept). Attestation not required but can be used if you don’t have a valid proof of address.
8 – walking your pets during curfew, within a one-kilometre radius of home.
|Attestation for movement|