Personal Update from Paris

A lot of you in the US are writing me and asking “How is it in our beloved Paris?” Somewhat different and somewhat the same as what you are reading in the papers. Last Thursday, President Macron spent 26 minutes on national tv outlining what has happened so far and what will happen. He was very serious and didn’t try to make this pandemic sound less than it is. At that point, only four days ago, he urged all people seventy and over to stay home unless absolutely necessary. He said transportation would stay the same but hoped that work and people would work from home. As of Monday, he closed all schools and universities. He said this was up to each and every one of us. The virus knew no borders and didn’t carry a passport. That was Thursday.

I’m discovering that the French are very stubborn and obstinent people. They proclaimed that nothing was going to stop them from living their lives. So they were out and about. The metros were a bit less crowded but not by much. So on Saturday, the French administration announced that as of Saturday at midnight, all public places that weren’t necessary for our survival were to be shut down, closed, fermé. That got some people’s attention. By Sunday noon, the markets caught up with the US and all the toilet paper and such were gone. However, the municipal elections were not postponed. On websites, times were posted when best to go vote. A friend went back and forth about whether she would vote or not. Finally she decided to. She went at the last moment, waited till everyone was gone then went in to vote. Everyone was wearing masks and keeping all the voting paraphenalia as antiseptically clean as possible. I went out for about forty-five minutes just to walk, and the streets in the 16th arrondissement were full of people walking with children, with dogs and, since it was a lovely day, filling up the parks and green spaces. That was yesterday.

This morning at 8:45am, I received a notice from the administration that since the French were not doing as asked, we had forty-eight hours to decide where we wanted to spend the next forty-five days. As of tomorrow, there will be a 6pm curfew and the police will be in the streets urging people to go home. I dropped everything and headed out. I was prepared to be homebound for two weeks but not for forty-five days. I first went to the grocery store. Still no toilet paper. Then I headed for Picard which only sells frozen food, absolutely delicious frozen food. They were almost out of food and not taking any loyalty cards for discounts. I then headed for Marks and Spencer who sells my favourite yogurt. They looked like they had plenty of food though the yogurt was in short supply. When I asked, I was told they would be staying open. Picard, on the other hand, said they had no idea. On the way to M&S, I passed a florist. It wasn’t really open but the door was open. I asked if I could buy. They gave me 3 beautiful bouquets for about a third of the normal price. That will be the last of my fresh flowers I’m afraid. Finally, I went to the pharmacy. Not my normal pharmacy on Av. Mozart which had a long line snaking out the door and winding to the corner. I stopped at the one near M&S. I was the third person in line. We’ve been told pharmacies will stay open but…. I had no trouble getting what I needed.

Forty-Eight hours to decide where I want to spend the next 45 days. I knew my friends in Normandy and in Brittany would probably love to have me and my crazy cat come join them. I would love to go to Le Gers where I think my heart resides. But…..I have here, in my small apartment in Paris, everything I need to survive the next 45 days if I never go out. I have Netflix, I have enough books to read for at least a year. I have the expanded tv that has HBO series, Showtime and Canal+. I have the wonderful Zoom. Which allows me to have video conversations one on one or in large groups. I have my work which I do at home anyway. I just learned yesterday that ten of the world’s best museum’s are totally on-line and I can tour it visually. I was even given a jig-saw puzzle with 1000 pieces. That would take some time!

Yesterday, I defrosted my freezer. Something I should have done months ago And thank goodness I did. After shopping at what was left in Picard, I was able to fit for more things in the freezer. I have plenty of ‘projects’ to do. So as long as I talk to friends at least three or four times a day, I think I can do this! And that’s whats happening in Paris.

A bientôt,

Sara

PS As I was about to hit ‘publish’, I received an e-mail saying all non-essential travel to EU is to be banned for 30 days.

The Crown

Netflix, in it’s great wisdom, suggested Binge Watching some shows over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I saw posters in both California and here in Paris for The Crown.  Since I don’t like football and couldn’t find anything else better on Netflix, I decided to watch it.  And I ended up binge watching it just as suggested!!!

I have no memory of Queen Elizabeth II being anything other that what she is today, an elderly women, who waves funny and rarely speaks.  The series starts in 1947 when she is a young girl, her father is still King, she is in love and about to marry Phillip and she and her sister Margaret are good friends. Claire Foy plays Elizabeth.  The last I saw of Ms. Foy, she was getting her head chopped off as a result of being Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall.  From cunning, manipulative Ms Boleyn to the intelligent, correct Ms Windsor in one season is quite a feat!!

When Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, dies five years later, she becomes Queen at twenty-five years of age.  What struck me more than anything as Elizabeth learns The Rules of Monarchy, is what a lonely, lonely position it is.  She can’t pick her own last name, where she lives or who will be her secretary.

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Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II (photo:Netflix)

The great John Lithgow plays Winston Churchill.  I’ve seen many actors play Churchill.  Lithgow’s Churchill is terrific.  He is curmudgeonly, manipulative, brilliant and old.  Too old to still be Prime Minister.  He and Elizabeth lean on each other, she to learn about her job and he to stay needed so that he can keep his.

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John Lithgow and Claire Foy (photo: Netflix)

There are many wonderful performances in the Crown but I’ve vowed to keep my blogs short.  I will say that after Colin Firth won the Oscar for playing King George in The King’s Speech, it had to take a brilliant actor to make me forget Mr. Firth.  Jared Harris is that brilliant actor.  He plays the King with a compassion and wisdom that one hopes leaders of all nations might have.  There are lovely scenes of him teaching his eldest daughter about the Constitution and about the relationship between the Monarchy and Parliament.

I think it is a terrific series.  I heard or read that the creators are hoping to have 60 episodes, at least 6 years, of The Crown.  If it stays this good, I’ll be watching it all six years.

A bientôt,

Sara