After a strict lockdown since March, normality is returning as we enter phase two and savour the joys of meeting our friends in cafés, bars and restaurants, going to the beach and enjoying the countryside in this gloriously sunny weather.

The lockdown due to Coronavirus began in France on March 17th as cases world wide escalated. As I write, today June 2nd, the Prime Minster has implemented phase two of the ease of lockdown. This means that all bars, restaurants and cafes can open their doors. Paris is the exception where the cases of coronavirus have been higher. Here the premises must have at least some outside space.

How can you get the best possible price once the rush starts? Find out in How to Negotiate Abroad, with help and advice from estate agents.

Lockdown is easing in France.

Lockdown is easing in France.

Caution however has been the name of the game in France.  Figures, although still high, show that the disease is being contained and managed and that hospitals are not overwhelmed. The French traditionally love to either kiss each other on the cheek (several times in many parts of the country!) or at least shake hands on greeting. They are slowly learning to retrain from these dyed in the wool habits. The new normality is kissing in the air or locking elbows. We have seen this in our small village regularly throughout the last few months.

People are overjoyed at the opening of all hospitality in the country. France is a hospitable country after all. Gathering at a cafe for a coffee or something stronger in the mornings or evenings has always been the norm. Now, after almost 3 months of abstinence, people can meet their friends (up to 10 at a time) for a social drink/chat/catch up.

People are overjoyed at the opening of all hospitality in the country – France is a hospitable country after all.

At midnight last night, Parisians just couldn’t wait and nor could some of the bars who opened up especially to celebrate this new easing up of regulations.

Beaches, parks, public places such as swimming pools and gyms are also now allowed to re-open, again with hygiene measures firmly in place.

As with other countries, France’s prime mininster, Edouard Philippe urged that caution remains and that people be sensible. It is mandatory to wear masks inside any cafe or restaurant and seating must be separated by 2 metres. Following on from Angela Merkel’s cautious remarks, some weeks earlier (Germany has been the most successful country in dealing with the virus) the prime minister announced that “we are in a better place than where we expected to be”.

Travelling to France

As for border restrictions with neighbouring countries, France has decided to remove these for countries which do not have quarantine measures beginning from June 15th, save for those coming from other countries who have stipulated their own quarantine measures which of course includes the UK. There are rumours of an ‘air bridge’ arrangement, but nothing is confirmed yet.

Ryanair and Easyjet are starting up flights again to many airports in France as from July. Ferries are currently largely operating freight and commercial traffic services only, although non-commercial bookings are available in August. The government currently requires an “attestation de déplacement” stating that the travel is essential with a tick box of various reasons why it may be. Second home owners in France may be allowed to travel to France then too although we await clearance on this. Word on the street has it that the 14 day quarantine measures being exercised from June 8th in both the UK and France may be relaxed from next month. We await the next announcement on this, due at the end of this month.

If you need one, now is the time to start arranging a mortgage and discussing rates. Speak to our recommended mortgage brokers to find out how the market is.

Property market

The joys of rural living have only become more apparent in this situation.

The joys of rural living have only become more apparent in this situation.

The property market is booming in France. Contrary to what many people imagined a few months ago, the desire to buy a home in a pretty rural village, near to the sea or out in the wonderful countryside has massively increased during the last quarter. A local estate agent I talked to down here in Occitanie said he had never been so busy! Living in a city is less popular now. It seems most of us want to be closer to nature now.

The lockdown has made many of us realise how much we value being close to nature, in a pretty rural village with plenty of space.

Reasons to be positive

We are experiencing wonderful warm sunny weather in the south of France right now. As summer approaches, the sun is likely to stay out and living outdoors becomes the norm. Nature seems to be telling us something. The birds seem to be singing more loudly and wildlife is rejoicing! Every cloud really does have a silver lining.

If nothing else, these extraordinary times, unprecedented certainly in our lifetime, have served to make people think very seriously about what they want in life. It is as if a reset button has been pressed for many. Any dream one may have once had  has now been brought forward from the back burner and very much to the front one. The situation we have found ourselves in has made us all look deeply into what we really want.

These extraordinary times have served to make people think very seriously about what they want in life.

This, coupled with it still being very much a buyer’s market in France, means that now may be one of the best ever times in recent years in which to consider buying a French property. There is plenty on the market even for smaller budgets of €100,000 or under.

Get in touch with expert estate agents, currency specialists and lawyers – your ‘Golden Three’ – today to kickstart your buying journey.

Whilst it is vital to remember that Coronavirus is not simply going to vanish – and to know there is no known cure nor vaccine as yet on the horizon, it is also very important to remember that the vast majority of those who get the virus will be cured. The new normality means wearing masks, keeping a distance from each other, hand washing, limiting gatherings to 10 people, no more. We are all adaptable human beings and it has almost become a habit now to keep to these rules.

There is every reason to be cautiously optimistic in France as we make baby steps towards the future. There is no magic solution to the Coronavirus problem but there is a clear way forward. France is in a much safer place now than it was in March. Long may this continue. Our love affair is not over yet!

About The Author

Alexis Goldberg

Alexis loved visiting France as a child and always dreamed of living there one day. Fortunately she met a man who had the same dream! So they married, then bought a beautiful 300-year-old character house in a pretty village in the Languedoc Roussillon. Alexis has been writing about France for a decade, inspiring and helping hundreds of British people to move there. She says: "Our only regret is that we did not move to France earlier!"

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