Friday, November 20, 2020

Lockdown diaries, day twenty-two, there's no escaping Christmas

French Village Lockdown Diaries no espcaping Christmas
Christmas shopping at Jouet Club, Niort

Day twenty-two, Friday 20th November 2020


There is no escaping Christmas

Whether things are normally this regulated in France, or whether it is a Covid-19 thing, I’m not sure, but as of today it is legally ok to sell, and therefore buy, your Christmas tree. As we had the ‘pleasure’ of shopping in Niort this morning, I can confirm that not only are they on sale, they seemed to be selling like hot cakes too. It’s not something that is going to happen around here, in November, but our day did involve more than a nod to the festive season.


Santa’s little helper

In some ways, things felt almost normal today, out and about for our annual Christmas gift shopping day for the children in the village. I had the excitement of mixing with people, heading to big town, wearing real jeans rather than leggings and a whole hour and a half of talking in French. I also felt rather important as I had two attestations (the official paperwork for leaving home) on me today. My normal one for going shopping and one from the village Mairie stating I was on official business, as it doesn’t really get much more important than being one of Père Noel’s little helpers, ensuring the under elevens get their Christmas gifts this year.


It was a beautiful early morning drive, the colours of the sunrise melting into the swirling cloud formations above, and tops of trees and wind turbines rising out of the low-lying layers of mist over the fields. It is only the second time we have used the car since returning from the Lot at the beginning of lockdown, and we were surprised there seemed to be no less traffic than normal.


In previous years, three or four of us elves would bundle into a car, stop for a coffee on the way, go mad in the toy shop (after all, how often do you have free rein to spend around 750€ on toys) and then head off for lunch together. Today I met the other two there, so no unnecessary mixing of households in the small confines of a car, and then when we were done with the toys, Adrian and I ticked off the other bits of shopping we needed (and yes, advent calendars may have featured). Jouet Club, the toy shop, really do look after us as not only do we get the morning with the manager, advising us about what is on trend this year or a popular choice for a certain age group, they also take care of all the wrapping, labelling and delivery to Père Noel before he visits our village. This year there will be no party, no hot chocolate, no singing and no pastries from the boulangerie, but Père Noel will be there, making house calls to personally deliver the gifts on 20th December.


Shopping during lockdown was a bit of an unusual experience. The traffic might have been busier than we were expecting, but the car parks were pretty empty, and it was quite sad seeing so many places shuttered and closed. Our last stop was a DIY store where we successfully picked up the paint we needed to carry on with the decorating. What we couldn’t get though was the new shelf unit for the lounge. We could see it behind the tape but weren’t allowed to touch it. We weren’t allowed to place an order in-store, although doing exactly that sat outside in the car park would have been acceptable. However, we’d already been out for five hours, energy levels were running low and when it advised it would be two hours before it was ready to collect, we left it and headed for home. 


French Village Lockdown Diaries Beaujolais Nouveau 2020
Beaujolais Nouveau 2020

As per usual, no matter how exciting our purchases in Niort are, and today rated pretty high on the excitement scale, by the time we arrived home, all the energy and life had been sucked out of me. So far, all I’ve got planned for dinner is a bottle or two of Beaujolais Nouveau and some goat cheese.


  1. Replies
    1. It was! It's always great fun to choose so many pressies all in one go and see the pile grow!


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