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Drove across France today

We had been on the Atlantic coast looking for a new house, as we would like to live near the ocean and in an area with generally cooler temperatures than we experience in the Beaujolais area. M. Macron's announcement Monday night restricting movements, except for certain situations, changed our plans a bit, as we were about 600 km from home.

So, we cut our stay at the gîte we had rented short (very understanding owner), loaded up the car, and headed east this morning, fully equipped with attestations de déplacement dérogatoire on our phones.

We both expected multiple checkpoints on our way, especially outside larger cities such as Nantes, Tours, and Angers.

Not one. We saw none.

I'm not sure what to make of that. Perhaps the checkpoints are more focused on very large cities such as Paris, Lyon, and Marseille?

We drove for nearly 7 hours across almost the whole of France and saw only two gendarme vehicles -- one by a broken-down truck along the side of the road and one parked at a rural roundabout that may have been a checkpoint for cars heading west rather than east. We saw no Police Nationale -- of course, they don't bother themselves much with traffic duty.

On Autoroute segments rest stops generally were open for fueling and closed for anything else. The exception was around lunch, when one could buy drinks or snacks or sandwiches. At another rest stop the store was closed but a coffee vending machine was located outside the locked doors to the store in a hallway on the way to the (open) restrooms.

Traffic was very light. Mostly heavy trucks with a few cars every now and then.

After we got home, I made a quick run to the local hypermarché to get some perishable staples we didn't have at the house. Things were a bit strange there in terms of ingress and egress restrictions, extra security, taped-off one-meter spacing guidelines around the caisses (check out lanes). I saw several store staff wiping down surfaces, but the stock of food items was surprisingly complete, much different from what I've seen on news reports from the U.S.

So -- nothing of particular note, but I thought I'd share it in case any of you were interested.

Posted by
1371 posts

Interesting to read about, thanks! Glad you made it home safely and uneventfully.

Posted by
6034 posts

attestations de déplacement dérogatoire

Two different translation services render this " derogatory travel certificates"

Something seems 'lost in translation'

Interesting report and glad all went well for you.

Posted by
64 posts

Dérogatoire in this context means an exception (to the order that generally bans travel). It's a standard form the Interior Ministry provides on its website that allows you to designate which pre-ordained exception applies to your decision to travel when you're not supposed to travel. At this point, it's just an honor system. We'll see if that lasts.

Posted by
1840 posts

Interesting post. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Posted by
3930 posts

Thanks, Sammy. Sounds like things are different away from the population centers.

Posted by
1106 posts

This concurs with a segment on the BBC news by some reporters who drove from Venice to Turin after the lockdown had been announced for northern Italy -- they reported not seeing any police at all on the road when they had expected to be stopped at checkpoints and under heavy surveillance.

This stuck in my mind because of a comic routine I heard some years ago about how the Catholic strictness was mellowed by Italian culture but reinforced by Irish and Polish culture such that people familiar with the former are shocked by the severity of the latter.