Students are taking to the city streets. Refineries are blockaded. Queues form at petrol stations. There's panic buying in the shops. The police move in at night to break up strikes. Friends in the UK wonder if we are stranded at home, running out of food. There are posts on the forums about whether or not to travel and whether it's possible to get petrol and fierce arguments about whether striking against raising the retirement age to 62 is "right".
Here though, in this rural backwater, we are surrounded by a placid normality.
Getting anxious from the news reports, I set out to fill up the car just before Tod came back from the UK. Ah, the joys of the French "lunch hour"! At 1.30pm I had the petrol station to myself.
Now, a few days on, it's true there are signs saying "no jerry cans" and we're careful to top up before the tank is half empty. We are more organised with our journeys into town (or at least a little bit). As everything is only ten minutes drive away it's all too easy just to pop in, whenever. But yesterday I set out with a car load for the municipal tip, instructions to check the tyre pressures, an empty gas bottle to change and a list for Leclercs, which was reassuringly empty of customers and full with goods.
On the way back I also took in the small garden centre that does cheap bedding plants in the hope that they might have something for the border I'm making behind the pool house. They were full to brimming with huge pots of chrysanthemums - nothing but great mounds of gold, rust, purple, in polytunnel after polytunnel - plants for La Toussaint (November 1st, All Saints Day) when France visits its dead friends and relations.
They say the petrol will have to be flowing by then.
2 years ago