This weekend sees the start of a progressive déconfinement in France. Starting from today more shops are open, we are allowed to go further for exercise and church services can restart although with a maximum of 30 attendees. If the infection rate keeps falling, it is hoped that by mid-December we will be out of the lockdown, but still under a curfew. The chart below spells out the various stages, but of course it does depend on those all-important numbers. M. Macron has been urging people to be responsible, but we can’t help wondering what the impact of Christmas and the New Year will be. Still, it’s all very well ordered, the ‘attestation‘ application for the smartphone works very well and there is no use of ‘regional’ tiers which seem to be so problematic.
So since we haven’t yet had the chance to go out and about very far, we thought we’d post some more photos from the same Saturday in September that we visited Brignoles (see last week’s blog).
Driving south from Brignoles, as if you were heading to Toulon, takes you into the edge of the great ridge of Sainte Baume and then drops you down into the valley between that ridge and the end of the Massif des Maures. Its very picturesque but we didn’t manage to get right up into the hills, although we found a spot for a picnic surrounded by woods and limestone cliffs.
This area is not on the tourist map at all but there are some very typically Provencal villages with considerable charm. To get to them you have to turn off the main roads, but it is worth it to wander around. La Roquebrussanne, our first stop, seemed to consist of one main street. It’s not surprising that the main road has been diverted around it.
Although quiet, it seemed gently prosperous, with all the buildings looking to be in good order. We couldn’t quite work out whether it was because it was a place where people commuted to Toulon or whether it was a week-end retreat. In theory you could commute to Toulon because, as the old Michelin plaque tells you, it’s only 34 km away but what it doesn’t say is that the first two-thirds are winding country roads over quite hilly terrain and the last third is the almost permanently blocked motorway into the city.
And so on into the wider valley, where we stopped almost at random in Garéoult, which was obviously something of a local hub since it had several schools, a sports centre and swimming pool in addition to a supermarket and a pharmacy. We simply wandered around the charming old centre.
So nothing stunningly spectacular, but just more perfectly charming little villages in a poorly known quarter of Provence. In a way it’s like an awful lot of France – wonderful and restful but you’re not sure you want to live there, especially in winter.