Week 8 It's Countdown to End of Lockdown in France

Trail running Serre Chevalier


There is less than a week until the lifting of lockdown. Will there be fear of going out, FOGO, or will everyone rush to escape the cities? Here in the mountains the biggest fear is an avalanche of invaders...

We've looked forward to the end of lockdown next week, counting the days like kids to Christmas. But now that deconfinement is less than a week away, we have a new fear. Not FOGO the Fear of Going Out and catching coronavirus but the worry that, allowed to travel for up to 100k without attestation, the whole of Grenoble will head our way for fresh mountain air and exercise.

And how dare they disturb our tranquil time in the mountains? Quite frankly, apart from not being able to see family and friends except via What's App and Zoom, the isolation here in Serre Chevalier has been like inter-season in the resort, blissfully peaceful. We can go out every day even though 'restricted' to 1k from home and one hour - and I put restricted in inverted commas because, believe me, there are subtle ways to bend the rules.

We hardly meet anyone when running on the high trails in the woods (main image) and, when we do, if they are senior citizens, they usually jump with the agility of young mountain goats up rocks or into the undergrowth for optimum social distancing from sweaty runners.

Sadly, the change to social contact has made the usually friendly French villagers almost hostile. Not only are there no cheek to cheek greetings but also they are so keen to get away that our habitual 'bonjour' as we pass is left hanging  as they pointedly turn their heads away from us to avoid breathing in the same air.

We're vaguely trying to make a plan to return to the UK but who knows when and how this will be possilbe? Crucially we need to time this so we don't have to go into quarantine either in Blighty or on return to France. As the feeling is that French tourism will reopen for business end of July for the traditional summer holidays, we will probably make our exit to the UK then and come back in the autumn, if there isn't a second wave, that is.

Of course, there is already speculation about next winter and how the ski season will be affected. The good news for us is that Serre Chevalier is refunding 18 percent of  last winter's season ski pass.  But I do feel for the resort, the lift company, the ski ops, the restaurant/bar owners and the seasonaires who had the season - and their income - cut short a month early.

So much depends on future infections, testing and vaccines that it's impossible to predict what will happen for winter 2020/21. I don't know about you, but I'm buying another pair of touring skis...