‘I feel safer here than home’ – How foreigners in France are reacting to coronavirus restrictions

While pandemics are of course scary for everyone, people far from home and family may feel the effects more acutely. But when we asked our readers, the majority felt calm here in France.

‘I feel safer here than home’ - How foreigners in France are reacting to coronavirus restrictions
Photo: AFP

When we asked our readers about how they felt about being in France instead of their country of origin during the coronavirus epidemic, there was one word that echoed from many of them:

“Safer,” Miranda Kingwell Smith wrote, summing up her feelings – and that expressed by many others – in one word.

A 62-year-old living in Le Var together with her husband, 83, Miranda said she preferred being in France rather than her home country, because “the French are better organised than the UK.”

John Maguire, a 71-year old based in Charente, praised the French government for acting “speedily, positively and with clear leadership. 

“Watching how the UK government is acting fills me with deep concern and total despair.”

“It doesn’t appear to understand just how critical their actions are and the the public requires strong guidance and leadership.”

The British government has so far not introduced widespread restrictions on daily life, unlike France where the government has now put the whole country on 15 days of lockdown.

READ ALSO Lockdown permission form – how it works and where to find it

Starting Tuesday, French police were to control that anyone leaving their homes had a valid reason. Photo: AFP

Miranda and John were far from the only Brits who praised the French government's actions compared to that of the UK's.

“At least France looks out for its people, as opposed to Britain which is in thrall to big business and the stock market pariahs,” Gerry Buckland, 71, wrote.

“I'll take President Macron over Boris the Inept Buffoon and his gang of fascists every time.”

Joanne Romand, 45, agreed. 

“I'm relieved. Boris Johnson has not been doing enough in the UK,” she wrote.

“I've been warning my family (including my parents in their 70s) for more than two weeks, but they have trusted the government that they can still go out in groups, on holiday and that they didn't need to get in extra supplies.”

“They think I've been exaggerating! It's starting to sink in now,” Joanne wrote. 

John Counsell, 70, said “the French government has been more effective than in the UK. So I am happier to be in France!”

Another Brit, Roger Paton, 81, said one of the reasons he was glad to be in France instead of the UK was that “at least the French health service is better than the English.”

READ ALSO: France promises €45 billion in coronavirus aid and warns of coming recession

Paris looking empty following the lockdown. Photo: AFP

Many Americans who wrote to us also said they were glad to be in France instead of the US.

“I am American so I feel more safe and protected than I would in the US,” Kerry Ann Precious, 46, wrote.

Colleen Phelan, 67, wrote this from her home in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine

“As an American resident in France, I am pleased to be here with a far more concise response to the virus than that coming from the White House.”

“I am well-informed by the French government, stage by stage.”

Paris-based Rachel Salamanca, 42, said she felt “safer here than in the USA,” which she described as clouded by “fog and misinformation.”

READ ALSO: What exactly do Macron's new coronavirus restrictions mean?

But others expressed sadness over not being able to spend this time together with their families.

“It is tough being torn between two places and not knowing the future,” wrote Lynn Williams, a 56-year-old in Paris.

Holly Dale, 32, from New Zealand said; “Wish I could spend this time with my family!”

She also expressed worry about how, as a freelance makeup artist, she would be able to make ends meet in the coming time.

“I have had to cancel all my work and am extremely concerned about the lack of income.”

Nicki, a 48-year old originally from Scotland, said she was “stressed, anxious and lonely,” and worried about her family back home.

Living in Rambouillet, in the French countryside, she said she was struggling to adapt to being “stuck at home.”

“My husband is trying to work in his home office, and we can’t do any of the things we want to do,” she wrote.

READ ALSO: Five French Netflix series to binge watch and learn some new vocab

We know the coming weeks will be a trying time and we will be doing our best to bring you non-coronavirus related coverage too, to give everyone other things to think about. Tell us what you would like to read about here.

Member comments

  1. This morning, on the first full day of lockdown we visited our doctor and did some shopping. Everywhere is very calm, Super U’s clients keeping well away from each other and the shelves filled as normal. No sign of the Gendarmes. Now we can be at home for a week quite safely. Feel safer than being in the UK? You bet.

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How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Around 300,000 pets are abandoned every year in France, many of them during the summer months. So if you're looking for a pet there are many lovely cats and dogs in shelters looking for a good home - here's how to go about it.

How to adopt a pet from a French animal shelter

Where to look

French animal welfare charity the Société Protectrice des Animaux (SPA) is an excellent place to start – it currently lists nearly 4,500 animals available for adoption. 

But there are lots of other smaller, local organisations – it may be worthwhile dropping in to see a local vet as they will generally know of local groups seeking homes for abandoned pets.

There will be paperwork

First-time buyers of cats or dogs have to sign a ‘certificate of commitment and understanding’ before they will be allowed to buy an animal, and the same applies to those looking to adopt. 

After the signed document is delivered to the authorities, future owners have seven days to change their mind – the idea is to prevent people from ‘impulsively’ buying or adopting pets only to abandon them later. 

The SPA, certainly, demands that would-be adopters are of legal age and are willing to take part in a “responsible adoption process”.

These things take time – as you should expect for a commitment that can last more than a decade. As the SPA website says, it seeks to ensure “that each decision is carefully considered and that the adopted animal matches its new family and way of life”.

The process may include home visits, interviews and discussions to help adopters find the animal to which they are best suited – older people may not cope well with an energetic puppy, for example.

READ ALSO What you need to know about owning a dog in France

Shelter animals

Some welfare organisations ensure their animals spend some time with ‘foster families’ until they are adopted. This means that the organisation has a pretty good idea how that animal is likely to behave when it gets to its new adopted home.

It is more difficult to judge an animal’s character if it has been kept in a pen in a shelter.

It will cost money

A financial contribution will most likely be requested by the organisation from which you are adopting. The sum will depend on the age and type of animal being adopted. 

The SPA, for example, asks for a donation to cover vets’ fees of between €250 and €300 for a dog, depending on its age, and €150 for a cat or a kitten.

Another well-known animal welfare organisation in France, Les Amis des Animaux, has a slightly different scale of fees covering the cost of chipping, vaccinations – including rabies/passport in mature animals, sterilisation, worming, et cetera. 

READ ALSO What you need to know about microchipping your pet in France

What else you need to know

Under French law, pet dogs – and cats and ferrets – over a certain age must be identified and registered on a national database. 

The animal must be identifiable by a tattoo or microchip – the latter is the most common method these days – that is registered on the Identification des carnivores domestiques (I-CAD) database

The procedure to insert the microchip, or ink the tattoo, must be carried out by an approved professional. The procedure should be done by a vet and costs between €40 and €70, the shelter will tell you whether your new pet already has a microchip or not.

You might not believe it if you have walked along certain streets in Paris, but you can be fined if you fail to pick up after your pet. 

The standard fine is €68, but the mayors of some towns have imposed stricter rules in the street, in parks, gardens and other public spaces. 

The French government’s Service Public website lists other rules regarding the health and wellbeing of pets. Read it here.