Carcassonne Confinement Continues

Bonjour, everyone, and Joyeuses Pâques, Happy belated Easter!

We hope you are staying happy, healthy and occupied during these stay-at-home days.

We heard from French President Macron last night that our Carcassonne confinement continues – here across France, confinement will continue at least until May 11, which will make our confinement at least eight weeks. Below I’ll share a little bit about our confinement, President Macron’s speech, Easter, and photos from a beautiful walk along our River Aude.

View of medieval walled city from the streets below

Our confinement rules are the same: We have to bring our signed attestations and ID any time we leave the house; essential shopping only; to work only if one can’t work at home; exercise only 1 hour per day and only 1 km radius (Just more than a half mile radius) from our homes.

EU borders will remain closed.

Of course, as is the case across the world, public places, restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas, theaters, concert halls will remain closed until at least May 11, and there won’t be any festivals here in France at least until mid-July. So it seems they are holding out hope for our annual Bastille Day extravaganza on July 14. And what a celebration it will be!

Carcassonne Confinement Continues Bastille day 2019

Schools will start reopening from May 11 onwards, so the children should have six good weeks of school before summer vacation starts at the beginning of July. President Macron’s speech was particularly touching about this. I’ve posted some excerpts from his speech at the end of this post.

France’s President Macron’s speech

Our French friend who writes a daily blog post on confinement, updating we expats on the circumstances (and planning our Friday video happy hours), translated President Macron’s speech into English last night, the night the speech was delivered. We are all so grateful for this translation.

As I mentioned, I have put a few excerpts from the speech at the bottom of this post, and if anyone wants to read the whole thing, here is the link to JJ’s translation. It brought tears to my eyes reading it, thinking of what the world is going through, and thinking how differently another “world leader” is addressing the crisis and communicating about it.

And, as all of you know, there is a great deal of joy during these times. Easter, beautiful walks, and plenty of projects!


Here in France, glorious church bells can ring every 15 minutes. But on Good Friday, church bells are silenced starting at about noon noting Jesus’ death. So, in addition to confinement, town is even quieter for 48 hours without our bells. And then the bells sing again riotously at noon on Easter Sunday. Jeff and I listened on our balcony. We heard the bells from two of our largest churches (and they’re quite big – St. Vincent and St. Michel) ring for about 12 minutes and it was really lovely.

Below is the view from our home. On the right you see St. Vincent and its tall tower. On the left you’ll see a little tower poking up – that’s St. Michel which is now our cathedral here in Carcassonne. Next year I want to be in La Bastide, closer to the churches to hear the bells from there.

St Vincent and St Michel

Tower of St. Vincent church in Carcassonne
Above: Tower of St. Vincent as seen from our home. Construction began in 1269.
St. Michele Carcassonne
Above: Tower of St. Michel as seen from our home. Construction began in 1247.

A little history (and don’t worry – soon we’ll get to the pretty pictures of a walk along the river….)

La Bastide (Lower town/new town)  – was built in the 1200s (amazing to think a “new town” was built in the 1200s!), across the river from the lofty medieval walled city. The two churches above are in La Bastide.

In 1355, the Black Prince of Wales burned down the first Bastide (during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England) – (rumor has it that the Black Prince was ticked off that he wasn’t able to take down our medieval walled city, so he took it out on La Bastide.) All was burned except these two beautiful churches. There was something superstitious about burning down churches, so thankfully they remained intact. Both are still in use, and look much the same that they did when they were built.

Rebuilding of the second Bastide, which is what we have now, started in 1356, just one year after the Black Prince burned down the first Bastide.

1 km radius from our home

When you think about the fact that our outdoor exercise is limited to a 1 km radius from our homes – if you walk out in one direction, that’s only .33 of a mile. Not much.

Jeff and I are so lucky to have so many treasures within that 1km radius. The Canal du Midi and our medieval walled city are off limits during the confinement, but we can enjoy beautiful buildings that date back hundreds of years, and beautiful nature along many branches of the River Aude.

Lovely Easter Walk

In another post, I’ll share some photos and history about our treasured buildings that were created hundreds of years ago. Today, I’ll just share some photos of our Easter walk.

Near where we live there’s a very large island in the middle of the River Aude. Our walk was on the right bank of the river (our side of the river), along the smaller part of the river that lies to the east of the island. It’s very peaceful, and is home to a wonderful variety of birds.

View of Little Aude River

We’re on an island in the River Aude, and called Île de la Cité. Which just puts a smile on my face, because that’s the name of Notre Dame’s beautiful island in Paris. Our little island – nothing like Paris. But lovely in its own right.

Ile de la Cite Carcassonne view of a lovely path Carcassonne Containment Continues

Aude river Carcassonne Confinement continues

Heron on River Aude Carcassonne Confinement Continues

Turtle on a log Carcassonne Confinement Continues


Carcassonne walled city surrounded by flowers Carcassonne Confinement Continues
The walled city behind beautiful spring flowers

Bear grass on River Aude Carcasonne Bear Grass Carcassonne Confinement Continues


Plane trees on little Aude Carcassonne Confinement Continues
Take a look at the two ducks on the left wall 🙂

As I write this, the below photo is my view from my office. A stunning medieval walled city that is off limits to the world. Let us hope that we collectively learn from this, and never let it happen again.

Carcassonne walled city Carcassonne Confinement Continues

Excerpts from President Emmanuel Macron’s address to France, 13 April, 2020

The epidemic cannot weaken our democracy, nor can it bite on a few freedoms.

From 11 May onwards, we will gradually re-open churches, schools, colleges and high schools. This is a priority for me, because the current situation is leading to growing inequalities. Too many children, particularly in working-class neighbourhoods and in our countryside, are deprived of schooling without access to digital technology and cannot be helped by their parents (the way more wealthy parents can help their children, because working-class and farm workers have to stay at work). In this period, housing inequalities and inequalities between families are even more marked. That is why our children must be able to find their way back to school.

So when, then, can we hope to see the final end of this ordeal? When will we be able to return to the life we had before? I know your questions and I share them. They are legitimate. I would so much like to be able to tell you everything and answer you on each of these questions. But in all honesty, in all humility, we don’t have a definitive answer to that.

So, tonight I am sharing with you what we know and what we don’t know.

But what I know, what I know at this moment, my dear compatriots, is that our Nation stands together, in solidarity, with a common goal.

Yes, we will never win alone.

The moment we are living through is an intimate and collective shaking. Let us know how to live it as such. It reminds us that we are vulnerable, we had probably forgotten that.

So, take care of yourselves, take care of each other.



  • Lyman Black says:

    Thank you Vibeke. What a treat in this time of Shelter-in-Place to have your delightful pictures and thoughts. Please keep them coming.

  • Vibeke Arentz says:

    Oh, Lyman, thank you very much for your kind message. That is so sweet of you. And I hope you’re doing all right during these stay-at-home times, I very much look forward to the day when you can come back to Carcassonne and see more of its wonders in person – and I’ll share more of them here in the next weeks!

  • Paula Stewart says:

    Beautiful pics. Imnot sure about the long term effects on us. domestic violence is increasing.