As I started typing this Carcassonne Confinement blog post, when I typed “16” my finger accidentally hit both the 5 and the 6, so the number I typed was actually 156!! Let’s hope that’s not prophetic! 🙂

Our latest theme from a song is “If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.” I so appreciate all the humor that’s circulating in the world these days. We all need it!


On Thursday March 26 it snowed! It hardly ever snows here, so it was a very special occasion that I think brought a lot of joy to a lot of people.

Love this photo of La Cité that was posted by Tourisme Carcassonne. It’s just too bad that due to Carcassonne Confinement, no one is permitted to go up there to enjoy it.

Carcassonne Confinement snow between the walls in La Cite

Snow and La Cite as seen from our balcony
Snow and La Cité as seen from our balcony
Snow streaming down a terrace table
A tablecloth-like drift of snow draping down the table on our terrace
Vibeke and a tiny snowman
The first snowman I’ve made in years!

Confinement extended

As expected, on Friday March 27 it was announced that our confinement in France has been extended for two more weeks, and we believe it will be extended again after that. Rules are the same: We have to have a signed attestation with us whenever we go out; we can go out only on essential outings; grocery shopping only close to home; exercise only once a day, one hour max, radius of one kilometer from home.

Happy Hours Continue!

Last Friday, about 20 of we Carcassonne expat residents got together for a video happy hour (including two couples from the States) and we’ll have another with these friends this coming Friday. Jeff and I have a few other happy hours  planned with additional friends during the coming days. It’s so nice to “see” everyone!

Carcassonne Confinement group happy hour

Jeff’s projects – #1, the little armoire

Jeff’s been into building shelves lately. I told him “You’ve been Mr. Shelf lately” and he responded, “I couldn’t help myshelf!”

Yesterday and today Jeff worked on the little armoire that used to be in our attic, but is now in our pantry. He added four new varnished shelves, and now it’s a very nice beverage holder. (Yes, we have plenty of wine to get us through Carcassonne confinement 🙂

When we purchased the house from Monsieur (Doctor) Cabibel, he left A LOT of stuff behind. Including this armoire (and four, count them four, others), and all the decanters on the top shelf.

Below, I hope you can see the bottle collar that says Rødvin. That’s Danish for Red Wine. Madame Cabibel was Danish and they left behind many Danish treasures in the house. Given that I’m Norwegian and their languages and cultures are very similar, these Danish gifts are very special to me.

Carcassonne Confinement red wine bottle

Carcassonne Confinement Jeff varnishing armoire shelves
Jeff varnishing armoire shelves

The alcove

I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but these photos are taken from exactly the same place. On the left: how our stairwell when we moved in (egads!!), and on the right: how our stairwell has changed since then. (Gosh, there were serious wallpaper malfunctions in this house!!)


This is a hard one to explain, but I’ll do my best. Jeff knew that if we could “turn the stairs” we could thus close off the floor that we live on, and create a private entrances to each level of the house.

So he embarked on a project to change the way our stairwell is oriented. (This started many months ago.)

Carcassonne Confinement opening up the stairs

Above: So with one of our contractors, voila, they opened up the stairs on the right hand side, and discovered that the stairs originally were oriented the way Jeff was planning. No new stairs to build – just some to remove.

Stairwell in March 2020

A couple of weeks ago Jeff closed up the left hand side, and this is what it looked like (the photo is a similar orientation to the one above that shows Jeff sawing the wall. And yes, he’s going to get rid of that red wallpaper some day.)

Carcassonne Confinement new alcove

Then last week he

  • Took two hand carved brackets that were a part of a bed that was in our attic – we assume that the bed was 150 years old (Dr. Cabibel inherited quite a bit of furniture from his grandparents)
  • Mounted them in the alcove (that was tricky)
  • Took a shelf from the armoire that you saw above
  • And created a really lovely shelf in the alcove for some of his prized books (one of which dates to 1775.)

Voila! What a difference from when we moved in! You can see some more changes we’ve made to the salon in my blog post Before and After: Our Salon and Staircase. I’ve put a link to it at the bottom of this post.

Below is what the brackets look like, with lovely hand-carved roses.

150-year-old wooden brackets on the new shelf

Coronavirus stats here in France

Our French friend who posts about Confinement each day in his blog to help keep us informed is posting statistics. I took his info and put together a snapshot of 1) France 2) Occitanie (which is our region, the equivalent of a state) and 3) Aude (our “department” which I think of as the equivalent of a county.) The statistics are cumulative.

It seems to me that here in our department of Aude, we’re doing a great job at containing the virus (knock on wood.) Every day I continue to be very glad that we’re here.

Carcassonne Confinement Conronavirus Statistics in France Occitanie and Aude

Gardening, and more gardening

Because we’ve left our property only three times since Carcassonne confinement started, we’re spending a lot of time in the garden, as I’m sure many of you are. I’ve become a weeding machine, and we’re seeing more signs of spring and life in our garden.

Below are blossoms on our cherry tree (left) and on our pear tree (right.) Happy spring (joyeux printemps), good health (bonne santé) and stay sane, everyone!

And here’s a link to my post Before and After: Our Salon and Staircase.



  • Janis says:

    So happy to hear from you. Glad to know you are safe. We are on day 18 of our self imposed confinement Gov of AZ was slow to close our state down..yesterday, and it is a joke! Golf clubs, nail and hair salons are open as well as take out restaurants! We’re making our own rules. Love you both.

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Hi Janis! So nice to hear from you too. How wise you two were to start self confining early. Yes, as if golf clubs are essential. I’m certain that part of why the deaths are relatively low here in our county and region is that we all have been confined as long as we have and that almost everything is closed for now. Stay healthy! Lots of love from both of us.

  • Barbara Helmer says:

    Same here. Into our third week of staying home. It is a beautiful sunny day here. There is also snow in Alberta for Laurel and her family. Baby Maddox is growing quickly and she is good about sending video messages.
    Stay safe and thanks for the wondrful photos of your hard work!
    Loveyou, Barby

    • Vibeke Arentz says:

      Bonsoir, Barbie! Your grandbabies are adorable! So glad you’re staying safe, home and healthy! Big hugs to all of you! Jeff and Vibeke


    Wow- glad you are keeping busy and doing fun projects. Can’t wait to visit someday! Miss you…3 years ago today we were in Napa together! Fun times!
    Much love to you and Jeff

  • says:

    You have done such a marvelous job on your house! It looks lovely.

  • David Lincoln Ross says:

    Great story!