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  • Writer's pictureKate Woodman

Le confinement en Bretagne (Confinement in Brittany)

Jour 24 du confinement. Je pense que c’est le temps pour écrire de cette époque extraordinaire et comment j’en expérience. Tout le monde est grippé par la crise de COVID 19. Les nouvelles sont saturées avec les chiffres….de cas COVID 19, d’hospitalisés, en réanimation, guérisons, morts… les images de personnel médical portant des masques et des écrans facials, des gants, des combinaisons. En France, c’est la troisième semaine du « confinement. » Par jour, les restrictions deviennent plus forts. Aux États-Unis, New York est l’épicentre de la crise. En Angleterre, le premier ministre, Boris Johnson, est en réanimation avec le COVID 19. Il y a beaucoup de peur dans le monde.

Confinement day 24. I think the time has come for me to write of this extraordinary time and my experience of it. Everyone everywhere is gripped by the COVID 19 crisis. The news media are saturated with numbers…of cases, hospitalizations, those in ICU, those in recovery and deaths….and terrifying (to me) images of medical personnel wearing face masks and shields, gloves, Hazmat suits. In France, it’s the third week of mandated “confinement.” Daily the restrictions are tightened. In the US, New York is the epicenter of the crisis. In Great Britain, the prime minister, Boris Johnson, is in intensive care with COVID 19. There is fear throughout the world.

J’ai la bonne chance d’avoir une maison en Bretagne où je reste pendant le confinement. J’hésite à dire, mais la vie en Bretagne est presque normale. Sauf les gens en masque et gants au supermarché et pas beaucoup de voitures dans les routes, c'est comme d'habitude ici. 

I am fortunate to have a house in Brittany where I can stay for the duration of the confinement. I hesitate to say this, but life in Brittany is almost “normal.” Except for those of us sporting face masks and gloves at the supermarket and the lack of cars on the roads, life goes on pretty much as usual. Of course, all shops except food stores (including bakeries for every good Frenchman needs his daily baguette) and pharmacies are closed. And the coastline is basically shut down, much to my disappointment.

My confinement refuge....La Croix Rouge

Je passe les jours par étudier la langue française, faire les promenades longues, parler avec ma famille et mes amis, travailler dans le jardin, lire des livres, regarder Netflix, couture les masques de protection. Bien sûr, quand je marche, je prends beaucoup des photos des champs, les animaux, des maisons de ferme, le ciel, les fleurs.

For the duration of the confinement, my life consists of long walks in the commune of Gommenec’h, staying in touch with family and friends by whatever electronic means they prefer, working in my garden which needs a complete overhaul, my never-ending study of the French language, reading books of course, watching lots of Netflix and PBS Masterpiece, and soon (when my voltage converter arrives) sewing face masks and hopefully some quilting projects to feed the creative side. Of course, when I walk, I take photos.

Kate the photographer

Alors, ici je partage mes photos du confinement en Bretagne, notamment dans la commune de Gommenec’h, parce qu’on est interdit de marcher plus d’une kilometre de sa maison. Franchement, je marche tous les jours plus qu’une kilometre de ma maison. Dans ma région rurale, il n’y a pas de gendarmes pour vérifier l’attestation qu’on peut emporter en dehors de la maison.

So here I share my photos of confinement in Brittany, in the commune of Gommenec’h, because we are not supposed to walk more than one kilometer from our homes. However, every day I walk much further. In this rural part of the country, there are no gendarmes checking “attestations”, the written statement we all must carry when we go out which states our purpose (work if working at home isn’t possible, shopping for food or medical supplies, exercise (once a day, no more than one kilometer from our homes and now in Paris, forbidden between 10am and 7pm) or to visit a “vulnerable” family member or friend) and so I walk as often and as far as I like.

Quand j’ai commencé mes promenades au milieu de mars, j’ai été étonnée par les champs roulants de rape de jaune brillant. Elles sont vraiment spectaculaire ! En fait, tous les fleurs en ce moment sont jaunes.

When I started my walks in the middle of March (confinement started 17 March), I was amazed by the ubiquitous fields of brilliantly yellow rape. Simply gorgeous! In fact, all the spring plants and flowers then and now seem to be yellow…in addition to the rape fields, delicate yellow primroses abound, daffodils, gorse, even the weeds are yellow!

Field of gloriously yellow rape!


Field of rape


Gorse lines a coastal path (taken a few days before confinement)


What I call "buttercups"

Tulips outside....

....and in

Ma maison est situé dans une région agricole. Je pense que les cultures primaires sont le blé, le maïs et l’orge. Les agriculteurs préparent les champs qui m'entourent, donc je vois et entends beaucoup la bruit des machines agricoles.  Je vois plus de tracteurs que les voitures sur les routes. La semaine prochaine il y avait beaucoup de piles de fumier pour fertiliser les champs….l’odeur était accablante !

My house is located in an agricultural region. Fields surround me. I think the primary crops are grains….wheat, corn and barley. For the past three weeks farmers have been plowing, fertilizing and preparing their fields for planting, so I hear the sound of various farm equipment as I walk. I see more tractors than cars on the roads. Last week there were enormous piles of manure everywhere, and the odor was overwhelming! The piles have since been plowed into the earth and the smell has abated, thank goodness…

Along with the gently rolling fields come vast expanses of sky, and when the clouds roll in....well, sometimes the beauty is just overwhelming, particularly at twilight and sunset. Truly God's country....

....a meeting of farmers

By far most of the farms around me are agricultural, not dairy, so I don't see a lot of animals. But every so often, I run into a small herd of cows, horses, chickens, a single sheep and a very large bull!

The farm houses and outer buildings are small and made of local granite with natural slate roofs. No grand manor houses are to be found around me.

Water mill just down the road

I was stunned to see this windmill....only one I've seen in this area and think it's a rarity

As in Paris, my eye is frequently drawn to small details that peak my aesthetic interest....a door or window, gate or shed....and the Commune of Gommenec'h has not disappointed.

Note the clog hung in the doorway

So day 24 of le confinement. President Macron was supposed to address the nation tomorrow night, but his speech has now been moved to next Monday 13 April. We all expect confinement to be extended beyond the current 15 April end date....the question is how long? No one knows. I'll try to remain content, all the while looking forward to the day I can walk the spectacular cliffs of the Côte d'Armor and the streets of my beloved Paris.

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