Parisians who fled the French capital before the national lockdown are finding the welcome to second or family homes in the countryside less than warm after locals accused them of spreading the coronavirus.
Trains leaving Paris for the countryside were packed on Tuesday morning, hours before the government’s order to stay at home unless absolutely necessary or face €135 fines came into effect at midday.
In places, however, the Parisian arrivals were met with a frosty reception.
Graffiti on a fence at Cap Ferret near Arcachon in south-west France set the tone with “Parigo home virus?”. Parigo is French slang for Parisians.
“We’re asking people to stay at home and Parisians to stay in Paris. You can well understand that if 4,000 people from Paris invade and one third of them are infected without knowing, obviously it [the virus] risks spreading rapidly,” wrote one commentator.
On the Facebook page of Lège-Cap-Ferret in the Gironde, the reaction was equally critical.
“Already the Parisians and others with a second home have arrived … given that the supermarket has been stripped in two days,” wrote one local.
Another wrote: “It’s very worrying to see all those people fleeing Paris – that will certainly spread the virus.”
Ludovic Pons, a local politician, reported “feeling angry” on his Facebook page tweeting: “Thank you Parisians; don’t bring us the virus.”
When criticised for the post, he replied: “Some of them are walking on the beach and in the oyster-producing villages … It’s not a holiday, it’s quarantine for ALL.”
In Brittany, Le Télégramme newspaper reported widespread local anger at urbanites descending on the region.
A doctor from Auray, where one of the first coronavirus clusters was reported in France, was also concerned about the new arrivals.
“It would be a pity if the influx of visitors aggravates the situation, which has been mostly well contained so far across in the area,” he said.