Getting the vaccine in France

I received my first dose of AstraZeneca today. The process illustrates the randomness of how this is being done. Read on for a description, if you are interested. If not, skip to her bottom where there will be champagne.

There is simply not enough vaccine in France to protect all those at risk. The situation is so dire in Nice that we are in weekend lockdown. This has turned out to be a good thing for me as Nice was given a supplemental allotment of vaccine.

In France as a whole, no one under 75 can get any vaccine unless they have a serious risk factor (what the French call “co-morbidités”). Any over 75 can get the Pfizer vaccine but there is not much available. They are not allowed to get the AstraZeneca, which is in greater supply but until last week, only available to those between 50 and 65 with co-morbidités. Last week, the government filled the donut hole of those between 65 and 75, allowing us to take AstraZeneca, but only those with co-morbidités.

I was scheduled to see my GP on Monday where I planned to throw myself on his mercy and beg him to write me a prescription, citing any co-morbidité he chose. Happily, on Thursday evening at 9:30, I got a text from the ville de Nice saying they had received extra supplies of AZ and would be vaccinating this weekend anyone in the 50-75 age group who wanted it. Yay! I immediately signed up, which was a good thing because they sent the text to 50,000 people and only had slots for 8000. They were gone in an hour.

The vaccination itself was well organized and I was in and out within a half hour, including the obligatory 15 minute post-shot wait. The major downside of AZ from what I have read, is that the protocol calls for the second dose in 10-12 weeks. So I will not have full protection before June. Still, better than nothing.

And now for the promised champagne. Yesterday, we had a Covid birthday celebration on my terrace. Since I only get full sun until noon, this meant 4 of us drinking 2 bottles of champagne for breakfast. Needless to note, I did not get anything else done yesterday.

A Sign?

This was posted at the bus stop on my corner today. Is it trying to tell me something?

The headline: New York misses you too.

And the Promenade in lights. We have a 6 pm curfew so everything is deserted at night. I have to fill out a special form to walk the dog.

My New Kitchen, part 1

Did I mention that the kitchen came with all appliances? Did I mention that all the instruction manuals are in Italian?

It doesn’t matter. Even having found online manuals in English I can’t understand a word. My stovetop is smarter than I am and is teaching me how to cook.

I was planning to make onion soup. Is this gentle fry or heavy fry? I guess we will find out.

I Have a Kitchen (Kind of)

So the Italians came today and installed my kitchen. It looks terrific.

I kept my old microwave which is also an oven and a broiler. The space allotted for it is too small for it so it will sit on my counter until it dies or I’m sick of it.
The other side of the kitchen. Nothing but counter space. The light is a reflection from the LED under the cabinet.

Why “kind of”? Well, they declined to install the faucet or the plumbing, so I am still minus a sink and dishwasher. But I don’t care. I have discovered that the fridge is the key element of a kitchen. Now that I have that—and a stove top—I am happy for the moment. I will continue washing my dishes in the bathroom sink.

A Shambles

This is a new word for my French friends and perfectly describes the state of my apartment. I moved in on Sunday, with Tarek’s help, but for the moment it feels more like camping out than moving in.

Leftover construction material mixed with my coffee/wine bar/dining table, my pantry (tiered plastic shelves) and my cleaning supply area.
My “refrigerator”. Happily it’s been in the high 30s so my yogurt has not spoiled.
Bedroom still life with laundry basket

The worst is that we have a 6 pm curfew, which means all shops must close then. Yesterday I had my first delivery—-of pretty good Chinese food—though it took an hour to arrive.

I am enjoying some of the particularities of the building. The elevator, for example, is vintage. I expect Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant to step off.

It’s been cold and rainy for the past week. But at least we don’t have to worry about this.

A Blank Canvas

All is ready for me to move in except furniture—and a kitchen
(the box in the corner of the living room is the modem for the WiFi)

So, true to his word, Tarek and his team have finished in time for Christmas. Of course, that just means my work has begun.

First up, this week: the washer and dryer are due to be delivered tomorrow, as is the technician to connect the WiFi. Tuesday my bed and my sofa are to be delivered. Thursday the housekeeper is coming to make a start on the cleaning. If all goes well, I may be able to start sleeping in my own apartment by next weekend. So excited to use my new toilet!


Abby asked to see the layout. Here is the floor plan. I don’t know why I didn’t think to post this before.

Placard 4 in the kitchen is now gone and will be a breakfast nook. Placard 2 is actually entered from the terrace and is the laundry room.

Home before Christmas

As Tarek promised, the renovations will be done next week and I will be able to move in before Christmas. I won’t have a kitchen until sometime in January, unfortunately. But I’ve borrowed a refrigerator, have my microwave and can use the bathroom sink for water. So it may be more like camping than settling in, but I will be in my own home.

And the bathroom has turned out really great. I will finally be able to take a bath. And I have my new fancy Japanese-style toilet which I will have to figure out how to use.

Today I bought a washing machine and dryer. Did I mention that I have a little, separate laundry room? What a luxury.

Next week they will finish the floors and the following week the WiFi will be installed. I’m not sure when the bed will arrive. So Xmas may be aspirational but I still have my rental until January 8.

So merry Christmas to all and to all a happy homecoming.

The Verdict

So here is the bathroom with the tile laid. The shower still lacks its glass enclosure, but I am quite happy with the way the layout looks.

And here are the niches, painted in my preferred color—rosy taupe. I think it came out great.

Bedroom niche
Living room niche

There will be a rosy gray sofa in the niche in the living room, along with elegant Art Deco sconces. And my Art Deco mirror from my apartment in New York, if I can figure out how to get it here.

New York mirror courtesy of Gail

Decisions, decisions

As we head into the homestretch of the renovations, the big decisions have mostly been made. My contractor, Tarek, has been a wonder, making everything work even when I make bad decisions. He has, for example, installed a tile step between the bathtub and the shower, which pulls it all together. (I’m afraid I don’t have a photo—will show you next week, along with other developments).

Which is not to say that we agree on everything. Paint colors for one. I am determined to keep the Art Deco quality of the apartment in the forefront and chose 2 colors for the living room and bedroom that the painter called “old fashioned.” I took that as a compliment. The primary color in both rooms is taupe and I spent hours going through paint samples to find the right shade. In France, they do not ordinarily mix up sample pots so you can see the colors on the wall. But I insisted so Tarek sent me to a hardware store which had the equipment to do sample colors.

Note he is downloading the color specs from his phone

Happily, the taupe came out the perfect color but the second color—for the niches in each room— was more difficult. I am calling it mauve, because I like that word. In fact, what I was looking for was taupe with a touch of red. My first try was far too gray so I went back the following day to have a second batch mixed.

Taupe on the left. The bottom mauve is the one I selected.

However, Tarek didn’t like the color (he thought it too contrasty) and suggested just using taupe for all of it, which he proceeded to do. Then I brought in a friend for a third opinion and she agreed with me. No, I didn’t bribe her. Next week I will show you the result after the niches are repainted in mauve and you can decide who was right.

I can already hear your yawns of boredom at this tale. So I won’t bother with the floor refinishing conflict or the trials of buying a bed. I did finally buy a bed today, after much angst, since retail stores finally reopened. I just couldn’t bring myself to buy one online without testing it out.

We have entered phase 1 of deconfinement, with the opening of “non-essential” businesses. We still need our attestations (hall pass) to go out and must wear masks. Stores are required to have 8 meters of space for each customer. On December 15, if the numbers continue to improve, they will allow museums, theaters, movies and such like to reopen. However, restaurants will remain shut, except for takeout, until January 20. And the number of people who can be together indoors is limited to 10. I thought you might, therefore, enjoy this cartoon.

2019 I swear I am not an alcoholic. I’m just having a party.
2020: I swear I am not having a party. I’m just an alcoholic.

Update on Renovations

I’ve been quiet for a while but work is proceeding apace. The new pipes have been laid, the electrical connections rewired, and concrete laid over all the floors (where the new pipes and connections reside). We are now at the plastering stage and it’s looking good. Here are before and after photos of the kitchen.

Kitchen before
Kitchen today

I may have made a mistake with the bathroom. I had decided I wanted both a bathtub and a shower. As I’m getting older, I thought having a walk-in shower would be a good idea long-term. But I love having baths. We’ve squeezed them both in, but it looks ungainly. I hope once the tile is in place it will look better.

On other matters, not to gloat, but the beach was full of sunbathers today.

And here is a short video of starlings who apparently swoop en masse here around sunset on their way to Africa. A bit Hitchcock-like, don’t you think?