The pandemic and I. (4) Buying toilet paper during a lockdown

France is in a state of full lockdown. If you want to go outdoors you have to carry a declaration form called Attestation De Déplacement Dérogatoire. The form entitles you to give a justifiable reason to the police why you are going out, and must meet the government’s strict criteria.

  • You may go to work (essential and approved employees only).
  • You may purchase essential goods (at approved outlets).
  • You may seek medical care.
  • You may visit family if they are in a vulnerable situation, like aiding elderly relatives or looking after family children.
  • You may partake in exercise like jogging, cycling, etc., but no collective or team activities. And you may walk your dog.

Each time you go out, you have to fill in a new one of these forms and date it. I don’t need to carry and produce one for work as I have official papers stating I am soignant – health care worker. Citizens are subject to a police fine of 135 euros if you don’t produce your paper.

Talking of paper…

Buying toilet paper during a lockdown   

Surely it wasn’t much to ask, but I needed a pack of toilet paper; just one pack of six would have done, hell, even a four pack, a twin-pack… but seeing as the French population has been panic-buying packs upon packs upon packs of the stuff, I knew my little detour to buy this simple yet essential necessity on my way to the boulangerie this morning would be like something akin to finding the lost city of Atlantis or the Holy Grail.

The first shop I called at. The shopkeeper glanced up at me from his till as I entered his shop, which was worryingly empty of customers apart from me. He rolled his eyes and went back to doing his crossword. One look at his aisles and at the almost completely bare shelves, was enough for me to realise he wasn’t going to have any toilet paper to sell to me. Au revoir.

The second shop I called at. I decided to be proactive. So in my best rubbish French I asked the shop keeper if she had any toilet paper. My response was a volley of oaths enough to make a pirate blush, and then she produced a baseball bat from under her counter and started waving it at me, ordering me to leave immediately. Luckily, Wooof was with me, who speaks much better French than I do, and as he hastily tried to explain to the irate shopkeeper that we only wanted loo roll, she pointed a stiff finger at a sign on her door, which read: NO DOGS. Blast. Double-whammied in less than a minute! After trying in vain to explain that he wasn’t a dog, but was in fact a talking, green cat, Wooof gave up. “Well, she was a bit grouchy to say the least,” I said to the cat outside the shop. It was then that Wooof informed me that the shopkeeper had misheard my bad French accent request for toilet paper as: “Madame, I am pleased to be infected today, may I please use your toilet?”

The third shop I called at. I was overjoyed to see a lady with a basket containing a loaf of bread, cheese, and a twin-pack of toilet roll. Cool! Next, I saw a man with a basket containing a twelve-pack of roll. Yay! Next, a lady with a pack of 24 under both arms. “Things are looking up,” I said to Wooof, as we headed to the aisle. On the way, we passed a man with a trolley completely stuffed with the product. Then another shopper, with two trolleys, towers of the damn things in all their bright packaging. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” said Wooof. We were just about to round the corner of the aisle when we saw another shopper, who had tied several baskets together to make a train – each one laden with loo roll, kitchen roll, boxes of tissue, even wet wipes for goodness sake! And of course, when Wooof and I arrived at the aisle for toilet paper… everything had gone!

The fourth shop I called at was under armed robbery. Toilet rolls again. This time the high-end stuff only the 1% buy. Later we would learn on the news these precious packs of 3-ply, quilted, velvet, embossed, stamped with images of unicorns frolicking in meadows, would be sold on the black market for five-thousand euros a pack!

In the end, Wooof and I gave up, and went to the boulangerie. And it is only now, while dipping our croissants and pain au chocolate in our hot coffees, that the cat and I are able to look back and chuckle at our unsuccessful adventure.

Out of control behaviour

It seems some people are not always good at sharing, are not very patient, and get themselves into a right old tizzy over certain products. Remember the French Nutella riots of 2018?

Good news for wine sellers!

There has been a massive increase in the sale of wine during the pandemic. This surge is likely due to citizens guarding the bottle corks. When in time of pandemic, and toilet paper has ran out, what better solution than a smartly-inserted cork to delay the call of nature!

TVTA morale in good shape!

Spot the difference:

This is a photo of The Vintage Toy Advertiser editorial team taken long before the pandemic, in happier times and days…

TVTA editorial staff annual general meeting last summer.

And this is us now, during the pandemic, and in complete lockdown (and with no toilet paper).

TVTA editorial staff meeting during 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

Report – Wednesday 18 March

  • As you might have guessed from this post, I’m keeping my spirits up as the most self-induced constipated care worker in France can do right now 🙂
  • The streets here are eerily quiet during this lockdown. Hardly any traffic. No crowds. Rush hour is now like a Sunday morning. And no aeroplanes in the sky! It’s almost like being in some post-apocalyptic movie…
  • At work, no reported cases of Covid-19 🙂 Morale good between staff and residents. Yesterday we were four staff short for the afternoon and evening shift due to family commitments. Our head nurse, psychologist, and activities coordinator stayed over to 19:30 to help out when normally they finish at 17:00. #TeamSpirit
  • Post offices are closed. Some family wishing to send parcels to residents have taken to driving to the main gate and leaving presents of cards, chocolate and flowers 🙂

That’s all for this update. Stay well and healthy everyone, and thank you for your messages of encouragement and support. Together we can get through this.

Post script

Later that day, after another journey to the shops…


At last. Toilet paper success at TVTA towers!

For the most accurate and up to date information regarding all aspects of Coronavirus, go to the World Health Organization website Please share this link to others so that we all have the same information.

Disclaimer. This report is meant to offer an overview of the fluid impact upon a care worker in the French medical system. No names of any persons or institutions are given, and the reportage here concerns decisions made at a French national level which is available to the public at any time. No breach of confidentiality or professional workplace standards is made or implied. Any health advice stated here is exactly the same as that given by the World Health Oraganization public advice pages