Listen: Lauren Aube chats to Katrina Roe. Above: Lauren Aube with husband Nils and 18-months-old son, Sam.
Lauren Aube is accustomed to extremes.
Her childhood home was Bourke, NSW, with its red dust, zero-altitude and 40-degree heat. Now, home is in the cold, white climes of Val Thorens – Europe’s highest altitude ski resort in the French Alps, where she works and lives with her husband Nils and 18-month old son, Sam.
Yet despite her adaptability to life, Lauren wasn’t quite prepared for the sudden COVID-19 lockdown. For the French people, it came as a shock, mainly due to the speed at which the shutdown was imposed by Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron.
Lauren shared her experience with Katrina Roe on Hope Mornings.
Shutdown Came Suddenly
“The president spoke on a Thursday and announced that from the Monday all schools daycares would be closing,” Lauren said. “Then on Saturday night at 8 o’clock, three days later, the prime minister said, ‘As of midnight, everything is closed – restaurants, coffee shops, everything, all non-essential businesses.’”
In Val Thorens, this meant 30,000 people who had just arrived that day for a week’s skiing, had to start packing up to go home again.
“For us it was a big shock,” said Lauren.
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At first, many people continued enjoying the outdoors, taking a laissez-faire attitude to the announcements – but by Monday, the prime minister got tough, telling his people to go home and stay home. Skiing and hiking were not allowed; it might cause accidents that would take up valuable hospital beds. Helicopters and drones began circulating, looking for offenders to fine. And while people are allowed out for the same reasons as we are in Australia, in France it’s highly regulated.
“You have to fill out a form if you go out, stating your name, your address and your purpose of going out,” said Lauren. “You have to print that [form] out and always have your ID on you.
“You can either go out to buy essential items, for work, for a doctors appointment, or for one hour within a one kilometre radius of your home for physical activity. But in Paris, last week they said you can’t go out any more between 10 and 5 during the day! So we’re lucky here we can still go out.”
Lauren said that after two weeks of enjoyed the enforced rest, she started to get ‘itchy feet’ and began feeling a little stir crazy. Despite the beautiful environment, it’s very stark, with no trees – and she was missing just seeing some greenery. That’s when she had to begin practicing gratitude.
“The other day I was a bit, ‘I’m ready to leave’… [But then I realised] ‘I live in a pretty amazing place, I’m pretty free, I have space… our supermarkets have everything we need, we’re not having to go through the thing lots of other people are going through’.”
Thankfully for Lauren and her husband, their business will surivive: the lockdown has come at the end of the peak ski season. She is trying to remain positive, and see this strange time as an opportunity to bond as a family.
“We live a pretty busy life, and we now get to spend uninterrupted time as a family. I take it as a blessing…”
“It is a once in a lifetime chance that we get to live in this moment and I think we can see the blessings in it,” she said. “We live a pretty busy life, and we now get to spend uninterrupted time as a family. I take it as a blessing for us, and I hope people have taken it that way as well.
“It’s definitely not easy but I think it’s good that we appreciate what other people do for us as well… the cashiers at the supermarket, the nurses, the cleaners, the cooks, the hospitals… the teachers.
“I’m now doing video chats with girlfriends all over the world and getting back to basics.”