« It’s the most beautiful place in the world to spend Christmas. Everything is white, it’s beautiful and it’s cold! » Large expanses of lakes and boreal forests, birch and fir trees, all covered in a white blanket of snow and ice.
Autti is located 80 kilometers from Rovaniemi, and it is consecrated Santa Claus village. It is here, in the heart of nature, that Stéphane and Nathalie built their house. Chilly abstain! « There, we have just spent two days at -30, there today it is a little -10. In winter, we have peaks at 25 -30 -35 °, in January, there are periods of a week at -35 to -40 maximum. «
Each winter, from mid-December to the end of March, the couple receive their clients for stays of one week on average. But this year, the heart is not really there.
Due to Covid-19, French tourists stayed at home. Only three-day charter flights are exceptionally authorized to save the season, but they were not enough to bring back many foreigners.
Stéphane and Nathalie have lived in Autti since they left Marseille for their common passion: sled dogs. They arrived here with their motorhome, in which they experienced their very first winter in Lapland, and with around thirty animals.
« We have four different races, explains the Frenchman, each with its own characteristics: the Siberian husky is the joker, it can do everything, the Malamute is the tractor for sled dogs, the Alaskan husky is a racing dog and the dog wolf of Czechoslovakia, he can learn everything. «
Reasons for this: individual responsibility and natural social distancing, erected in virtue of nature. Finland also owes this good result to its small population: five and a half million inhabitants, over an area as large as Germany. The country finally has Russia as a neighbor and has never stopped stocking medical equipment since World War II.
Consequently, no confinement here, the measure is also banned by the Finnish constitution, gatherings can, depending on the region, be only limited to 10 people. Everyone has downloaded the equivalent of the « Tous anti-Covid » application and respects the wearing of a mask, even if it is not compulsory. A discipline that allows residents to cross paths in bars and restaurants, which remain open like all shops, and even to meet in the sauna:
« Everyone has it in every house, even in town, even in apartment buildings, apartments. There is at least one sauna in each house, even a second sauna for guests, for friends. If saunas are not provided in some buildings, there is always a sauna for a whole block in the basement. «
The Finnish authorities estimate that there will be 85% fewer tourists this year than in 2019.
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Find this chronicle on the website, the app and in the international mobility magazine « French abroad.fr »