So here we are back in Paris, thoroughly bewildered, 7 months after departing on a long vacation and over 4 months later than expected. It’s been quite a ride. All things considered, bewilderment is not a bad state to be in. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel seeing our tiny flat after having been gone so long. Would it feel constrained, claustrophobic? Nope. We walked in, 4 hours after leaving Montpellier on a crack of dawn high-speed train, and it was that shoulder dropping, sigh of relief feeling. It felt like home.
We’re here for 10 days: seeing friends, hitting the old haunts, gathering up stuff to take back south, and dealing with a critical mass of neglected bureaucratic chores. No harm, no foul there, the government offices are just getting back up to speed. We’ve decided that Paris still thrills and suits us. In these Covid uncertain times, we’re keeping both places for now. This will come as a relief to all of you who have been lobbying for us not to give up the tiny house. I’m delighted to find out how many of you are as attached to this place as we are! It proves I’m not crazy, or at least that I’m in good crazy company. May you all be able to come back soon. (But not at the same time!)
In these post-confinement days, there is a mind-boggling, does not compute quality to Paris. The neighborhoods are just as bustling as before, and maybe even more so as people are shunning the metro in favor of bikes, making it a real hazard to be a pedestrian. The tourist areas are ghost towns of course, because no one actually lives there anymore and tourists are few and far between. But there’s no sense of rejoicing that Paris is finally livable for locals again, like in Venice. Our French friends and acquaintances are worried. Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world and tourism is a huge economic force. I’ve heard others saying that Paris doesn’t feel as cosmopolitan without hearing foreign languages in the street. Indeed, we’ve had more people come up and start talking to us after hearing us speaking English in the past week than in perhaps all of our time here. Could it be that anglophones are back to being somewhat of a novelty?
When we’re not dealing with chores and details, we venture out into what once were our no-go zones, which is to say the tourist areas, and walk around with our jaws agape at the silence and emptiness. It’s been unrelentingly cloudy while we’ve been here, so showing these pictures pains my photographic sensibilities, but I wanted you to see it for yourself. The cloudiness is not the cause of the emptiness. In normal times there are more people out in the streets even in the rain. These were fine but overcast days.
Hôtel de Ville, walking home from the prefecture with my files. Yes, that is Notre Dame in the background.
Palais Royal on a Sunday afternoon.
Place des Vosges at lunchtime, without anyone lying on the grass! Note the untrimmed trees.
The memorial to Princess Diana. I didn’t have to wait for anyone to clear this shot (or any shot for that matter).
Palais de Tokyo
Rue Cler, a market street in the 7th
The newly reopened Eiffel Tower
Nearly empty cafes in the tourist areas…
…while the neighborhood joints are jumping.
Parking is being removed to accommodate more outdoor seating…
…with mixed results.
Metro line 9 near Alma on a Saturday afternoon. In happier times I would have avoided it on weekends like, well, the plague.
Metro advertisements are largely centered on attracting local vacationers, emphasizing fresh air.
Rue de Rivoli is now an enormous bike lane.
Jardin des Tuileries
The obligatory Eiffel Tower sticking out of the head shot, complete with our new French marinière masks!
Stay safe, be well, and don’t the the anti-mask covidiots get you down!
*subject to change