Beautifully written by our American French Guide & Team Leader, Lola, and the wine connoisseur himself, Pascal.
With most of the world starting to settle into a new normal (we hate this term too, but just couldn’t help ourselves!) since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, life in Paris has emerged from its own slumber this summer. On June 2nd, the country officially started its second phase of “deconfinement”, slowly adjusting Paris’ usually buzzing social life to the times. Shortly after this, on June 15th, we were proud to then move into phase three and on July 1st our borders began reopening. Let us explain what this all means for you:
The Grand Re-Opening...
The next phases of “deconfinement” mean that all the beautiful parks of Paris, the bistros, the museums, which have been laying dormant earlier this year, have reopened from their well-rested splendour.
People are finding their old habits fit perfectly into the new social distancing guidelines. Everything that was so desirable about Parisian life has remained much the same: the picnics along the river Seine, having a drink with friends on the terrace of your favorite bar, and watching the Eiffel Tower twinkle from the lawns of the Champs de Mars.
Paris is doing its best to grapple with the times and to perhaps bring on more pleasing changes to its overall layout – including hundreds of kilometres of new cycle lanes! As of phase three, you can now eat inside restaurants as well (outside will always be our favorite though!), providing social distancing measures are observed. Cinemas and sports halls have reopened, and as of July 1st borders have reopened to other EU countries.
Extra tip: note if you are travelling to Paris soon, masks are mandatory in many public places and you risk a fine without.
One of the trickiest rules for the French to adjust to is the ban of kissing. It certainly may seem obvious, but the French tradition of la bise, a kiss on each cheek, is how men and women alike have greeted each other for centuries.
We now have wonderful awkward moments of choosing between the elbow to elbow tap, or the Japanese bow. Not quite so romantic!
We are now amongst the safest cities to cycle in the world.
While travelers have previously been deterred from trying to take on Parisian traffic on a bicycle, this summer has been quite different.
Already the mayor of Paris has been working the last several years towards creating a more pedestrian and bike friendly city, but the national confinement somewhat accelerated that process, to ensure essential workers could easily bike to work. Several bike lanes created specifically for this purpose are going to remain (much to our delight!) and stretches of usually busy avenues have been transformed into all bike and bus only roads.
The mayor has asked to limit the use of cars, and the former ring of smog that used to hang heavy has now disappeared from the horizon.
Countless streets, once clogged by traffic, have been transformed into pedestrian only areas lined with pleasing outdoor spaces for people to enjoy the city’s best bars and terraces (keep an eye out this week for our favourites to be released) while maintaining social distance. Imagining entire neighborhoods closed down to traffic seems quite unlikely… Yet this has become one of the new strategies for rethinking the city, giving bars and restaurants the necessary space for a safe street-wide celebration, as you take in the late sunset typical of our Parisian summers.
We look to positive changes in these bizarre times...
Parks are now blooming with wildflowers, while the ducks have reclaimed their territory along the Canal Saint Martin from the usual crowd of pigeons.
Just outside of Paris, wildlife previously not seen for decades have made their appearance in the park of Versailles, where over 2,000 acres of forest offer the chance to encounter foxes, deer, and other native species. We didn’t think our usual stomping grounds of Versailles could get any more royal, but its months-long rest has brought the park back to mint condition!
The Palace itself has reopened its doors much to our delight and the usual crowds have been reduced by timed entries for all visitors.
All we can say is that we look forward to rediscovering Paris!
To the many promenades we’ll take into the evening along the Seine, the quiet afternoons that we’ll spend on the soft grass of the city’s parks, and the meals and glasses clinking across the city’s terraces open for this year.
If you’d like more details regarding an upcoming weekend in Paris (museum dates, safety guidelines, and general tips and tricks) keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs (we just keep teasing you!). We hope you’ll enjoy rediscovering our newfound city if you should choose to visit, and to those future glasses of wine on terraces, we say “santé”!