A Changing World: The Saga of Paris Déconfinement

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A Changing World: The Saga of Paris Déconfinement
As winter softened into spring, Paris hunkered down in pandemic “confinement.” As of March 17, we could travel no more than one kilometer from home. We were allowed to perform essential tasks (such as grocery shopping, dog walking, and exercise) but had to limit those adventures to one hour each day, clutching our trusty attestations. The streets were eerily empty. Traffic was nonexistent, except for empty buses keeping to their schedules. The air was free of pollution. The natural rhythms of the earth returned. As we sheltered, we transitioned to online culture, Zoom gatherings, unending Netflix, virtual travel, all-day pajamas, banana bread recipes, and a new appreciation for the details of our neighborhood and the beauty of nature. Free at Last—Déconfinement/Phase One (from May 11) Then came May 11—the long-awaited day of (semi) liberation. Phase One of Déconfinement gave us a taste of freedom . . . and a changed world. The lockdown laws lessened, but we still had to be vigilant about health precautions. Masks were recommended outside (advice taken by about 50% of the public) and were required in most stores and on all public transport. Hand sanitizer (once in short supply) now appeared in every shop and in distribution stations around the city. We could now travel more than one kilometer (but no more than 100 kms). The river banks were reopened, and people could gather in groups of no more than 10 people. And gather we did, given the sun-filled weather. So much so that alcohol was banned by the canals and the Seine. Certain streets in Paris were designated as bike routes, particularly paralleling Metro lines 1, 4, and 13. For example, rue de Rivoli expanded its bike lanes and was closed to traffic other than buses, taxis, and other essential vehicles. Could we possibly prevent the car pollution from returning? Schools and churches slowly reopened with strict rules about social distancing. Public transport schedules regained some normalcy, but the interiors of buses and metros were now a constant reminder of health precautions. To ensure social distancing, certain seats were marked to be left empty. Since it was difficult to social distance during rush hours, these times were reserved for people who must travel at that time, with attestations required. Open markets resumed, and many more restaurants became creative about take-out opportunities. Of course, Deliveroo, UBER Eats, and Glovo were available (in a more limited way) during confinement, but in déconfinement, more restaurants started offering delivery options and street-side take-away. From Michelin-starred restaurants like Frenchie to street pizza take-out to American pancakes, we were never in danger of starving. True, a Michelin take-out meal is not the same experience as having each course served perfectly at an elegant table, but if you’re tired of your own cooking, a Michelin-starred meal is not a bad way to make a change. And who doesn’t crave pancakes and bacon every so often? Some museums and galleries also reopened, with excellent precautions in place. The Musée Jacquemart André allows only a few people in at a time by reservation to ensure social distancing, and they take your temperature at the entrance. Socially distanced expositions are a perfect way to experience art. You can really see. Galleries like the Galerie Hegoa take a reservation for a particular time slot and close between time slots to make sure the gallery is sanitized for the next visitor. We are Orange! Déconfinement/Phase Two (from June 2) Phase Two of Déconfinement is full of good news. The Ile-de-France region (including Paris), which was once designated a “red zone” (indicating heightened Covid-19 challenges) has turned to orange. Even before that announcement, you could feel Phase Two freedom coming. There was more activity in the shadowed interiors of restaurants and cafés. Remodeling, painting, and cleaning were common…
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Lead photo credit : Deconfinement/Phase Two in the Luxembourg Gardens. Photo © Meredith Mullin

More in coronavirus lockdown, covid-19

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Meredith Mullins is an internationally exhibited fine art photographer and instructor based in Paris. Her work is held in private and museum collections in Europe and the U.S. and can be seen at www.meredithmullins.artspan.com or in her award-winning book "In A Paris Moment." She is a writer for OIC Moments and other travel and education publications.

Comments

  • Roy
    2020-08-25 01:39:43
    Roy
    Magnifique! Et Paris, et tes photos! "Comme d'habitu---de!" Non. Comme toujours!

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  • Beth Steffen
    2020-06-23 11:12:05
    Beth Steffen
    Reading this post and viewing the gorgeous photos of Paris makes me nostalgic for the many years when I lived in France, when I was able to drive from Bordeaux up to Paris and get my 'fix' of great art, culture, food and shear joy ! Thank you for this distant 'fix'.

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  • Pamela
    2020-06-14 09:31:13
    Pamela
    Since I live here too, I may have been close to writing the text, but what a great kaleidoscope of stunning shots, and I especially loved Frenchie's!

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  • Michele Kurlander
    2020-06-09 19:56:10
    Michele Kurlander
    Thank you so much Meredith. I am so frustrated! While Paris is reopening I am still not permitted to come there. I had a visit planned starting on June 22 and Delta cancelled my flight and I had to cancel my airbnb. Now I plan on arriving late August. Fingers crossed. It has been almost a year, and usually I am there twice a year. Hello to you and Richard and everyone else in my favorite Ville.

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  • keith jenkins
    2020-06-05 23:53:14
    keith jenkins
    I wake in the morning and read your report from Paris and it lifts my start to the day. I continue with my French audio language course with renewed enthusiasm! Knowing hopefully I can soon try it out for real.... I love your motto Fluctuat ne Mergitur. Such a positive attitude!

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  • Joan
    2020-06-05 12:13:06
    Joan
    What wonderful news. I pray that my flight on August 16 is uneventful and I can once again feel the joy that a trip to Paris places in my heart and soul.

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  • Pauline Cavie
    2020-06-05 11:40:42
    Pauline Cavie
    Thank you for your delightful and informative report. The photos are a joy and some compensation for the fact that we cant be there just now.

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  • Paul Figueroa
    2020-06-05 11:00:10
    Paul Figueroa
    I'm literally crying I'm so happy for Paris. What a wonderful place to be. I'll be there again!!

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  • Victoria Henderson
    2020-06-05 10:43:22
    Victoria Henderson
    As I sit here reading this with my chocolate cake and coffee, I am thinking I need something more nutritious for breakfast....perhaps someone can send me some Oreo Pancakes? Or at least the recipe?

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  • Mary-Louise Mielcarz
    2020-06-05 09:40:20
    Mary-Louise Mielcarz
    Thank you Meredith for bringing Paris to us. Even under these circumstances there is no place like it! Mary-Lou & Wally

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  • Jamie Sue Brooks
    2020-06-04 00:03:58
    Jamie Sue Brooks
    Thank you for this optimistic look at the streets of Paris. A bright spot in a rather bleak week here in the U.S. As always, your photos are the delicious sauce to your writing (or wait, is it the other way around? No matter.)

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  • Suki Tutthill
    2020-06-03 08:50:44
    Suki Tutthill
    Great article Meredith and love the photos. Seems we are all starting to "heal" from this pandemic. Murphys is "open" and we are experiencing the "new normal" at stores and restaurants. People just so happy to be outside and shopping. And, spending money!! Love you.

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  • Anna Eklund-Cheong
    2020-06-02 10:13:52
    Anna Eklund-Cheong
    Loved this report from the frontlines! Terrific details. Bravo, Paris! Let's hope all goes well. <3

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