Letter from Paris: November 4, 2020 News Digest

Letter from Paris: November 4, 2020 News Digest

France has endured its first week of lockdown, round 2, with some big differences compared to the springtime confinement. Most importantly, schools are still open, which is a big relief for parents who need to work remotely from their apartments. Citizens are still expected to work full-time– the government is mindful of the need to boost the economy. Bars, restaurants, museums, cinemas, and gyms remain closed.

But the attestation de déplacement is still obligatory, meaning you need to carry the signed form every time you leave your residence, whether it’s for a doctor’s appointment, work meeting, assisting a family member, or trip to the grocery store, limited to once a day and to within a kilometer of where you live. The attestation can be requested by police at any time, and those in violation are fined 135 euros. Bien sûr, you can still walk your dog. (There’s a separate fine for leaving dog’s droppings on the sidewalk.)

A sign in Paris

Parks have thankfully stayed open for a breath of fresh air in the city. And the police seem to be lenient about the retired couples soaking up a few rays of autumn sunshine, the herds of joggers, and the telecommuters balancing laptops on their knees on park benches. But it appears that gardeners aren’t letting le confinement stop their garden maintenance. Pictured here: The pond at Parc Montsouris has been partially drained, presumably to remove some of the litter lodged in the sandy bottom.

The drained pond in Parc Montsouris, November 2020

Speaking of shopping at the supermarché, the French government has told grocery stores that they are limited to selling essential items and must close aisles that offer other goods like toys and books. This is in response to complaints about unfairness from independent boutiques and book stores. To quote France 24, “the government is seeking to boost e-commerce for local shops, saying Amazon must not be the big winner of the current crisis.” Note that some shops offer a “click and collect” option, and this includes patisseries. Star pastry chef Sébastien Gaudard is even offering a “teatime à la maison”— an assortment of treats that can be delivered to Parisian apartments.

Paris Brest at Sébastien Gaudard. Courtesy of Sébastien Gaudard

It’s a difficult time. France is under a heightened terror alert since the terrorist attack in Nice. From Austria to Afghanistan, the news can be bleak, especially amid a contested U.S. presidential election and skyrocketing COVID-19 cases during a global pandemic. But cultural immersion can help. Here’s a look at the temporarily closed Man Ray exhibit at Musée du Luxembourg, courtesy of the curators.


Lead photo credit : A shuttered bistro in Paris during the pandemic, November 2020

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