My last post was published on March 10th. It talked about the new exhibitions that I was excited to see during the spring museum season in Paris. Less than a week later, France was in full lockdown and everything was closed. It’s been 12 weeks since my last post, and it’s extraordinary how much has changed during that time. When lockdown restrictions began to gradually lift last month, I cautiously ventured outside for the first time since March. A new Paris was waiting for me. A changed Paris. And the same Paris, all at once. It was a comforting thought.
Deconfinement may have begun last month, but in my mind, today marks the grand re-opening of France. Today is when most of the country will return to a new normal. Face masks will still be required on public transit and social distancing is still recommended, but for most of the country it will be business as usual.
For Paris, it will be a bit longer before everything is fully open, but starting today, restaurants are allowed to re-open their terraces and parks will throw open their gates. This means that once again Parisians will be able to meet for a happy hour drink or a picnic in the park. Both are quintessential Parisian activities, meaning today will be the day that the city comes alive once more.
Learning from COVID-19
These past 12 weeks have taught me a lot of things. They’ve taught me that the world is broken in ways I had never even considered, so hopefully we will all use this opportunity to forge a better post-COVID world. They’ve taught me to always be grateful for my health, as there are far too many who are now no longer with us. They’ve taught me that even though society so often puts the wrong people on pedestals, the world can still collectively come together every evening to applaud for the real heroes.
Finally, these past 12 weeks have really taught me just how many things I still take for granted in this city. How incredibly lucky I am to be surrounded by so much art and culture, and how little I take advantage of it. To rectify this, I’ve put together a list of all the museums, monuments, and historical sites that are still on my ‘to visit’ list. As the city re-opens, I’m looking forward to making my way through this list over the coming months. I know that it may be a while before many of you are able to visit Paris again in person, so until then, I’m going to keep bringing Paris to you. The new Paris. The one with masks and hand sanitizers and social distancing, but Paris nonetheless. I, for one, can’t wait to start exploring it once more. I hope you’ll join me.