It’s a new year, which means that 2020 is finally over! And I’m not the only one who is happy about it. The photo above is from the Bonne Nouvelle metro stop in Paris. The sign was put up on January 1st. L’année 2020 est finie! The year 2020 is finished! I’m happy to see that at the very least, City Hall still has a sense of humour. Because while it may be a new year, everything has not magically been fixed. Restaurants, theatres, cinemas, and museums are still closed. France is still under a nightly curfew. And travelling is not expected to start up again any time soon. Which means that for the next couple of months, if you want to enjoy all things French, you’re going to have to experience France online. Thankfully, France has you covered in this department.
Explore French Museums and Art Online
No one knows when the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay will re-open their doors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t explore their masterpieces from the comfort of your own home. Many of the biggest museums in Paris now have online offerings, with the Pompidou Centre even offering a VR experience for their Miro exhibit. And in January of last year, 14 Paris museums made headlines when they put over 100,000 artworks online to view and download. That number is now up to over 330,000, meaning you can access some of the world’s greatest art with just the click of a button.
Join a Virtual Tour of the City’s Monuments
It’s not just museums that have gone online. Many historical monuments now offer virtual tours as well, including Sainte-Chapelle, the Sacre Coeur, and the Arc de Triomphe. A personal favourite of mine is the Opera Garnier, which offers a look at the famous underground lake that is located under the opera house. Yes, that lake, as in the one from Phantom of the Opera. Unfortunately, there’s no candelabras in sight, but it’s still a view that’s not normally available to the public.
Experience the Lascaux Caves
Speaking of which, this one is extra special, because this site has been closed to the public for decades. The Lascaux Caves are home to some of the most important and earliest art ever made by humans. Over 600 paintings cover the walls and ceilings of these caves, and the works have been dated to approximately 17,000 years ago. The caves were discovered in 1940, but they were permanently closed to the public in 1963. I discovered this virtual tour during the first lockdown last spring, and it was absolutely stunning. I can’t recommend it enough.
Watch a French Movie
France is home to a thriving film industry. It produces the most number of films per year in all of Europe, and it’s one of the few countries in the world where non-American films make up the majority of the market share. In Paris, Lost in Frenchlation is a company that screens French movies with English subtitles in order to make French films more accessible. And in response to the pandemic, they’ve now moved their screenings online. They’re currently offering films for viewing in France, Australia, the UK, and the US, so check out their library HERE. My personal rec? The Shiny Shrimps. I saw it with Lost in Frenchlation two years ago and absolutely loved it.
Follow Story of a City
Yes, yes, I know. I’m Story of a City, and therefore this point is entirely self-serving. But I figure if you’ve read this far, you’ll indulge me for a moment. Things may be closed in Paris, but I still have a long list of museums and sites to write about. I know it will be a while before people can travel to France once more, so until then, I will continue to bring France to you. Every week I’ll write about some place new, so if you haven’t done so already, be sure to subscribe on the right.
To Better Days Ahead in 2021!
I’m hopeful that 2021 will be an improvement over 2020. That being said, until borders open up again, there’s no reason why you can’t experience France online while we wait. So dig in and enjoy all that this country has to offer. From museums to monuments to cinema, there’s something for everyone.
Laura Moore is a professional storyteller who loves history and the many stories that make Paris one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Join one of her signature tours to learn the story of a city.