Déconfinement, Paris-style

July 4, 2020 at 7:53 am Leave a comment

Masks are required in the bus in Paris. Photo by Adrian Leeds.

It was time for another trip to Paris last week, and oh how lovely (and interesting! and joyful!) to be there again.

There are lots of new rules to be followed: the main ones are keeping one’s distance (ideally, at least one meter away from others), and wearing masks when such distancing is not possible. (In any case, masks are required on all public transportation, including in taxis, and in stores and other public places). The city has extended the limits of the sidewalks so that restaurants can put more people at outside tables, meaning that there is MORE room for people, less for cars. (It’s a move in the right direction…).

With these rules there has been a gradual, and very welcome, return to life in Paris as Parisians (and people from around the world) love it: with lots of time to enjoy the beauty of the parks, the river, the buildings, and to be surrounded by people enjoying life.

Sous le ciel de Paris. Champ de Mars. Photo by Janet Hulstrand.

The French are known for being very organized (and also rather bossy, to be honest). These qualities are quite beneficial in times when everything needs to be rethought and reorganized, in order for people to stay well and healthy, in order for life to begin to return to some kind of “new normal.”

So, everywhere you go in Paris, there are reminders of how to honor these gestes barrieres: tape on the floors of stores marking out the places where people should stand when in line, stickers on the seats in the buses so that you don’t forget, and sit down too close to someone else. And so on.

And it’s working pretty well: people need to keep following all these rules in order for the very good work everyone has done at beating back the virus to remain. But: so far, so good. Although it is not gone, and the danger is not past, for now France seems to have the situation more or less under control.

I had a wonderful time enjoying Paris with my pal Adrian Leeds: she wrote about some of it here. One of the highlights was an afternoon spent in the Luxembourg Gardens with an obligatory (for me, anyway!) visit to the wonderful Red Wheelbarrow bookstore which is just across the street from the gardens. Penelope Fletcher is there, doing what she always does: making excellent suggestions of books for people to read, ordering new ones on request, filling the shelves, supporting writers, and creating an atmosphere of lively, intelligent, friendly interaction among a community of readers. She is the quintessential perfect bookseller!

I had the chance to see my son, also, while I was there. And I even got interviewed for a second time by the wonderful Oliver Gee, and finally got to meet his wife, the “lovely Lina.” (She is indeed lovely, in every way. I knew she would be from the way she is described in his new book.) After the interview we had dinner together at a lovely restaurant Oliver took us to, the Fontaine de Mars, a very sympa restaurant that apparently is a favorite spot of Robert DeNiro, and has been graced also with the presence of the Obamas. How I managed not to think of taking a photo of us on this occasion I guess is that I was simply enjoying our time together too much. (You see, that is the problem always about photography: you can either be in the moment, or take a picture of it. Which means we should all be very grateful to the dedicated photographers of this world, who seriously devote themselves to capturing beautiful, poignant, important moments for the rest of us and let some of those moments pass them by so that the rest of us can enjoy them forever. (I’m talking to you, Roger Foley, and David Schroeder! 🙂 )

Anyway, you can see plenty of pictures of Oliver (and of Lina) by clicking on the link to his site here: and you can buy his book there too.

Then it was back to Champagne, and to the préfécture de l’Aube in Troyes, to take the next step forward in renewing my visa for another year. I must say, they really are so nice there. Never mind what you have heard about French bureaucrats. It is not always true!!!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, and is currently working on her next book, a literary memoir entitled “A Long Way from Iowa.”

Entry filed under: About Paris, About the Pandemic.... Tags: , , .

Déconfinement continued… Bastille Day in Essoyes 2020

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