In our new series 'Postcards From Places You Probably Won't Go This Year', over the next four weeks we're talking to our creative friends in cities like London, Paris, New York and Berlin about what COVID-saturated life is like in some of the biggest cities in the world right now.
This week, we visit Paris (and, by extension, Taulignon) via tech start-up queen and Parisienne fatale Blandine Bouvier.
What COVID restrictions are you living with in Paris at the moment?
Right now in Paris (and everywhere in France) restaurants, bars, museums, theatres are closed. Only shops are open. We have a curfew starting at 6pm, meaning that all the shops are closed after 6pm, and you are not allowed to go out after this time. The modern art galleries just reopened - apart from that everything is closed. I am riding my bike all over the city. There aren’t a lot of people in the street so that’s great! Apart from that it’s very quiet and sinister and as it’s also winter and curfew. I don’t go outside a lot.
How would you say Parisians are coping with the restrictions?
People in Paris are getting crazy as the only thing we can do during the week is work. There’s a lot of anxiety with the curfew because it makes your day so short – but there’s also a lot of resilience, waiting for good news quietly, hoping for a better life soon, and surprisingly, I think that Parisians are following the rules imposed by the government.
When was the last time you caught up with friends in Paris and what did you do?
It was one month ago, I had a sleepover at a friend’s apartment to have a great apero and we danced on the kitchen counter! A sleepover is required with the curfew being at 6pm if you want to see friends, so I launched the hashtag #youinvitemetotheaperitifIsleepatyourplace
What’s been the biggest COVID-related change in your life?
Well, I have been living in the countryside in the south of France called Taulignon for four weeks now. I ran away from Paris to take a break of the city and to breathe some fresh air in the countryside – for how long, I didn’t know first, but now it’s been a month. I'm with a friend I didn’t know very well before and we are surrounded by friends who come for the weekend to take a break, or come for the week to work remotely in a beautiful environment. I learn new recipes every day, I jog and go hiking! I have amazing friends who have let me their house as long as I need. I have to be honest: my life right now is better than before. Maybe the big change that will come up is leaving Paris for good…
How have your friends' lives changed?
I know a couple who rented a house in Normandy for one week of holidays in March 2020 one week before the first lock-down. In the end they stayed for seven months and decided to live there permanently.
One of my other friends booked a single ticket to go to a French island in the Pacific Ocean overnight, just after the announcement of the second lock-in in November 2020, with no place booked there in advance. He spent one month there meeting a lot of people!
What are you looking forward to this year?
The return to normal life, go on a trip and be able to go to restaurants and bars… and seeing my awesome Aussies friends!