What it’s like in Paris right now…is complicated. It’s Paris but it’s not. It’s incredibly beautiful and quiet but almost sad. There are a lot of people wearing masks and maybe even more people not. And because it’s August, it feels especially empty with many Parisians on vacation.
It’s hard to articulate exactly what it feels like to be in Paris right now. It’s strange and seems to go in waves. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be able to see and experience Paris like it is right now, for the most part void of people – both Parisians and tourists. I can’t explain how nice it is to visit the Louvre without crowds, or to go to the Musée de l’Orangerie and not see another person. But other times it makes me so sad that I have a pit in my stomach.
The pit hit most recently on Saturday while running through the Tuileries. It was empty and hauntingly beautiful, and not even that early in the morning. Because it’s been so dry, the leaves on some trees are prematurely changing colors and falling. Add in a moody grey sky and the whole scene felt unmistakably like fall. I got the pit in my stomach because what would normally be exciting felt like an unwelcome reminder of all the cancelled plans for 2020.
The unexpected perks have extended beyond museum visits. Without lots of tourists I’ve been able to more easily identify neighbors. What started as simply exchanging smiles from under masks has developed into friendships. On the subject of masks, they’re a very big part of life in Paris right now. They’re required at all times in the city center and in other pockets of the city as well. You can see the current map here.
I’m so appreciative that I’ve been able to connect with so many wonderful people both here and on Instagram. So many people miss Paris and France so much. If providing a tiny snapshot of my day makes even one person smile, I’m happy. If there’s something in Paris you’re dying to see while waiting to return, don’t hesitate to send me a message.
I saw a quote today in a Wall Street Journal article that said “I like being a tourist but I hate tourists.” I don’t agree with it at all. I’ve appreciated having the city to myself, but I’m ready for Paris to feel like Paris again – masses of tourists and all.