Paris Slowly Returns to Normal

Life here has returned to something more like normal. We’re enjoying the ability to move about freely without documentation and we walked over to the Eiffel Tower yesterday. It’s closed, of course, and so is the giant grassy sward (the Champs de Mars park) in front of it. In fact, since the gardeners have been on leave all this time, the grass is now waist-high and they’re probably going to need to bring in farm equipment to cut it and dispose of it. Our walk was only a couple of miles but it felt good to get out of the neighborhood.

Vehicle traffic here has returned more vigorously than pedestrian traffic for now, and it’s nice to see so many non-food retail stores open again. About 50% of people on the street wear masks, which are only compulsory on public transport. Businesses are allowing workers who must do so to come into the office.

We went to a kitchenware store yesterday and bought a new bread knife; the retail experience was familiar: masks required, one customer at a time (it was a small store), and mandatory use of hand sanitizer provided by the store before entry. At the same time, the still-shuttered status of cafes and restaurants seems to stand out more than ever now. We’re planning a picnic at the Eiffel Tower but temps have plummeted here (that polar vortex in the US last week has crossed the Atlantic, I guess) and we’re thinking we’ll do it next week when it warms up again.

As to the picnic menu, we’ll probably pick up takeaway baguette-based sandwiches at the butcher, some fruit, and a bottle of wine. The famous Rue Cler Market Street is in the vicinity and partially open, so there are a lot of choices.

Prices here have dropped for many things. For example, my favorite Veuve Cliquot non-vintage champagne was €55 a bottle in March, and I saw it yesterday for €38. Luckily food prices have remained unchanged (not going up as I hear they are in the US).

After running a gauntlet of airline ticket shenanigans, I’ve booked a flight back to the US at the end of May. My Schengen visa will expire then and no other country is ready to welcome me (or other foreign tourists) at this time. Sadly, the US looks like a more dangerous place to be right now, virus-wise, but c’est comme ḉa – it is what it is.

For example, the UK’s lockdown relaxation plan is a mess and so I’ll wait until September-October (and, hopefully, the pubs re-opening) to think about going there.

For now, Paris continues to look like Southern California, with clear skies and plentiful sunshine, and we count our blessings. We’ve been so lucky, here in “Lockdown Hell”, and we appreciate it.

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