My original plans called for me to leave the U.K. for Paris on November 2nd. However, the French government announced a second national lockdown to begin at midnight on October 29th so I moved my departure up a few days.
As it happened, the U.K. government announced their own stricter measures the next week, so my jump to Paris was timely both coming and going.
After two months at the great Inspired House Airbnb in Canterbury, I packed up and took a local train to London’s St. Pancras International station, then checked in for my 12:30pm Eurostar train to Paris. Due to the pandemic, Eurostar has reduced their hourly train schedule to just two runs each way, per day, so I wasn’t sure how crowded the train might be.
My check-in and boarding went smoothly, masks on everyone, and I was quite happy to find that there were just six of us in a train car with 40 seats. There was plenty of room to spread out. The Eurostar staff, as usual, was superb and they served us a good lunch. So much nicer than flying!
I arrived in Paris at Gare du Nord to find two things: a terrorist attack in Nice had everyone on edge, resulting in lots of armed police at key locations and intersections, and that half the city was trying to get out of town before the midnight lockdown went into effect. What would normally have been a 30-minute Uber ride to my friend’s apartment in the 15th arrondissment took 90-minutes, through some epic traffic jams.
So here I am again, locked down in Paris. As it was last spring, we can only go out in public for one of seven reasons (grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, 1-hour of exercise, etc.) and have to carry a special form (on our mobile phones) when we do. No big deal, really. Grocery stores, bakeries, butchers, and wine shops are all considered essential and remain open. Sadly, museums, restaurants, bars, and department stores are not.
But, I’m with my friend Marti and we’re perfectly safe and enjoying life. More observations from Paris later.