Paris during the pandemic

A friend sent me, via good old-fashioned snail mail, a clipping from the print edition of the NY Times recently. I was feeling kind of lonely and ground down that day, so it really cheered me up to get something in the mail like that, from someone I hadn’t heard from in a while. The friend in question is my old high school French teacher, so it was a clipping about how Paris is doing right now. The answer is, unfortunately, not that great. Here’s the article. And a quote:

Paris is gone for now, its lifeblood cut off by the closure of all restaurants, its nights silenced by a 6 p.m. curfew aimed at eliminating the national pastime of the aperitif, its cafe bonhomie lost to domestic morosity. Blight has taken the City of Light.

I’d bookmarked a couple of other Paris-related articles over the last year, as the pandemic has progressed, including one from May: Atget’s Paris, 100 Years Later. It compares the photos of Eugène Atget, from the early 1900s, to current ones taken by a Times photographer, both showing empty streets in Paris.

And one from April, back at the beginning of the pandemic: Denuded of Tourists, Paris Reveals Its Old Beating Heart. It’s kind of sad how there doesn’t seem to have been much progress made between last April and now. Paris has a 6 PM curfew, and the Louvre is closed.

I’d been thinking about a trip to Europe on and off over the last decade or so, but never actually got around to making any real plans or committing to anything. Now I’m regretting that. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable with the idea of international travel any time soon, probably not for at least another year or two. So maybe 2023? Heck, I’m not even comfortable with the idea of a train ride to NYC yet.

Anyway, I guess I need to cherish whatever human connection I can get right now. I think I’ll print out this article about the Louvre and send it off to my friend, via good old snail mail. Or maybe this one from the Post about Edward Hopper’s early Paris paintings.

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