- July 9, 2020
- All things Paris
- Sam Asher
Though it can be said that France is slowly returning to normal, some travel restrictions are still placed on boarders, allowing only select countries to enter. The effect? The summer of 2020 in France may be known as the summer without tourists. If you are currently overseas and not able to visit Paris, we have a well-detailed account of just how this once-in-a-lifetime summer is playing out. For others with the chance to come to the City of Light, we have the perfect list Paris spots – usually flooded with tourists – now left vacant. When Paris is left only for its people, the city reacts in exceptional ways.
So, what’s so different? A handful of interviews with museumgoers who have recently visited a deserted Chateau de Versailles have noted that it feels like they have stepped back in time. A look into the history of France’s tourism statistics shows supports this phenomenon. France’s tourism industry grew from about 60 million yearly visitors in the mid-90s to 85 million visitors in 2018. The country remains the most visited in the world, while Paris places as second-most visited city in the world. Is it any surprise? France itself can satisfy the tastes of all tourists. Snowy mountains, sandy beaches, freshly baked bread, marvellous wine, and all highly accessible (thank you, trains!), there is something for everyone here.
Are you one of the lucky ones to be able to visit Paris in this time of oddity? We have got the perfect list of sites that have been reportedly less busy than normal.
AN EMPTY LOUVRE MEANS MORE ROOM TO MOVE
For the first time in perhaps hundreds of years, you can visit a nearly empty Louvre. Already wonderfully popular from its origin as a royal fortress, the Louvre slowly transitioned into an art museum, logically so as there existed a vast art collection from the royals who resided there. After officially becoming a museum open to the public in 1793, the Louvre held and still holds as the largest art museum in the world. It wasn’t until the 80s under the direction of President Francois Mitterrand that this museum got its iconic facelift. Mitterrand tapped Chinese-American architect, I. M. Pei, to give the Louvre a modern-day makeover. This gave our well-known museum its iconic pyramids as well as modernized museum amenities such as more bathrooms, gift shops, and logical access to different halls for visitors.
The Louvre recently reopened its doors on July 6th, 2020, after about three months of closure. This closure was due to the confinement regulations in France, and the establishment had not been closed for that long since World War II. Now, barriers are set up to control the flow of visitors. There are arrows on the floors to follow which incite an orderly flow of art-viewing while respecting social distancing, and of course, a mask is obligatory. To be frank, it is the ideal way to visit the Louvre. Usually filled with 75% foreigners, now only 500 people at a time are allowed in this famous museum. On a typical day at the Louvre, one element that is unavoidable is the chaos of the sheer amount of people inside. Now, it seems like the perfect moment to be able to appreciate the art without the stress of being pushed along or in someone else’s way.
After a long day of visiting the museum, what is better than to top it off by sitting back and enjoying the music? The Sainte Chapelle monument is just a stone’s throw away from the Louvre – and although it does serve as walk-through-and-look type of attraction, it also hosts regular classical concerts within its walls. Want to check out this spectacular experience? Check out our website!
THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ERA FOR TERRACES
Whether you are Parisian, visited Paris, or just seen Paris in the movies, one thing that you will know as a fact is that the city makes the most of what it has. Paris has a relatively small amount of area and makes lemonade out of lemons. Restaurants, cafes, and bars are usually a lot smaller compared to other major cities such as Berlin, Los Angeles or even London – but the charm and attention to detail is multiplied tenfold. The only downside is that it is often difficult to make it into some of the best restaurants located in the hippest quarters of the city, such as those that border the Canal St Martin.
Nowadays, the lasting effects of quarantine have restaurants re-thinking their seating. During confinement when we went out for our bi-weekly “breath of fresh air” to get groceries, we noted many food-service establishments starting DIY construction projects on the sidewalks and boulevards. When confinement ended, we noticed these projects turned into full-on decks that serve as an attractive extension to any establishment. Take a walk down the Canal and you’ll find that some of our favourite restaurants such as Café Chilango or even further Ravioli Nord Est have taken to the streets. Normally these restaurants are difficult to get into on a whim, as they are quite small and very popular. Now, the make-shift outside seating has stuck and their capacities have almost doubled, making these popular restaurants easily accessible!
The Canal St Martin is an amazing and sometimes underrated area of Paris. If you have ventured there to grab a bite to eat, you may also want to check out what else it has to offer! [Hyperlink: The Theatre Bo St Martin is just minutes away by foot, and offers an amazing comedy night with the talented Julie Collas with her one woman show “Oh My God She’s Parisian” Want to learn more about dates, times and tickets to this show?
PARISIAN HOT SPOTS: THE PEOPLE THERE? NOT A LOT
For a lot of us Francophiles obsessed with Paris, the movie “Paris, je t’aime” is rooted in our minds as the quintessential Paris. The mise-en-scene portrays Parisian parks and landscapes as perfectly kept destinations: calm and spotted with the occasional love-stricken couple. However, when exploring Paris we find that these parks and hot spots that are featured in the film can become quite busy and hectic due to their movie-magic-fame.
A walk around Paris post-confinement has shown that some of our favourite parks - usually overrun with people - are now back to their cinematic state. A picnic at the Jardin de Luxembourg has proved quite quaint in the past few weeks and is a large recommend for anyone who wants the essential Paris experience (we even spotted Natalie Portman here once – though we guarantee no Oscar-award winning actress with your experience!). Place des Vosges, usually inaccessible due to the influx of tourists enjoying the tasty falafels nearby, is now a place to lay down and catch some sun. Moreover, new parks that were finished during confinement such the Nation and Bastille roundabouts have given Paris a whole new look.
One thing to note about all these hot-spot destinations with alleviated populations? They are all nearby potential locations for the new outdoor theatre experience called Contact. Using Paris as its stage, this show uses many locations in the City of Light. Curious about catching some outdoor theatre?