Living & Life in Lockdown Paris

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I spend my days reading, writing, video calling friends, calling my mum, tending to my plants, and trying to avoid eating all my snacks/ junk food in one go. I send and share a lot of memes. I surprisingly haven’t been able to watch any TV shows or films. I keep a diary and update it every night. Each evening at 8 PM, I plan to join my fellow Parisians in clapping, singing, and cheering from our windows and balconies… This new world has a routine and, even though it’s weird, and different, and often sad, life continues. I’m starting to learn how to navigate it.

Just this morning, I watched my neighbours have a dispute via balcony. The rest of us sat at our windows, watched, and waved at one another. There are ups and downs, though plenty of feelings of solidarity. Already the thought of going for a photo walk, hopping on a train, or seeing a new destination feels so faraway to me (sorry for the pun- sadly being alone all day, every day, is making me think I’m funnier than I am since no one can tell me otherwise).

It’s okay though, it’s only temporary.

It feels weird that my only communication tool with the outside world is the very same tool which is giving me plenty of bad news and anxiety. Yes, I clap with fellow Parisians and wave at my neighbours across the street, but in all honesty, whereas I used to complain about social media platforms increasing my anxiety, in times like this they’re a lifeline for people like us who will not be within direct contact with anyone for weeks or maybe months. I’m learning a lot about perspective and community. I think life will be different after, many of us are opening up to others in ways we never have before. 

It’s okay though, it’s not forever.

Last night, I sat and watched the sunset from my windowsill with a can of coca cola. I’ve worked out that I can kind of sit outside if I kind of perch on the windowsill; outdoor time is something I took for granted before and now the fresh air is something I savour every moment of. If I enjoy a drink sat, watching the outside world, I call it ‘windowsill wine’. Sunset was beautiful. Many of my neighbours also sat and watched and we smiled and waved at one another.

At 8 PM a new tradition started: many of my neighbours started clapping and cheering out of their windows/ from their balconies. Many of my friends in other parts of the city are saying the same happened in their arrondissements too. It was one of the most moving moments of my life.

Even in these uncertain times, we’re all in this together.

This morning I ate potato chips for breakfast (because I felt like it), which is really unhealthy but not a big deal in the grand scheme of things! I daydream a lot and am planning for a future where I live in the South of France together with a dog and my sister. Things I was unsure of a few days ago are clearer now, and things which seemed so sure are murky. Things I took for granted just a few days ago are now out of reach.

It’s okay though, it’s only temporary.

As of midday yesterday (Tuesday 17th), we are in lockdown/ partial confinement. We are only allowed to go out for essentials (groceries, work if you cannot work remotely, light exercise, the pharmacy, etc). If we need to go out, we need to have a printed permission slip on our person which can be downloaded online (and hand write it ourselves if we don’t have a printer). It must be signed and dated and you must be stating that you are out for one of the valid/ permissible reasons, otherwise you face a fine.

It feels weird that we need to have a note/ ‘permission slip’ to leave our own homes and that we can’t just go out because we feel like it. Necessary, but still a strange feeling. Yes, we can go out for light exercise in our neighbourhoods or for groceries, but it’s for sure not the same kind of freedom to wander around as before.

Even if you live with other people, you can only go out in ones, never in twos, even to do something like walking the dog. Yes, it’s necessary and I was staying inside before anyway. Only I felt like I had a choice, even if in reality I didn’t (since social distancing is the best policy).

It’s okay though, it’s not forever.

I am slowly learning perspective. This is hard on everyone. However, I have many plants to care for, enough food, and LOTS of wine. I receive messages from loved ones around the world 24/7. These are the first few days I’ve ever spent the entirety of the time in my apartment, also alone (but I often remind myself it’s only a physical alone-ness. Friends and family are just a text, message, or phone call away). It’s okay. I am lucky to work from home and I am lucky that I won’t have to be someone making incredibly difficult decisions in the forthcoming months.

It’s all about perspective.

Tonight, tomorrow night, the next night, and the night after that, I will join my fellow Parisians in clapping, singing, and cheering from our veluxes, windows, and off our balconies. Every night at 8 PM we will be cheering and clapping together. Even if we’re physically apart, life continues. We are literally all in this together.

Stay safe and keep in touch with loved ones. As ever, much love from Paris.

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!

1 Comment

  • Tony Powell
    18th March 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Having been in Paris and Bordeaux for a little business but mostly pleasure, we were lucky enough to leave Paris on Thursday night, after another fantastic stay in Paris.

    Arriving back in Brisbane on Saturday morning 24 hours before a forced 14 day isolation for anyone returning from overseas was implemented. We decided to put ourselves in voluntary isolation for 14 days, we don’t have the same atmosphere as you guys in Paris. No clapping or singing from the windows or balconies, that is the sort of spirit and culture we miss so much about our time living in France and a lot of people don’t get about the French.

    Stay safe and go to your window each night.

    Tony et Wendy


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