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On March 17, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the residents of Paris were plunged into total confinement, allowed to leave the house only for necessities but restricted to a 1 km radius and a time limit. The slow process of deconfinement began on May 11. Rules and expectations have constantly evolved since then, and even someone attentively following along would have a hard time keeping up with the latest developments.

Like most Parisians, I rushed out of my small apartment as soon as I could, ready for freedom and direct sunlight. This summer, I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors, hoping to never be subjected to lockdown again. It’s a strange new world out there, with an extreme lack of tourists, and I’ve attempted to capture a bit of this period in photos.

All of these photos were taken in Paris between May 11 and August 12.

Reclaiming Freedom

young people lined up, sitting all along Canal Saint Martin on a sunny day
May 15—Canal Saint-Martin: Flocking outside just days after being released from confinement
people playing pétanque outdoors
May 15—Playing pétanque (the French version of bocce)
people gathering outside of a bar in the street during Covid
June 2—A view from my window: What is social distancing?

Navigating New Rules and New Systems

patrons ordering food outside of restaurant in Paris
May 23—Some restaurants and bars reopened, but didn’t allow customers in, blocking the doorways with tables and chairs
outdoor seating on the sidewalks of Paris during Covid
June 3—Taking over the sidewalks
outdoor seating at Paris restaurants in the streets of Paris
June 16—Taking over the streets; Paris relaxed rules and allowed restaurants and bars to expand their outdoor seating
QR code on table to access restaurant menu
August 6—QR Codes on tables, starting to replace paper menus
every other fitting room blocked off with tape in a clothing store
August 6—Clothing stores either no longer allow customers to try on clothes or have closed some of the fitting rooms

Getting Around

hand sanitizer container placed at a bus stop in Paris
June 1—Hand sanitizer distributor at a bus stop, probably empty
  • arrows on the ground of the metro station to encourage flow of people
  • white markings on the ground of the metro stop to encourage spacing between people
  • stickers on the floor of the metro car to encourage spacing between people
  • stickers telling people not to sit on the metro in Paris
pedestrian walkways expanded into the street in Paris
July 15—Sidewalk expansion for the pedestrian flow
new bike lines created on Rue de Rivoli
July 22—Bike lane expansion on Rue de Rivoli

Running Errands

white lines on the ground for spacing and queue outside the post office
May 14—Waiting outside the post office
blue lines on the ground for spacing outside of a building in Paris
June 3—Lines for social distancing can be found outside many buildings
  • plastic sheets hanging out stands at the open air market in Paris
  • metal barriers surrounding an open air market in Paris to control crowds
  • plastic barrier wrapped around stands at the open air market in Paris
  • red lines on the ground for spacing and plastic sheets in hanging in front of cashiers at the grocery store
  • permanent clear barriers installed in front of cashiers at the grocery store

Paris? Is That You?

two people sitting in long grass in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont
June 16—A less manicured Paris
only a few pedestrians on Rue de Rivoli in the middle of the afternoon
July 22—The busy Rue de Rivoli in the middle of the afternoon
  • empty space in front of the Louvre museum on a sunny afternoon
  • a short line to wait at the entrance to the Louvre pyramid
empty seats at Église de Saint Germain des Prés
July 22—Église de Saint Germain des Prés
empty and spaced out chairs at Église Saint-Sulpice
July 22—Église Saint-Sulpice
outdoor restaurant seating in Paris with colorful flowers and blue umbrellas
August 7—Hand sanitizer at every table… for all the customers

Want clarification on anything? Drop your questions below!

Ready to ready about Confinement 2.0?

Paris: Deconfined and Sans Touristes
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2 thoughts on “Paris: Deconfined and Sans Touristes

  • September 7, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    I love going to Paris in August, it is so much quieter than usual as most of the Parisians are away… This year must have been even more empty with very little tourists and the Parisians enjoying the ‘déconfinement’ in the South or the French countryside! It might actually have been the quietest month of August Paris has ever had! Thanks for sharing your pictures and experience!

    • September 10, 2020 at 9:50 am

      I agree! Paris in August can be awesome, but it’s definitely a weird feeling when you arrive in a touristy spot and find hardly anyone at all. This wasn’t your average summer in Paris!


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