Mar 30th, 2021, 07:05 PM

Rediscovering Paris During COVID

By Lorenza Aranda
Image credit: Lorenza Aranda
How to make Paris your personal museum.

It's been a year since we were confined and our social lives changed. Bars, clubs, restaurants, parties, museums, everything that was known to us is different. Even how we related to it, like our social lives, has changed. We've now seen spring, summer, autumn, and winter confined. As the new year continues in confinement, we've also experienced a little bit of spring again. However, things are starting to look up. And after all, we do live in the most beautiful city in the world. Here are some of my tips on how to enjoy Paris with our temporary, "new normal."

Yes restaurants are closed, yes it's cold, yes there is a 19h curfew, and yes you can't party until 5 a.m. like you used to. But when you don't have some things, the opportunity to discover new ones arises. 

Before the pandemic, I used to eat out three times a week and get drinks with friends as often as possible. I religiously visited museums every Saturday and tried to discover new restaurants and coffee places whenever I could. With the confinement, it all changed but I refused to let this stop me because after all, how lucky was I to live in the most beautiful city in the world? I've always said that Paris is a museum in itself, so even though half of it was closed, I knew I could still appreciate its beauty. I used to take long (1km) walks every day and discover something new every day.

This might sound a bit silly, but if you look up there's always something beautiful to see, whether it be a small corner or piece of architecture you might've missed or a slight difference in the way light strikes a building. Keeping it romantic with Paris was what kept me sane, taking different routes to the marché or changing supermarkets. It reminded me to be grateful for the place I was in.

Those were definitely harder times and now it is easier to move around the city. Now you can do this in the 20 different arrondissements. There is always something new that you haven't discovered. There are even better things to do and the warmer weather of spring is just around the corner. Here are a few things to do that don't involve going to a store and spending all your money. 

1. Go for a bike ride

I very recently discovered bikes in Paris. I used to have a love-hate relationship with Parisian bikers because I thought they looked cool, but they never respected the, "feu rouge." But a friend suggested we hop on one a few months ago, and since then I have not been able to stop. It is a fast and lovely way to see Paris. The view is different, and the vibe is too. You can grab a vélib with your Navigo card or a lime bike, skip traffic, and ride on the Quais for hours. The chilly spring air and the views of Notre-Dame and the Louvre are unmissable. 

Image credit: Unsplash/Simona Sergei

2. Parks, parks, and more parks

Who doesn't love them? There are parks for everyone in Paris. For the student vibe, for the posh vibe, for kids, for places to go running, for a stroll around, or even just for a place to sit down and read. Once it warms up, of course, there's always going to be something beautiful to see. My favorite places at the moment are Buttes-Chaumont (19th arrondissement) and the Coulée Verte, which is in the 11th arrondissement and is a park on the second floor. It's sort of like the Parisian version of the Highline of NYC. The cool thing about parks is that break from the city and the very much needed contact with nature, so get off the couch, grab a bottle of wine and a book, some friends, and make the best out of your closest park. 

Image credit: Unsplash/Yannis Sommera


3. Restaurants, reinvented

Yes, you can't go and sit at your favorite restaurant, eat, drink, and talk to your friends for hours. But you can do something similar. Some restaurants still have to-go options, so you only need to wait a few minutes and you'll have your favorite plate in your hands. Where to eat it? You pick! Paris becomes your restaurant. 

4. Walk, Walk, Walk

It seems that since the pandemic struck we have less time, we're always busy on our screens working, but that's not always true. The fact that you can be working remotely gives you the chance to organize yourself better, so you can do pretty much whatever you want. Walking is good for clearing your mind and getting to know the city you live in. Pick a spot wherever on the map that you'd like to see and walk there; try not to use Google maps. Get lost, walk around, take turns, and discover. Put your headphones on, play music, a podcast, or even a good audiobook and you'll be able to walk for hours. You'll never know what you'll discover. 

It is easier to stay in than make an effort and adapt to this new normal, but no one can stop you once you start. Discover, enjoy, don't let a pandemic come between you and the beautiful city of Paris. However, with the new restrictions, some of these activities might be restricted for a month, but you can still go out to 10 km around your house and always get creative. Try to enjoy yourself!