Apr 7th, 2021, 03:35 PM

The Parisian Exodus During Lockdown

By Avery Caroline Harle
Image credit: Unsplash/Jacek Dylag
Affluent Parisians flee the city and seek refuge in the countryside during government-imposed "confinements."

Beginning with the first government-imposed nationwide lockdown in March 2020, Parisian families with money, access, and opportunities used their privilege to their advantage and fled to Brittany at a rate which locals had never seen before. Vannes, France, a tiny coastal town in the western region of Brittany, usually only anticipates Parisians in the summertime. It is customary for wealthy Parisian families to reside in summer homes, or maisons secondaires, by the water to escape the city's suffocating heat in the summer months of June, July, and August. Yet, this year has been different.

Permanent residents of Vannes, French-American couple Mr. and Mrs. Franck and LeeAnn Facque, live in the downtown area of the city and frequent the nearby sailing town of La Trinité-sur-Mer weekly. Regarding the influx of Parisians in the off-season, especially during the first confinement, LeeAnn felt overwhelmed. "Every other car we saw was an out of Brittany license plate and the ICU beds here are still full of non-residents, especially in La Trinité," says LeeAnn. "Furthermore, in my experience with them, they act entitled. This makes their stay even more unpleasant for locals like myself and my family," she says. 

Image credit: Avery Caroline Harle

In the fall of 2020, the exodus happened again. When French President Emmanuel Macron made the executive decision to re-confine the country in an attempt to salvage the holiday season on October 30th, Parisians did not hesitate to pack their bags and head west, sometimes even leaving in the middle of the night to avoid police checks and a potential fine for traveling to another region. 

Following French Prime Minister Jean Castex's announcement of a third, "light" lockdown in Paris and certain northern cities, Parisians, "fled the city just hours before a new lockdown was set to come into force," for the third time in 12 months, resulting in over 400km of traffic jams.  Now, after President Macron's speech announcing the extension of the third lockdown to the rest of mainland France and the closure of schools, affluent Parisians have even more incentive to relocate their families elsewhere to isolate. 

Image credit: Flickr/Célia Consolini

This repetitive fleeing epitomizes privilege and the freedom wealth can provide for those who are fortunate enough to live in the city while also maintaining vacation homes in the countryside. These Parisian families and individuals thus represent the 1%, and serve as a reminder that the wealthy will always be protected from wars, pandemics, and other life-changing circumstances while the poor remain subjugated to their dangers and immediate consequences solely owing to their socioeconomic status.