Apr 28th, 2020, 06:32 AM

Paris Paused in Time

By Sophia Scalzo
(Montparnasse Tower, Image Credit: George Kedenburg III/ Unsplash)
An eerie look into the empty streets that now define the once bustling City of Light

Spring in Paris used to make me think of a lot of things. The cherry blossoms that grow in front of Notre Dame and the wisteria above the cobblestoned streets in Montmartre, freely walking through Jardin des Tuileries without a care in the world, and laying in the grass at Parc des Buttes Chaumont feeling the sun warm my paled winter skin. Spring in Paris made me think of a saccharine life through Laduree pastel rose tinted glasses. Now the only thing that inhabits my brain is the image of the four walls of my cramped studio and the mantra I adopted for when I leave to buy groceries: phone, keys, wallet, Attestation des Deplacements.


There’s a reason why France is the most visited country in the world and Paris gets over 30 million tourists a year. Very few can resist the city’s inherent romantic aesthetic and very little can stop them from trying to live out their most whimsical Parisian dreams. That was until the recent global health pandemic Covid-19 forced people to flee the city and thousands to cancel their meticulously planned trips. Now the city is left empty, the exterior of the city doused with a wave of melancholia that matches it’s people within.


The first time I left my apartment after social distancing orders were imposed I remember feeling a sort of consuming emptiness. It was so odd to walk the streets that I’ve walked so many times before and see them almost completely naked in the middle of the day. I was reminded of the way it feels when you watch a zombie or post-apocalyptic movie and see the main characters driving down a deserted highway with no evidence of past life except the broken down, abandoned cars. Speaking with a lot of my friends who also decided to wait out the storm in Paris, I heard similar thoughts from them as well. These thoughts especially resonated when it came to typical Parisian tourist traps that I never in my life could imagine devoid of human life. Now, I almost wouldn’t be surprised if I saw some tumbleweed following the wind rolling across any of these destinations. When I asked on friend how the vacant landmarks made them feel one thought, “It makes me feel stagnant, like nothing is moving.”, and another friend of mine said,“Eerie, jarring, like the world has stopped and all of this is happening in a time out of time.”.


So, with the help from some of my friends and classmates (as I am only allowed within 1 km distance from my apartment) I collected a few photos of said landmarks.

(Place du Trocadero, Image Credit: Chris Turner)
(Les Halles, Image Credit: Ali Rashedi)
(Hotel de Ville, Image Credit: Zach Egan)
(The Louvre, Image Credit: Annika Johnson)

I asked a lot of people to send me photos and these were my favorites because there is not one single person in any of these pictures, which is remarkable for a beautiful spring in Paris during peak tourism season. I don’t think ever in my life could I have imagined the grounds of the Louvre without the hordes of tourists waiting for their turn to take their photos pretending to touch the tip of the pyramid. Now I don’t have to.