Here’s What Life Looks Like in Re-Opened Paris
As the city slowly reopens, I tried to experience a typical tourist’s weekend.
PARIS–When I arrived at the hotel, the first thing I noticed was the silence.
There was no one in the Hôtel de Varenne’s small courtyard, nor were there any other guests at the reception desk. A bald, somewhat corpulent fellow was seated in the cozy, wood-paneled lobby. He checked me in and handed me my room key. He wasn’t wearing a mask. Aside from the modern, credit card-style key, the place reminded me of the kind of timeless Parisian hotel that could have made a cameo in a ‘60s-era Truffaut flick. That is, until I glanced at the transparent barrier between the receptionist and then over to the sizable bottle of hand sanitizer sitting on a shelf beside the narrow staircase to the left of the desk.
A quick once-over of these items that have become commonplace in public spaces put an abrupt stop to any lingering daydreams involving French New Wave cinema, and snapped me back to the sobering (and surreal) present day. It was a balmy Sunday afternoon and France, one of the European countries hit hardest by the coronavirus, had emerged from a two-month lockdown less than a month ago. Restaurants, cafes and bars in Paris had been given the green light to reopen less than a week before my visit.