The HiP Paris Team’s Impressions From Paris
It’s been two weeks since French President Emmanuel Macron announced that France is to live under lockdown until at least April 15th. Parisians have either fled the city for the countryside or have been under confinement rules that were tightened just a week ago—we are allowed out for a maximum of one hour per day and within a one-kilometer radius of our homes.
Despite the mounting frustration of having to stay cooped up, Parisians have been getting creative and throwing themselves into self-improvement, from taking online classes, working out and meditating, to taking up reading, art, and cooking at home. Let’s hear how our HiP Paris team has been weathering these challenging times.
Erica Berman, Founder
“As an American with a French husband who shares her time between Paris and the U.S., I find myself under lockdown (no longer self-imposed as of March 31) in Maine. All non-essential businesses are closed. We are urged to stay in, but not obliged. I haven’t been out except to walk in the woods and drop some eggs at a neighbor’s (from a distance) in three weeks. Our home is ¼ mile down a dirt road, and my views are of trees and birds. I feel far from it all. It’s hard to imagine the daily horrors many face.
I’m blessed to be able to take walks when I want, enjoy my cats and chickens, and collect fresh eggs daily. I’ve started seedlings and will be growing much of my own food. I am thankful every day that I canceled my planned travel to Italy (where I was to be now). My niece’s French countryside wedding is coming up soon. It is feeling unlikely. The virus is spreading in Maine, although testing is minimal. The low numbers gave many a false sense of security, which we now know is, just that, false. We wonder if that “flu” with a lingering cough we all had back in January might just be something else?
I find myself agitated and unsettled, missing my family and friends, arguing over silly things with my husband and family. My sleep is off. WhatsApp, Zoom, and FaceTime only go so far. I am busier than ever working on keeping the blog running and relevant, and on my non-profit, Veggies to Table, here in Maine (more on that soon). Amid the uncertainty, I remain hopeful that we will all learn from this and come out of this better more caring people in a better and less polluted world.”
Ali Postma, Editorial Assistant and Writer
“As someone who works from home, you wouldn’t think the lockdown would make that much of an impact on my life. But actually, spending all day, every day at home—as everyone is now experiencing—gets old pretty quickly. I realize now how much I took for granted being able to go outside freely, now that that freedom has been taken away. After surviving another European winter, though mild, the fact that this lockdown is occurring in spring makes it all the more difficult. My apartment is on the first floor and faces the courtyard.
I have no view and no direct sunlight. When I open my windows and look up to the blue sky, as an Australian who loves the sun and the warmth, it kills me. It’s extremely hard to resist the urge to go out and bask in the springtime weather. If only it could be winter? But I know that the lockdown is necessary. I take comfort in the knowledge that, at the very least, the level of pollution in the city and all over the world is dropping. I can only hope that the lockdown will be over soon, and we can all go outside and enjoy spring in Paris.”
Marissa Wu, Intern
“I moonlight at HiP Paris, but during the day, I am a fille au pair for a wonderful French family. The day before the official lockdown began, they told me they were going to stay at their home in the countryside. I had two options: go with them, or go back to the U.S. Feeling like an abrupt departure would be too difficult to process, I decided to go with them. It was an excellent decision.
Here, we can take long walks on the property, and it feels good to be outside in the sunshine. I’ve received a thorough European sports education, sharpening my rugby, badminton, and archery skills. My host kid is determined to make me into an Olympic archer by the time I’m 40. I want his optimism.
While I do miss Paris (and spring in Paris! Swoon.), I do not miss being cooped up in an apartment all day!”
Surekha Gupta, Social Media, Marketing, Writer
“When the coronavirus crisis began to escalate in Europe, I was in the U.S. for work and to visit family. I knew flights to Europe would be canceled before long. I had to make the difficult decision whether to stay in the U.S. with my elderly parents, both of whom suffer from serious health problems, or to travel to Europe to be with my partner who has his own risk factors and was alone. Without health insurance in the U.S., I thought it unwise to stay. As I hugged my parents goodbye, I wondered if I would have the chance to do so again.
I am grateful that my family and friends remain healthy. Still, I worry for loved ones, workers on the front line (including family), the vulnerable, and about lost work. Day-to-day life in Paris is altered. Businesses, many already suffering from the long strikes, are closed. There is a small smattering of people on the streets. Yet, knowing we are on the brink of something awful, it is impossible to view the minimal challenges I face because of the lockdown as a hardship. I savor the gloriously sunny days on my daily run. I am a homebody, and working from home is a pleasure. With many of the normal obligations of life removed, I have spent quality time with my other half.
With no children, it is easy to adapt. I haven’t seen hoarding at the supermarkets. We still eat well and waste less. Canceled work has freed me to pursue postponed projects. The downtime has brought clarity of mind. There is solidarity with neighbors when we applaud each night. It’s hard to reconcile the fortune of my situation with the horrors that I know are taking place meters from my doorstep and throughout the world. But ultimately, if all I need to do to help save lives is stay home, with gratitude, I oblige.”
Jamie Rolston, Intern
“When I came into work on Monday (I’m an au pair), the parents told me to pack a bag in case we needed to leave Paris. At the time, a lot of Parisians had decided to flee the city for their holiday homes in the countryside. That evening we left for their family house in a small town in the south of France. We’ve only been here for 14 days, but it feels like it’s been nearly a month; I haven’t left the property or seen anyone except the family since we left Paris. We don’t know how long we will be here, but as of right now, we likely won’t return until the kids’ school resumes in May (if schools even reopen). It’s strange to be so far from home — I’m from L.A., and most of my friends and family are self-isolating on the West Coast— but I know the responsible decision was to stay in France.
It’s been an adjustment, especially because I don’t live with the family back in Paris, but I’m grateful that I have them while being so far from home, and that we were able to get out of the dense city and isolate in nature.
I’ve been taking this as an opportunity to get closer to my host family and spend quality time with the kids before my contract ends, and as a unit, we’ve been keeping each other sane by cooking, baking, and playing games together!”
Erin Dahl, Copy Editor
One mere month ago, I was in balmy Hawaii with my French partner and my family, after a pit stop in L.A. for work and to visit friends. We toured a natural volcano park, did a night dive with manta rays, and learned how local Kona coffee was produced. We left feeling in awe of nature and enamored with this lovely place nestled in the middle of nowhere.
Needless to say, the return to Paris was rough. I fell sick shortly after, my partner followed two weeks later. We’re still sick (writing this on day 11 without a sense of taste and smell!), but feeling very grateful that our symptoms are manageable. We’re passing this self-quarantine in our apartment in Paris. We stocked up on fresh veggies, herbal remedies, and art supplies. We also got our hands on some Ten Belles’ sourdough starter—they were giving it away before the lockdown was announced—and have been making our own bread, which is a newfound pleasure.
I have to admit, I underestimated the mental challenge this lockdown would bring. I haughtily assumed that since I’ve been working from home for years and already felt under the weather, it would be a natural adjustment. It turns out a lockdown is very different psychologically. It’s less a feeling of being trapped at home, and more an ongoing existential reflection. I find myself oscillating between admiration for humanity and gratitude for the little things in my own life, and anger that so many of our systems have failed us so greatly. As an American, I am fearful for my home country and my family and friends who live there. But I am holding on to the hope that this event will change people, that we will come out of this with more open eyes and hearts, and we will go on to be collectively better. The world certainly needs it.
Rooksana Hossenally, Content Editor
“While there are some moments when I feel like I’m about to boil over with frustration at not being able to see friends or stroll around Paris, deep down, I find that this stand-still is somewhat a relief. Needless to say, the world was spiraling out of control, our most polluting industries pushing productivity to its limits, airlines basking in profits, entire countries ruined by mass tourism, and carbon emissions at their highest. People were also suffering psychologically, hit by an unprecedented number of burnouts and cases of depression.
Of course, the current shutdown paints a very bleak picture for many of us. But maybe, just maybe, this is the cost (albeit extremely high) that society has to pay to reset. Maybe this is what it takes for us to truly question our way of life. Perhaps when we are out of confinement, we’ll jump on a train and stay at a gîte tucked away in the countryside, as opposed to getting on a plane to an unnecessarily far-flung land.
Perhaps change is coming. Perhaps we can make this time count for a better future. And, as I sit at my desk, tapping away at my keyboard, working from home without really going outside for the 15th day running, not knowing if this is to last another few weeks or months, those thoughts of hope will soon be all that keep me going.”
- The best French recipe websites to inspire your at-home cooking.
- Here are some new books on Paris to check out during confinement.
- Our favorite French Netflix series to binge during a lockdown.
Written by the HiP Paris Team for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.