Each of our lives, wherever we may find ourselves hunkering down in these crazy times, has greatly changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and fast. To get some more unique perspectives on living under lockdown in Paris and the French countryside, we asked some of our friends and colleagues how confinement is looking and feeling for them. Below is what we learned from an American writer and designer, a Canadian writer and tour guide, an American cookbook author with a food podcast living in the countryside with a toddler, and a fashion designer turned social worker living in a tiny 200 sq. foot studio in the heart of Paris.
Kasia Dietz – Writer and Designer, Paris
In these precarious fear-invoking days, in a world where freedom of movement is limited and social encounters now take place virtually, I’m trying my best to remain positive, knowing that this too shall pass, eventually. Meanwhile, to comfort a soul that longs for familiar faces and exotic locales, I recall recent family visits to New York where dinner parties are a nightly ritual and Cinque Terre in northern Italy, where life is lived in the village squares—all while dreaming of the many travels still to take.
While I’ve never felt more distant in proximity, with family scattered around the globe from Poland to Italy to the United States, and friends around the world; I’ve also never felt more closely connected. We are all united by a common struggle. I check in daily with my mom in Florida, to make sure she is staying safe and sane, while my brother and his daughter, still a toddler, adjust to a new routine in New York. Relatives in Poland, many of whom work in the medical field, are living their own uncertainties. My husband and I stay in close phone contact with his family and friends in Italy, as they remain a crucial step ahead of us in this invisible battle.
What will result from what feels like a sci-fi series that has not only captivated, but become entwined with the lives of us all? This is what I think about often as I stare into a bright blue sky from my home in the heart of Paris.
Kasia Dietz is a handbag designer and freelance writer from New York, with a passion for art, fashion, and travel, who followed her heart to Paris. She also offers bag painting workshops and custom fashion tours. Read all about her life and travels on her blog, Love in the City of Lights.
Lily Heise – Writer and Tour Guide, Paris
I actually found the days before the lockdown was announced tougher than when it became official. As a travel writer and tour guide, I was seeing work engagements disappear at lightning speed. So once the initial panic wore off, I had to shift gears. The choice was sink or swim. I got creative, launching a new participatory short story series that would allow people from around the globe to get involved and share their love of Paris. Plus, for my other writing, I tried to think of article topics that would help foster people’s love of Paris from afar.
Since I already work from home, being inside my apartment during the day wasn’t anything new. However, I would still be out quite a lot. I’ve made up for this by sitting at my window for 10-15 minutes during the brief time frame that the sun actually hits it each day. I’m very fortunate to live in picturesque Montmartre, and so I cherish a brisk walk or jog around the neighborhood during our allotted time of an hour for essential exercise. I’m getting to know each street extremely well, and they are even inspiring my writing!
The hardest hit to my morale was the closure of restaurants, cafés, and bars, as well as the restrictions on gathering. As Hemingway put it, Paris is a moveable feast… but if we can no longer “move” and if the venues where this “moveable feast” played out are no longer available, what can we do? Well, the feast has moved into our kitchens and online. I began trying out new recipes and spent an entire Saturday afternoon making ravioli, freezing some to extend this tasty pleasure. Within days of the lockdown, I had a busy “social calendar” of virtual apéros, networking events, seminars, and movie nights. Friendships have grown stronger; we’re all looking out for each other while clinging onto the light at the end of the tunnel and the renewal of Paris’ moveable feast, hopefully, in the near future.
Lily Heise is a travel writer and tour guide who’s been living in Paris since 2000. She covers Paris, romance, and other travel topics for local and international publications, is the author of two books, and runs the award-winning blog Je T’Aime, Me Neither.
Emily Dilling – Author, French Countryside
As the French were urged to restez chez vous (stay home), my life continued almost unchanged. My daughter was still going to her nounou, or babysitter, even when all other childcare services (daycares, schools, etc.) shut down. When the restaurants and bars closed, we worried for our friends in the industry, but as a family that has lived on a barely-making-ends-meet budget for the past four years, restaurants, bars, and other outings are luxuries we couldn’t afford anyway.
Then the French president gave a speech detailing the closure of all non-essential businesses (including my beloved nounou) and an extended confinement.
I realized I would be spending 12 hours each day locked in with a toddler and started to stress. For the first time, this city girl was relieved we didn’t live in an urban setting. I was grateful to live in a house where my family could spread out. I was also grateful for our garden. On the first day of the quarantine, our neighborhood was filled with sounds of lawn mowers and hedge clippers. It almost felt festive and was a welcome distraction, but the thing is there’s only so much landscaping you can do. Surrounded by pristine, freshly cut lawns, there was a general sense of “What should we do now?”
It’s been three weeks now and we’ve invented new games, tried new recipes, planted seeds, and made sand castles. While the days all seem the same, I’m conscious of the fact that our lives are changing every day. A week before this crisis, I got the job of my dreams, and now I’m sitting at home wondering if that job will even exist after all this.
I try not to worry, but is that even possible? I remind myself that we are all in the same boat and that we will help each other out when this is over. These are the things that now help to get me through life under quarantine: the being-in-a-big-boat reminders and my being-in-a-blue-sandbox reality, building castles with a two-year-old whose innocent and joyful smile remains unchanged, every day.
Emily Dilling is an author, food and fermentation enthusiast, and founder of the Paris Paysanne blog and podcast. After spending 10 years in Paris she can now be found in the countryside of the Loir-et-Cher, growing tomatoes, brewing beer, and sharing stories about life in France.
Miranda Cazin – Social Worker, Paris
I can’t lie, the introvert in me was excited to hear “stay home.” I was ready to tackle my growing to-do list and have a break from PEOPLE. The first few days really delivered! My apartment’s sparkling, my closet’s ready for spring, and I’m making progress on the books I’ve managed to start and never finish. But when last Sunday rolled around, I could barely get out of bed. The virtual happy hours and cooking for one aren’t filling the part of my heart that’s refreshed by people.
I live in a 19m2 (2oo sq. ft) studio. Pushing the Murphy bed back into the wall each day transforms the apartment from bedroom to living space. My small bistro table doubles as my work-from-home desk, and the small day bed is the perfect reading nook/cat nap area. Though if I’m being honest, there are days when the bed stays down and becomes all of these things. The best part about my tiny space is the two large windows that grace one wall with a panoramic view of Sacré Coeur. It’s like a private showing of the sunrise over the basilica every morning, which feels like a gift made especially for me. These days, a lot of my time is passed hanging out in front of these magical windows for fresh air and a glimpse of the outside world.
In normal times, my days are spent with refugees in Paris. Now, my thoughts are fixed on them—already separated from family and loved ones, in a country where they don’t speak the language and don’t have the same access to resources and technology. And while I can slightly relate to being far from my family and country, it seems unjust to have access to everything needed to make it to the other side of this thing. Is it okay to admit that I’m feeling stuck between fear and gratitude? Going into three weeks of quarantine, I’m scared because it’s all so uncertain. At the same time, I’m safe in my little apartment and have the technology needed to make the digital switch we’re all experiencing.
I don’t know where we go from here, but I do know I’m ready to share a meal (and a hug!) with all my people.
New Yorker turned Parisian. Fashion stylist turned social worker. Miranda is passionate about Jesus, 3 pm coffee, and baguettes. She is determined to live in freedom and bring others on the journey. Miranda often finds herself living in the tension of seemingly opposite things, and tries to face that tension through writing and conversation.
- For more lockdown impressions, read about how our very own HiP Paris Team is coping in Paris and beyond.
- Take a virtual tour of Paris’ beautiful museums from the comfort of your home.
- Bring French cuisine straight to your kitchen
Written by Kasia Dietz, Lily Heise, Emily Dilling and Miranda Cazin 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.