There was nothing magical about May 11 in France. But, it felt magical. It felt magical because we no longer need the attestation. The attestation was the form we carried with us, on paper or on our phones, every time we left the house for the last two months. In addition to our basic ID information, we had to state our reason for being out:

Top: A menu is written in orange and white markers on the glass of a restaurant front, Above: People sit, while distanced, along the Seine on a sunny day during the first week of deconfinement
Top: Frank Adrian, Cake Boy Paris Above: Kasia Dietz – Social distancing along the Seine

– Going to grocery stores and pharmacies (some of the only shops open).

– Going to work (only essential workers).

– Exercise (not between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., and within 1 km of your residence).

– Doctors’ appointments.

– Providing for shut-in relatives. 

Police were stationed around town, and if your papers weren’t in order, they could fine you 135€. That’s not as harsh as in Columbia, where my friend Vicki lives: If they’re out without a good reason, the punishment is a 4-8-year prison sentence. Mon Dieu! 

So, what did I do on ‘Deconfinement Day’? Nothing earth-shattering. I just wanted to be outside without the attestation.

Left: Yvonne wearing a black face mask on her walk through Paris, the Seine and Eiffel tower are visible in the background / Grass grows in Paris as parks remain closed, a building is visible in the background
Yvonne Hazelton Shao: Yvonne wearing a face mask / Paris parks remain closed for now

I walked. I walked long and hard, blowing past my former one-kilometer boundary with my head held high. I went to the Seine, and my eyes were glad to focus on something farther away than the corner of my street. My legs got pleasantly tired. My hip flexors spoke to me for the first time in weeks. 

I met a friend and we walked together. No restaurants or cafés are open for sit-down meals, so we bought coffee from a bakery and walked, sipping and talking and catching up in person instead of on a screen. Eye contact is a beautiful thing.

My teenage son, who I’ve been confined with, went out with friends for the first time in two months, and I was home alone. I made tea and listened to the silence, knowing he was out in the sunshine with nice kids, getting some vitamin D and probably drinking bubble tea. He’s been a terrific roommate during this confinement, and our apartment is spacious so we didn’t tread on each other, but alone chez moi is a state of being that I have missed.

People sit, while distanced, and a man runs along the Seine in Paris on a sunny day after the deconfinement.
Kasia Dietz

In the days following deconfinement, there’s not much to do out there. Only a few smaller shops are open. Parks, museums, malls, theaters, cinemas, restaurants, cafés, bars, and gyms remain closed. Still, it’s amazing to be out in the world again. I went to a big supermarket and stood staring at the hair-care selection, amazed by the variety of products, things they didn’t have in my grocery store or pharmacy. I could have tried on some pretty summer dresses they had on display, but I’m just not ready to be that close to germs yet. I’ll stay masked and gloved in public for a while.

Empty wine glasses sit top-down on a tabletop in a closed restaurant in Paris.
Yvonne Hazelton Shao: Restaurants remain closed for now

I plan to keep flattening the curve as much as I can. My needs are few: I’ll walk long distances and have some reunions with friends, without bisous or hugs. There is a haircut in my near future, and after that, if the Covid-19 statistics continue to improve, maybe I’ll get my eyebrows mown back into shape.

Left: People sit on the banks on the Seine on a sunny day, the water blue and green, Right: A man walks through an empty Marais while wearing a face mask
Frank Adrian, Cake Boy Paris: People sit, at a distance, on the banks on the Seine / A woman walks through an empty Marais wearing a face mask

The goals in all of this are still to not die and to not sicken anyone else. So for now, I’ll be out there in our beautiful world, swathed in my protective gear, avoiding public transportation and trying to keep at least a meter between others and me. 

We’ve made it this far. Let’s not blow it now.

Related Links

A restaurant menu is written in French on the front glass of a restaurant in Paris.
Restaurants in Paris remain closed for now

Written by Yvonne Hazelton Shao 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.


Yvonne Hazelton

Yvonne is an American writer living in Paris. She blogs at Escaping the Empty Nest.


  1. “Eye contact is a beautiful thing” <- it just really struck me how true that is. Thank you for sharing what this very unspecial yet special day was like in Paris. I especially appreciated the image of the social distanced friends and lovers along the Seine. (BTW, you have beautiful eyes!)

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