In the midst of another lockdown (albeit less strict than at the start of the pandemic), one adopted Parisian shares some insight as to why she chose to stay in the City of Light while many fled to the countryside for more air, space and freedom. Let us know what you prefer in the comments below. City or country – to lockdown in Paris or not? Stay safe everyone – Erica

A Parisian skyline. There are several Parisian rooftops visible as well as the Eiffel Tower. The sky is gray as well as the buildings and rooftops.
Top: deareverest / Above: Leo Leblanc

Back in March when the first lockdown was announced, people fled the city in droves. They simply weren’t going to be stuck in their apartments, cramped or not. I’d just returned from my annual winter trip. I was thrilled to be back in Paris. It was great to catch up with my friends, to try to make grumpy waiters smile in cafés… Plus, the level of litter and doggy do-do on the streets was nothing compared to India, where I’d just returned from. Then on March 17, everything changed.

Left: a view of the Sacre Coeur in Paris through surrounding trees. There are trees' leaves surrounding the frame of the picture. The leaves to the left are red and orange and the leaves to the right are yellow and green. Left: a street in Montmartre in Paris. In the center of the photo, a man is painting on an easel on the sidewalk. There are trees' leaves framing the photo on top, and there are fallen leaves on the ground surrounding the man.

No cafés, no friends—even less litter since people were stuck at home. Well, the dog droppings were still there since walking one’s dog was allowed, and the Parisians who stayed seemed to be among those who don’t clean up after their dogs.

The first two-month lockdown was long. Very long. How I craved to be on a farm in Normandy or seaside home in Brittany. Over virtual apéros with friends, we pledged that if another lockdown was in the cards, we’d band together and rent a place in the countryside. Outdoor space…the dream! The one thing my small Montmartre apartment had going for it was that there were many stunning viewpoints of the city within the permitted one-kilometer radius. 

Left: a Parisian street in Montmartre. The restaurant Le Consulat is the focal point of the photo. It is a white building with the words "Le Consulat" written in red. There is a green and red awning on the front and there are tables and chairs stacked. The street is empty. Right: someone holding a glass of champagne in front of the Paris skyline. The Sacre Coeur is visible in the distance as well as several rooftops.
epipha_ny / jetaimemeneither

Fast forward to October. Increasing cases of Covid-19 forced a curfew to be put in place in Paris, although we were still allowed to move around freely and restaurants were still open. Early apéros with friends were becoming the new norm. However, as the weeks went on and the numbers kept rising, even though no one wanted to admit it, we all knew that we were heading for another lockdown. What had happened to those lofty plans to escape to the countryside? I was so swamped with finishing my new book that I had no time to think about fleeing. It seemed too late to flee, or was it?

Just then I remembered a friend’s invitation to join her in the southwest, near Bordeaux by the beach. It sounded dreamy. Okay, she was staying in a bungalow at a nudist camp, but nevermind. It was chilly at this time of year, most people would be wearing clothes (or so I hoped!), I booked a ticket that day. Greenery! Fresh sea air! Long walks on the beach! This was the blissful and refreshing change I’d needed.

My friend knew of other bungalows for rent, so I was able to hunker down here for the whole lockdown. Since March’s lockdown was extended to two months, there was a good chance the same thing was going to happen once again. 

Left: a woman wearing a jean romper standing outside on a balcony in Paris. The glass window leading out to the balcony is closed and the woman is drawing a heart on a portion of the glass that is foggy. She has a glass on wine in her hand. Right: a view from a Parisian apartment. There are several other apartment buildings visible and there are two windows lit up with an orange glow from the lights inside the apartments. The buildings are white, black, and gray.
rebekahpeppler by deareverest /

Despite enjoying the extra space and clean air, I felt the pull of Paris. As much as I love traveling the world, the city constantly draws me back. I lasted a full five days before I fled the country back to my city. Stepping out of the métro at Place des Abbesses, I was home.

Back in Paris, things aren’t quite as bad this time around. Even though much of what I love about the city—its museums, cafés and restaurants—are now closed, parks were open, and there are a few within my petite confinement radius. I can have a quick chat through the windows with my friends who lived in the area (at an appropriate distance),  walk and linger at those panoramic Paris vistas, soaking in the sweeping views. It’s still our city, just somewhat in hibernation. Now, if only we could do something about those dog droppings…

Lily’s new book, There’s Only One Paris, a collection of stories about Paris during the pandemic, is available on Amazon, the Red Wheelbarrow Bookshop in Paris or ask for it at your local bookshop.

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Written by Lily Heise 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. 


Lily Heise

Lily Heise has been living in Paris for more than 10 years. When she’s not getting into romantic mischief, she writes on dating, travel, and culture. Her writing has been featured in Frommer’s Guides, the Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, City Secrets, DK Eyewitness Guides, and other local and international publications. She is the author of Je T’Aime, Me Neither, and Je T’Aime… Maybe? lively novelized memoirs on her romantic misadventures, and continues to share dating tips, stories and travel features on her blog

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