Updated: Jan 25
By Michael Foust, Photo-Journalist, DE MODE
France eased COVID-19 lockdown measures on 11 May'20.
It introduced a $20 million scheme to get more people cycling - to cut pollution and keep people safe.
Around the world, public transport is starting to move again with new safety measures.
As Albert Einstein wrote to his son Eduard, in 1930: “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Paris, the city of love and of light. On May 11, France opened up again after a long time in quarantine and social distancing. The train ride into town was marked by a large police force and also the SNCF workers checking for proper paperwork authorization, masks, and cleaning the train station space.
It mirrored the cold front and rain that arrived last night that felt a bit off. The train was marked with signs all over for physical spacing to keep the spread of the Coronavirus to a minimum. Very few were actually on the train into town which was a surprise to me given how many days we have spent in self-care at home.
In the metro to La Défense the spaces were equally empty…..a far cry from the days just a few months earlier. All the spaces were really clean though which made the ride a bit brighter and was actual a welcomed effect from the quarantine.
In La Défense, the business district, empty offices and the space was open like I have never experienced even on the weekends. Continuing down the Champs Élysées to the Arc de Triumph, the roads were clear. A few other photojournalists and news crews also were around equally amazed at how little traffic there was and being able to see the Arch clearly.
No tourists lined the shopping areas surrounding the Champs Élysées which was also a welcomed breath of air. The Louvre where I took some of my last shots and an editorial just a few months ago was empty. A line and sign cautioning to be on the grass and even the pyramid was closed off.
My last stop was at the Tour Eiffel…empty. Fountains drained and cold like the day. Statues wearing masks to reflect the feeling of Paris as we opened today. The only mass of people, only a handful, I did encounter was outside a book store opening…a very French pastime ...reading.
Many subways were still seen closed. Many still feared to come out. As I would recommend to come out less often only when it's very much required.
As I returned back to edit my photos as 1% of businesses were opening, something my landlord stated often to me that stuck in my mind that describes this surreal experience today…..”On peur”.
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