Paris From The First Day of Quarantine: A Photo Essay by Michael Foust

Paris is known as the city of light, love, cuisine, and fashion and is one of the top destinations in the world. As the Coronavirus took hold in both Italy and Spain, the president of France put France into quarantine to assist in the EU stance of curtailing the virus from spreading. 


On March 16, the French government announced that France will go under complete lockdown for 15 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order was subsequently extended for another 15 days. All public institutions, restaurants, hotels and stores, except supermarkets and pharmacies, have been closed. Companies have been encouraged to switch to remote work for their employees and only those whose activity is deemed "essential" to the nation are allowed to operate in offices and factories.


In the first day of quarantine, it was the first sunny and warm day out in Paris. Parks were closed, national monuments and the streets were empty. The Louvre and the Jardin des Tuileries were closed, but locals took to take lunch and enjoy the sun. Social distancing was a new concept, and most admitted that it felt like a holiday like Christmas.

© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)
© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)

Fashion stores were emptied and closed, the streets became very empty with traffic, and moments lay silent and undistributed. Some took to get last minute groceries as the uncertainty of the times took hold.

© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)
© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)

The next day the president took stronger measures to enforce the quarantine. The next week the streets of Paris became very empty, train stations silent, and all places became a different world which we now know.

© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)
© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)

It has been more than three weeks since the lockdown was imposed and it has already highlighted the deepening class divisions in French society. Many middle-class and wealthy families headed out of the big cities to their vacation homes and villas in the countryside. It is estimated that 1.2 million of metropolitan Paris's 12 million inhabitants left between March 13 and March 20.

© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)
© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)

There also those who have no home to stay in. The homeless, migrants and asylum seekers and some Roma people living in camps cannot follow the government's prescriptions for self-isolation, hygiene and social distancing because they simply have no homes and no access to clean water. While there is no reliable data on how many homeless people there are in France, one organization has estimated that some 250,000 live in emergency accommodation or reception centres for asylum seekers.

© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)
© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)

The government allows people to go out for a very limited number of reasons in their neighborhoods, including going to work, to the grocery store, for a short walk alone, with a child or a pet. To be able to do that, each person has to carry a printed, handwritten or electronic paper with an address and a date and the reason why they are out of their homes. 

© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)
© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)

Very few now venture outside as getting groceries or even walking the dog takes quite and effort as most now respect that the world has changed…..fashion has now switched to making masks……and the world as we know has come together in the digital form to remain one as not just Parisiennes but as a humanity.

© DE MODE | Photo: Michael Foust (Instagram: @mfphotographie)

Thus as some enjoy the lockdown as a vacation or a time to reconsider their lives and tend to romanticize it, for many others it is yet another hardship they have to cope with in their constant struggle for survival.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael Foust is a Photo-Journalist and Writer at DE MODE based in Paris, France, where he covers fashion, and also lifestyle news. His coverage is not limited to Paris, but also travels with the magazine, and covers internationally. He also has contributions of his photos, film, art, photojournalism, and articles in several publications, social media, and art galleries. He enjoys a good hike and is a mix of cultures from the southwest to his home in Paris. Follow Michael Foust on Instagram. 


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