A Paris Staycation: How to Spend It
Spending the lockdown in Paris? Not to fear, we’ve compiled the best that the French capital has to offer - even during a pandemic
As the world’s scientists continue to search for a vaccine, and lockdown measures slowly begin to lift, we’re here to show you that a lock down doesn’t mean locked up. Even Parisians, renowned for their glamour, style and eye for beauty, are rediscovering their own city. Less traffic on the usually congested roads means clearer skies and cleaner air. Heading to any viewpoint in Paris, for example, the Pont Neuf - the capital’s oldest standing bridge over the River Seine - provides a perfect vantage point to see the planet Venus. Usually it’s clouded by copious amounts of light pollution. Take a stroll in the city’s famous parks and gardens and see public art from the great masters including everyone from Picasso to Rodin. Instead of being a typical Parisian flâneur, seating yourself comfortably outside a (now closed) cafe and taking long draws on cigarette after cigarette, there are still plenty of things you can get up to in a city under lockdown. With no open businesses, throngs of tourists - nor traffic - it’s the perfect opportunity to explore familiar streets and landmarks with fresh eyes.
While many of the city’s treasures remain locked behind the doors of the great galleries such as The Louvre and Musée d'Orsay, there’s no reason why you can’t explore the free, public art during your Paris staycation. Have a wander over to Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter where you’ll find its namesake, a sixth-century parish church. In a small park near the church you can find a bust created by Picasso of his lover, Dora Maar, and dedicated to his friend, the Surrealist poet, Guillaume Apollinaire, who died during the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918. Four copies of the bust were cast in the 1950s, one of which lies in this very churchyard.
Whether you’re enjoying your Paris staycation in your own quartier, or you just don’t feel like leaving your apartment, you can tour the city’s famous landmarks without even getting out of bed. Thanks to the city’s tourist board, all the sights from The Louvre, Sacré-Cœur and Sainte-Chapelle to the Catacombs and the Grand Palais, have been uploaded to a digital database so you can take virtual tours from the comfort of your smartphone or computer - even while still in your Plum Guide bed with coffee and croissants.
The Jardin des Tuileries… and Rodin
Usually filled with picnicking tourists and locals playing Boules, these historic gardens are among the most beautiful that Paris has to offer. The public gardens are located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement. While the city’s museums and galleries remain closed, the Jardin des Tuileries is likely to be opened before they do, where inside lie an excellent, albeit small, selection of Rodin sculptures, including the famous Le Baiser (‘The Kiss’) (1882-1889). Have a wander around and see if you can find it.
With the city of love on lockdown, there has never been a better time to indulge in a literary tour of the great French authors. From Marcel Proust, Albert Camus, Victor Hugo and Jules Verne to Émile Zola, Charles Baudelaire and Gustave Flaubert, the list goes on. Now there’s literally no excuse not to have enough time to read the great French writers during your Paris staycation. Just think of the calibre of your dinner party conversation by this time next year.
Bring Monet to you
While many of the great French painter’s works lie behind the locked doors of the Musée de l'Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries, Claude Monet’s work is not totally off-limits. During the lockdown you can virtually visit his house in Giverny thanks to the Maison de Claude Monet. The museum is set in the artist’s famous house and gardens - where he painted his famous water lilies - and offers virtual tours for art lovers. There’s clearly no need to visit Giverny itself.
Culture from Home
The Foundation Louis Vuitton, the art museum and cultural centre, is just one of the institutions offering an array of digital cultural programmes. Three times a week, it offers a plethora of digital experiences ranging from past exhibitions to concerts and masterclasses. The building is named after the famous fashion designer and is sponsored by the LVMH group and its subsidiaries and has a vast online programme of upcoming events.