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Lockdown in Paris: Day 36

Parisian passage

This Sunday’s post almost didn’t happen. Not because I have nothing to say today, but because I feel like maybe I shouldn’t be wasting any of my time online when – after 35 days of confinement – I’ve finally been reunited with my partner, Fred.

The last time we saw each other was Friday March 13th. We don’t actually live together, but usually spend half of our week together. Since the lockdown in Paris was announced on March 15th and enacted by law on the 17th, we’ve been playing by the rules, staying in our respective apartments: me in Paris and him in the Seine-Saint-Denis suburbs. I work from home, but he had to go into work the first week of the lockdown, so it was more likely he could come into contact with someone who was contaminated. After his week at work he went into self-quarantine for an additional 16 days. When neither one of us had seen anyone else or developed symptoms, we finally decided to spend this weekend together in Paris before he has to go back on call for work. I thought I was weathering the lockdown pretty well, but I hadn’t realized how much I missed human contact until we finally met up after all this time apart. Even something as simple as holding hands feels odd after 35 days of video chats.

So how did we spend our Sunday together?

First we went to the local bistro Comme à la Campagne to pick up the lunch we had ordered via telephone the day before. It’s the only bistro on the Place Jeanne d’Arc, and they were completely closed the first month of the lockdown. Unlike New York City, most Parisian restaurants are NOT equipped for take out service. Perhaps it was partially because we were both soooooo sick of cooking for ourselves that the luxury of a professionally cooked meal was bound to impress, but we really enjoyed our asparagus risotto, carrot cumin soup starter, and strawberry tarte dessert. We also got two little espressos in paper cups when we picked up our order and drank them on the square before heading back to my place to eat. It might seem like a simple thing, but it was the closest thing we had to our usual Sunday ritual of stopping into this bistro for coffee before shopping at the market on the square.

our feast
Fred’s strawberry tarte got a bit squashed en route to my table, but tasted just as good!

Hidden Passages of the 13th

After lunch we went for an hour stroll around the neighborhood. You’re technically not allowed to go more than 1km from your residence, which can get pretty boring after one month, but on a whim we change direction at the last minute and by chance found ourselves on a little passageway I had never seen before. The 13th actually has a lot of these little garden bungalows from the 19th century built for workers when there were a ton of factories on the outskirts of Paris. Today a few of them still exist between the 1960s high rise apartment blocks, and today they were magnificent with the spring flowers in full bloom. We even ran into my neighbors on one of the passages, out for a stroll with their restless toddler and 5-year-old daughter who was in a wheelchair after breaking her tibia just before the lockdown (I usually run into them in the lobby of my 100-year-old building when they’re organizing the trek with their kids up four flights of stairs).

passage 13th
One of the narrow passages in the 13th dating back to the 1800s.
house in the 13th
This is probably the oldest house I’ve seen in the 13th, snug behind its secure wall and gate.
flowered passage
Spring is just showing off in this passage, I wish I could share how it smells!
little red house
An adorable little red garden bungalow in the 13th.
passage in Paris
This passage is wide enough for cars to pass, but still adorable. You can see the 1960s highrise towers just beyond.
modern home in passage
Some of the houses are actually quite modern in the passages. It’s one of the reasons the 13th arrondissement is so interesting.
church in Chinatown
Not far from Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement, a sign that Jesus Loves You.

I’m Not the Seamstress in the Family

Back at my place, we got to work on a mask-making project. We both already used the masks we had purchased over a month ago before the Coronvirus hit France hard, and were now trying to make our own alternatives to the awkwardly-tied scarves we were currently using when out in public. After watching a few dozen YouTube demonstrations, and having no sewing machine chez moi, we ended up making what I’m sure will win the Ugliest Face Make in France award. Could someone let me know how to claim my prize? In any case, I figure this will hold me over until the professionally sewn fabric mask (guaranteed to survive multiple washings) arrives in the mail. I’ll be sure to share a few pics of them here when they arrive.

making masks
Fred does the measuring and cutting.
Heather sewing
I do the “sewing”.
mask homemade
My expert-seamstress-sister is going to faint when she sees this butcher job, but we’re quite proud of our amateur handiwork.

As to what happened during the rest of this brief reunion, you’ll just have to use your imagination. 😉

Wear your masks, no matter how silly they look! – Heather

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