Lockdown in Paris: Day 45

Street art on Rue de la Roquette, not far from the site of the former Roquette prisons. ©Lisa Anselmo

For Thoughtful Thursday, I’m talking about freedom, something all of us are feeling the loss of lately. The other day, I was walking down Rue de la Roquette, and found a piece of street art, not far from where Les Roquettes prisons once stood. The art depicted Charlie Chaplin as the Little Tramp in prison garb, from the film The Adventurer. His sad, round eyes pleaded with me to spring him from his forced confinement. Seeing the comic imprisoned, I felt our own predicament: joy suppressed, confined.

But this week, France’s Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, rolled out the government’s plan for a gradual de-confinement, starting May 11 (if certain criteria are met). Some highlights of the immediate changes:

  • No permission slip will needed after May 11th, as long as you are not traveling more than 100km from home (long-distance travel within France for essential reasons only)
  • Masks will be compulsory in some sectors, (Métro, secondary schools, for example)
  • Telecommuting continues, where possible
  • Some schools will reopen, but with small classes only
  • Shops to reopen (must protect staff and maintain social distancing of customers)
  • Public gatherings permitted (of up to 10 people max)
  • Bars, restaurants, cinemas, and beaches stay closed for now

Still, the question remains: how free will we really feel as long the virus continues to co-exist with us? It’s not like this pandemic is over just because we can now shop at BHV (Bazaar de l’Hôtel de Ville). Like the prisoner released after years in confinement, will we know how to be free again?

I’m not just talking about the increase in Big Brother tracking applications that governments might now employ (like France); I’m talking about us, our psyches. How do we de-confine ourselves without unleashing our fear? I know for myself, I may become even more paranoid once Parisians, long pent up, are “let loose” on May 11th. We’ve already seen so many people disregarding the confinement laws, will it become worse with they loosen the regulations? (More…)

Reminders of imprisonment. A piece of the foundation of the Bastille prison is visible from the platform of the Bastille station on the Line 5 Métro. The perimeter of the prison is also marked (below). ©Lisa Anselmo

©Lisa Anselmo

After all, the virus is still very much out there. How will I get on the Métro, browse in a clothing store, without taking fear with me? Will I even want to go out? With more people gathering everywhere, will I stop taking walks? How do I visit with friends after having been safely tucked away at home, unscathed thus far? Do I want to take that risk?

Am I going to stand at the exit door of my prison, paralyzed with fear of the outside world? How do you think you will feel when lockdown ends in your town? Will you be able to just jump right in, knowing that the virus is still very much with us? We are only as free as we allow ourselves to feel.

Gates of La Petite Roquette in the 11th arrondissement, a detention center for juveniles (aged 7-20), then later, women. The building was inaugurated in 1830, demolished in 1974. ©Lisa Anselmo

La Petite Roquette during its heyday. You can see the gates, which remain today. Wikimedia Commons

Across the street from La Petite Roquette, stood La Grande Roquette, built in 1836, which housed those condemned to death by guillotine. The sign over the door says, “Depot of the Condemned.” Wikimedia Commons

These three stone slabs on Rue de la Croix Faubin, mark the footings of the guillotine that once stood on this spot at the entrance of the Grand Roquette, for public executions. Capital punishment was outlawed in 1939. Wikimedia Commons

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Memoirs on today’s bookshelf

Memoirs of the Bastille. Click book to buy.

My memoir. 4.5 stars on Amazon. Click book to buy.

8 responses to “Lockdown in Paris: Day 45

  1. i read you from southern california, where most of us live in homes with a yard or outdoor space. and, our isolating rules are not as restrictive as yours. but, most folks here ask the same questions as you do on your blog today. a few of our beaches were opened this weekend, and became pretty much packed. now, they are closed again as a result.
    thank you for your daily entries, much appreciated.
    BTW, i saw your original HGTV International House Hunters episode.

    • Thanks for sharing this. I don’t know what the expect if they open a beach. Either we go with it, or we don’t. We can’t stay shut forever. Cool that you saw my episode. It was so much fun filming that. I think they did a lovely tribute to my mom.

  2. Hello …I fully understand your semi freedom concerns I really believe it will take time for the public to enter businesses public transport with confidence. here are similar plans to ” Open Up ” here in Canada
    I will be taking my time to be less of a recluse…for a while anyway.
    I missed two Ballet performances and a two month trip to England.
    Beyond that I am not missing much !!!!
    Hang in there Lisa

  3. At least you’ll be sort of resuming a vague semblance of life after 11 Mai…here in NYC, we’ll be on lockdown till June, at least. And you brought a smile to my face when you mentioned BHV-one of my favorite places in the world…can;t wait to get back there!

    • Yes, you’re a month behind us. I’m curious what NYC will allow. They can’t stay shut down forever. At some point we have to live with this thing.

      • Things are still uncertain, for sure. Bits and pieces are opening but as for a city-wide re-opening it’s still murky, and not for a while. People are getting fed up and pushing back. We can’t stay locked down forever; things will never be the same (I have a hard time accepting this), but we need to move forward…

  4. I’m in Los Angeles, in a house with a pool. I call it Playa Backyardia. I know how lucky I am. There’s some vague talk of reopening bits and pieces of California, all the while practicing social distancing and wearing masks and gloves.


    After being housebound since mid-March, I don’t feel safe going out. Certainly don’t feel confident enough to go to a mall or the hairdresser or to a nail salon, even when these places finally get the OK to reopen. Frankly, I don’t know what it’s going to take, either.

    I miss my life the way it was; my fear is that there’s never going to be a way back. That life has been changed forever and that there will never be a ‘normal’.

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