Venturing out

Against what was beginning to seem like truly all odds, life in France has begun to return to something vaguely resembling “normal.” After more than six months of lockdown, May 19th was the first day of déconfinement, and folks here have wasted no time at all in rediscovering all of the things that make Paris Paris.

Dani and I are certainly no exception 😅

I can only speak for myself, but things had been pretty bleak since about February. The novelty of living in Paris (even in lockdown) and beginning a brand new job had helped keep my spirits up through the first couple of months of confinement, but once cases really began to climb at the end of January and into early February, resulting in a 6 PM curfew, things got tough. I was not in a great space mental health-wise, so when May 19th rolled around, I was more than ready to reintegrate.

That very first day, we practically ran around the corner to have lunch on the terrace of La Belle Equipe, a restaurant that we’d enjoyed getting takeout from during confinement, and we were so excited to finally have the chance to actually sit there and have a meal. And honestly? It was like nothing had even happened – the restaurant was full and bustling, and the servers were dashing about as if it had only been six hours since their last sit-down service, and not six months. At one point the skies opened up and it began to pour rain, but the weather didn’t even phase us – we were just so damn happy to finally be free!

Since then, we’ve been filling our weekends with as much as we can, whether it’s a trip to a museum

at the Musée d’Orsay

a lunch with friends in the suburbs

Post-lunch cheese platter (none for me, the cheese hater). Unfortunately this was the only photo I managed to take all day!

or even a short trip outside of Paris:

For years, each time we’ve come to Paris, our friend Liz has insisted that we simply must make time to visit Giverny and see Claude Monet’s gardens. We had never managed to make time for it; not for lack of interest, but it just seemed like a hassle, and we’ve always had such limited time in Paris that it was hard to justify leaving it for a day.

Well, now that we live here, we figured there’d be no better time for a trip to Giverny than a weekend in May before the return of tourists (and when the flowers are all still in bloom). And honestly? We couldn’t believe what we had been missing!

We woke up early and took the train from Saint Lazare out to Vernon, a small town just barely within the beginning limits of Normandy. Our original plan was to spend some time poking about Vernon before catching the shuttle over to Giverny, but given that the shuttle was a bit expensive (ten euros round trip, per person!) and we had the time and energy to spare, we decided to walk the one hour and fifteen minutes from Vernon to the Fondation Claude Monet.

It turned out to be a great decision – the walk took us along the Seine, where there was plenty of greenery, flowers, and cute houses to gawk at. There was even a nature trail that let us get off the main road for a bit.

Once we arrived in Giverny, it was like walking into a fairy tale village. Old stone houses with painted shutters and stone walls covered in roses and ivy…it was as if we’d wandered directly into one of Monet’s paintings.

To say nothing of the gardens themselves! The entire property – the house, the grounds, the cows moo-ing in the field just beyond the famous bassin aux nymphéas – was magnificient.

A must-visit, no doubt about it.

We topped it all off with a lazy late lunch (complete with frosty glasses of rosé) in a cute little courtyard before catching the shuttle back to Vernon. On the train ride back to Paris, we marveled at our newfound freedom and the instant attitude adjustment that comes with simply spending some time outdoors and away from the city. We’re both very much looking forward to taking more little trips like this throughout the summer!