Lockdown Diary: Why I’m grateful for being on lockdown in Paris

“I’m grateful to be living in France, where there is universal healthcare and where the president has chosen to save human lives over the economy.”

Today, March 25, is the eighth full day of living in true confinement. As of Tuesday, March 17, at noon, the whole country of France has been on lockdown.

It was nearly two weeks ago that President Emmanuel Macron earnestly asked us to stay home, and the Prime Minister Édouard Philippe ordered all non-essential businesses to close at midnight. By March 15, there were whispers on the street that the government would be locking down, with the military and all, because the people here weren’t taking it seriously, and the infection and death rates were rising.

I’d been preparing for weeks.

Food Stored in Apt: Eileen Cho during Paris lockdown
The author’s stored food and books. 
Eileen W. Cho

Because most of my family is located in South Korea and Seattle, Washington, two places that were hit hard by the pandemic, and

Continue reading “Lockdown Diary: Why I’m grateful for being on lockdown in Paris”

France ‘at war’: how Parisians are coping with life under lockdown

Residents of the French capital are adjusting to the country’s toughest restrictions on public life outside wartime

And suddenly, it was August. Grudgingly but obediently, the rue des Martyrs in Paris’s ninth arrondissement entered lockdown at midday on Tuesday, the few people on its pavements making their way home, baguettes and shopping bags in hand.

By 12.30pm, half an hour after France’s new reality – in essence, no going out unless to buy food or essentials, visit the doctor or get to a job certified as not doable from home – came into force, the normally bustling shopping street had emptied. Continue reading “France ‘at war’: how Parisians are coping with life under lockdown”

A Letter From Wartime France

Streets that are normally busy, all of a sudden aren’t.

At noon today, as France slipped into confinement, I looked down from my balcony at the street below. A few people were riding bikes or walking. At the tobacconist next to the closed café, a woman was wiping down the door frame. The street is normally busy, and all of a sudden it wasn’t. For the next two weeks, and likely longer, we cannot go out except for urgent reasons: food, medicine, or essential work. A nationwide lockdown, enforced by police. “We are at war,” French President Emmanuel Macron said six times in a speech yesterday evening. “The enemy is there—invisible, elusive—and it is advancing.”

Macron is right. COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has killed thousands and will likely kill thousands more, a tsunami that doctors have been warning will overwhelm the health-care system, as it’s already doing in neighboring Italy, the country hardest hit by this virus after China. This weekend, the government ordered all restaurants, cafés, and retail stores closed in France.

And finally, last night, Macron followed Italy and Spain—but not Britain or the United States—and mandated confinement to slow the exponential spread of the virus. Overnight, Macron, who was elected on a fluke and has faced popular revolts and flagging popularity, has become a war president.

We are at war. How strange to hear those words in Europe in 2020. It’s impossible, here in Paris, not to think of the Second World War. Not since Continue reading “A Letter From Wartime France”

Nowadays, Paris is for lovers of beer as well as wine. Check out these locations

BrasserieBrasserie might mean brewery, but only recently are Parisian establishments getting back to ale.

In Paris, you’re never far from a glass of wine. Step into a classic bistro and there will be good-value reds from the valleys of Rhone and Loire. Higher-end restaurants will inevitably point you in the direction of first-growth Bordeaux. New-wave wine bars are bursting with biodynamic Beaujolais. And a glass of Alsace riesling is de rigueur at a brasserie.

For a drinker interested in quality and value, wine can sometimes seem like the only option in this city. Every street, it seems, has its own cave à vin, complete with regional focus and invariably helpful staff, if you speak French. My favorites include Les Caves Saint-Martin on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin, where I once bought two bottles of an excellent grower champagne on the recommendation of the shop owner, and Trois Fois Vin on Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth.

The great food halls devote huge amounts of space to France’s most famous wine regions. I remember wandering into the recently reopened Galeries Lafayette food hall (“Lafayette Gourmet”) in 2014 to find acre upon acre of wine, the vast majority of it French (including 1,200 options from Bordeaux alone!). There were a few desultory shelves of beer.

It hasn’t always been like this: Brasserie, after all, means brewery. When Alsatians founded these palaces of gustatory gratification in the late 19th century, there was often brewing on-site. There still is at Brasserie Georges, which reinstalled a brewery in 2004, but that’s in Lyon. Paris’s mightiest brasseries long ago gave up grain for grape.

Beer is flowing in establishments with a young, energetic vibe

Testing beer at the Gallia brewery. Heineken has bought a minority share. (Gallia)

But things are changing. Breweries and bars are popping up throughout the city. It’s a young, energetic scene, exemplified by the annual Paris Beer Festival (formerly Paris Beer Week). That the name is in English rather than French is telling; much of Paris’s modern beer culture has more than a hint of Anglo-Saxon influence. That said, there’s a definite Gallic edge to places such as La Fine Mousse, an elegant bar and restaurant in the Marais, or breweries such as La Goutte d’Or, which uses ingredients reflecting the rich diversity of the local neighborhood.

The heart of this nascent Beervana can be found in northeast Paris, where rents are lower and the population younger. Around the Bassin de la Villette, a half-mile-long artificial lake in the 19th arrondissement, you’ll find Paname Brewing, a brewpub where the New England IPA is called Brexiteer (an example of how the French occasionally conflate “Anglo-Saxon” countries), and L’Atalante, with a huge outdoor terrace that fills up with young Parisians on summer evenings.

One of the most interesting breweries is Gallia: Originally founded in 1890, it was reestablished as a brand at the end of 2009. At first, the resurrected brand’s founders, Guillaume Roy and Jacques Ferté, focused on conservative pale lagers — but under head brewer Rémy Maurin, the range has expanded to encompass an impressive variety of flavors and styles.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed; in September, Heineken bought a minority share. Most bars in this city are tied to big brands such as Heineken or Kronenbourg. If they start offering customers the likes of Gallia, it’ll be a genuine game-changer.

It’s about time. Paris sits on the dividing line between northern Europe, where beer has traditionally held sway, and the wine-drinking south. Only Champagne, of France’s great wine regions, is further north, and it has (or had, until global warming) a fairly marginal grape-growing climate. This is natural beer country; it’s only right that Beaujolais, Bordeaux and the rest make room for la bière artisanale.

Will Hawkes is a freelance travel and drinks writer based in London.

Source: Nowadays, Paris is for lovers of beer as well as wine. Check out these locations. – The Washington Post