Paris with a 9pm Curfew

October 23, 2020

by apaparis

Last week, Macron announced he would be imposing a 9pm to 6am curfew on Paris and 8 other French cities. This came as a bit of a shock to me, as my university classes are in person, and bars have continued to serve alcohol past their 10pm limit. The idea of living with a curfew was scary and strange to me, at first. I’ve never lived anywhere with a curfew, so the same feelings of anxiety about quarantine that I first encountered in March, came back as I began to imagine a life where walking outside past 9pm was a crime with a €135 fine attached. It also didn’t help that the first day for the curfew was last Saturday.

So, my friend and I decided to go to a bar on Friday; our last night of freedom. We went to Le Marais, a famous and central area of Paris with lots of shops, museums, cafés, bars and restaurants. But it seemed everyone else had had the same idea. Every bar we passed was at capacity. My friend and I ended up choosing a bar/restaurant called Les Philosophes, where there was luckily one table free and there was a good distance between the tables they had set up on the street. We enjoyed our drinks and updated each other on our lives. At 11:30pm, the owner of the bar gave a speech on how sad he was about the implementation of the curfew and told us he had to close down the bar. The metro was at capacity that night, with everyone trying to get home before midnight when the curfew would start. As my friend later said to me, “it was like everyone was Cinderella, rushing home from the ball before her carriage turned into a pumpkin at midnight.”

The truth is though, after quarantine, lockdown and social distancing, living with a curfew hasn’t been so hard to get used to. I also think I am especially lucky to be living in the Cité Universitaire at this time. The Cité Universitaire is a residential campus for students, usually international, with dozens of houses or residences representing 50 nationalities. As a residential area, I am allowed to walk around the Cité Universitaire gardens past 9pm or even cook and eat with others living in my building past the curfew. In a way, the curfew has given me more time and space to get to know the people I share a kitchen or study space with.

It has also given me some peace of mind to see Parisians continue, as they always have, with their packed social lives. Instead of drinks at 9pm, they’ve started meeting at 6pm for their apéro’s. And, as part of the uniqueness of this year, there have actually been a few sunny days in Paris in October which have spurred me to walk along the Seine and continue to explore this beautiful city.

About the author:

Hi, I’m Helena! I’m a Junior at Yale, hoping to spend the year in Paris if Covid-19 will let me. I am Portuguese, but have lived in India, Brazil and Wales before living in New Haven and Paris. I study Global Affairs at Yale and hope to have a career working to solve our most pressing agricultural and environmental issues. My favorite classes in Paris are Sociology of Defiance and Gender Studies at Université Paris 8.

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