Paris is the most visited city of the world. The countless museums, monuments and beautiful buildings of this megacity in the heart of Europe make it attractive to everyone. Paris is also linked to love and romanticism with French considered one of the most sexy languages in the world. The sublime gastronomy and rich culture is like a dessert of a perfect meal. But, if so many people wants to experience all this, you are right, Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Then, COVID-19 came in 2020 and everything changed. Hotel prices droped as never seen before, Americans and Asians had no flights allowed to France, travel restrictions make travel planning almost impossible to any destination, visiting closed spaces like museums or tourist attractions are done in a different way and forces you to plan in advance despite the difficulties… And then, because all of this, we decided that 2020 was the best time to visit Paris.
The first thing we noticed when landed in Paris was the fact of seeing few people in the airport, in the train, in the streets… There were almost no tourists and for sure many Parisians had already left the city to go to the countryside. Hydroalcoholic gel was placed almost in every corner and at the entrance of every open shop. But many shops and restaurants were closed and it was Saturday!
Face masks were compulsory in closed spaces like public transport or shops but not in the street, which allowed us pleasant walks through Paris. We walked an average of 18Km per day. People looked committed to stop the spread of the virus and we saw no one with no mask in a closed space. In fact, some people were wearing them also in the streets.
Big museums like Louvre, Orsay, Pompidou… force you to buy your tickets through internet in advance and choose a time slot. The Eiffel Tower or Versailles Palace also ask you to buy in advance and choose the time when you plan to visit the place. This is a difficulty because your flight may get cancelled because different reasons during these times, and there was no cancellation policy when buying the expensive tickets for museums. We took the risk and wrote a complete plan for our 5 days in Paris, deciding when to visit what and knowing that we could not improvise these visits.
Louvre is the most visited museum in the world with almost 10 million tourists in 2019. We guess that there are usually many tourists and noisy groups at the entrance from the early morning when the museum opens its doors. And we guess that once inside it is difficult to have a pleasant visit with many people around you all the time, disturbing you when you want to take a photo of an art masterpiece or just reading the information panel below a sculpture. 2020 is different.
We could see the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa, without fighting against others, just one metre in front of it and using all the needed time for whatching all the details and taking all the photos we wanted. However, as I wrote before, there are also negative points, and this day we could not have breakfast till 10:30am. We expected to find a boulangerie or café in our way from the hotel to the Louvre, but we didn’t, they were closed. And the bars and restaruants inside the museum didn’t open before that time.
Another place which may be full of tourists is the inverted glass pyramid that is found in the shopping area between the Louvre entrance and metro station. This place became very famous after the Da Vinci Code film… We are not going to make any spolier, don’t worry.
We visited everything that needs to be visited in Paris and we did no queues at all. We walked the most famous avenues and relaxed in the best gardens and parks of the city where we found few people, most of them locals enjoying of a strange peaceful and quiet environment. In Luxembourg gardens we saw those typical chairs of Paris, which are not fixed to the floor and you can take with you within the area. Most of them were not used and we guess that in a normal year would be difficult to find an empty one.
Palace of Versailles is also one of the must-see places in Paris and it is ranked in the top 50 most visited attractions in the world. But in 2020 you can take photos with no people in them, check the featured image of this post. Inside the Palace there was some local tourists at the beginning of the visit but everyone was naturally distributed through the different rooms and areas of the building. Keeping the social distance was more than easy.
The gardens of the Palace of Versailles are so huge that you forget about COVID-19 for a full day. We took a rowing boat at the lake, ate a sandwich under a tree, had a coffee and a muffin in a terrace… and felt like those gardens and palace were ours for that day. Far from being kings we just want to find the best value for money and Covid-19 brought that to Paris and also Barcelona, our homecity. If you can, take advantage of that!
Imagine being in Champ de Mars, in front of the Eiffel Tower, sitting on the grass without tourists around, having a snack and taking photos while waiting the time to say good bye to a magnificent city like Paris…