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It’s been 15 months since the last tourists from outside Europe landed in Paris. Meanwhile, it was quiet over here, but life did not stand still. Mostly, at least. While the pandemic is of course not over and everyone still needs to be very cautious, things are getting less tensed.
But I don’t want to talk about COVID-19 anymore, you know for yourself what a smack in the face this has been. Instead, I want to share with you the positive changes that happened in Paris while you’ve been away.
Because despite it all, quite some things changed for the better. Below you find a few of them – let me know in the comment section if you can think of more things!
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Paris improved massively its bike-friendliness
For a while already, the bike lane network in Paris gets constantly improved. However, the project experienced a massive boost within the past year. When you come back to Paris, you’ll find secured bike lanes everywhere. Some major streets even got transformed into bicycle-only, for example on Rue de Rivoli along the Tuileries and the Louvre. Many formerly two-lane roads are now split, with one lane reserved exclusively for bikes.
I don’t know if it’s because Parisian are avoiding the Metro or if it’s thanks to improving the bike lanes, but the number of cyclists has doubled compared to 2019. (source)
If knowing that you can safely cycle through Paris now makes you want to explore this beautiful city by bike – you can check out my guide on how to rent a bike in Paris easily, and cheaply!
Bars and Restaurant will keep their terraces
Before COVID-19, restaurants, and bars were mainly indoor activities, even in summer. If a restaurant had an outside area, it was often just a handful of tables huddled close together along the house walls.
Last year, to boost gastronomy, the town hall granted permission for restaurants and bars to freely use public spaces such as sidewalks and parking spaces to extend their terraces. To assure everyone’s safety, even some roads got closed. In total, almost 10,000 temporary terraces got installed all over Paris. Useless to say that it was a huge success.
So huge, that the mayor Anne Hidalgo just announced that restaurants and bars will be able to occupy outdoor spaces every summer from now on. Well, less generously, though. Soon the business owners have to pay rent in order to extend their terraces.
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Many museums (re-)opened in Paris
Museums were closed for big parts of the past 15 months, but this doesn’t mean that nothing happened! Some excellent new museums opened their doors to the public this year, make sure not to miss them! For example, those:
- Pinault Collection François Pinault, the President of the Kering Group (Gucci, Saint Laurent etc.) is an avid collector and supporter of contemporary art. In 2021 his long-awaited museum in Paris’ old stock exchange finally opened
- Maison Victor Hugo After being closed for renovation in early 2019, the House of the writer Victor Hugo can be visited again. He lived in the apartment in the Marais for many years and wrote the majority of Les Miserables there.
- Musée Carnavalet Closed since 2016 for works, the museum about the history of Paris can be finally visited again. The entrance is free, but you need to reserve a ticket online.
- Sewers Museum After its closure in 2018 for works, the Sewers Museum will be opening very soon again!
Good to know: The number of visitors to museums and sights is strictly limited to maintain the sanitary measurements. Hence, the ticket booths of many places are closed, and it is absolutely necessary to buy your ticket in advance online. You can check your options for example here.
Metro tickets can be charged on a travel card
If you have been to Paris before 2020, you will remember the little metro ticket paper strips. They were inevitable when moving around Paris by public transportation. They are not redundant yet, but in 2020 the Navigo Liberté travel card was introduced. You can simply charge this card with Metro tickets – it’s not only eco-friendly, but it’s also cheaper!
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