Liberté, egalité… legally binding bedtime? Even though you could argue complying with Paris’ latest legislation is the ultimate gesture of fraternité, it certainly doesn’t have the same ring to it as the original revolutionary slogan.
Be that as it may, after a summer of relaxed lockdown laws, the Parisian authorities have decided to bring in a 9pm curfew as the virus flares again.
Thanks to that, Paris now looks a little eerie at night – especially when contrasted with photos of the same cafes and bars, filled with life, just weeks ago, as done by photographer Kiran Ridley.
Ridley took to the streets of Paris on October the 17th – the night the curfew was introduced –contrasting quiet images with bustling shots of the same spots back in September.
Speaking to DMARGE exclusively, Ridley said the “numbers [of confirmed cases] you see reported by French government are frightening.”
However, despite the curfew, and empty images like the one above, “People are either complacent or they are just choosing to ignore it.”
“The curfew has been in place for a week now” Kiran told us. But that doesn’t mean it is being strictly obeyed.
The first night it came in, Kiran told DMARGE, “9pm came and went and there were still a lot of people about.”
“I went to Champs Elysees at about 10pm at night because I wanted to take a picture of that but there were still a lot of cars going up and down.”
“I think takeaways are still open.”
“Traffic is a lot lighter [than it would otherwise be] but 9pm is a bit fuzzy – a bit loose – restaurant workers and people who have work exemptions are still around.”
There are also some potentially self-defeating elements to the curfew, with Ridley pointing out now you “go to a bar at 8pm and it’s packed – all [the curfew] has done it concertinaed timings down so instead of people being more staggered between 7pm and 12am [they all go home at the same time].”
“I drove past a bar on Thursday night and it was packed at 8pm.”
“Strange in that respect.”
Having said that, Ridley told DMARGE “people are determined for it not to affect their everyday lives,” and that during the day Paris looks much the same.
Ridley also told us that there could be something of a ‘reactionary’ element to Paris’ somewhat laissez faire attitude.
“Lockdown here in March and April was very tough, tightly regulated; very hard – more than the UK experienced in their lockdown.”
“There’s a real reluctance from the government and people to go back into another lockdown.”
Ridley also said the areas of Paris that are usually very touristy are struggling the most.
“Areas of Paris that don’t have a large local neighbourhood are really struggling – Notre Dame, 5th and 6th arrondissement, etc.”
“Local neighbourhoods and the bars there are thriving.”
French citizens have endured a roller-coaster year. In Spring, as the virus first began to explode, rules were strict. Then, in a bid to stimulate the economy, regulations were lifted in Summer after case numbers dropped.
Since then, after a summer in the sun, Europe – France included – has seen confirmed cases of the virus once again spike, leading to renewed regulations across much of Europe.
As CNN reports, “it was almost as if the French capital was back to its old self” just a month ago. Now, as seen in photographer Ridley’s images, the place – at night – is a specter of its old self.
“Hospitality venues must close and citizens stay home between between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. across Paris,” CNN reports. “Other French cities, including Aix-en-Provence, Grenoble, Marseille, Montpellier, Toulouse, Saint Etienne, Lille, Rouen and Lyon are also affected.”
According to CNN, breaking the rules carries a fine of €135 (roughly AU $225) for a first offense, and goes up to €1,500 (AU $2,502) if the offense is repeated.
A 23-year-old Parisian bistro worker called Mathilde told CNN her family’s bistro was losing turnover due to the changes, pointing out, “tourists do not want to come visit Paris because of the curfew.”
Other Parisians spoke to CNN about the benefits, such as the reduction in noise pollution.
Viva la revolution?