A post-lockdown guide to Paris

Today, 59 countries open their borders for quarantine-free travel, including France. Oh la la. We asked hip-hop party heads Yard Paris and the co-founder of Paris’ famed La Creole club night to curate a coronavirus-friendly itinerary for your next trip to the capital.

Last week, the British government announced a series of air corridors between the UK and 59 other countries, including France, Spain, Vietnam, Japan and Australia. The decision, effective from today, means that us Brits can go on holiday without having to quarantine for 14 days upon return. Get in. 

After three months of stay-at-home sanctions and with the closure of clubs, festivals and live music for the foreseeable future, many people are leaping at the chance to jet away on a summer vacay. 

However, we must not forget that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, and although the number of cases has dropped substantially across Europe, the threat of a second wave looms large.

Whether we like it or not, Covid-19 has created a new – rather strange – normal, and countless new rules and restrictions now apply. 

So to help navigate any confusion, we’ve tapped up some friends from our community to list the places you can eat and drink at post-Covid, and the things you should do with that newfound sense of freedom.

First up: Paris, as curated by famed club night Yard, a community renowned for throwing the rowdiest rap parties in the city, and Vincent Frederic-Colombo, co-founder of LA CREOLE party collective.

Topline stats: the French capital ended official lockdown on 11th May, with bars, restaurants, cinemas and galleries reopening a month ago. Like most places, clubs are still shut, but unlike the UK, street parties have been given the green light. There are currently no new reported cases.

Finally, do not travel if you’re displaying any Covid-19 symptoms, wash your hands and wear a mask. Simple.

YARD PARIS

What phase of lockdown are you currently in and what does it look like? 

The formal lockdown ended here in France on 11th May, but bars and restaurants only reopened a couple of weeks ago. It takes time to re-adjust to this new in-between world of ours. But as the anti-police brutality movement grew – and because our core commitment is to be there, speak right and do good” – the end of lockdown happened faster. 

What safety precautions are being put in place? 

We are doing what is necessary to stay safe and to be responsible to the population. Masks and hand gel are mandatory and available at the entrance of all of our locations and events. 

Which of your favourite restaurants are open for a bite to eat?

@Takaramono_Paris for great crispy chicken and cocktails. There’s always a good vibe!

@Pinkmamma_Paris is a perfect location in the city to sit on a terrace and eat good Italian food.

Go to @baba_zulu_paris if you’re into chicken and waffles – this is the place.

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Where are the best outdoor spots for walks and boozy picnics? 

  • Le Parc de Vincennes, 75012 Paris France
  • Les Quais de Seine, 75019 Paris, France 
  • Parc Les Guilands, 93100 Montreuil

What about the best delis to buy wine and cheese? 

And, of course, the best boulangerie for croissants and bread? 

Boulangerie Bô in Gare de Lyon neighbourhood for a mix of French boulangerie and pâtisserie with Japanese influences.

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What about galleries and museums, any good exhibitions we should catch? 

Yes, La Maison Européenne de la Photographie has reopened. There’s currently an exposition of Erwin Wurm who talks about your relationship with your body, which is pretty interesting once you’ve experienced being in lockdown. Le Theatre Contemporai is staging Wdji Mouawa’s work at the moment.

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What’s the nightlife scene like at the moment? 

OFF. No night clubs have reopened yet, so we go to bars or house parties. It’s interesting how bars have found a new way to adapt to the new conditions. All bars have installed outdoor terraces which creates a real street vibe when walking through the city. We’re used to having the terrace vibe when eating in restaurants and brasseries, but now it’s all we have, so the sidewalks are all packed! Usually, after 2am all bars close, but now they close their metal shutters half way, and keep the party going inside, discreetly… 

Are there any places to listen to live music right now? 

I haven’t heard of any places so far that have reopened for live shows. But we did have an amazing Fête de la Musique (annual music festival in town). The government had allowed us to play music outdoor, all day until 10pm, so we organised an impromptu event, where we booked our family DJs (12 of them to be precise) and installed two scenes on parallel streets in the 10th arrondissement: one rue de la Fidélité @Takaramono and one in front of the YARD offices rue de Paradis. Two streets, two vibes! We had 2000 people who showed up.

The vibe at rue de la Fidélité: 

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VINCENT FREDERIC-COLOMBO, MEMBER OF LA CREOLE COLLECTIVE

What’s your public transport system like at the moment? 

It’s back to normal businesses. Three weeks ago it was limited until 10pm, but now it’s back to 24hours. I used the metro for the first time since the end of the lockdown last weekend. I try to take Ubers and also I walk a lot to avoid public transport.

What was your favourite place you discovered over lockdown? 

I did a lot of running at night during the lockdown at boulevard Richard Lenoir – it was amazing to run there with empty streets. 

Which of your favourite restaurants are open for a bite to eat?

  • Chez SHEN – cheap Chinese right in the centre.
  • Paris-Féni – a really good Bengalese restaurant that always uses fresh produce.
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  • Yemma – Lebanese, great place to share a few dishes with friends.
  • On the bab– Korean street food, tasty and cheap!
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Where are the best outdoor spots for walks and boozy picnics? 

  • Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, 1 Rue Botzaris, 75019 Paris
  • Promenade Plantée at Le Viaduc des Arts, 83 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris
  • Quai de la Seine, 75019 Paris, France
  • Canal Saint-Martin, 75010 Paris
  • Canal de l’Ourcq, 75019 Paris

And of course, best boulangerie for croissants and bread? 

  • Stohrer – the oldest patisserie in Paris, a must-visit. 
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Where should we head for clothes shopping? 

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I love Saint-Ouen’s (flea Market) and Le Marais for shopping, also: La Tranchée Militarie, The Broken Arm, Tom Greyhound, Merci Paris, The Next Door and Emmaüs.

What about galleries and museums, any good exhibitions we should catch? 

There’s La Kaz exhibition by Fabien Vilrusand Nicolas Guichard at Balice Hertling Belleville until 1st August.

What’s the nightlife scene like at the moment? 

It’s kind of weird in a way, clubs are still closed, festivals cancelled but some bars reopen and are allowed to welcome people if they have outdoor space. When Fete de la Musique happened we saw how much the city needed the space to party again. The government looks tolerant in a way, but stays hypocritical about the business of nightlife and pushing the option of reopening with clear conditions for the club. So the outdoors is now the place to party.

Are there any places to listen to live music right now? 

The hotline is the new concept for the clubber party again. No event on social media, we’re back on the SMS or Whatsapp to get a GPS location. It feels like a new era, where an old school system is the only way to party again. Especially at Vincennes Park, a new underground scene of free parties in the woods. It’s like a little Woodstock for clubbers.

What’s something you’re really wanting to do in Paris but can’t right now?

A La Creole party!

I’m the co-founder of the party and I realise how much people love us and want to celebrate and party more often. We did a special edition of La Creole for Fete de la musique and that was really emotional for us. It was a block party with a really short time announcement (like less than 48h) and over 1,000 people came. We couldn’t imagine so much love and joy. We were so proud of this sense of unity – only peace, open-minded [people] and pure energy on the street.


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