April 2021 Travel Updates
While we are still many months away from safe or even possible travel to France, we can see it on the horizon at last! And thus the travel updates are back, baby! 😀
Lockdown & Travel Update
This is what we’ve all been watching. France is struggling against the virus and a slow vaccine roll out, which has left the country in a bad situation. After a regional lockdown failed to stem the tide, the whole country is now in a month-long lockdown “lite”(compared to last spring). The curfew paradoxically has been relaxed from 6pm to 7pm. But schools are closed, restaurants are closed, and some stores are closed. Yet, this time bookstores, record shops, and chocolate shops are all considered essential services. France understands that books, music, and chocolate are essential! At least according to the contents of my own apartment. 😐
Residents are also restricted to a 10km radius of their homes. However, many Parisians made a break for the countryside before the regional lockdowns began in March! The current lockdown is scheduled to end at the end of April 2021.
Pompidou Centre Updates
Le Centre Pompidou is nearing the end of its multi-year project on the Chenille or “caterpillar,” the exterior walkway that runs along the plaza side of the building. If you were in Paris in that brief period between August 2019 and
the end times March 2020, you would have seen a lot of scaffolding, a temporary entrance, and a closed plaza. The renovation is expected to be complete by the end of this month—April 30, 2021! Check out some video of the renovation:
Currently the museum is closed due to the lockdown. But in January they announced an even bigger closure! The museum revealed that, with the Ministry of Culture’s blessing, they will be closing from late 2023 to late 2026 for imperative renovations. The building has not received a major renovation since it opened in 1977–barring the current Chenille work–and is apparently in dire need. Included in the renovations are asbestos abatement(!), updated electrical and plumbing, new elevators and escalators, updated IT infrastructure, and other necessary works. They hope to have her all spiffed up in time for the 50th anniversary in 2027.
The closure is not without controversy and there is a petite petition available to protest the full closure, demanding the Pompidou remain open during the renovation. The primary opposition is the financial impact to the businesses surrounding the museum, especially after the huge hit from the COVID lockdowns. However, staying open would not allow them to fully abate the asbestos, so that maybe not the best plan in the long term. I’m not sure what a compromise would look like in regards to long term safety versus the very real financial needs of the businesses. Since the Ministry has already signed off on the closure, it will save millions of euros, and be safer in the long run, I suspect that the museum will be fully closed during renovation. Frankly, I’m surprised they planned the closure during the 2024 Olympics, so the need must be very urgent!
Other Museum News
Musée de Cluny:
The medieval history museum now remains closed until 2022. In the interim, they have created some pages to keep you entertained (in French), with videos on the restoration process, plus crafts like online and offline coloring projects, embroidery patterns, and even medieval recipes!
The Paris History Museum will finally be open again soon! There are some references to March 2021 out there, but that seems to have been nixed with the lockdowns. We can now anticipate a re-opening “soon”. It will remain free and will be more accessible than before. There will also now be a café, a new reception area, expanded learning areas, and, for the research-minded among us, a new resources center. It sounds like it will be a truly awesome place to visit (once we can get across the pond)!
Like the Pompidou, the Grand Palais has closed for necessary restoration and updates. More than twice the age of the Pompidou, she’s overdue for some love! The Palais will remain closed until 2025, though her foyer will be used during the Olympics.
A city the size of Paris can’t really afford to lose a major event venue, so they are opening a temporary palais on the Champ de Mars, the “Grand Palais Éphémère.” It will remain in place until the OG Palais re-opens. This new palais is scheduled to open in the spring after some lockdown delays. Never fear, the temporary building will not go to waste after 2025! Apparently several cities have already put in their bid for it. Should you want to rent the Éphémère for your own party (and possibly invite a certain blogger), here is some info.
Her sister palais, the Petit Palais–the museum of fine arts–will remain open during construction.
As mentioned in my earlier post on Virtual Paris, you can continue to enjoy a rooftop view from the Grand Palais, thanks to Google Arts & Culture.
Lastly, this was advertised on the Grand Palais site and the poster needs to be shared. I’m sure this will be an awesome expo if you are in Paris!
While We Wait
The Louvre, knowing how much we all miss her and her endless trove of art, has put the entire collection online! Missing the Mona Lisa? No problem! The Louvre has you covered!
You can approach the collection in three ways, all from the home page:
- Search for a particular work or artist
- Browse by collection type or “themed albums”
- Select a room from the interactive map and explore as if you were (sort of) there.
Intriguingly, if you use the map, each room/space (salle) has a pop up with the works currently in that room. For example, room 711 (Denon Wing, Floor/Étage 1), does not list its most famous inhabitant first. You have to scroll for a bit before catching sight of the famous smirk. Also note that it does take awhile for each level to load–wait for the colored rooms to appear before attempting to browse. But it is still faster than trying to get into the actual Louvre!
As you can see in the video, at the time of publication, the room listing is lacking a photo of the room itself. But it appears they are slowly capturing photos of each salle. Looking at the -1/-2 and 0 floors, some spaces do have photos. If you enjoy a good rabbit hole, set aside some time. You are going to be here awhile.
It is worth noting that the Louvre website also got a makeover this year. It is more streamlined than the old site and the English version is much improved in function and translation. There is a lot to explore on the site, including additional curated collections. To get started, check out the page on the Salle des États, aka the Home of the Mona Lisa. You can learn about the space, the artwork, and find links to other spaces in the Louvre. Yet another rabbit hole! 😀
Despite the pandemic, it seems Paris continues to morph and change. She is an incredible and unstoppable force! Once we have safely emerged from the pandemic, what are your plans? Do you want to go to Paris ASAP? Or would you prefer to wait and let all the new rules and challenges shake out a bit? And when you do go, what is your top priority? Let me know below!
What will I do? Since I don’t think they will let me hug Notre Dame, maybe I’ll hug the Eiffel Tower? Hugging random French people may not be welcome. Though being on the metro often involves uninvited closeness…
Perhaps I will limit myself to a pain au chocolate instead. Or three. 😉
Eiffel Tower: ©Michelle Keel. Taken October 2018.
Pain au Chocolate: Pinterest. PIN 500040364851806335.
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