Paris Memories: Reflections During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Paris Memories: Reflections During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Strolling the streets and parks of Paris, pretending I live in the 6th arrondissement, and tasting my way through upscale chocolate shops, local patisseries, and good restaurants are now done only in my memories. As Rick says to Elsa in Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.” But are memories enough?
Reality in California means hunkering down at home during the shelter-in-place mandate. No eating out with my adult children, no meeting friends over coffee or lunch, no workouts at the gym, no non-essential travel. The only voyages I will be making in the near future are trips to the supermarket. Maybe not even that, as online shopping is safer.

The Louvre. Photo: Dawn Dailey

In these turbulent and frightening times, it’s too easy to lament what’s lost and not be thankful for what we still have. I prefer to think of my confinement as a staycation where I catch up on projects hiding on my to-do list, like taking that online photography course I paid for last year but never got around to doing. Now I can spend more time studying French online. Or maybe I’ll simply relax with a good book.

Notre-Dame de Paris. Photo: Dawn Dailey

While my planned trip to Paris may not materialize, I can’t help planning the one after that. Perhaps all will be well and safe later this year. Despite the pandemic’s current impact on France, I am optimistic. It is France, after all, and the French are a resilient and resourceful people.

Café at Sacré-Cœur. Photo: Dawn Dailey

While life as we know it has changed, I can still go to Paris in my mind, if not in a plane. I remember all my wonderful times in the City of Light. I revisit Paris through my photos, taken in what already seems like another lifetime ago. With memories of the past, I dream of the future and the possibility to see Paris again someday. Because, in the words of Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, “Paris is always a good idea.”

Luxembourg Palace. Photo: Dawn Dailey

Pont Alexandre III. Photo: Dawn Dailey

Lone lamp post at Notre Dame. Photo: Dawn Dailey

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Dawn Dailey, author and photographer, is passionate about travel and seeing the world through her camera lens. When she’s not traveling, she’s home in California planning her next big adventure, which almost always involves exploring France.

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  • Barbara
    2020-04-23 00:36:48
    What a wonderful post; my trip to Paris was postponed on 3/30 would have been my third trip, but I was so looking forward to it. There is no place like Paris and I, too, hope that the fall offers a window of opportunity. When I was there last year with my son we attended Mass in Notre Dame. One month later, from our respective homes, as we watched the flames engulf Our Lady, I couldn’t believe that in the history of that magnificent cathedral we were one of the last to actually attend Mass there. Yes, Paris is always a good idea. And for now, it is always on my mind and in my heart.


    • Dawn Dailey
      2020-04-25 02:39:29
      Dawn Dailey
      Hi, Barbara. Thank you so much for your comment. I totally understand your disappointment in having to cancel your trip to Paris. Hopefully, you can reschedule when it's safe to travel again. The "lone lamp post" photo in this essay was taken about a week before the fire at Notre Dame when all the cherry trees were in bloom. I, too, watched the news in horror from another French city, knowing that I had just been there. I am hopeful that we will get through this pandemic together, Notre Dame will be rebuilt, and travel will once again be part of our lives. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy!


  • Michael James
    2020-03-26 04:05:07
    Michael James
    Nice. I don't know if it is why your wrote this piece but at times of crisis (like now or the Notre Dame fire, and the 2015 terror attacks) I find myself especially wishing I could be there. "Because, in the words of Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, “Paris is always a good idea.”" Excuse me for being a pedantic bore, but Audrey never said that. Sabrina did, but only in the 1995 remake (by Sidney Pollack, starring Julia Ormond & Harrison Ford). It's sacrilege for me to say it, but I prefer the remake because as luminous as Audrey was in the original, the pairing with Humph didn't work, and worse, that movie was pure Hollywood. They never left a sound stage while the remake had a gorgeous approx. 20 minutes filmed in the real Paris (with Fanny Ardant and Patrick Bruel, the French Patrick Demsey!); this never fails to lift the spirits. As does the final scene on the passerelle, Pont des Arts. Which reminds me of the other great bon mot from Sabrina: Sabrina: “Along the Seine there is a walk along the river that goes from Ile St Germain to the Pont d’Austerlitz. Takes you past all the bridges of Paris. Twenty-three of them. And you find one that you love and you go there every day with your coffee and your journal. And you listen to the river.” Linus Larrabee: And what does it tell you? S: That’s between you and the river. .......................... My bridge is Pont Marie which I crossed every day to go from my home on Ile St Louis to the Right bank. [Final pedant note: today there are 35 bridges including the 4 passerelles) or 37 if one includes the two bridges at either end that carry the Peripherique.]


  • Patricia Kopelman
    2020-03-26 00:54:10
    Patricia Kopelman
    I truly enjoyed the heartfelt article, ‘Paris Memories’ and the stunning photos!


    • Dawn Dailey
      2020-03-31 03:11:38
      Dawn Dailey
      Thank you, Patricia! I appreciate your comments. Paris is one of my favorite places on the planet! Stay safe and healthy!


  • Karen Devolin
    2020-03-25 20:04:00
    Karen Devolin
    thank you for this. we are in Canada and have paid for our 3 generational family of 5 to come in late October to celebrate our 50th anniversary. However, we are sending supportive thoughts and prayers to everyone everywhere as the world works through these troubling times. My hubby and I have already been to Paris 3 times and if we don't make it this year, we will get everyone there soon enough for them to have an experience of a lifetime. Keep safe and sound.


    • Dawn Dailey
      2020-03-31 03:15:12
      Dawn Dailey
      Hi, Karen. Thank you for your comments. I feel your pain of disappointment if your trip doesn't materialize. I do hope you and your family are able to go, hopefully in October, but if not, maybe next year. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.