By Xander Brett, Third Year, History of Art and French
The Croft Magazine // Xander Brett documents his Easter celebrations, and how Parisian life continues under the current lockdown.
I sometimes think there’s a verger with a telescope in the church opposite. I like to include street sounds, but whenever I record my letters, the moment I begin I’m sure the bells will chime so loudly I’m forced to wait. Well, recording on Good Friday there was no chance of interruption. Tradition dictates that on Maundy Thursday, the bells of French churches grow wings and fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. On their way home, they drop chocolate eggs in the gardens of French children. This replaces the Easter Bunny though, with deliveries to neighbouring countries, I’ve noticed rabbits creeping into the chocolateries… along with fish of course. Paper poissons d’avril are stuck on your back as an April Fool, usually accompanied by a joke. “The pandemic is over!” was the most popular this year.
President Macron addressed the nation on Wednesday evening… not to deliver a poisson d’avril, but to announce that schools will close for a three-week holiday. Closing schools may seem a small step, but it’s a giant leap for France, rightly been proud of operating schools since the start of May. My university, however, remains open, and I’ll go in for class as usual. The streets are busy, though you need an attestation to go beyond ten kilometres of your address. I’ve kept travelling on a journalistic pass, and looking at my map of France, the pins show that since the end of January I’ve visited over twenty towns from the Alps to the Loire. Next week I’ll be in Normandy and the Dordogne.
I’ve just been doing lots of cooking for the Easter weekend: lamb, sea urchins and foie gras. Festivals are always an excuse for good food, but Easter seems to fall a little flat… maybe it’s just because we’re in a global pandemic. Still, Good Friday isn’t a bank holiday, and nobody wished me ‘Happy Easter’ in the shops. From the smartly dressed clochard (surely France’s only beggar with a daily commute) to the butcher’s son, I’m part of life here, and I’ve seen some local changes in my time. When I returned in January, the boulangerie next to my tabac had closed, and now I get the daily baguette from a boulangerie under my window. Last Sunday, my tabac had run out of Paris Match, leading to an hour-long search along both banks of the Seine. The next day, they didn’t have a newspaper for me. Then on Tuesday, I was told they’re leaving the island. They spent the rest of the week clearing out in preparation for the new arrivals. With time running out, I’ll soon be clearing out for new arrivals too: leaving my apartment in the hands of my sister, arriving soon to study at a language school.
Featured Image: Epigram / Xander Brett
Listen to Xander's weekly Burst Radio podcast 'Letters from Paris' here.