The COVID-19 pandemic may have disrupted everyone’s travel plans, but it doesn’t have to stop you from accessing culture. If you were looking forward to that trip to Paris, here’s some good news for you: you can still experience that iconic French lifestyle in the comfort of your own
quarantine space home.
How? Put on your finest beret, and read on.
Get in the right mood with the best French songs
Before you start to do anything, you’ll have to set the scene. The best way to do this is with some atmospheric mood music. Put on some Edith Piaf, Louise Attaque or Serge Gainsbourg, and transport yourself into the legendary Parisian music scene. Close your eyes and imagine kissing goodbye to your lover under the Eiffel Tower, or enjoying your artistic black coffee in a café while an unlikely and uniquely French romance blossoms around you.
If you fancy going back in time even further, put on the soothing sounds of Claude Debussy, or check if any of Paris’s prestigious music venues are putting on a live show – many orchestras around the world are streaming their performances during the pandemic to continue bringing culture to the world.
Not sure where to begin, or just want to discover some new favourite French songs? Check out the Tiqets Paris playlist on Spotify, full of traditional French classics, Paris-inspired tunes, and uhh, Rammstein. Rammstein is also on there.
Enjoy some authentic French food and drink
Okay, so the authenticity here will depend heavily on where you live, and whether or not your local supermarket has already been raided by doomsday preppers. Luckily though, you won’t need to buy toilet paper for any of the below dishes. Honestly, you won’t even need to cook! Try these four French food and drink suggestions to help you get into that holiday mindset.
The French lifestyle is famous for featuring plenty of wine. Some varieties, like Bordeaux and Champagne, are literally named after specific regions in France. Sipping a refreshing glass of wine is a classic French pastime, and you’re allowed to treat yourself a little bit during the coming few weeks. You’re in the middle of an actual worldwide pandemic. Be kind to yourself. Relax.
Cheese platter/charcuterie board
Charcuterie – has there ever been a classier name for an assortment of various meat cubes and slices? Get whatever you can find at your local store (and remember to pay contactless as much as you can), and put it on your most rustic-looking wooden serving tray. Add some brie, camembert, or goat cheese, along with the aforementioned glass of wine, and you’re good to go. Is that Edith Piaf playing in the background?
“Paris in the early morning has a cheerful, bustling aspect, a promise of delicious things to come, a positive smell of coffee and croissants, quite peculiar to itself. The people welcome a new day as if they were certain of liking it, the shopkeepers pull up their blinds serene in the expectation of good trade, the workers go happily to their work, the people who have sat up all night in night-clubs go happily to their rest, the orchestra of motor-car horns, of clanking trams, of whistling policemen tunes up for the daily symphony, and everywhere is joy.”
– Nancy Mitford
“Hurry up with my damn croissants.”
– Kanye West
No matter which one of these literary giants you identify with more, there’s no denying the universal appeal of the croissant. Baked in a buttery, flaky crust, a good croissant is one of life’s purest pleasures. Take some time in the morning to make yourself an artisanal black coffee (instant coffee is also fine, this is a judgement-free quarantine zone) and enjoy it with a freshly baked croissant. Watch the sun shine through the window, or gaze out at the melancholy grey skies like you’re in an old French arthouse film.
Pastries in general
Croissants aren’t the only delicious baked goods you can enjoy on your pretend-holiday to France; the French are known around the world for their wide range of pastries and cakes. Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you need to stop trying new things. Have you ever tasted a mille-feuille? When’s the last time you had an éclair? Go wild and try to make your own colourful macarons, or simply order some online or buy them at your local supermarket. Did we mention this quarantine zone is judgement-free?
Discover the best French movies to watch
If you’re trying to immerse yourself in the French lifestyle, you’ll need to observe real French people doing real French things. This can be hard to do when you can’t leave your house for 23.5 hours a day. Luckily, there’s a whole host of French films and TV shows that will let you get a feel for true French culture.
Try watching cult classics by Jean-Pierre Jeunet like Amélie and Delicatessen, which are on the fringe between arthouse and accessible, while never losing their unique French sensibility. Both films also feature an actor known simply as Rufus, which is arguably the most powerful name change since Prince became a symbol, and a fact that’s guaranteed to win you a French trivia prize at some point in your life.
If you’re into the more absurd aspects of French art and culture, try The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie by Luis Buñuel. It’s surreal, essentially plotless, and focuses around dinner plans by middle-class French people that end up being consistently scuppered. Watch it and make your world a slightly more confusing place.
Learn/practice French online
Virus-based quarantine, while it sounds like a barrel of laughs, can actually get pretty lonely. Sitting at home all day isn’t great for anyone’s mental health. Similarly, the best part of traveling is engaging with the local culture and forming new connections across cultures and languages – something you’re missing out on by staying at home. Or are you?
As it turns out, there are currently also millions of French-speaking people doing the same thing, and they’d love to talk to anybody other than their housemate who they’ve been stuck with for the last week. As strange as it sounds, there has never been a better time to practice your French online. Get in touch with French speakers through apps like HelloTalk and HiNative, or if you’re too shy, stick to classics like Memrise and Duolingo. Either way, you can’t expect to live that true French lifestyle without learning a little bit of the language!
Try these French traditions
Lastly, just because you didn’t end up going to France doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to try some authentic French traditions. We asked Lucie Garcia, French Content Editor at Tiqets, to give us her top tips on how to be as authentically French as possible. Unfortunately, in true French fashion, her response was a curt “non”, as she proceeded to mercilessly ridicule our cuisine and fashion sense. As a result, here are four absolutely true French traditions:
The noble art of mime
Look at that man over there. See his pained expression. Watch his confusion and desperate flails. He’s… he’s trapped in a box! Somebody help him! There’s an invisible box and he’s trappe–oh! He’s out! He’s out of the box! It was all an elaborate act… a simple lampoon, a clever ruse! If the cabin fever is getting to you, there’s no better way to stay calm than with some quick physical exercise. And science has proven that there is no better exercise than the ancient and venerable art of mime.
The ability to convey effortless elegance
If there’s one thing French people, especially Parisians, are known for, it’s their sense of sophistication, style, and elegance. Somehow everything sounds better when it’s said with a French accent. Even littering looks cool when someone does it with a casual French flick of the wrist. If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony or a window view, send a refined glance through the glass and cast your impeccable judgement on the outside world. Feel the power. Feel the elegance. Let the tradition flow through you.
The innate ability to create an Impressionist masterpiece
Historically, French people just absolutely love creating priceless, unparalleled works of Impressionist art. Release your own inner talents and create a work of art so fine that the early months of 2020 will not be remembered for a virus sweeping through the world, but as the advent of the 21st century’s greatest Neo-Impressionist artist: you. Alternatively, set your aim slightly lower, and simply relax while taking some time for creative pursuits during this time of quarantine and uncertainty. It’ll make you feel happier.
An air of insouciance
The English language literally didn’t have a word for this, so we lifted it straight from the French. That’s pretty telling. The closest equivalent in daily English is nonchalance, which–wait, that’s also French. You get the picture.
Similar to the point above, the French ability to be carelessly indifferent in the face of shocking or seemingly insurmountable challenges is world-renowned. It’s also incredibly cool. While you’ll likely never have that same je ne sais quoi that a true French person might have, it’s still fun to pretend. You’ll come out of your quarantine period 200% more refined and mysterious, and 100% ready to continue living the ultimate French lifestyle.
Millions of people, and French bulldogs, around the world are adjusting their lifestyle to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Social distancing and self-isolating can be difficult, but luckily there are plenty of ways to stay sane and healthy. Whether it’s live-streaming cute zoo animals or taking a virtual tour of the Louvre, take good care of yourself during this period.