SweetEscape is committed to helping you capture life perfectly during the good times and tough times. As one of the biggest platform that connects you with thousands of photographers around the world, we would like to connect you with one of our photographers every two weeks on Instagram Live to discuss and share their experience during this global pandemic and their memorable moments as a SweetEscape photographer.
In this fifth episode of our Instagram Live with #SweetEscapePhotographers, we talked to Flora Andriany from Paris, France one of SweetEscape's most popular destinations. Paris recently lifted their lockdown on May 11th, so we're excited to know how is life in the City of Love right now! Let's get to it!
I think it's pretty much the same with everywhere else. We had a lockdown in place for 8 weeks form March 16th to May 11th, and finally it was lifted. France was affected pretty badly by the outbreak, with over 150,000 cases and 28,000 deaths, but thankfully, we've managed to flatten the curve now. We are currently on phase 1 of the reopening from now until June 2nd, and if–hopefully–the condition is getting better, we'll be moving on to the second phase with less restrictions and more places opening. Hopefully in June 15th the borders will start be opening again and everything is going to get better.
There are still restrictions applied. We are gradually opening things up, but we're still cautions. After the lockdown, France is divided into two zones: Green Zone which are areas that are considered safe, and Red Zone where there are still high number of cases and virus spread is still active. Paris is in the Red Zone, because it's a densely populated city.
The good news is, even though we're in the Red Zone, we're already allowed to go outside. During the quarantine, we're only allowed to go outside to do essential things like grocery shopping or medical emergencies. Only one person could go out from each household and we could only travel in a 1 kilometer radius from where we live, wearing a mask, and bringing a letter form the government showing the purpose of us going out. Now, we don't need to do that anymore. We can travel for about 100 kilometers radius without any letter. Public transport is running again, although only 75% of the usual schedule and the load of each vehicle is reduced to 50% of its usual capacity. Small shops are open, schools are opening, starting from kindergarten and slowly moving up to higher levels of education. Parks, museums, and some opens spaces are still closed, but libraries are open. Everyone is still wearing masks wherever they go but now it's only mandatory in closed public spaces such as public transports.
The system is there, with signs everywhere reminding everyone to keep their physical distances, hand sanitizers available in most places, and masks are provided by the government for free! So, we're thankful for that.
I left Indonesia 20 years ago. We moved around a lot but we settled in Paris 8 years ago. As for SweetEscape, I joined 2 years ago, so it was around 2018.
Oh yes! There was one client who’s planning for a proposal but he messed up the date! So we’ve been in contact for 2 weeks prior to the session; we discussed every single detail—where we want to do it, what time, what should they wear, what kind of 'clue' I would give him to bend on one knee. On the D-day I sent him a message in the morning and he didn’t reply! Then I sent him another message 2 hours before the session, saying that I haven't heard from him and checking if he had gone to the spot already. Suddenly, he called me frantically, saying, "Oh my God, Flor! I messed up the date! I'm still in Italy!" Hahahaha!
Luckily, SweetEscape's Customers Relations team is very helpful! They accomodated him regarding this situation. Of course, he still had to pay an extra penalty fee for rescheduling the session, but it was only a small amount and they understood that these things could happen when you're traveling to somewhere far. They rescheduled the session with me, we finally had the shoot in Paris... And the most important thing: The girl said yes!
Another memorable one was when my camera bag was stolen during a session! Usually when I have a session on the weekend, I would drag my husband along to help me carry my camera bag. On that day, I had a session with this lovely family with 3 small kids. I was taking photos when suddenly my client (The Dad) shouted "Hey! Somebody is stealing your bag!" When I turned around, I saw someone had grabbed my camera bag and ran away to a car and started to drive away! I was speechless and shocked, unable to do anything. Somehow, my client was super brave. He started running towards the car, stood in front of it to block its path, and bang the car's hood! He was actually very intimidating with his arms covered in tattoos, so I think the thief was scared! They threw my camera bag to the street and sped away in their car... So I got my camera bag back! It was just like an action movie!
Families with kids and proposals are always magical. However, the one moment that always touches my heart is when someone brings their elderly parents for a trip together. It's an accomplishment for the children to be able to make their parents happy, it shows that they care about their parents, and I am so glad to be able to capture the love in their relationship, it always makes me teary because it's so beautiful. I just hope that I do justice in capturing these beautiful moments!
Honestly, every corner in Paris is beautiful, even when you're taking a photo shoot on the street in front of a café. If we talk Paris of course everyone would want to visit Eiffel Tower, and the best viewing spot would be Trocadero, although you need to go there early in the morning to avoid the crowd. But Eiffel Tower itself is visible 360 degrees around Paris, so you could do a photo shoot in a random alley around the area and still have the Tower as your background. I would recommend Avenue de Camoens, a small alley between two different apartment buildings with Eiffel Tower standing in the middle. There's also another alley called Rue de I'Université, and of course Montmartre, the most romantic spot with all the pebble stones and tiles... It's a very authentic Parisien spot!
Actually, all the main attractions of the city are located along the Seine River. You can start from Eiffel Tower; go to Trocadero for a full-view of the Eiffel Tower and then walk North to the Arc de Triomphe. From there, you can walk along Champs Elysees and back to the river, crossing Pont Alexander III Bridge. Right accros the bridge, you can see Hotel des Invalides, the building with a gold roof, where the tomb of Napoleon Buonaparte is located. Continue towards the river, and you can see Place de La Concorde, with the famous oblisk there. Continue passing through Jardin de Tuileres. This is actually very beautiful garden, perfect for a proposal spot. After the garden, you'll reach Musee de Louvre, and just continue a little bit and you'll reach Notre Dame! You can end your day at Montmartre or Sacre Coeur basilica. All the landmarks are open, I even had my first photo shoot after the lockdown last week!
It is possible to visit each location on foot, but it depends on your physical ability. I would recommend cycling because the city government of Paris encourages the citizen to cycle more or take the public transport. They've prepared a new 50 kilometer bike lane around the city, and it's pretty easy to find some bike rental shop in the city where you can rent a bike or even a segway.
Sadly, it's still closed down. You can't even take a picture near it because the entire cathedral is still under construction and it's covered entirely, even the garden. It'll take a long time until it finishes rebuilding and opens again. But around the cathedral itself, there are many interesting things to visit! There's Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore, a legendary bookstore that's so beautiful, especially if you go inside, but the place is very small and the space between the shelves are very tight, so you might just want to visit the café next door. You should try Berthillon ice cream, which is located nearby! They claim to be the first ice cream in Paris, and it certainly is still the best!
Usually they would ask me to recommend them places to visit other than the landmarks. I would suggest Ateliere de Lumiere. It's an art exhibition space where they showcase paintings from famous painters such as Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, and others, but the interesting part is that you don't see the real painting. Instead, the paintings are projected around the room in a 360 degrees projection and it's all animated! It's such a beautiful show and even kids will definitely love it! You need to book the tickets in advance, because usually they are sold out pretty fast.
Another thing they would ask me is where to go outside of the city that's not too far. You can visit Versailles, which is a little bit outside of Paris, reachable in 30-40 minutes by car or 1 hour by train. It's totally worth the visit! It's a huge complex and behind the main palace building there's a huge garden which you can visit. Unfortunately, currently it's still closed, but let's hope with more restrictions getting lifted, it will reopen soon.
There are other places too like Giverny, the House of Monet, around an hour drive from Paris. It's the house where Monet drew the famous water lilies painting, and you can still see the pond, the bridge, and the inspirations he got for his paintings! There is also Provins, a small town outside of Paris that was recently declared as a UNESCO heritage site. It's a well-preserved Medieval town, with old architectures and buildings, and it's super interesting to visit! You'll feel like you've entered into a different world from a different time.
We're so happy that the lockdown has been lifted in Paris! Little by little, the world is stepping into a new normal, and lives could resume again. We can't wait to visit Paris again, and to capture the moments with you! Until then, stay safe, stay home, and plan your next trip to Paris #CapturedPerfectly with SweetEscape!