So long 2020 Marché Lévis

So long 2020! (Finding the sunny side of the street)

So long 2020!

Bonjour from Paris. It’s good to see you again.

I need to make a confession: In spite of the accounts I shared about the France lockdowns, I have not hated all of 2020. A friend who knows me well once commented I was “a pragmatist walking on the sunny side of the street.” He was right. Even as I look back at the last nine months, I find reasons to celebrate. 

Sure, like you, I find plenty of reasons to turn the page, too. In 2020, like many people around the world, I lost my job and main source of income. Plans to start a new personal and professional life in my homeland after 23 years in the United States, collapsed, almost in slow motion.

So long 2020! Birthday dinner
March 12: Celebrating my birthday in Paris, two days before a 55-day Lockdown

I have not seen my son, who will turn 21 in January, or my Seattle friends, for almost a year. I went several months without visiting my parents in Paris for fear of infecting them and have not hugged them since March. I got diagnosed with COVID in October, two days after moving into a new Parisian apartment, a 4th-floor walk-up. For over a week, surrounded by unpacked boxes, I relied on Monoprix deliveries while self-isolating (It didn’t matter what I ate, since I had lost all sense of smell, or taste.) I had common symptoms, without complications, yet for several weeks afterwards, felt out of breath when I tackled the four floors to get back home. (To think I used to climb seven floors to my studio under Parisian rooftops almost effortlessly in the spring!) What else? I had bad hair days and a few too many apéros. I moped now and then, feeling sorry for myself, the inanity, uncertainty and injustice of it all. My glasses fogged up behind face masks (they still do.) The list goes on, and you are all too familiar with it.

Here’s a perfect metaphor for what this year felt in my Parisian life: Silent swings, empty chairs at le square des Batignolles.

So long 2020! Empty swings

Yes, so long 2020! You have overstayed your welcome.

Finding the sunny side of the street

After years of complaining about tourist crowds, noise, pollution, Parisians finally got their city back. Too bad so many decided lockdowns were best experienced outside the capital in a résidence secondaire (vacation home) somewhere en province. Since the spring, Paris has been quiet, empty at times, eerily deserted in some neighborhoods. I am lucky I don’t live in those. When restricted to one hour a day of fresh air, I prefer to see people, not just Parisian ghosts, on my way to the grocery store. A recent visit to Montmartre, on a Thursday afternoon in November, will serve as an illustration.

Not all Parisians fled the city: In between lockdowns, when we were not restricted to outings in a 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) radius, I made the most of empty Paris. Staying away from crowds – as long as you avoided public transportation and café terraces at rush hour – was easy. In the summer and fall, I wore a face mask 100% of the time while outdoors, in Paris and beyond, even before it became mandatory. I visited new exhibits and museums. It was wonderful to show up at the Catacombs, the Delacroix museum, or the Palais Galliera, a reservation in hand, with absolutely no lines. I guessed this may never happen again, and enjoyed every minute.

In the spring of 2020, I had to come up with a plan to pay the rent. Tour guiding assignments with Rick Steves Europe, (or with private clients,) vanished into thin air in a matter of weeks. There was no need to reinvent the wheel. Drawing on my corporate experience and entrepreneurial skills honed in the United States, I launched a small business, my third, France with Véro. I had shared France and French culture as a favorite hobby and creative outlet for almost a decade on this blog and on social media. There was a growing community of francophiles out there I could count on. Better yet, I anticipated there would be increased demand for quality, original content on my homeland once international travelers were grounded by drastic travel restrictions. I became a professional content creator and a virtual tour guide.

Launching a business is a lot of work. Launching a business in 2020 (when so many struggle to make it through,) might seem like a risky proposition. Still, I was in survival mode, and went for it.

Live-streaming from the Louvre and Tuileries Gardens

I worked hard, even through the COVID episode (I learned one can wear PJ bottoms on Zoom calls while teaching or presenting, and refrain from coughing.) Ten months later, I still work hard. There was a steep learning curve, as this former public speaker and adult educator tried to master presenting and live-streaming on several online platforms, from Instagram with the weekly Apéro with Véro series, to live strolls on Facebook. There were many times when I was tempted to shout: “So long 2020!” Still, many months later, I feel good about the new skills developed along the way, connections made with francophiles around the world, and productive interactions with fellow tour guides and content creators. Mostly, I am happy about the business that kept my mind engaged through it all.

As my family and I celebrate the Holidays this month, there will be no miracles, yet I feel a mix of relief (So long 2020!) and gratefulness (Thank you for new opportunities and new friendships 2020!)

As always, I will keep looking for the sunny side of the street.

Joyeuses Fêtes ! Happy Holidays!

A bientôt,

Véro

Parting words

Thank you for supporting my creative endeavors in 2020 (and always!)

Subscribe to the France with Véro YouTube channel where over 150 videos (virtual tour replays, guided video tours, French vignettes) await, and get transported to la Belle France instantly.

A special “Merci” to my French language students and Club Members who saved the day – and quite frankly, the year – and helped me stay on the sunny side of the street.

Look up upcoming online French conversation classes here.

420 Club Members can’t be wrong: Join the France with Véro Club on Patreon and unlock rewards, including exclusive content and live events here. In the process, you support my business and help me create even more content.

Join me, as I take you around Paris and France and share lesser-told stories: Hear about my upcoming virtual tours first by signing up for la Mailing List on the blog.

Most importantly, be well. Try to stay on the sunny side of the street, too.




Dear readers:

If you enjoy exploring France and French culture like a native, consider signing up for la Mailing List to receive exclusive travel stories first via email, or join me daily on Facebook and Instagram.

What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)

36 Comments

  • As a club member I look forward to all of the content you provide. As a retired French/English teacher I know that the hours of quality content you offer require hours and hours of preparation. It is very much appreciated!

  • Every time I added your walks or apéros to my calendar, I so looked forward to them and by the time you signed off, I found myself smiling. You added pleasure to many a lonely 2020 day. I love being a club member. I also enjoyed the French for Travelers workshop. Truth be told, I probably need to take that again….merci beaucoup, Véro!

  • Discovering you has been a godsend this year. You are by far the most enchanting and engaging presenter of tours and information I have experienced- it is apparent you love what you do. Your philosophy of finding the sunny side is a good one and one that I generally subscribe to as well. Let’s see what 2021 has in store for us!

  • Véro, thank you for making 2020 an opportunity to see France and learn so much of her history! I truly appreciate it!

  • Your enthusiasm, knowledge, and professionalism are a joy during this pandemic. Those of us who normally enjoy travel are so fortunate to be able to partake of your adventures in France. Thank you for the hard work it takes to present such a wonderful experience for us Rick Steves former travelers!

    • Dear Véro, where to begin to thank you for all the uplifting posts, photos,videos, and Zooms you thoughtfully and artfully created for your audience during the looooooooong months of 2020. Because you are French your messages were authentic and personal, and because you spent so many decades in the U.S. you know how to reach Americans. I am a retired educator (20 years as a high school/community college French teacher and 10 years as a community college lecturer /university assistant professor specializing in teacher training). You have the ability to draw your listeners in with your storytelling skills and to leave them with information they will remember through the connections you make. I know when I return to Paris I will look for the small squares and quaint neighborhoods you have introduced to me. And you, Véro, are now on my Bucket List as I MUST have a guided tour with you one day. Ahhhhh, one day…I should have been to France twice this year, maxing out my 3 month x2 travel without visa option. But, it was just not to be. So I stay healthy, I practice my French (merci mille fois pour les vignettes), and I stay “au courant” with La Bande de Véro! À bientôt…touche bois!

  • I can’t thank you enough, Véro, for the travels you have taken me on during the pandemic, the interesting, fun, and informative French lessons, and the joie de vivre and spunky « can-do » attitude you have conveyed during this most trying of years. There were always fun things to look forward to with France with Véro, even in a quarantine! I am sorry to hear you had Covid in October, and hope you are well now and stay well. Wishing you and your family every happiness in 2021. Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

  • Thanks, Vero, for your excellent content. And I love being a member of your club, even though I often watch the tours afterwards. So glad that you make that option available.

  • Thank you, Vero, for all the wonderful information, tours, and walks that you give us. I’m glad you have overcome Covid and can continue to spoil us. I hope the new year brings you good health, joy and love.

  • Merci and grateful thanks from my heart Veró! I came late to this blog and club but not once have I regretted it….I am amazed and delighted by your content, unending enthusiasm and courage….Yes adult educator but also caring person behind the mask…Covid did not conquer you. Instead you kicked its derrière! My 2020 saw loss of joy in my family and as you I have not seen my adult son in over a year…a year and half now….so emotions are high yet I am an optimist and I look to tomorrow as a new day … 2021 can be what we will make of it so en y va and blessings of light and love surround you in the journey forward to more adventures and opportunities! 👏 Bravo!

  • Merci Véro for this blog post and all of your work. I am so glad that you are feeling better! You and your work have been a source of joy and fun for me, especially since March. I particularly like that you seem smart, knowledgable, witty, kind, generous, and genuine–and so all the content you present is imbued with those traits. Next, I like your strolls and all of the beautiful photos and anecdotes that come with them. Really, I like all of your content and all of the platforms (except that I don’t use Instagram–FB and YT are enough to fill up my little bit of “me” time.) I look forward to having more free time and joining one of your French classes. And if you organize immersive events, I’ll be your first customer. So, stay healthy. And, remember that you and your work make a lot of people very happy.

    • Here’s another wonderful comment. I am touched by the glowing feedback Dulce! It’s made a big difference as I worked hard this year, to have supportive followers and Club Members like yourself. Merci. Here’s to new adventures!

  • Bravo to you! It isn’t easy seeing one’s plans turned upside-down, and having to pivot–all while being sick. I am in awe of your energy. And your savvy.
    In July I made an escape to Paris and managed to get tickets to the Louvre just after it reopened. No line! Almost empty! It was FANTASTIC. Like My Private Louvre.
    The past few days I’ve walked the main street of little Carcassonne, which usually is pretty calm this time of year–in summer it swells with tourists, but not this year. Anyway, it was bustling, and I thought, “all these people are locals!” And it was nice.
    Joyeux noël et bonne année!

    • Bonjour Catherine. Thank you for stopping by. I am glad I am not the only one who enjoyed the slower pace of life in 2020. 🙂 Wishing you and your family a good year in 2021, with peaceful moments in lively Carcassonne too! A bientôt.

  • Merci, Véro, for all that you do! I discovered your blog many years ago – I don’t remember how or why, just that I loved your little French Bulldog illustration and thought that anyone who would have that guy in their header must be fun! The first post I read was “Trader Joe’s 10 Best French Finds” – I’ve been a fan ever since. Your walks and zoom talks are a welcome break in my busy week and I really enjoy all of your well-captioned pictures on social media. You’ve kept me connected to France in ways I never could have imagined as a high school French student obsessed with the language and the culture. I can’t wait to visit again, armed with a deeper understanding of France and of Paris, my favorite city in the world.

  • I agree with you, Vero, that some good things came out of this crazy 2020 year. I don’t remember how I found you online, but became a club member and have enjoyed every minute with you as you traveled thru Paris and France! This club has saved me! ;0) Looking forward to more “all things French” in 2021!

    Here is to a fabulous 2021 for all!

  • Vero, finding you on Facebook about four months ago and becoming a Club Member have been two rays of sunshine in a year filled with global doom and gloom. While I usually feel like Edith Piaf singing, “Je ne regrette rien” as 2020 ends, my only regret is not having found you sooner! In my searches on FB and elsewhere I came across quite a few other sites promising pretty pictures, walking tours, “content”, “insights”, “travel tips”, and French lessons. I’ve been sharing and encouraging my friends who also love France to become a member of Vero’s band. By far, you are the top of the class. To quote another song, although not about France, you are “Simply the best, better than all the rest!” Merci mille fois pour toute et tu!

    (P.S. I hope my long ago high school French expressed that correctly. Sometime in 2021, I hope to join one of your online French courses).

    • Now THAT is a heartwarming comment. Merci beaucoup Mona, for the kind words, your support through this challenging year, and for telling your friends about France with Véro. I am grateful to you! It would be fun to have you in one of the French conversation bootcamps down the road! Bonne année.

  • I feel like an old friend since I have been with you for around seven years. Years where you have weathered storms and yet picked yourself up by your boot straps and carried on, so this last hiccup is just that…a hiccup.
    I once thought if I did everything right life you just get better and better. Seems you have learned at a much earlier age that life is like a wavy line with its ups and downs. Hopefully we are headed for an up in 2021. Enjoy the ride💕 Janey

    • Dear Janey. Thank you for stopping by. You have been by my side for a few years indeed. Planning to keep following the wavy line wherever it takes me… and hopefully spending more tie on the sunny side of the street in 2021. Wishing the same for you, too. Bonne année!

  • So thrilled to have found you, Vero – even my non-Francophile husband looks forward to weekend mornings with Vero and her strolls. They have been such rays of sunshine amidst the gloom. Thank you for your generous spirit and contagious optimism! Bonjour 2021!!

  • Véro,
    I think you’ve helped lots of us stay on the sunny side of the street this year. I remember being so excited to find you when my son was living in Seattle! You helped me find little bits of France when I visited him! Your blog is still something I look forward to! I agree with Peggy…as another retired French teacher I recognize the amount of time it takes to prepare the kind of content you present us with! And I thank you!
    Looking forward to continuing this journey with you and hoping this year will bring many of us back to Paris!

  • Vero, so sorry about your covid that does not deserve a majuscule! you ve so brave and while sharing valuable infos constantly! Chapeau Bas et bonne santé pour vous et vos proches en 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.