‘Return to abnormal’: French newspapers mark the end of lockdown


IN THE PAPERS – Monday, May 11: There's a mix of gratitude, nostalgia and uncertainty in the French papers as they herald the end of the country's eight-week lockdown. Le Parisien and 20 Minutes salute essential workers, Libération declares a "return to abnormal", and l'Opinion notes that France is "de-confined but defiant". Speaking of defiance, we end with the story of two rather "buoyant" lockdown-defying bathers.


As France ends this nearly two-month lockdown period, many papers are taking a moment to recognise the essential workers that made it possible for us to get through it. "Thank you for everything" is the front-page headline from 20 Minutes

Papers are saluting healthcare workers, but also cashiers, custodians, delivery drivers and volunteers. "If we’re starting up again it’s thanks to them," writes Le Parisien. The paper is being sold along with a single-use mask today for readers in the Paris area. 

France's Catholic paper La Croix is taking a look back at this unprecedented collective experience. The paper talked to 100 people about what they’re taking away from the lockdown. You can read several of the answers on the front page: "an incredible adventure", "the value of human life" and with that a desire for "fewer plans, more living". 

For left-wing daily Libération, today doesn’t mark the return to normal but the return to "abnormal". With its two-zone system, France is now divided into red and green but the paper says it's really entering a grey area. Half free, half constrained: The end of the lockdown is not going to be a party. 

For Communist paper L’Humanité, this is the start of "Freedom under surveillance". The paper invites readers to think about what changes they want to see in this new post-virus world and warns that we can’t let the debate get stifled.

According to business paper L’Opinion, the French are "de-confined but defiant". Their front-page cartoon shows Macron faced with the unions and the Yellow Vest protesters who are telling him: "It’s urgent that you re-open the country so we can shut it down again."

And we end with a story of defiance: two men in the south of France who wanted to go swimming but decided they just couldn’t wait until the end of the lockdown so they went disguised as buoys! Police spotted them bobbing around in the water. One of them got away, the other had to pay the €135 fine. He told journalists: "If it made people smile and brought some joy to this period, we'll happily pay."

>> Follow our liveblog: France urges caution as millions emerge from Covid-19 lockdown

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