An afternoon spent sipping a coffee or wine on a café terrace is an essential Parisian experience and as lockdown measures are eased across France locals have returned to the terraces to continue the tradition.

For the first time since 14 March, food and drink establishments were allowed to open on 2 June and customers can now be served inside in so-called "green areas" across France (areas with lower rates of the coronavirus) while maintaining social distance. Paris lags slightly behind the rest of the country as an "orange area", which means rates of the virus are relatively high. As such, restaurants and cafés can only open outdoor areas but owners have been permitted to set up tables on pavements and in parking spaces to allow more space between customers.

A view at the 'Ma salle a manger' cafe on the Place Dauphine
Patrons gather at the 'Ma salle a manger' cafe on the Place Dauphine ©Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

"We have adopted a plan to help bars and restaurants for at least six months from March until the end of September,” Paris' mayor Anne Hidalgo told Le Parisien. Some two dozen streets may be temporarily pedestrianised under the plan to allow space for terraces. No more than ten people will be allowed to sit together, tables must be spaced one metre from each other, and kitchen and restaurant staff must wear masks. Any cafés found breaching the rules are subject to fines and could be forced to closed.

People sit at a terrace on street parking lots between cars
People sit at a terrace on street parking lots between cars, as bars and restaurants are given permission to install terraces on the sidewalk ©Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Café culture in France dates back centuries and in a city as densely populated as Paris, cafés are an important part of daily life, offering more than a dose of caffeine. They act as meeting spots, conversation hubs and places from which you can people watch for hours on end while nursing a drink. And with sunny spring weather arriving at the same time as the easing of lockdown measures, Parisians have been making the most of the al-fresco café experience in recent days.

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A view at the Place Dauphine
A view at the Place Dauphine as bars and restaurants reopen after two months of nationwide restrictions ©Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

Paris, like many cities, is also becoming more bike-friendly by rolling out 650 kilometres of emergency bike lanes, dubbed "corona cycleways" to help people commute and exercise while maintaining social distancing. The bike lanes run parallel to& the routes of the RER metro rail lines and are marked by traffic wands.

France is looking to reopen its borders with the European Union on 15 June with a mandatory quarantine in place on visitors from specific nations it deems risky.

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