The parks and gardens of Paris are open again after a break of more than two months under measures to contain the coronavirus.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo visited a city centre park yesterday amid seasonal good weather.
The mayor, who is running for re-election, has recommended that people wear protective face masks, although this is not mandatory.
Parks were closed in mid-March, along with almost all other public amenities, under strict lockdown measures.
Paris was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, but as infection numbers fall, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gave a green light to the reopening on Thursday.
Picnics are now permitted, but the number of people allowed to gather in a group is capped at 10.
When parks were closed, Parisians tended to gather in other public areas, such as on the banks of the Seine.
Some of the city parks are also tourist attractions, such as the Luxembourg Gardens.
With public impatience mounting and temperatures up to 28° Celsius (82° Fahrenheit) forecast over the holiday weekend, authorities brought forward the parks’ reopening, initially scheduled for June 2.
“At last we’re free,” said Anne, a Parisienne standing near the gates of the 400-year-old Luxembourg Gardens on the city’s Left Bank soon after they reopened. “This feels like being released from a kind of prison.”
Early risers beat the crowds, some bearing breakfast picnics as they waited for the gates of the northeastern Buttes-Chaumont to swing open at 7am, according to TV reports.
Social distancing rules remain in force across Paris, one of Europe’s most densely populated cities, and the recommended wearing of masks in parks may soon become compulsory as health officials remain watchful for any increase in infections.
France, one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, has reported more than 186,000 cases and 28,714 deaths.
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