image of resident and mounted gendarmes
Billet d'Humeur/At a Glance,  Life in Paris & France

Stopped by the Gendarmes

image of resident and mounted gendarmes
Mounted gendarmes east-side of Place des Vosges chatting with resident above a shop

It is Covid-19 time and I am out for a beautiful, blue-sky morning walk with my camera. The delivery men on bicycles are collecting bags of chocolate for Easter from the chocolate shop on La rue du Pas-de-la-Mule.

Walking past Places des Vosges, I passed a cinematographer and a director/producer filming for the gendarmery television network.

Two mounted gendarmes were being filmed while questioning and chatting with locals about the document, which we must now carry at all times, that verifies when and why we are outside, a situation I was soon to experience. Walking past them and the long line at Monoprix, I found a roundabout way to walk back to the Bastille and past Place des Vosges.

I heard the sound of the horse shoes on the pavement. The gendarmes I passed earlier had made it to the red-bricked, east-facing pavilions along the park. The horses with their military police astride continued under the vaulted arcades to an open window with green shutters. Both gendarmes were chatting with the resident above a shop as I approached.

Since I was taking advantage of my opportunity to be outside and taking photos of this activity, I turned as they left and tried to keep up with horses. The gendarmes made their way along the north side of the park, where they turned around and came toward me as I continued to take images of them.

It was bound to happen. I was about to be stopped and appear on Gendarmerie nationale television.

The female of the duo asked me nicely for my “déplacement” document, which can now be filled out on a smartphone. Then I was asked for my identification. The last digit of my birth year did not make it on to the form. Oops!

The camera man identified himself as filming for the gendarmerie and would I mind answering a question, “What do you think of the mounted gendarmerie asking for the document?”

With a mask covering one half of my face and my confinement-length bangs and glasses covering the other half, I described the experience as “doux and agréeable. As this was my first time Covid-19 interrogation, I could not compare the experience to a regular, walking gendarme”.

I avoided the 135 euros fine for the typo and went home with an interesting new experience and some sunny photos.