With American tourists banned from Europe, online posts by expatriates are as close to vacationing abroad as many are this year.
Jamie Beck, 37, a photographer who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, moved to Provence about four years ago. Now she documents the sunflowers and vineyards, as well as castles and croissants, that she encounters while apparently clad in an endless series of flouncy white dresses. Her apartment in the city of Apt was previously rented for a honeymoon. It’s all very idyllic and her 317,000 Instagram followers seem to agree. It is known as a “Frenchfluencer” for lack of a better term.
During “Le Confinement” – as the French call their coronavirus lockdown – Ms. Beck lost all of her commercial work.
“The only thing I could control was what I was doing with my time. That’s why I decided to make a work of art every day,” she said. She tagged her posts with #isolationcreation and soon found she was gaining around 1,000 new followers every day.
Ms. Beck isn’t the only American in France with an online following who has seen a sharp surge in engagement during the pandemic.
“I definitely saw a surge on Instagram and YouTube in June and July,” said Tiffanie Davis, 30, who moved to Paris in 2017 to do her Masters in Business Administration. In 2019, Ms. Davis began posting videos about the lives of expats on YouTube on topics such as the cost of living (189,000 views), dating in France (which were explored in a two-part series), and black hair salons.
“I’ve gotten a lot of DMs from people who are interested in my story and say, ‘I’m living your experience and want to move abroad.'” Ms. Davis created a Moving Abroad Worksheet that is downloadable from her personal website .
Paris and the rest of France are grappling with pandemic, violence and protests, but so much of what outsiders see is still the beautiful parts.
Molly Wilkinson, 33, moved to France in 2013 to study pastry at Cordon Bleu. Before the pandemic, she personally taught cooking classes. She now leads online workshops on making macarons (her most popular class) and tarte tatin. They were all sold out, she said, and she increased them from 30 to 50 students for 25 euros each.
She posted lots of photos on Instagram from a trip to the Loire Valley in September. “The engagement was amazing,” she said. “They wanted to experience everything and dream about where they could go. Whenever something is forbidden, you want it more. “