PARIS—Spring was once a time for strolls along the River Seine and people-watching from sun-dappled terraces.

On Friday, however, Paris awoke to what has now become an entirely different rite of spring: a pandemic-induced lockdown.

This lockdown is less severe than the original one that paralyzed France a year ago. It is limited to Paris and 15 other areas of France that have been hit hard by the spread of Covid-19 variants. Parisians are allowed to venture 10 kilometers from their homes with a permission slip, as opposed to last year when the limit was 1 kilometer.

But France’s third lockdown is perhaps its most demoralizing. The country has looked abroad with envy as vaccines were developed in record time and deployed with such speed across the U.S. and the U.K. that France began to wonder if it too was on the cusp of economic renewal.

Instead Paris’ cafes and bistros are indefinitely closed. The Louvre is sealed off. The Eiffel Tower is deserted. And the line for vaccines is very long.