My daughter and I have taken to "hanging out" on Sunday afternoons and taking long walks to different parts of the city. It was another beautiful summer day in Paris so we headed toward the Canal Saint-Martin and found it surprisingly not its usual busy self.
The news about the canal zone becoming pedestrianized is official as part of one of Mayor Anne Hidalgo's campaign promises. Her hopes were to see it realized before the summer, the area between Stalingrad and République, but that didn't exactly happen as planned. Some routes have already been blocked, such as the Grange-aux-Belles swing bridge which leads to Colonel-Fabien, and dams have been installed at the crossroads of Jardin Villemin, at the end of the streets of Lancry, Louis-Blanc and Saint-Martin locks. On a certain part of the road, the direction of the traffic was reversed at the point of the Jardin Villemin at the side of the quai de Valmy, and the rue Louis-Blanc side of the quai de Jemmapes. The changes that are part of the first phase of the new pedestrianization plan for the banks of the canal aim to gently reduce traffic, until the final pedestrianization which will be done little-by-little.
To encourage Parisians to take their bikes, the mayor announced the creation of a two-way cycle path on rue de la Grange-aux-Belles, from the canal to Colonel-Fabien. I'm thrilled to see the Canal go pedestrian, as I'm sure are the residents for a lot of reasons, and as an added plus to the new and better environment, property values go up the minute the cars leave and the pedestrians take over!
Bastille Day was like none other. In the morning, I heard the jets fly overhead and watched the ceremonies at the Place de la Concorde on TV. There was no parade. Just the ceremony, reinvented to pay tribute to the civilian and military personnel involved in the fight against Covid-19 consisting of three scenes involving a parade of troops on foot and an aerial parade. President Emmanuel Macron was wearing a mask.
Without the ability to picnic on the Champ-de-Mars as is our usual 14th of July, we planned a picnic at the Place des Vosges. The weather report was very "iffy" — there was a chance of rain all day long, the odds getting higher as it got closer to picnic time. So, we abandoned our fridges full of picnic goodies, took our umbrellas, and headed to a café near the Place where we wouldn't get our tooshies wet in the event that the weather reports were right. Not many people were out on the streets at 2 p.m. The cafés were virtually empty and the Royal Turenne (24 Rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris) was happy to welcome our six-person-and-growing group.
The crowds on the street picked up as we ate our meals, but the rain never came down. The sun poked its head out from time to time and we wondered why we had given up on the picnic in the first place...except that we decided Paris weather was simply unpredictable. Why couldn't it have been as beautiful as the day before?
There was a big debate over what city has the best weather in the world. I voted for San Diego! And as it turns out, according to TheMysteriousWorld.com, it's number one of the top 10 — the others being (10) Medellin, Colombia; (9) Nice, France (!!); (8) Oahu, Hawaii; (7) Loja, Ecuador; (6) Kunming, China; (5) Sao Paulo, Brazil; (4) Sydney, Australia; (3) Canary Islands, Spain; (2) Malaga, Spain and (1) San Diego, California!
After lunch, we went our own ways, Erica and I taking a long walk to the Seine and around Notre Dame; a whole lot busier than it was during confinement. We could hear work taking place on the site that had come to a halt during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. At home for dinner we picnicked on the goodies that had been abandoned, then hunkered in to watch the concert on the Champ-de-Mars followed by the fireworks.
The Orchestre de France Performs for the Celebration
The concert was breathtakingly beautiful. The orchestra conducted by Eun Syn Kim, musicians and singers were exemplary. The stage had been placed further south than usual, just where we usually make our picnics on the Champ-de-Mars, when it's a normal year. That was already depressing. Then the fireworks started on the tower but we weren't there on the field watching them. That was even more depressing and...frustrating. The fireworks were fabulous, but it simply wasn't the same experience. Even if we had stood on a bridge on the Seine, it wouldn't have been the same. There's something so magical about being at the foot of the tower, watching the fire and light show surrounding La Grand Dame herself. Watching all the brilliant tricks they play with the fireworks, light and music from home is something I never hope to repeat.
P.S. For Americans who are returning to shelter-at-home mandates amongst a surge in Corona virus surges, and dreaming of a move to France or even a property purchase, it's still possible to pursue that dream. I'm happy to connect with you on Skype or by phone. We can talk about a strategy to change and enrich your life by living or investing here. To schedule your time, email [email protected].
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