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Dans La Lumière (In the Light)

JR's Retour à la Caverne on the façade of the Palais Garnier, in Paris
JR's Retour à la Caverne on the façade of the Palais Garnier


Just when you think summer is finally here, Paris turned cold. Out came the sweaters and scarves, much to our dismay. If you come from a very hot climate, then Paris summer weather might appeal to you, but I always feel cheated out of my summer with weather like this and dream of being on the beach in Nice (or anywhere!). This year I can’t take the time because of all of the insanity going on in my personal life.

My daughter arrived for a two-month stay, and that means spending time with her as much as possible. On top of that, we are scheduled to move into a rental apartment mid-July to allow our apartment to undergo massive structural renovation. We’ll be there one year or more, and every single little thing must vacate the apartment—the logistics of which are creating sleepless nights for both of us.

On top of it all, last Thursday just before she arrived from the airport, a real estate agent contacted me that the apartment above mine was coming on the market. I arranged to see it immediately—being the first to visit it. It’s a 25 square meter two-room apartment on the fourth floor with two windows overlooking the street and a small window on the “courette” (a kind of shaft). It mirrors my own in many ways, the windows being in line with mine. The ceilings are low, but there are “combles” (attic space) that could be opened up (with permissions), as there are skylights (I believe two) that could be recuperated as a result (also with permissions).

Listing for the apartment for sale above Adrian Leeds in Paris

My immediate thought was that if it could be connected to my own via an interior stairwell or “colimaçon” (spiral staircase), it could really enhance our own apartment by providing a bedroom suite or a studio apartment leaving the main apartment for my daughter and her family. This would be the ideal time to make that happen, while the beams in the ceiling are being replaced, as long as we can get permission from the “copropriété” (homeowner association) in time to do the work. Then, opening the ceiling would be a major plus and the icing on the cake is that there is a possibility of making a terrace, just like the terraces on the 4th floor of the other side of the building, one of which I used to own (an apartment I called La Paris Plage), again with permissions, but with the city and the building.

An example of a colimaçon spiral staircase

An example of a particularly beautiful “colimaçon!”

The terrace on Adrian Leeds' former apartment in Paris, La Paris Plage

The terrace of La Paris Plage

By Friday morning, I had made a full-price offer on the apartment and that afternoon, it was accepted, as I expected. This gives me time to have Martine di Mattéo (interior designer) and Nicole Champagnol (architect) visit the apartment tomorrow to determine if any of my crazy ideas are even remotely feasible! And then, there’s the risk of not getting the required permissions.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “Am I nuts? I don’t need one more thing on my plate!” Then, I realize that if I don’t pursue this, I’d be even more nuts! For the moment, I have nothing to lose, since I am not legally obligated to make the purchase until 10 days after signing a pre-sale agreement, which is at least one month away (or even more).

So, here I go again, piling on more property problems on my already overflowing plate? Yep, I must be nuts. Stay tuned for more news as this progresses.


JR is on my Top 10 list of favorite artists. If you don’t know who this is, then you should. You’ve seen his work, but maybe you just don’t recall his name. JR. Don’t forget it.

JR’s the guy who started as a street artist and who hides behind dark glasses and a hat. He’s Franco-American and describes himself as a “photograffeur” (a blend of “photographer” and the French word “graffeur” for graffiti artist) who is known for posting large black-and-white photographic images in public spaces. He considers the street to be “the largest art gallery in the world” and began his career on the streets of Paris. His work often challenges widely held preconceptions and counters the reductive images spread by advertising and media. In 2018, JR was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

My daughter met him years ago via their common interest in photography. I first met him at an opening of her own work in New York. In March 2019, Erica and I volunteered to work on his project at Le Louvre. It was lots of fun, but best of all was the experience of having a hand in one of his brilliantly conceived and executed projects.

Adrian Leeds assisting for the JR art project at the Louvre in Paris

Adrian assisting on JR’s art project at the Louvre

Gallery Perrotin in Paris is currently running an exhibition of his work, that you really shouldn’t miss, titled “Dans La Lumière”—it’s the fourth exhibition there and his thirteenth collaboration with Perrotin. This exhibition features a series of recent artworks inspired by the “CHIROPTERA” project, a unique ballet performance created by JR, Damien Jalet, and Thomas Bangalter, specially for the Opéra de Paris in November 2023.

The Gallery Perrotin

The Marais courtyard of the Gallery Perrotin, looking out from the gallery

CHIROPTERA at the Opéra

CHIROPTERA at the Opéra

Retour à la Caverne” was a work by JR on the façade of the Palais Garnier, to cover the scaffolding while it was under renovation, evoking Plato’s cave—a place of knowledge and transmission. September 9, 10, 16, and 17, 2023, there were special projections on the Place de l’Opéra, and then November 12th, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., there were performances on the the scaffolding by 153 dancers in special costumes, choregraphed to original music.

Video of JR and his film at the Opera

At the Perrotin exhibition is a film documenting the entire project and performance. It’s a MUST-SEE. Fortunately I saw the installation, but missed the performance and now I’m kicking myself. Being there to see it in person would have been very exciting…but at least you can see it for yourself by watching the performance on YouTube.

You can see more about it on JR’s site. And if you’re in Paris, don’t miss the exhibition at Gallery Perrotin!

You’ll remember him this time around, I’m sure!


The moment I suggested a visit to the Atelier des Lumières to see the “Egyptian Pharaohs From Cheops to Ramesses II” (on till January 5th, 2025) my daughter, said “Yes!” faster than I could get the words out of my mouth. She recently had experienced time in Egypt that had made a big impression on her, just as it had on me when I visited the pyramids and ancient sights way back in 2009.

King Tut Mask at the Atelier des Lumières Egyptian exhibit

The Mask of Tutankhamen, as projected on the walls of the Atelier des Lumières

Egyptian exhibit at the Atelier des Lumières

The Atelier des Lumières is a digital art center in the 11th arrondissement created by Culturespaces, opening its doors in April 2018. Before this, it was a steel foundry known as the “Fonderie du Chemin-Vert,” opened in 1835 by the Plichon brothers. Owned by four generations of Plichon brothers, the foundry flourished for over 100 years. Then, the economic crisis of 1929 led to the closure of the foundry and it was sold to the Martin family, the current owners as of 1935.

Culturespaces was looking for a venue capable of hosting their digital art center, much like the Carrières des Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence, to present immersive exhibitions. Two years of work were needed before it was opened to the public, a move in line with the trend to revitalize and transform Paris’s industrial heritage, following in the footsteps of the Société des Cendres, the Grands Moulins de Paris, the Paris-Ivry refrigeration station and Station F at the Halle Freyssinet.


It seems that quite often the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice on June 21st, is cold and gray and even a bit rainy. It’s also the annual Fête de la Musique (World Music Day), when citizens and residents are encouraged to play music outdoors in their neighborhoods, public spaces, and parks. Additionally, free concerts are organized where musicians perform for the joy of playing, not for payment.

Poster for Fête de la Musique in Paris

The concept of an all-day musical celebration on the summer solstice was initiated by Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture of France, and Maurice Fleuret. The first Fête de la Musique took place in Paris in 1982. Over time, Music Day has grown to be celebrated in 120 countries worldwide. Since then, the festival has become an international phenomenon, celebrated on the same day in over 700 cities across 120 countries, including India, Germany, Italy, Greece, Russia, Australia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, the United States, the UK, and Japan.

Map showing the venue sites for Fête de la Musique in Paris

It’s one of my favorite days of the year, when the sun stays out as late as 10:50 p.m. that night and music is in the air, just about everywhere. The weather prediction for Friday night in Paris is unfortunately…cool and rainy. Fingers crossed for a change in those plans, but if so, then my usual haunts around Place des Vosges may still be the best bet. Otherwise, visit the program page on the official website to find the best venues for you!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds at the Gallery PerrotinAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

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  1. Laurie Linden on June 17, 2024 at 9:53 am

    Your apartment news is so exciting! I look forward to reading about the progress! 👏

  2. Tracy Buckalew on June 17, 2024 at 11:36 am

    Congratulations on your purchase. You would be crazy to not give it a try. I hope Martine di Mattéo and Nicole Champagnol are able to make it work. I especially hope that you get the necessary permits!
    Bonne Chance!

  3. Clare White on June 17, 2024 at 6:39 pm

    Adrian, I think you’re the kind of woman who probably does her best work when stretched! This apartment opportunity was obviously meant to be and will be amazing once you’ve pulled it off which undoubtedly you will.
    I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do with the place 😊

  4. Laurie Van Zant on June 18, 2024 at 7:31 am

    Adrian, Congrats to you, on the (hopeful) new abode above you. I have to say, it would make a great House Hunter’s episode. I am a Midwestern gal, currently from Naples, FL spending a bit of time in Nice, France briefly, on my way to Eze tomorrow… I sincerely appreciate your Nouvellettre and will be connecting in the months to come. Kind Regards…

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