Adrian Leeds Nouvellettre®
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My Opinion and Other Opinions

Exhibition entrance to the Musee d'Orsay

OH LA LA…THE OLYMPICS

You haven’t heard anything from me about the Olympics taking place in Paris (and some other parts of France), even though it’s big news, as everyone knows. The reason is because unlike most people, it’s not high on my FOMO list (Fear of Missing Out). Physical sports never have been.

I grew up in a family of all women, none of whom participated in sports. We spent our time sewing our own clothing and knitting sweaters. I was the biggest klutz of all of us and got injured every six weeks when our PE class changed sports. (My mother had to take out special insurance to cover all my injuries.) Hence, chasing a ball just always seemed like a rather idiotic thing to do (no offense to the millions of people who love to chase balls or watch them being chased). You won’t catch me on the ski slopes, either, or jogging, or even stretching in a yoga position. For me, it’s all about mental sports, not physical.

Meanwhile, the city of Paris has been readying itself for the big games and I’ve paid no attention to any of it. I was against it from the beginning because the aftermath of the Olympics in those cities has often been a disaster and I’m worried Paris won’t be any different.

For example, here’s what Wayne Drehs and Mariana Lajolo of ESPN wrote about Rio de Janeiro titled “After The Flame“: “The 2016 Summer Games were supposed to bring Rio and Brazil to new financial and athletic heights. What’s left behind? A city and country shrouded by corruption, debt and broken promises.

In July of 2022, Stephen Wade of APNEWS wrote, “The Tokyo Olympics survived the COVID-19 postponement, soaring expenses and some public opposition. A year later, the costs and benefits remain as difficult to untangle as the Games were to pull off.”

And check out this article in Business Insider with 34 photos that show how some Olympic venues are left abandoned after the Games end, by James Grebey and Gabbi Shaw.

Will Paris be any different? Sadly, I don’t think so.

“One opinion poll suggested that 44% of Parisians think hosting the Olympics is a ‘bad thing,’ with many planning to leave town. Bus and Métro fares will double in the capital during the Games.” (Source)

That’s my prediction! Parisians will be leaving the City of Light by the droves, leaving only the tourists who will be scrambling to get from one venue to another…at a much higher cost than usual. Some neighborhoods will be ghost towns, while others will be unmaneuverable. It’s the height of summer, so the weather will either be torturously hot or miserably cold and wet (that’s how Paris usually plays out—unpredictably). People may end up sleeping on the streets because there isn’t enough housing (you can thank the stringent rental laws) and what there is will be unaffordable (many residents are opening their homes for outrageous prices).

 

But, I don’t want to be a Negative Nelly. One of my friends, who is very proud to be a volunteer at the Olympics, pointed out all the good the Olympic games do to bring the world together, which is certainly true, and how it provides a venue for athletes to excel and prove themselves. Again, real truth, not to be denied.

The authorities are predicting: 13.4 million tickets will have been sold, 15.3 million visitors will come to France, there will be 3.5 billion euros in economic benefits, 206 nations are participating in 32 Olympic and 22 Paralympic sports, over 869 events, involving 15,000 athletes, 44,500 volunteers, 26,000 accredited journalists, 8,000 non-accredited journalists, and 4 billion television viewers. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo thinks scoring the Olympic games for Paris is a feather in her cap and is banking on it being a huge success so that her name will go down in history. She also used the money to construct the spaghetti of bike lanes and new traffic patterns (that have made the city impossibly dangerous for pedestrians). I’m sure her name will be remembered, but I’m not convinced it will be for what she was hoping for.

I personally really want Paris to go back in time to the way it was when Mayor Bertrand Delanoë was in the Hotel de Ville. It was cleaner, quieter, with less graffiti and a whole lot more elegant. Pedestrians weren’t in danger of being run over by bikes or scooters. The taxi drivers weren’t complaining about the constant traffic jams. The city was more colorful, awash with flowers and brightly colored doors. We were prouder Parisians then.

Note: I do admit that I will be in Paris for one event—the Artistic Gymnastics. Thanks to a friend who scored tickets, I’ve arranged to come in from Nice for a few days to attend, so I’ll see it all for myself and will have plenty to write home (and you) about it!

IF TRUMP WINS…

It never ceases to amaze me.

Last Monday, I offered up a CNN Opinion article by David Andelman titled “If Trump wins, I might leave America for good” that quoted me. Andelman had interviewed me about the extraordinary numbers of Americans moving to France, which is true. I made no political stance in the Nouvellettre®, nor did I say any disparaging words about the former President.

In spite of staying neutral, and just reporting the facts, a few people who are fans of Donald Trump responded, and what’s funny is that they all say the same thing…like a broken record. This is what amazes and amuses me.

First off, they read into the text words that have not been written! As I said, I took no political stance, nor said any disparaging words about him, yet they make assumptions…and you know what that makes?

It makes an “ASS out of U and ME.”

Secondly, and more importantly, they tell me that writing about politics is NOT MY PLACE and that it HURTS MY BUSINESS. That’s when you can hear a big chuckle come from deep down in my throat.

So, how is it that in MY Nouvellettre® I can’t say anything I want? That’s one thing.

Then, clearly the only thing they think is important is “business”—making money —when isn’t it obvious that making money for me is not nearly as important as MORALITY and QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ALL. That must be the way they think, but it’s not how I think. The issues are too important to ignore for the sake of getting richer.

And then I realize that perhaps these are people who wouldn’t be our clients anyway, since they would have to be open-minded enough to live in a Socialist Democracy like France, where they really care about the welfare of their citizens and the citizens are happy to pay high taxes on their earnings in order to have all those benefits. None of us would trade our great healthcare, quality education or fabulous infrastructure for making more money that we don’t need since we save so much thanks to the big fat French safety net.

I just read an article in Times Magazine that really frightened me titled “How Far Trump Would Go” by Eric Cortellessa. Is that taking a political stance to admit that I read the article or that the things Trump says to Cortellessa frighten me?

If that’s a yes, then I am guilty. The source is reliable—Time Magazineas is the journalist—and the words were Donald Trump’s himself. So, can his supporters claim these are lies? Or do they really agree with his political views? And if so, then I’m even more frightened! That is not a world I would choose to live in.

BERTHILLON’S BITTER CHOCOLATE

My niece’s daughter (my “great niece”) is visiting with me all month from Austin, Texas. She’s on a big adventure all over Europe on her own while working remotely and taking it all in. It’s very admirable. We didn’t know each other while she was growing up, so it’s very special for me to have this opportunity to get to know her. She’s the perfect guest—quiet as a mouse, neat as a pin and very respectful in every sense.

Ryan is very independent, obviously, and has been taking it all in, including attending the Taylor Swift concert Saturday night. Oblivious me didn’t even know it was happening, but the number of “Swifties” on the streets of Paris this weekend was overwhelming. It didn’t hurt that the weather was drop dead gorgeous.

We took the opportunity in the warm sun Saturday afternoon to walk to the Ile Saint-Louis for Berthillon ice cream…actually more specifically for their Cacao Amer (bitter chocolate) sorbet that is my favorite. It’s TOO DIE FOR.

Berthillon's

For those who don’t know about Berthillon…it’s only been around since 1954 when Raymond Berthillon embarked on a journey into artisanal ice cream-making, setting up shop at 31 Rue Saint-Louis. Continuing the family legacy, Raymond’s grandchildren and son-in-law, Bernard Chauvin, meticulously craft ice creams and sorbets by hand, creating an array of authentic flavors only to become a prominent global brand.

According to the stories, every day, the chef ventures to the market at dawn to procure fresh ingredients. From full-fat milk, cream, and eggs emerge a diverse range of flavors including vanilla, caramel, coffee, hazelnut, as well as enticing sorbets like wild strawberry, pear, and apricot…and Cacao Amer that beats them all (my opinion). The shop sells them all, but other purveyors of the creamy goody can be found on the island as other parts of Paris.

Berthillon's Cacao Amer Sorbet

Berthillon’s Cacao Amer Sorbet

We ordered ours up from a take-away window at 12 rue Jean du Bellay named “Pain d’Epices.” When we were confined during the first couple of months of Covid-19, when we had only one hour and one kilometer away from home in order to venture out, I would walk down to the Ile Saint-Louis to score this little treat from this one take-away window…it was the only thing open on the street! It was a special treat as I sat eating it on a bench on Pont Louis-Pilippe one tiny-taste-by-tiny-taste to stretch out the sensation while staring at the still water of the Seine. The water was a mirror with not a single boat disturbing it and only a few ducks and swans to break the perfect reflection.

The Seine had never been more beautiful and Berthillon’s Cacao Amer had never been so sweet.

THE INVENTION OF IMPRESSIONISM

In Paris, 150 years ago on April 15, 1874, the inaugural Impressionist exhibition took place. Fueled by a thirst for independence, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Morisot, Pissarro, Sisley, and Cézanne boldly broke free from conventional constraints, staging their own exhibition independent of official channels, thus heralding the birth of Impressionism. To commemorate this milestone, the Musée d’Orsay is currently showcasing approximately 130 artworks, offering a renewed perspective on this pivotal moment considered the catalyst for avant-garde movements in their most recent exhibition, “Paris 1874 Inventing Impressionism.”

An annual or biennial art exhibition in the Western World was the renowned Paris Art Salon, colloquially known as “The Salon,” inaugurated in 1667 by the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, a branch of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Over its nearly one hundred and fifty years of tradition, The Salon de Paris nurtured a multitude of talented artists and exerted significant influence not only on French art, but also on an international scale, largely shaping the stylistic tendencies and preferences in visual arts of its era.

Coquelicots by Monet at the Musée d'Orsay exhibition

Coquelicots by Monet at the Musée d’Orsay exhibition

In effect, this new independent exhibition in 1874 by a group of Impressionist painters and sculptors was the birth of the movement as we know it today, and the Musée d’Orsay could not be the more perfect venue to feature it. The original exhibition took place at 35 boulevard des Capucines in the old workshops of photographer Nadar.

35 boulevard des Capucines today

35 boulevard des Capucines today

The venue comprised seven or eight rooms spread across two floors. Described as “beautifully arranged for such an exhibition” and the rooms are “excellently decorated and illuminated.” The walls were adorned with “stretched red-brown wool…extremely conducive to painting.” Unlike The Salon, where artworks were often piled up to the ceiling and difficult to discern, here they were “exhibited in excellent daylight and arranged only in one or two rows, facilitating appreciation for connoisseurs.”

When you’re living in Paris and going about your daily life, it’s easy to forget what a delight the Musée d’Orsay is for its permanent collection of Impressionist works, not to mention other important works it houses and the building itself. We took the opportunity to arrive at noon just in time to have lunch in the Musée d’Orsay Restaurant, a magnificent reference to French tradition, with frescoes by Gabriel Ferrier and Benjamin Constant lining the ceilings of the grand dining room and its salon. The food is excellent, the prices not too expensive, and the atmosphere is magnificent except for one seriously unfitting feature—the multi-colored plastic chairs that some irreverent designer thought might “jazz up the place”…but seriously doesn’t. One journalist wrote, “If only they’d ditch the garish chairs though, they look like some remnants from a line that IKEA ditched as a failed experiment in 1995.” That says it all. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong.

The restaurant at the Musée d'Orsay

The restaurant at the Musée d’Orsay

There’s also the Café Campana behind one of the big clocks and between the rooms that house the permanent collection of Impressionist works. Designed by the famous Brazilian designers, the Campana brothers, the museum claims that the café “transports you into a ‘dreamlike-aquatic’ universe, directly inspired by Emile Gallé and a tribute to Art Nouveau.” I wouldn’t go so far—in fact, the enormous hanging light fixtures obscure the view of the clock and again, the decor with orange fencing that reminds one of barbed-wire seems seriously unfitting and one cannot help but question, “What were they thinking?”

Café Campana at the Musée d'Orsay

Café Campana at the Musée d’Orsay

Nonetheless, once you’ve had lunch and seen the special exhibition, head all the way up to the 5th floor to see the permanent collection of Impressionist paintings, then have a dessert and coffee at the Café behind the big clock. It’s right about then that even us residents have to pinch ourselves to believe we’re actually at home right here among these great works of art.

To learn more about the original Impressionist 1874 exhibition, visit this website.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian Leeds with her Great-Neice, Ryan, and Berthillon's Cacao Amer SorbetAdrian with her Great-Neice, Ryan, and Berthillon’s Cacao Amer Sorbet

P.S. Don’t miss tomorrow’s Après-Midi in Paris with Joanie Osburn, author of Café Society. See our Après-Midi page for more information.

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22 Comments

  1. Nena on May 13, 2024 at 8:44 am

    Superb post! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Laurie Van Zant on May 13, 2024 at 8:53 am

    Here, here Adrian, well said, re: If Trump Wins…

    Additionally, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every newsletter. They are so thoughtfully laid out, with such useful information, knowledge, and facts that I feel almost undeserving of receiving them. You, and your staff, are incredible. I truly appreciate you sharing your thoughts and words with your subscribers via multiple ways. It is clear to me your paid services are worth every penny and will be utilized by me as my plans draw nearer. Thank you, Adrian

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:28 am

      Thanks so much!

  3. Barry Oliver on May 13, 2024 at 9:23 am

    This was an especially delightful newsletter, Adrian. Well written. And I know that ice cream window in Ile St Louis. Looking forward to more adventures in Paris.

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:27 am

      Thank you!

  4. Adrian Plaster on May 13, 2024 at 10:01 am

    From one Adrian to another: I admire your courage and conviction to speak your mind about political issues that concern all of us, not just those that might “impact your business “. Trump as US president will definitely shift the paradigm of international politics into a malstrom. We have friends already to leave if he is elected. Please continue to voice your opinion! It’s your blog, not anyone else’s!
    Another Adrian

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:27 am

      Thank you! We have many clients who are not even waiting for the election!

  5. Donna on May 13, 2024 at 10:05 am

    I always enjoy your posts…but this one was exceptional. So many points…so well thought out…thank you!

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:26 am

      Thanks so much!

  6. Fran DePalma-Iozzi on May 13, 2024 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for your comments about the Olympics and about the Trump article. We agree completely .
    We always take a young family member to Paris when they are 7 years old… but are waiting until the Olympics are done this time. Since I now have cancer, the wait is worrisome.
    You and yours have helped us many times in the past and your Apres Midi meetings have been a joy. We hope to get to another! Fran ( and Dr. Lou)

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:25 am

      We hope to see you soon! Best wishes.

  7. Linda Holt on May 13, 2024 at 11:34 am

    You rock, Adrian! We share all of your fears about Les JO. We hope the Paris we’ve loved for so long is still standing when we get there in September! Hope to see you then. All the best.

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:24 am

      Thank you!

  8. Janet on May 13, 2024 at 12:43 pm

    Great article as always! Thank you for sharing Paris with us all!

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:23 am

      Thank you!

  9. Stephanie Nelson on May 13, 2024 at 2:53 pm

    Wonderful newsletter – lots of topics and photos and food for thought! I don’t mind the plastic chairs in the Musee d’Orsay lunch room, though the decor is so opulent – it seems to make much more of a statement than the miniscule chairs. I am also leaving the USA if Herr Trump wins again. IMO, he never should have been able to run for office knowing the level of corruption and fraud he is so handily familiar with. I am traveling to Paris and Poitiers next week to check out some properties. Not in Paris, but in Aquitaine, where life is slower and the daily expenses cheaper. I will be within 1.5 hours of Paris, and on a train line, if I go through with it. Hope to catch up with some of the great events happening in Paris — and perhaps network at some of Adrian’s ex-pat events. Cheerio — Amicalement, stephanie

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:23 am

      Thanks so much! Let us know if you need any assistance with your property search or your move to France!

  10. Karen on May 13, 2024 at 4:39 pm

    Adrian,

    What a great edition of your Nouvellettre. I loved reading it!

    Karen

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:22 am

      Thank you!

  11. Corinne Hollings on May 13, 2024 at 6:54 pm

    You are so correct about Trump supporters. It’s hard to believe with everything that has happened. I enjoyed the rest of your nouvellettre. We once went to your gorgeous apartment and then to dinner with you, as my friends are Michael and Margie. I hope to come to Paris again next year when the Olympics are just a memory.
    Bonne Journee

    • Adrian Leeds Group on May 14, 2024 at 4:22 am

      Thank so much!

  12. SharYn on May 13, 2024 at 7:33 pm

    I share your politics, Adrian, so don’t give your naysayers another thought!

    Best wishes.

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