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Paris is Back with a Vengeance

Dancers posing on the papered ground of JR's installation at the Trocadero
Dancers posing on the papered ground of JR's installation at the Trocadero

Paris is back with a vengeance. Thank goodness.

This past week I ate at home only once. All the other meals were at the cafés and restaurants just like “old times,” except that it’s a whole new experience. The tables are outside, not in, and the waiters are so happy to be there working, as are the patrons happy to be outside being served, that the mood is heightened and everyone is having a truly wonderful experience. It’s explosive. Even my geraniums are showing off their glee at the new atmosphere!

The crowd at Café Les Philosophes

Café Les Philosophes

Red Geraniums blooing in Adrian Leeds' windowbox

Adrian’s Red Geraniums

The shops are finally open, too. People are shopping like mad, making up for the year they have been living in their old clothing. I didn’t need any, but bought new sandals just because I could. It was so exciting!

On the street people are still wearing their masks, but once they sit at a table, off it comes and that’s that. The paranoia seems to be gone, which is a good thing from an emotional stand point, but let’s hope that doesn’t lead to a relapse. Going back into confinement would kill us. At least, it would me.

Dining al fresco at Breakfast in America, owners Craig Carlson and Julien Chameroy out front to greet their patrons

Dining al fresco at Breakfast in America, owners Craig Carlson and Julien Chameroy out front to greet their patrons

Museums are opening up. Le Carnavalet, after four years of renovation, has reopened to reclaim its status as the premier museum in the City of Light. The museum promos claim that it has completely revised its scenography, while retaining its charm. For its first exhibition after reopening, the museum has teamed up with the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation to highlight the importance of Paris in the life and work of one the greatest French photographers of the 20th-century. The museum revisits the links forged by the artist with a city where he had always lived and which nurtured him artistically. Count me in.

Photo of the sculpted hedge garden at Le Musée Carnavalet

Le Musée Carnavalet

Photo from Henri Cartier-Bresson Exhibition at Le Musée Carnavalet

Henri Cartier-Bresson Exhibition at Le Musée Carnavalet

Yesterday I trekked to the Trocadero to see JR’s installation—an imaginary street that goes from the Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower eliminating the River Seine. It was installed on the 19th, so I thought there wouldn’t be much left of it after rain and people stomping around on it…but that wasn’t the case. With beautiful blue skies and warm breezes, the Parisians came out to see it and it was holding up well. They formed a queue a mile long in order to stand in a perfect juxtaposition to take photos—so that the image that had been pasted down on the ground would line up with the tower just perfectly, as JR had intended.

The queue was a mile long to have a moment to stand in a perfect juxtaposition to take photos

The queue was a mile long to have a moment to stand in a perfect juxtaposition to take photos

It always surprises me when I come across someone who doesn’t know who he is, which happens often, even after all the projects he’s done right here in his home town. He’s a French photographer and street artist who started out here in Paris and now exhibits his work all over the world, in public locations. Once you’ve seen his work, you’d recognize it, but it is described as “combining art and action, and dealing with commitment, freedom, identity and limits.”

I first met him when he attended one of my daughter’s own photography exhibitions in New York. That was quite a privilege. Then two years ago, she and I had the pleasure of working on his project at Le Louvre. With the help of 400 volunteers and JR overseeing it all, we pasted thousands of strips of paper on the courtyard of Le Louvre to create a massive optical illusion, installed in honor of the Pyramid’s 30th anniversary.

This installation at the Trocadero isn’t quite so enormous a project, but is still worth seeing. It will be up till June 17th…so don’t dally! And soon, you will be able to purchase a lithograph, printed on one of the old Voirin et Marioni flat presses, immortalizing this ephemeral composition in a limited edition and signed by the artist. Again, count me in!

Paris is back and it’s back with a vengeance! All those people who moved to the countryside or the suburbs are going to be sorry they did, now that the life of the city is out in full force. One by one, the museums will reopen. The cafés and restaurants are getting their sea legs back, as are the Parisians. The weather is glorious and the residents are delirious. I know I am.

A la prochaine…

Adrian with French artist JR at Le Louvre, April 2019Adrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian with JR at Le Louvre, April 2019

P.S. Did you know…you can find information on all of our HHI episodes on our website? Click on an episode to see if it’s scheduled for re-airing or has a video you can watch now. We know we have at least one episode re-airing this month!



  1. Lynne Caulkett on May 31, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    So happy Paris is getting back to normal or at least the new normal! I will be coming mid November for 5 weeks. Can’t wait!

  2. Ellen Irion on May 31, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    So glad you are getting out! Rick Steves 17 day tours of Italy are completely booked for 2022! (He isn’t coming until then out of an abundance of caution).
    Can’t wait to revisit Paris! Thanks for your wonderful newsletters.

  3. pamela thomas on May 31, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    It looks wonderful and we are dying to be there. We are sitting here with an apartment booked in the 12th beginning on the 17th of June, but still no clear directive on what will be required to enter from the U.S. We have been vaccinated, but the French Consulate site mentions a 7 day quarantine, which is a deal breaker. There has been talk of the health passport, but no instructions. On edge here in New York!!!

    • Adrian Leeds Group on June 1, 2021 at 1:55 am

      Keeping our fingers crossed that France sorts out the travel details soon.

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