Re-Entry Before La Rentrée
The re-entry into Nice was “du gâteau”—a piece of cake.
One week in Los Angeles was just perfect. I visited with my daughter and close friends, attended several art and cultural events, and pigged out, mostly on Asian food (sushi in Paris or Nice has a hard time competing with sushi in California!). The weather was beautiful (as it always is) and the traffic wasn’t too bad.
That’s the toughest part of living in Los Angeles—the traffic and the distances between Points A and B. The time spent in the car is a complete waste of a life. In Nice, the average commute is 10 minutes. In Paris, 30 minutes. In Los Angeles, at least 45 minutes.
Instead of renting a car, I Ubered or Lyfted wherever I needed to go, which cost about half the expense of a rental car or maybe even a lot less when considering gas and parking. And instead of driving in traffic, I could sit back and let the driver do the work. It was a blessing.
Sticker shock was the worst of the cultural shock that I was expecting—even in the simplest of restaurants, it’s near to impossible to spend less than $30 a person and it averaged more like $50 a person no matter where we went. Everything is a fortune…at least on the West Side, which is where we spent most of our time. At a café in the Brentwood Farmer’s Market, my friend ordered a glass of white wine, to the tune of $26 before tax and tip (she warned me that everything in Brentwood was even more expensive than anywhere else). My daughter and I each had a salad (that was barely edible), an iced tea, and a coffee at The Rose Café in Venice costing $93 (a spot I used to love, but I’ll never go back). Everywhere we went, the bill was big—a lot bigger than it would have been in Paris or Nice, particularly when you consider a 20 percent tip on top of everything. I stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights, which was expensive, even compared to Paris hotels…about 50 percent more, at least! So, all in all, L.A. is no bargain vacation. Inflation has hit the U.S. in a bigger than big way.
I managed to miss all the storms that took place in Paris and Nice and beyond. My Paris assistant working from my apartment sent videos of the rains coming down from my own windows. According to the press, massive amounts of rain fell in several parts of France. There was “a spectacular hailstorm over Lyon and Saint-Étienne and a massive downpour over Marseille that was the equivalent to six months of normal rainfall.” Corsica got hit with gales of up to 127-mph, killing five people.
In Paris the Eiffel Tower was struck by lightning! Gustave Eiffel planned for lightning by installing four lightning rods at the top, like copper brooms directed to the sky. These lightning conductors are connected to insulated cables that go down to the ground to ensure the dispersion of electricity. In Paris, “At least 26mm of rain fell in a single hour, according to the weather station at Parc Montsouris, while estimates for the entire duration of the storm are 44mm.” (See photos and more of the story)
France and other parts of Europe got hit with as much as 140-mph winds (recorded in Marignana, France on Thursday morning) in the U.K., Germany and Italy, too, with more predicted to be on the way. The storms have been violent and with wind speeds like that, AccuWeather equates that to a Category 4 Hurricane! My timing to return to France was therefore pretty perfect since my flights weren’t at all affected and fortunately experienced no damage at home.
Nice is at the height of the summer vacation season, which not everyone enjoys as much as I do. I love all the life on the streets, even when it’s a challenge to walk down my own street or get a table at one of my favorite restaurants. Sundays, not much stops me from my usual routine: lunch on the Cours Saleya (usually at Le Safari) and then beach time. I bought a big bouquet of lilies for 10€ (their scent is the best!) and some fresh fruit, then had a coffee at one of the cafés to people-watch before meeting a friend for lunch.
People-watching could be my number one favorite pastime—and I love guessing where people are from just by their looks or demeanor. I’ve heard an inordinate amount of Italian being spoken this past weekend, which isn’t surprising, but the usual Asian and Russian contingency of tourists is not here this year. Americans are seriously out in force, obvious by their loud voices…everywhere.
When I was in Los Angeles, I noticed that everyone speaks loudly all the time, no matter where they are, even in the most somber of places. It’s no wonder they have no clue how loud they are when traveling in France, where the French are taught to modulate their voices so no one can hear what they are saying. The French don’t yell at one another across a restaurant or store, or on the street like Americans are prone to do. They sit close to one another so that their interaction is private, like leaning in at the table, rather than sitting back and speaking louder to be heard. And the tables are smaller, more intimate, so they don’t need to shout. Even when Americans think they are speaking softly, their voices have a particularly piercing quality that stands out from all the others. This must come from years of “speaking up” as we are taught to do! Or maybe it’s because English comes through the nose rather than the throat, so it has a different quality than French. And I doubt anyone actually taught us that it was rude to be so demonstrative in public. At least, no one ever told ME. We never thought about it, so I was just as guilty as the next person, until having discovered a real difference in Europe.
This has become a pet peeve of mine and my ears have become very sensitive to certain tones after years of being in quieter situations, even with a lot of people present. Right about now, while complaining about such things, or being critical about this and that, my daughter would inevitably comment, “Mom, you’ve become so French!”
“Darling, that can never happen. Once an American; always an American.”
LA RENTREE*…WITH EUROPEAN HERITAGE DAYS
Every year, Europe celebrates its heritage with the European Heritage Days during “La Rentrée,” this year being the 39th Edition, taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 17th and 18th.
My group in Nice will be busy those days as part of the Living & Investing in France Conference, but if you’re in France, just about anywhere, you can participate.
This is your chance to take advantage of the thousands of events organized for the European Heritage Days as well as all of the beautiful places of heritage that will open their doors to the public all over France.
The event began in France in 1984 with La Journée Portes Ouvertes of historic monuments, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture. In 1985 in Granada, at the second European Conference of Ministers responsible for Architectural Heritage, the French Minister of Culture proposed that the project be internationalized under the Council of Europe. Not long after, The Netherlands held their first event in 1987, and Sweden and the Republic of Ireland joined in 1989 and Belgium and Scotland in 1990.
To find out more about the events organized in your region, consult the interactive map.
*La Rentrée: “La rentrée literally means ‘the return’ and is the term used to mean the start of the school year or the beginning of term and the return to work after the summer holidays during the first week of September. But as you’ll know if you live in France, it takes on a greater sense of importance than the English translation might suggest.” (Source)
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Along with La Rentrée, we’re gearing up for our fall sessions of Après-Midi. Have a look at our round-up and be sure to not miss a one!