What Makes Paris So Paris After All
PACK YOUR BAGS. YOU’VE GOT THE GREEN LIGHT
The biggest news of all is that from this Wednesday, June 9th, you’ve got the green light to enter France…as long as you’ve been vaccinated. Non-essential travelers from outside of the EU will be able to enter without quarantining. Within the EU, a PCR test is no longer obligatory. But, it’s not so simple. The rules divide countries into three levels for rules imposed on vaccinated vs non-vaccinated travelers.
Green is the green light: Vaccinated = no entry requirements; non-vaccinated = negative antigen or PCR test within 72 hours of entry
Orange is the cautious light: Vaccinated = negative antigen or PCR test within 72 hours of entry; non-vaccinated = travel allowed for essential reasons only or for certain categories of travelers and people who qualify must present a negative Covid antigen or PCR test taken within 72 hours of entry and quarantine for seven days on arrival before taking a second test! (Yikes!)
Red is where they get serious: Vaccinated = travel allowed for essential reasons only and those who qualify must present a negative Covid antigen or PCR test taken within the previous 48 hours (!) and quarantine for seven days on arrival before taking a second test (!!); non-vaccinated = travel allowed for essential reasons only and only for certain kinds of travelers and people who qualify must present a negative Covid antigen or PCR test taken within the previous 48 hours (!) and quarantine for 10 days on arrival (!!) and on top of that, the police will make checks at the registered address to enforce having to quarantine.
For very specific information, visit the government site, in French, and then book your tickets fast!
OWN A CHATEAU IN FRANCE: A DREAM OR A NIGHTMARE?
If you tuned into our webinar on Saturday night, “Own a Château in France: a Dream or a Nightmare?” sponsored by the Alliance Française of Washington, DC, then you already know how much fun we had talking about French Châteaux—citing a handful of the estimated (up to) 45,000 in France with about 6,500 of those classified as historical monuments.
When Natasha, the Cultural Coordinator at the Alliance Française invited me to speak, I was reluctant. What good things could I say about château ownership? Unfortunately, not much. So, I agreed to do the webinar, but under one condition: that I could show how and why we don’t recommend it. She laughed and then accepted the condition.
Preparing the presentation was one of the toughest I’ve ever done. There is so much to learn about châteaux in France, that it would take a lifetime of study to fully embrace it. Fortunately, it wasn’t necessary to know EVERYTHING…just what was most important related to whether château ownership would be a dream fulfilled or the nightmare that never goes away. The people I have known who owned them, a few over the years, have always had a love-hate relationship with their project—and that’s what château ownership is—a project. No doubt, it’s easy to fall madly in love with a château, but with it comes the work, expense and the heartache…like having a child or a pet. It’s a commitment that could last a lifetime if one is not careful. Since it’s impossible to know at birth (or at the signing of the deed) what you’re getting yourself into, it can turn into that “mauvais enfant”—you love them desperately, but they’re sucking the life out of you, too.
We had a lot of fun with the topic, even if I may have burst a few bubbles with the harsh realities, such as: how much it costs to renovate and maintain a château; how there are tax incentives but they come with lots of limitations and restrictions and how few end up being good investments. The truth is that it’s pretty sad that today’s France can’t support its own heritage by keeping the châteaux alive and healthy—that 60 percent of the buyers of châteaux today are foreigners who don’t likely realize what they’re taking on.
The one-hour session was recorded, so if you want to watch it on your own, you just have to click here.
Thanks again to the Alliance Française of Washington, DC for allowing us all this fun discussion!
GETTING TO KNOW PARIS AGAIN
It’s so easy to take Paris for granted. Once you’ve lived here for as many years as I have (almost 27), one might start to forget what makes Paris so Paris after all. And after so many months of life hidden behind the walls of our small abodes, the chairs stacked high inside the cafés with their doors shut tight, the museums locked and gathering dust, we almost forgot that under it all, Paris was still Paris.
My daughter landed in Paris last week after six months of our being apart—her having enjoyed the high life in the rain forest of Maui all that time while I was relegated to confinement in France. The arrival timing was perfect, now that the cafés, restaurants, shops and museums have reopened, even with the curfew still set at 9 p.m. Since the moment she arrived, we have dined al fresco at every meal, she has visited with friends and she even did a marathon walk from Le Marais to the Eiffel Tower and back in one day, zigzagging along the way (trekking over 10 miles in one day).
Sunday we set out for our small marathon—a leisurely walk to the Jardin du Luxembourg, with a stop for lunch and visit through the Musée du Luxembourg before landing at the gardens for a “petit repos.”
Winding our way through the narrow streets of the Le Marais, the neighborhood I know better than the back of my hand, I realized how much I’ve come to appreciate its intimacy, so different from the other neighborhoods of Paris that are serviced by big boulevards, wider streets and taller buildings. The buildings of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries—”hôtels particuliers” and the “petites maisons” in between—are oozing with charm compared to the masculine 19th and 20th century Haussmannian buildings that make up what most people think of when they think of Paris.
Within a few minutes, we were in front of the Hôtel de Ville, crossing the river and walking down rue d’Arcole to land at Notre Dame. I noticed how beautiful rue d’Arcole has become now that the trees are so much taller and fuller than in the past, but wondered why the tourist shops were almost all shut tight on a Sunday afternoon, just when there would normally be lots of walk-by traffic. Despite the construction taking place at Notre Dame, with the entire “parvis” cordoned off, there was a stream of visitors to eye the progress. It looks as if they may be planning to reopen at least a part it…or it looks as if they could if they wanted to. Let’s hope they do.
For lunch we opted for a café in the Cour de Rohan, which was as touristy and as uninteresting as one might imagine, save for the atmosphere of the series of three courtyards where time seems to be suspended. You enter it by way of the Cour du Commerce Saint-André or the rue du Jardinet, a few meters from the first café in Paris, Le Procope. Even with various architectural styles, there is a certain harmony of renaissance buildings, old brick, curiosities and greenery. The less-than-perfect meal didn’t matter. We were rediscovering the Paris we used to know and loving every moment.
The Musée du Luxembourg reopened May 19th with the exhibition “Women Painters, 1780 – 1830, The Birth of a Battle,” featuring 70 paintings by women artists at a time when their numbers were increasing, “transforming tastes and social practices relating to art.” Since I hadn’t been inside a museum in well over a year, it was like going back in time. The paintings, most of which are of women, not just by women, are breathtakingly beautiful, especially to an eye that hadn’t been exposed to art in such a beautiful setting in such a long time.
If you miss this exhibition, another exciting one follows—”Vivian Maier,” from September 15th to January 16th, 2022. At least, it’s one that I won’t miss because of my long-standing interest in photography and opinion of Maier’s work—the New York governess who secretly photographed the life around her, the archive of which was discovered by accident in 2007.
To end our mini-marathon, we found a shady spot at the gardens and dragged over a couple of the green metal armchairs. The chestnut trees are in full foliage, thick and deep green—they won’t last much past September. The park was filled with visitors, many just enjoying the sun and reading their latest book or chatting with friends and family.
It was Paris at its best—that which makes Paris so Paris after all.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian with daughter, Erica