A Spring Peek-a-Boo at Paris
Spring has Sprung
Every year mid March I make a trip to the nursery to purchase what is necessary to brighten up the geraniums, in anticipation that the weather will turn warm and it will be safe to give them plenty of water once again.
This year, due to the tons of renovation dust emanating from my apartment, the leaves on the plants turned a chalky white and the flowers dried to crispiness. It must have been a form of protection in a sense, because when the dust settled, I lopped off the tops, cleaned off all the dead leaves, bathed them with fresh water and then added fertilizer.
The weather hasn’t turned warm like we had hoped — in fact it’s every bit as cold as ever, but nonetheless, the geraniums are already much perkier.
On Easter Sunday, during a stroll to the Canal Saint-Martin with friends, we noticed the leaves on the trees just peeking out from their Winter hiding places. It’s the first sign of Spring in Paris…what a glorious time to be in the City of Light!
Napoleonic Peep Show in the Big Easy
You may recall from a couple of years ago, a Parler Paris Nouvellettre® titled
“Napoleon’s Underwear” about Pierre-Jean Chalençon’s collection of Napoleon memorabilia. Since that article, the collection has been touring the U.S., finally to land on the appropriate doorstep of my home town, New Orleans.
The Times Picayune ran a front page article similarly titled: “Ever wonder what was underneath Napoleon Bonaparte’s fancy waistcoat?” by Staff Writer, Bruce Eggler — “Here’s a chance to find out, as the exhibit ‘Treasures of Napoleon’ opens in New Orleans.”
We all know that without Napoleon Bonaparte having sold off Louisiana for a whopping $15 million in 1803, we might have been speaking French (the Cajuns and their Cajun French have little to do with Napoleon). But, did you know he never stepped foot on that same threshold, even though there was a plot to kidnap him and bring him to New Orleans?
The “Treasures of Napoleon,” Chalençon’s collection, will open April 6 at the Louisiana State Museum’s Old U.S. Mint at 400 Esplanade Ave. I saw much of it displayed in his large rue de Rivoli apartment, including…you guessed it…N.B.’s undies. Now, all of you in the New Orleans area can take a ‘peep’ yourselves, as the exhibition is on until August 3rd, presented by the Russell Etling Company, comprising items assembled by collector and Napoleon authority, Pierre-Jean Chalencon, including some that have never before been seen by the general public.
The Old Mint is a perfect venue. It was a symbol of a ‘haunted’ building growing up there, watching it decay — this U.S. National Historic Landmark that operated as a branch mint of the United States from 1838 to 1861 and from 1879 to 1909 and is currently the oldest surviving structure to have served as a U.S. Mint. Since 1981 it became as a branch of the Louisiana State Museum until it was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Now after over two years of closure for repair and renovation, the museum reopened in October of 2007…perfect timing to ‘expose’ itself and a side of Napoleon we may not have known.
“Pack Light or Pay Up”
Every time I travel Stateside, I take a suitcase within a suitcase, fill the second suitcase to capacity with all the things that are either less expensive or unavailable in France, pray like hell that it’s not over the 50 pound limit and then check them both in baggage on the flight home.
Not anymore. As Scott McCartney wrote in his Wall Street Journal article of March 12th: “Baggage Becomes A Big-Ticket Item” Both United Airlines and US Airways will begin charging $50 round-trip for checking a second piece of luggage and Southwest Airlines as of January 29th charges $25 for a third bag plus $50 for each additional up to nine, $110 per bag of 10 or more. (Actually, this seems like a pretty liberal policy by comparison!)
This is just the beginning, no doubt. With the airlines losing tons of money thanks to high fuel prices, they are desperately seeking ways to earn more money and spend less. The customer is going to suffer, if we haven’t already!
‘Course, packing light isn’t bad advice for all you coming to France. We’ve watched hundreds of visitors carrying big bags up our narrow staircases, cursing under their breath about the stairs, when we’re chuckling to ourselves about how much Americans can’t live without…electric toothbrushes, for example!
Now, if we could only train across or under the ocean like we do crossing the Channel to England…none of this would be a problem!
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris