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A Trilogy of Paris Happenings

TOLLE TAKES THE EGO OUT OF THE REX

The tickets were purchased six months ago and it’s a good thing — because there wasn’t one seat available Saturday night in the 2,800 seat auditorium of the Grand Rex Theater to hear Eckhart Tolle expound on the power of the present moment. I’d never had the occasion to attend an event at the Rex before, noted for its sumptuous decor (that is seriously faded and in need of a refurbishment), but it’s the largest cinema theater in all of Europe, boasts of a 300 square meter screen and considered to be a landmark of art deco architecture.

The Grand Rex, ParisThe Grand Rex, Paris

Eckhart TolleEckhart Tolle

Olympic Win CelebrationOlympic Win Celebration

Craig Carlson (by Linda Hervieux)Craig Carlson (by Linda Hervieux)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (Photo by AFP Photo/Francois Guillot)Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo (Photo by AFP Photo/Francois Guillot)

Paris Olympics - NBC News

Le Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris

Quid Novi Choral GroupThe Quid Novi Choral Group

Le Musée Cognacq-Jay, ParisLe Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris

Portrait of Marie-Emilie Baudouin at the Musée Cognacq-Jay by François Boucher, the Subject's FatherPortrait of Marie-Emilie Baudouin at the Musée Cognacq-Jay by François Boucher, the Subject’s Father

Tolle is every bit as important to the landscape as is the theater. If you don’t know who he is, then I will emphatically say, you should. There are those who would argue that he is one of the greatest philosophers of the 21st century, me being among them. No one person has changed my life more profoundly than Eckhart Tolle.

Tolle wrote “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment,” “A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s purpose” and “Stillness Speaks,” plus others he co-authored. It was his first time to speak to a Paris (in English with translation in French), although I had heard him speak two years ago in London and subscribe to his many videos.

Tolle spoke for well over two hours extemporaneously without taking a sip of water. The audience was mesmerized by his words and his manner of speaking, which is a variation of hypnotic. Rather than giving a talk on “The Power of Now 101,” assuming the audience was unfamiliar with his philosophies and that most were already quite familiar with his ideas of living in the present moment, while others had been invited there to be enlightened for the first time, he took one tiny thread of the massive topic and followed it to completion: presence and the ego self.

He talked about the story of Narcissus, the Greek hunter who was known for his beauty and fell in love with his own reflection, so much so that he lost the will to live…and how we can learn from this myth. Tolle is quoted as saying: “In the egoic state, your sense of self, your identity, is derived from your thinking mind – in other words, what your mind tells you about yourself: the storyline of you, the memories, the expectations, all the thoughts that go through your head continuously and the emotions that reflect those thoughts. All those things make up your sense of self.” He went on to talk about awareness of the ego: “Whenever there is negativity in you, if you can be aware in that moment that there is something in you that takes pleasure in it or believes it has a useful purpose, you are becoming aware of the ego directly. The moment this happens your identity has shifted from ego to awareness. This means the ego is shrinking and awareness is growing.”

Tolle’s books are “reading assignments” to all of my clients who are about to take the leap into a life in France, and frightened of the outcome. “As you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life. It means fear is no longer a dominant factor in what you do and no longer prevents you from taking action to initiate change.”

When will he be back in Paris? Good question. But start now to learn more — and maybe it will enlighten you as much as it has me and millions of others. To give you more of an idea of what we heard him say Saturday night, visit azquotes.com/author/.

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AN OLYMPIC PARIS PARTY

While we were glued to our seats at the Rex, Paris was partying at the Hôtel de Ville and other venues celebrating the win of the 2024 Olympic Bid. Parler Paris friend, Linda Hervieux, covered the event for NBCNews.com, and featured some of our homegrown folks, such as Breakfast in America’s Craig Carlson, who recently spoke at Après Midi.

The point of Hervieux’s article is how the win will affect the morale of Parisians and the rise of tourism in the capital. By the end of 2017, officials are predicting a record 89 million visitors to France. But not everyone is thrilled, seeing the potentially negative outcome should the city overspend the budget, ultimately costing the taxpayers money.

There is much debate, but one thing I know for sure: property prices will increase (good for investors), rents will increase (good for landlords), and the city will struggle with the regulations that prevent short-term rentals as the needs for accommodations will increase. The current city administration has been talking out of both sides of their mouth. In an interview in the L.A. Times in 2014, newly elected Mayor Anne Hidalgo said, “There is a worrying lack of housing at a price that is affordable. I will continue building social homes and even secure private funding to create housing at prices people can afford. This was a campaign promise and I have made it my objective. The social mix comes through housing. It’s the beginning and end of equality.”

The Olympic Games bid win will have an opposite affect, Madame. What were you thinking?

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HAPPY HERITAGE DAYS

On top of everything else going on, Les Journées du Patrimoine took place over the weekend in France with about 17,000 monuments having opened their doors and more than 26,000 events during this 34th edition of European Heritage Days.

We took in a very special and beautiful two-hour-plus choral concert by “Quid Novi” at the Eglise des Billettes on rue des Archives, led by Chef de Choeur, Pascal Bezard, following the historic stories from the 16th-century who saw the likes of such nobles as Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici, François II and Marie Stuart and Henri IV.

After the concert and before the rains came down, we strolled just a few blocks to visit the Musée Cognacq-Jay, a small museum in the Hôtel Donon that houses the collection of 18th-century art collected between 1900 and 1927 by Ernest Cognacq, founder of La Samaritaine department stores, and his wife Marie-Louise Jaÿ. In all these years, I’d neve ventured in, but this was the perfect opportunity.

When Ernest Cognacq died in 1928, he bequeathed the artworks to the City of Paris so that his collection might remain accessible to the public. The Hôtel Donon is a private mansion from the late 16th-century on rue Elzévir built on grounds that once lay within the walls of Charles V from the 14th-century. The religious order of Sainte-Catherine-des-Écoliers plotted their land in 1545 and as a result, a network of new paths was born. The road which served the Culture-Sainte-Catherine from the censive of the Temple became the rue de Diane, then later des Trois Pavillons, and later still, the rue Elzévir. The City of Paris acquired the mansion in 1974 and restored it in order to present these important collections of art.

My favorite — François Boucher’s portrait of Marie-Emilie Baudouin, the artist’s daughter, with her little bird and her pretty pink bow around her neck.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds - by Martha Wagley

Adrian Leeds
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(by Martha Wagley)

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P.S. Do you dream of being able to take part in events like this in Paris? You can be, and we can help make that dream come true! We offer services for as much or as little as you may need to make it so. Contact us today

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