Blinding Sun Out of the Blue
Yesterday made such a big impression on life in Paris that today seems so much less important. What happened yesterday to make such a strong and lasting impression?
Sun. Sun happened.
I awoke to beams of light pouring through the windows. It had been so long since we have see rays of sun such as these that it was virtually blinding and so out of the blue that it was as if the Messiah had come to liberate us.
I had an early meeting with new owners at Le Palace de Vosges starting off the day with a “café crème” and “tartine” at “Ma Bourgogne” watching the 400 year-old square come alive with buds on the linden trees and children playing in the sand pits.
My daughter arrived from New York at the same moment, ecstatic over how she managed to go from runway to home in record time and vowed to forever plan her travels to arrive on Sunday mornings when traffic is minimal. As is our usual ritual, we scored a table on the terrace at Café Charlot for its copious Sunday brunch, donning our sunglasses and stripping off our sweaters to expose pale skin to the bright sun…the sun Parisians haven’t seen for about five months.
Friends were gathering at the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont for a picnic, so we started off in that direction by foot, taking whatever path seemed relatively direct and more interesting than most. Every single Parisian — human and animal, of every age — was outside soaking up the rays starving for the warmth and Vitamin D.
Along the way we discovered beautiful architecture that one doesn’t see unless you take the the less-traveled streets as well as oddities such as “Just a little old dude laminating stuff on the street” (quote by Erica Simone), babies in Ray-Ban sunglasses and Chinese hookers in fishnet stockings and patent-leather boots. Crossing the Canal Saint-Martin. The quays were lined with picnickers and docked barges.
By the time we arrived at the park, uphill all the way, the streets were swarming, but nothing compared with the masses of humanity covering virtually ever square inch of grass on the steep slopes of the Buttes des Chaumont. This is the third largest park in Paris after the Bois de Vincennes and the Bois de Boulogne, occupying 24.7 hectares with five kilometers of trails and pathways. It’s shaped like a kidney and boasts of a lake, a waterfall and grotto, a bridge known as “the Suicide Bridge,” peaks and cliffs. We crossed many of them on route to finding our friends not far from the Botzaris entrance on the eastern corner.
This past winter I watched friends sled down these same slopes on cardboard box tops on the fresh snow! And yesterday, it was wall-to-wall with sunbathers and picnickers, including a few brazen ladies gone topless. The slopes are so steep that there is only one way to sit — facing downhill of course, but that didn’t deter anyone, nor did the soggy earth under the new blades of spring grass. It was a sight never seen before and possibly never seen again…at least not until another sunny Sunday should come our way.
Today sadly it’s gray and cool with light rain. The sunglasses go back in their cases and the raincoats come out of the closet. This is the usual Gray Paree we all know and don’t always love. But, it’s Paris, nonetheless.
Today is also the deadline the French ministers have been ordered by President François Hollande to reveal their assets. In an attempt to restore confidence in his administration following the recent tax evasion scandal that led to the resignation of his budget minister, he is once again making, what I believe, another seriously idiotic political move.
Imagine, “the assets of more than three-dozen ministers, including Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, will be published at 3 p.m. GMT on the French government’s Web site” (France24.com)!? The plan is sure to backfire — just wait till the public discovers the truth about the high net worth of those in office and the embarrassment those legislators must overcome from their own ‘boss’ exposing them!?
This is reminsicent of a “conseil de classe” when the teachers and students meet together to openly discuss each student’s grades and how well or badly they are doing (I swear, this is true — this is done as a matter of rote!). It leads only to humiliation and accomplishes little to improve performance!
Mutiny by his own body of government could happen. What would you do if your own leader made a mockery of you? Wouldn’t you revolt? France maybe be left with no government, just François Hollande! Help!
Yesterday was yesterday and today is today. Don’t we wish it were still yesterday, bright, warm, sunny and carefree? There’s an old saying: Wish in one hand, ‘pish’ in the other and see what you got.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(on the Canal St Martin – photo by Erica Simone)
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