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Discovering the Paris of Today and Yesterday

Paris of the Future Pedestrianized!
Paris of the Future...Pedestrianized!

This past July 11th, the four most central arrondissements of Paris, districts one through four, were grouped into one sector called “Paris Centre.” To the naked eye, nothing changed. Our postal codes haven’t changed and nothing visibly has changed to distinguish the new sector, except that administratively everything has changed. From that point forward, all administrative procedures are now being done in the new town hall of Paris Centre, the former “Mairie” of the 3rd, located at 2 rue Eugène-Spuller—just a couple of blocks from my apartment.

Paris Centre, Map by l'Express

Paris Centre, Map by l’Express


Procedures that might be important to you that will now take place at this location include:

• civil status procedures (births, recognitions, marriages, PACS, death certificates)
• school registrations
• submission of applications for a place in a crèche or in an early childhood establishment

Why did they group the districts? The formal word is a simplification of the administrative distribution of power between the State and the City and a strengthening of the role of district mayors. In addition, it gives greater demographic weight to the new Paris Centre sector to be more comparable to that of other districts. While in the 19th-century the inhabitants concentrated mainly in the center of Paris, today they live mainly in the peripheral districts, so the division of Paris into 20 arrondissements no longer corresponds to the current demographic reality. In other words, there is now more of a population balance between Paris Centre and districts 5 through 20.

Mairie of Paris Centre

Mairie of Paris Centre, Previously the Mairie of the 3rd Arrondissement


A benefit for the party-line, something you will not find in print, was a strengthening of the Socialist Party by combining the four districts, now led by Socialist, Ariel Weil, the new mayor of Paris Centre. Socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo must be quite happy about that.

Ariel Weil Mayor of Paris Centre

Ariel Weil, Mayor of Paris Centre

I quite like him, too, because I like everything about his profile. He’s young, born in 1973, and served as the mayor of the 4th arrondissement from 2017 to 2020. He is an economist, born in Jerusalem, having attended Harvard Business School (hence he speaks perfect English) and attended the Grande Ecole Sciences-Po here in Paris. Bonus plus: he’s married to France’s chief female Rabbi, Delphine Horvilleur.

I hope to see him hanging out in the area as much as I have seen Pierre Aidenbaum, the mayor of the 3rd. Having met M. Weil casually, I think he’s a guy I can easily talk to—maybe even get an interview with him to talk about the plans to pedestrianize Paris Centre and/or express my ideas about how to better manage the short-term rentals and housing shortage issue that seems to pre-occupy Madame Hidalgo. Stay tuned to news on that end if I am successful!

Journées des PatrimoineComing up this weekend is the annual and 37th edition of “Journées des Patrimoine“—the 19th and 20th of September, celebrating the theme “Heritage and Education: Learning for Life.”

The theme of the event alone shows how important education is to the French. I have often joked that in the U.S. class level is determined by one’s income; in England, birthright is what counts and in France, it’s all about one’s level of education. It’s not really a joke, because money does not buy you respect (just the opposite, actually) or “class” in France, but knowledge does. Education does. Money isn’t what gets you into the best schools like in the States, but good grades do.

I digress, however…as the point is that during the weekend and everywhere in France, public and private owners of historic monuments, members of associations for the protection and enhancement of heritage, curators of heritage, restorers of heritage property and objects, guides-speakers, chief architects of historical monuments…will all mobilize to welcome visitors…and in compliance with the health recommendations that will be in effect. Hopefully we can marry the two with success.

This is an opportunity for everyone in France to celebrate the beauty and richness of the French national heritage as well as the importance of education. Offered to school children, starting this Friday, September 18th, via the operation “Raise your eyes!,” conducted in partnership with the Ministry of National Education and Youth and under the guidance of their teachers, kids will rediscover the heritage that surrounds them. Leaving the classroom, the kids and their teachers will have a look around at the environment and its patrimonial elements, or will go into a building and learning its history, that of an object or gesture and its meaning in a local, regional, national or European context. It is also an opportunity for the kids to discover professions, know-how, to become aware of the importance of protecting this heritage for their own generation and those to come, and also to marvel at the artistic and architectural beauty that present themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember doing anything of the sort growing up in Louisiana, where there’s plenty of history and heritage to discover, with a lot of it having been based in France! It’s possible I just don’t remember that far back, but either way, can’t say it made an impression on me, regrettably.

Les Vieilles Maisons Françaises

La Demeure HistoriqueThe European Heritage Days are organized by the Ministry of Culture, under the patronage of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, supported by public and private owners of the historic monuments. They benefit from the involvement of the Center for National Monuments, the network of Cities and Countries of Art and History, the Heritage Foundation, the network of Architectural, Urban and Environmental Councils, and heritage conservation associations present since the very first edition…Les Vieilles Maisons Françaises and La Demeure Historique.

To decide what and when you want to visit France’s heritage next weekend, visit the program available online.

But, here are a few of the most unusual things to discover in Paris, that maybe you didn’t even know existed (many I didn’t, either!):

Paris 1st

Musée du BarreauMusée du Barreau de Paris

The Musée du Barreau de Paris takes part in the Journées du Patrimoine, on September 21 and 22, 2019. It is an unsuspected heritage of the capital, dedicated to the History of Justice and to the great figures of the Paris Bar, which is to be discovered!

Paris 4th

Fondation Lafayette AnticipationsFondation Lafayette Anticipations

For the 37th edition of the Heritage Days, the Lafayette Anticipations Foundation opens its doors and invites us to discover its contemporary art collections. We can also take advantage of the exceptional opening of the production workshops to go see what is going on behind the scenes. See you in Paris in the Marais on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2020.

Paris 5th

Musée CurieMusée Curie

On the occasion of the Heritage Days 2020 in Paris, the Curie Museum opens its doors throughout the weekend of September 19 to 20, 2020 for a dive into family history to the five Nobel Prizes. Advised for lovers of scientific heritage!


Paris 7th

Musée Valentin-HaüyMusée Valentin-Haüy

For the 37th edition of Heritage Days, the Valentin Haüy Museum invites Parisians and Ile-de-France residents to discover the history of its establishment and that of the association of the same name on Saturday, September 19, 2020.


Paris 9th

Musée de la Franc-MaçonnerieMusée de la Franc-Maçonnerie

The Museum of Freemasonry opens its doors for free on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2020, as part of Heritage Days, and offers unique tours to discover the values ​​and culture of this organization.



Paris 12th

Palais de l Porte DoréePalais de la Porte Dorée

The Palais de la Porte Dorée participates in the Heritage Days on the weekend of September 19 to 20, 2020! The opportunity to learn more about the history of immigration and to discover the fate of immigrants in the Galerie des Dons, but also a golden opportunity to visit the roof of this colonial building as well as its aquarium.

Paris 13th

Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-PathéFondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé

For the 36th edition of the Heritage Days, the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation opens its doors for free on September 21 and 22, 2019. This is your opportunity to discover the entire building designed by Renzo Piano, attend silent film sessions in cine-concert and participate in guided tours of the device gallery.



Paris 16th

Musée ClemenceauMusée Clemenceau

For Heritage Days 2020 in Paris, we suggest you visit a museum like no other: the Clémenceau Museum! We stroll in the apartment of the former president of the council, with a garden and a view of the Eiffel Tower, and we take the opportunity to review its history of France. Here is a nice cultural outing for the family on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September 2020.

Clearly, there are many to see—hundreds across all of France from which to choose…so see at least one if not many!

Edith de Belville

Edith de Belville

Outside of the annual heritage days, Edith de Belleville, author and tour guide, is offering virtual tours of Paris with her on Zoom. This past Sunday at 6 p.m. Paris time, she invited us all to join her on a tour of Le Marais:

“Do you miss Paris? Wouldn’t you like to have a café crème in a charming Parisian café with me and strolling in the City of Light? Oui? Follow me in Le Marais, in the footsteps of the great seductresses at the time of Louis XIV…Ninon de L’Enclos, Madame de Sévigné and Madame de Montespan.”

For just 12€, and one hour of our time, we discovered the history behind Place des Vosges.

Sunday the 20th, Edith de Belleville will be offering:

Fashion & Passion at the Court of Versailles with Louis XIV

Tour of the Hôtel de Sully Edith de Belville

On Tour of the Hôtel de Sully with Edith de Belville


It’s well known that French women don’t get fat. That’s because of Louis XIV. The fashion week? Thanks to Louis XIV. You would die for a Chanel dress or Dior shoes? Blame Louis XIV (a.k.a the Sun King). Learn how Louis XIV & Fashionistas at the Court of Versailles invented fashion. Discover the secrets of seduction of the chic duchesses from the 17th-century.

Zoom lecture, Sunday September 20th
11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Paris
12 Euros for 1.5 hours of great listening pleasure!

If you want to be on Edith’s mailing list to learn more about her virtual tours and other offerings, visit her website…and be sure to tell her I sent you!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds - Paris, FranceAdrian Leeds
Adrian Leeds Group

(in Paris)

Craig Carlson, Photo © by Meredith Mullins

Craig Carlson, Photo ©Meredith Mullins

P.S. Join me for the book launch of author Craig Carlson’s newest book, Let Them Eat Pancakes, Friday, September 18th at 6:30 p.m. at The Abbey Bookshop! See for more information. (Craig Carlson, Photo © by Meredith Mullins)


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