Eyes on the Seine and Other View Points
A fifth Saturday of strikes and demonstrations affected the Métro, RER and buses, rendering Parisians helpless to get anywhere…unless you had a bike, skates, scooter, motorbike or car. We ordinary folks were simply stranded, or relegated to our own immediate neighborhoods. I ended up forgoing plans to have dinner across town and instead turned on TV and watched the James Bond film, “Goldeneye” on Amazon Prime just because Pierce Brosnan is my kinda heartthrob.
(For information on the status of public transportation in Paris, visit RATP.fr)
I’m fed up with all the yellow vest and other hullabaloo and just want life to go back to normal…if there is such a thing in the City of Light. It’s not an unhappy thing that I’m heading south to Provence and the Côte d’Azur at the end of the week for the holidays, although we may see plenty of Giles Jaunes in the countryside, too. (I plan on putting our rental car’s yellow vest in the back window, just to show “solidarité” with the movement and play it safe.)
Our reader comments on the subject of the Gilets Jaunes have been fascinating. Opposing sides have had their voices. In a recent Parler Paris Nouvellettre®, I wrote about Laurent Queige, Director of the Welcome City Lab in the last two paragraphs:
“And here he was, speaking for us yesterday at Après Midi. Yes, I felt privileged indeed. This is the story you don’t often hear from the press, who are focused on the negative aspects of disgruntled masses who take to the streets complaining about their rising cost of living and inability to find employment. While the Gilets Jaunes are tearing down the establishment, and wanting more in their pockets while not wanting to give much back, Queige is pumping blood into those who have the gumption to do it for themselves.
As an American coming from the land of opportunity and entrepreneurship, it’s something I applaud. France could use a few more like him. Monsieur Macron, it is to these young entrepreneurs who you should be giving support and tax breaks. People like Laurent Queige — these are the real future of France.“
(See adrianleeds.com/parler-paris-nouvellettre/ to read the entire Nouvellettre®)
One reader, a Brit living in Southern California who lived in France in the ’70s and ’80s, berated me for what she saw as “arrogance.” (She’s someone who is prone to write regularly and often berates me!) She went on to misquote me and accuse of me of believing or doing many things of which she doesn’t really have a clue, but only imagines (I don’t believe we have ever met) or surmises what she wants from my missives. Most readers know that I am very open to hearing opposing views, but am not open to being called names or accused of things which are false. (Do you blame me?)
At the same time, one of my French friends living in Paris wrote, independently of Madame Berate: “Just a quick e-mail to let know how much I loved what you wrote in your Nouvellettre® about [Laurent] Queige…especially the last two paragraphs (referring to the ones noted above). The French reader went on to say, “Thank you; you nailed it!”
I got a good laugh at how a non-French, non-American living in the U.S. saw my comments from the side of the Gilets Jaunes, and the Frenchman (an entrepreneur himself) saw them in line with his own point of view. He further wrote in regard to her comments: “I can sense a bit of jealousy and also, a romantic image of France at the same time from what she wrote. I wonder what media this person is watching? She obviously never worked in France with French people nor in a French company. She has no idea how ‘fairness’ can be translated from one country to another. (Just go to a random post office in France and you’ll get a glimpse of what it could be!) How easy it is to throw a stone at someone else. I’m glad she felt the impulse to ‘write you’ in order to share her vision of France. It’s a very enlightening one for me, a Frenchman. I think, in her next life, she should be working in HR in France. That would be a great learning experience of the ‘French way’ for her.”
Meanwhile, according to France’s national news channel, broadcast in English, France24.com: “Thousands of protesters took to the streets of French cities on Saturday in the fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron’s government, despite calls to hold-off after a shooting in Strasbourg earlier this week” and “On the Champs-Elysées, a handful of topless activists from the feminist protest group Femen faced security forces a few meters away from the Elysée Palace, the president’s residence.”
The reports later were that the demonstrators were much less in number than previous weekends, but as we can see, some were NOT wearing yellow vests, nor much of anything!
Thank goodness; maybe this will be over soon. What will be next!? Who knows. We live in interesting times and there is never a dull moment in Paris or France!
On a more lighthearted and optimistic note, it looks like January will be “House Hunters International Month” for us. Three of our shows will be re-airing: 1) “Living Large in Languedoc,” 2) “A Last Hurrah in Paris” and 3) “Picture Perfect in Paris.” Stay tuned to Parler Paris for more details coming soon or visit our website page as we update it with more information.
At 12:10 p.m. on Friday, within minutes of the tickets going on sale, I had the good fortune of scoring tickets to see Michelle Obama speak at the AccorHotels Arena during her book tour of new memoir, “Becoming Michelle Obama.” The tickets were selling out right before my very eyes as I was clicking madly away as fast as I could to snag the maximum amount of four. Did I care about seeing Mick Jagger when he played here? No. But, Michelle Obama…now that’s what I call a star to be admired! (Lord, do I ever miss her presence in the White House!)
Excerpt from becomingmichelleobama.com/:
“In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.“
The French-American artist, JR, is another person whom I greatly admire. His career started at the Charles-de-Gaulle-Etoile RER station in the year 2001 when a young guy aged 17 named Jean René found a thrown-away camera. That began his photographic study of subway graffiti artists. He then began to document life on public spaces — walls, roofs, sidewalks, wherever for everyone and anyone to see. Considered “vandalism” by some and “art” by others, JR has taken his form of graffiti and the recording of it to new heights in a way that has touched people all over the world about people all over the world.
The MEP (Maison Européenne de la Photographie) is currently sponsoring a special exhibition of his work, titled “Momentum, la mécanique de l’épreuve” (“Momentum, the mechanics of the race”), on til February 10th, 2019. It’s the first really major exhibition of his work in a French institution. While JR was “illegally” exhibiting his works in Paris, Mayor of the 4th arrondissement, Dominique Bertinotti, and Jean-Luc Monterosso, the Director of the MEP, became his biggest fans.
My daughter introduced me to JR once at a show of her own work in New York. I’m sure I “blubbered” all over him as I am prone to do when meeting someone I really admire. She once took a portrait of him and he took a photo of her. When I mention his name, most people draw a blank, but for me he’s gone way beyond Banksy’s fame and stature and he’s up there with Keith Haring. The museum publicity says that only two percent of his work is known to the public. I am not surprised, but I wonder how they missed him.
Remember the eyes along the Seine? How could we forget them? Don’t miss this special exhibition.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Is making a big change in your life on your list of resolutions? Might we suggest a move or at least a long stay in France? We can help you see this resolution to fruition. With over 20 years living in France, we have learned the ins and outs and the inside information on moving, living and working here. Have a look at our Working and Living in France page and contact us today!