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“Impressive, N’est-ce Pas?”


“La Rentrée” doesn’t ‘officially’ begin until next Monday, September 3rd, which for Americans is “Labor Day.” Funny, that’s the day ‘labor’ will actually be taking place in France, not leisure, as it will be for our American counterparts. Already however, the signs of life in the city are coming back. The café on the corner that was closed for four weeks just reopened their awnings and set out their tables for business.

This is the most frantic period of the whole year, as the French return to their everyday lives and scramble to make up for the time lost during their (often) four-week (or longer) vacations. I may never understand why they prefer this system, or how those who are in business for themselves, can afford to literally shut down…but who am I to question, but an American with a work ethic that is more ‘live to work’ than ‘work to live?’

Some of the signs of “La Rentrée” landed in the mailbox all on one day. The city’s monthly municipal magazine, “A Paris,” was there, along with a special package from my ‘little birdie’ at the city hall including a bulletin titled “Tous Parisiens Tous Citoyens” and 72-page “Rapport 2006 de la Médiatrice de la Ville de Paris.” This is one of the ways our French tax money is spent that I personally appreciate — being informed by the administration of the affairs of the city…what the city is doing for its citizens and what its citizens are doing for the city. Impressive, n’est-ce pas?

(I don’t ever recall receiving anything of this kind in any U.S. city I’ve ever lived (New Orleans, New York, Knoxville and Los Angeles)…only flyers from politicians advertising for votes, and of course, plenty of junk mail, but no more.)

“A Paris” is naturally featuring the new “Vélib” biking program that has been overwhelmingly successful. (There are 1,451 stations around the city, with a minimum of 20 bikes each — and I can tell you, they are being used — all 10,000 on the streets with another 10,000+ scheduled to be installed! There have already been two million users with 53,000 annual subscriptions having been purchased. Paris is quieter and cleaner, if not a bit more dangerous (!) with so many unseasoned bike riders, which will hopefully improve with time.) The rest of the publication is filled with useful information…news, city services, cultural events and a calendar of events for each arrondissement. Impressive, n’est-ce pas?

If you aren’t in Paris to receive your own copy of “A Paris,” the city also makes it available online by clicking here. Impressive, n’est-ce pas?

“Tous Parisiens Tous Citoyens” is a small brochure promoting the city’s campaign to involve its residents more actively in making decisions that affect all. This means that residency, not just citizenship, affords the right to vote in certain circumstances. Created in early 2002, the initiative allows foreigners (

like me), a real voice in city planning. To learn more, visit the city Web site and sign up for their newsletter. Impressive, n’est-ce pas?

The booklet, “Rapport 2006 de la Médiatrice de la Ville de Paris,” was a special treat. This takes the inclusion of all residents much further. Frédérique Calandra, official “Médiatrice de la Ville de Paris,” acts as a mediator between those who make the laws and those who must follow them, to insure that everyone is in agreement with those laws. The headline reads: “Parisiens, Vous Avez des Droits…et des Devoirs.” (“Parisians, You Have the Rights and the Duties.”)

This reminds me of a philosophy once used as a parent when needing to administer a just punishment for bad behavior. I’d ask my daughter what SHE believed I should do as a parent to right her wrong…and amazingly, she would be able to step into my shoes and think of something fair…then just as amazingly, the bad behavior would never reappear. Impressive, n’est-ce pas?

Again, the booklet is made available on line on the city of Paris Web site. Impressive, n’est-ce pas?

Happy “La Rentrée,” A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Don’t miss the very special opportunity to see renowned Medium Debra Martin, live here in Paris on Thursday, September 27th and Friday, September 28th 2007, 7-9 p.m., Hotel Le Pavillon de la Reine in the heart of the historic Marais district. These two exclusive group sessions will be limited, so reserve your seat now! To register, visit /frenchproperty/conference/ or email Debra Martin’s Office Debra Martin’s Office at: [email protected]

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