Never Forgetting our Heritage
It will be a long time before the date September 11th means nothing to Americans, or the world for that matter. Call it “September Eleventh” or “Nine-Eleven” or whatever, somehow the moment I realize the day has this date, chills go up my spine and I remember where I was and what I was doing at that very moment when the rogue planes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and life changed for all of us. (Photo on left: a Tribute in Light rises above the lower Manhattan skyline and Four World Trade Center, center, and One World Trade Center, left, in a test of the memorial light display, Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 in New York. The twin beams of light will also appear Wednesday, Sept. 11, twelve years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Photo by Mark Lennihan, from sfgate.com/)
I was sitting in this very spot at my desk, writing a Parler Paris Nouvellettre® at this very moment 12 years ago when my sister called to say just this: “Turn on CNN.” The first plane had already struck and I watched the second plane plow into the second tower in utter shock. Then, nothing was the same after that, not in New York, not in the United States, not in France and not anywhere in the world.
On the 10th anniversary, Paris remembered 9-11 at the Trocadero with a powerful, but temporary monument. No, the French will never forget, either. You may recall that French President “Jacques Chirac was the first foreign President to fly above the ruins of the World Trade Center in a helicopter with Giuliani.” (untappedcities.com)
The French don’t forget much. Their sense of history is profound — something you see at every turn in Paris and everywhere in France. Streets are named after their illustrious brethren and their milestone events. Plaques are erected on buildings and signs to commemorate something that took place there, whether it be the deportation of Jewish children from a school during the German Occupation or a famous Frenchman who once lived in the building. Books upon books are written about the history of just about everything and they attach their French sense of self to these stories about who came before them and what they accomplished.
Every year they celebrate exactly this — their “patrimoine” or heritage during “Les Journées du Patrimoine.” This weekend during the 30th edition of the festival, France celebrates the law passed in December of 1913 vowing to protect the historical monuments of France. For 100 years, the French committed themselves to preserving their accomplishments and their historical significance. The theme, “1913-2013: 100 ans de protection” (1913-2013: 100 years of protection) is designed to help us all understand the difficult steps that lead to the protection of a place or an object by offering tours, exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and conferences.
Sadly, the official Web site is difficult to use to map out your two days of exploration in Paris (and elsewhere in France). If you go to this page you will be able to input your search criteria. For Paris alone there are 817 possible sights to visit free of charge.
Fortunately, the city Web site offers much more. See paris.fr/loisirs/ (in English) for specific strolls you can take — just click on the ones that interest you and print the page with map and description!
The city site also makes note of a small selection they suggest not missing (and expect to wait in lines to see some of the more popular sights!):
***Archaeological Crypt of Notre Dame
A unique opportunity to understand the evolution of the Île de la Cité thanks to an exhibition including 3D technology and presenting key vestiges of life in Lutetia, from its origins through to the 19th century.
***Secrets of the Hôtel de Ville
Paris City Hall is a magnificent building in Neo-Renaissance style, rebuilt in the wake of a fire in 1871. On the Heritage Days programme:
– visits of the Hôtel de Ville (with flash codes to download information and descriptions to your mobile phone)
– encounters with the craftspeople of the Hôtel de Ville
– games for adults and children
– an exhibition of works of art from the Fonds Municipal d’Art Contemporain (FMAC, Paris Municipal Art Collection)
***The National Assembly and Senate
The National Assembly is in two townhouses built by the same architects and decorated by the same artists in the 18th century. This is a unique opportunity to see where French Members of Parliament work, and the apartments of the President of the Assembly.
The Senate building is called the Palais du Luxembourg. Built from 1615 onwards for Queen Marie de Medici, it became the Senate in 1801. This is your chance to visit the Senate glasshouses used for the conservation of species of flowers since the 19th century.
***The Sorbonne, the Best-Known Parisian University
Push back the doors of the Sorbonne in the heart of the Latin Quarter (5th arrondissement). Founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon then renovated by Cardinal Richelieu, it is one of the most prestigious universities in France and Europe and boasts some magnificent buildings. In addition to the historic visitor circuit, guided visits will also be organized.
***Behind the Scenes of a Cabaret: The Lido
The world-renowned cabaret created in 1946 is opening the doors of its dressing rooms and revealing costumes past and present to the public on this years Heritage Days.
***Amid the Greenery of the Garden of Tropical Agronomy
The Garden of Tropical Agronomy in the Bois de Vincennes takes visitors on a trip back through the history of the French empire and colonies (Tunisia, Morocco, Guiana…). The garden was laid out for the 1907 Colonial Exhibition.
***Dive into the Sewers!
Visit the sewers and discover the history of this underground network and its working facilities, near the Pont de lAlma. Photographs by Sélène de Condat provide an insight into the daily life and work of those who work in the sewers.
***Heads in the Stars at the Paris Observatory
The Observatory was built in 1667 and boasts an outstanding architectural heritage, set as it is in buildings that are listed historic monuments, with a large number of very valuable scientific instruments on display and also pleasant gardens. Visits and conferences are being organized for the Heritage Days.
There are several on this list I have missed and can’t wait to see…but if you’ve never seen the inside of the Hôtel de Ville, put this high on yours, especially in lieu of the sewers!
Une Bonne Visite.
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
(photo by Janet Connelley)
P.S. Be sure to read all about yesterday’s La Rentrée “Parler Paris Après Midi” with Antonio Meza of Akrobatas who talked about “Smart Skills for Success” — a coaching and training methodology to design a life plan that is congruent with your values, have a strategy, overcome obstacles and celebrate success. Read all about it and see the photos.
P.S.S. Have you registered for the Living and Investing in France Conference, September 27-29 in Nice? You’ll learn about property purchase and investing from the best professionals France has to offer including why France is a great investment, how to obtain a French mortgage, how to minimize tax and maximize benefits, how to reduce your currency risk, how to renovate and decorate for profit — and much more! Plus, enjoy a three-course lunch and closing cocktails! There are only a few spaces left — to see the full schedule and register, visit Living and Investing in France.
P.P.S.S. If you’re considering investing in Paris or on the Riviera like I have, the Adrian Leeds Group can help you find your perfect apartment or home…for rent or purchase! My team of rental professionals can assist you in finding an apartment or home in Paris, Nice and environs based on your specific preferences, budgets and needs. For details or to book our services, visit French Property Consultation or email [email protected]