News from France: Covid + Transportation + Avenue + Salon
NEW COVID-19 GUIDELINES AS OF TOMORROW
Christmas is on the horizon, but freedom from lockdown is not. As of tomorrow, there is a slight lifting of the lockdown, but with extra restrictions…like an 8 p.m. curfew (until 6 a.m.), except on Christmas Eve, but not on New Year’s Eve. One exception…dog-walking after hours is acceptable (with an attestation—but I imagine if you have a dog on a leash, the attestation is pointless!). If you’re out without the dog or the attestation, you risk a fine of €135.
We will be allowed to travel to visit friends and family over the holidays (within and outside of France, and no more than gatherings of six people) as of tomorrow (so my flight to the U.S. this Friday is well within the guidelines). Bars, restaurants and gyms will reopen on January 20th…but only if the daily cases fall to 5,000 a day, a target that the government now judges “impossible.” Theaters, cinemas and cultural centers can reopen after January 7th (that’s the current plan).
No doubt the gatherings will present a new risk, so the government is begging us to be vigilant and keep our guard up, but I personally think that’s not easy nor realistic. As of tomorrow, we won’t have to have our “attestations” (permission forms), but I’ve never been stopped nor seen anyone else questioned. Even so, I’ve been very respectful about ensuring mine is up-to-date.
Let’s just hope these new guidelines will help ease the pain of confinement and keep the virus in check.
TRAVELING TO AND WITHIN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
I just returned to Paris from a couple of weeks in the south of France, by train as is my usual habit. The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) runs from Paris high speed to Marseille, Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, then slows to a more normal pace to Nice parallel to the A8 Autoroute, a lot of which runs along the water with beautiful views…so the slower pace is actually welcome.
When considering a place to live in France, first consider the transportation. Not only will it make your life more enjoyable to be surrounded by great transportation, but it will maintain and increase the value of your property to be well-connected. The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region believes transportation and mobility of the inhabitants is a priority. The region has devoted 674 million euros to the endeavor this year to provide TER train services (Transport Express Régional), to operate the regional bus and coach network “Zou!” and to participate in the financing of major regional infrastructures. On top of that, their strategy is to create “cleaner” transportation to reduce CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions while enabling solidarity between regions so that everyone can get everywhere in France quickly, easily and inexpensively. (Try getting from Nice to Bordeaux by train, for example! It isn’t “dû gateau.”)
The system currently operates 550 trains and more than 1,700 buses in the region, pretty much like clockwork—89 percent of the trains run on time and less than two percent of trains are cancelled (although this hasn’t been so true during the pandemic. My train Friday evening was one hour late). This is a big improvement since 2015, when only 75 percent of the trains were on time and almost 10 percent were cancelled.
Five new trains have just been delivered and 21 were completely renovated in 2019. Negotiations are underway to acquire 15 trains to replace the “Corail” trains between Marseille and Nice, eight new trains for the Provence railways and the renovation of 23 additional trains have been ordered up. Very cool is the announcement of rechargeable battery trains that will run on the Aix to Marseille and Côte d’Azur lines from 2023—a first in France.
Don’t discount the buses, either. Twenty-four carbon free coaches are now in operation, including the first two electric long-distance coach lines between Aix-en-Provence and Avignon and Aix-en-Provence and Toulon. Biogas and natural gas buses also run on the Marseille to Nice, Draguignan to Saint Raphael, Avignon to Carpentras and Arles to Salon.
THE CHAMPS ELYSEES…COMING HOME TO PARISIANS AS OF 2030
Considered to be the world’s most beautiful avenue, the Champs-Elysées lost its luster for the city’s residents and became a tourist mecca in past years with 85 percent of the strollers coming from abroad. If you discount the workers, only 5 percent on the avenue are Parisians. The city wants its residents back on the famous avenue, and I can’t much blame them.
The goal for 2030 is to drastically reduce noise and pollution, reduce the traffic lanes to half, add 1,132 new trees, pedestrianize adjacent areas, including large parts of the sprawling Place de la Concorde at the very base of the avenue. Parisians aren’t daunted so much by the traffic and pollution as they are about the cost of cafés and restaurants and up-scale nature of the neighborhood. Muggings and rampant pickpocketing on the avenue hasn’t done it any good, either.
The revamp is going to cost an estimated 150 million euros and will require a cash injection from both private and public investors as well as approvals by local authorities. But, I’ll bet that won’t be a problem. We do all want it back!
GET WITH THE PARIS WRITING SALON PROGRAM
Everyone I know in Paris is a writer…or at least ALMOST EVERYONE. It’s not surprising, really. For one thing, a writer can write from anywhere. A laptop, an Internet connection, a chair and a table is about all one needs to pen out a brilliant tome. In past times, pen and paper were enough. I have always joked, too, that with weather as gray and dismal as Paris’, being indoors hunched over the words and inside one’s own head is comforting and safe…but I can’t be sure this has contributed to its charm.
For centuries, the city has been the home to some of the world’s most important novelists, poets and playwrights, most of whom were not born in Paris at all, but who were attracted to the city because it was a European center of education, a center of the publishing industry and its tradition of literary salons. If I were to begin to name even a few of Paris’ most famous writers it would include the likes of Moliere, Victor Hugo, Proust, Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Richard Wright. Thousands and thousands would be added to that list.
Writers come here from all over the world to be inspired and now’s your chance, as a writer or one just testing the waters, to be inspired, too. Sure, there are dozens of writing groups and courses to be taken, but there’s a new one on the scene that might just get you kickstarted.
The [new] Paris Writing Salon will help you get writing, get published, and get readers. Whether you’re a beginner or ready to publish, this is a new online community and learning hub designed to give you everything you need to up your game: author chats and pro workshops, daily writing sessions, tools, tips, and more. From getting your idea off the ground to marketing your book, the Paris Writing Salon is here all month long to help you shine.
What’s coming up, for example: “Finding Your Authentic Voice” with author Lisa Anselmo, “Mining Your Real Life for Fiction Gems” with novelist Anna P. Murray, “The Pay-to-Publish Model” with author Deborah Burns and a 12-module course about “Editing from the Outside In.”
If you become a member between now and December 31st, readers of any of my Nouvellettres® will enjoy a 27% discount! Just enter the code “PARLERPARIS” when you checkout.
To learn more and join, click here.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Masked up on set for House Hunters International
P.S. While many of you will be streaming movies for the holidays, you can also binge on three of our recent House Hunters International episodes! Surprisingly, the full videos are still available on HGTV! Vist our HHI page for details and links to the episodes on HGTV for “A Parisian Place for Mother and Daughter,” HHI VancouvertotheVineyards “From Vancouver to the Vineyards of Epernay, France” and “The Good Life in Paris.”