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Paris Isn’t ‘Cool’…

Paris isn’t ‘cool’…but does Paris care?

Cities like Berlin, New York or Barcelona are considered ‘cool’ or ‘hip,’ but not Paris. Paris has been accused of being a “gigantic open-air museum,” of “no longer being an influential city where tomorrow’s artistic trends are conceived and launched.” (Bruno Silvestre, NBC News Producer, February 2007)

But do we care? No.

With “La Nuit Blanche” on the calendar for this coming Saturday night, the question is fitting. If you aren’t already resting up to have a “Sleepless Night” on October 3rd, then you’ll be missing the annual celebration of contemporary art in the City of Light from 7 p.m. until dawn. This year, the event is focusing on three districts: the Buttes-Chaumont (northeast), Marais/Châtelet (city center) and the Latin Quarter (Left Bank).

This is one of the city administration’s attempts at being ‘cool’ — even though while it’s one of the most popular city-wide public free events, and in spite of the fact that it’s been copied by Bucharest, Madrid, Miami, Montreal, Bologna and Brussels, Paris still “no longer represents an attractive option for creators who prefer the excitement and vibes of other capitals” (according to Bruno Silvestre).

(For more information about La Nuit Blanche, visit: www.paris.fr/lanuitblanche and to download the entire pdf listing of events, visit: www.paris.fr/lanuitblanchebrochure)

Meanwhile, the number one topic of conversation in Paris in any language by those who actually live here and by those who don’t but wish they did, is not about money, sex or food. It’s about Paris itself…and how much they love this city above all others. It’s a phenomena one cannot experience anywhere else. The only city that even comes close is New York, but with New York, it’s not the same kind of love affair…it’s more cerebral than romantic.

Last night walking to the Left Bank after the Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group Tuesday night session on boulevard de Sebastopol (http://www.parlerparlor.com), I crossed the Seine twice — once to the Ile de la Cité and again to the Left Bank. Along the way, I stopped on the first bridge to take in the sights, which is an easy habit to form. From that vantage point, you can feel as if the Seine is a major artery from your heart supplying important blood flow to your entire body. The city, the ‘museum’ it may be, stretches out on both sides to form your body and soul.

Noticeably, many other people do the same thing.

On route, I passed a new acquaintance — a woman named Jane who has been in Paris for five weeks, having attended a few of our events and she, too, was on her way to the Seine to do exactly what I had just done — take in the sights. It was her last night in Paris (leaving f

or as short a time as she said she could arrange) and was already missing it. Her words were, “I’ve crossed from being a tourist to feeling as if I really live here.” Crossing the Seine became simply symbolic.

Over dinner after that with a journalist friend named Pamela Leavy, who recently had a life-threatening stroke and lives happily to tell her amazing tale of near death to good health, attributed her very existence to the city one might call a “gigantic open-air museum.” Not only was the emergency care “Johnny on the spot,” and not only was the out-of-pocket expense only about 300€ out of a 40,000€ bill for her three-week stay in the hospital in a private room (thanks to the French social security and health care system), and not only was the nursing staff very accommodating being sure to bring her fresh baguettes and croissants with café crème and butter every morning…but all her friends and the organizations within which she has worked, came to her rescue to bring meals and run errands to relieve her stressed husband, Jim, from taking on the entire burden himself.

She was naturally grinning ear to ear and thankful to be living in the city that ‘isn’t cool.’

So, is it really not ‘cool?’ Or is it that we just don’t care?

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Pari

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P.S. Mark October 13th on your calendar to be at “Après Midi” to help celebrate my birthday (the next day) and all the other Libras, plus get to know other Parler Paris readers…visit www.parlerparis.com/apresmidi.html for details

P.P.S. Happy 24th Birthday (October 1st) and congratulations to my daughter, Erica, whose “Photographic Project-Journey through Volunteering in Cambodian Orphanages” already has 33 backers having raised $2,223 out of a goal of $4,111 with only 77 days to go — thanks to many of you! For more information or TO become a backer and receive a limited edition 8″x10″ quality C print, signed by Erica Simone, visit www.kickstarter.com

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