Sleepless in Paris
You haven’t heard me complain this month about Paris weather — that’s because it’s been incredibly beautiful the entire month of September, giving me “rien” (nothing) to complain about. Today, the first day of October, is a special day and month for me, because it’s the day my daughter was born (33 years ago), it’s the month in which I was born (66 years ago) and the month within which we always traveled to Paris when we were mere tourists (before October 1994). For me, October meant Paris and Paris meant October.
At the time, the annual October event, La Nuit Blanche, didn’t exist. It was just one of the many free public events that Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë created during his 13-year term in office (from March 2001 to April 2014). The others include Paris Plage, the makeover of Place de la République, the Vélib’ public bike sharing system and the Autolib’ short-term electric car rental program, the renovation of Les Halles, the transformation of the Samaritaine department store (still under way) and the pedestrianization of the quays along the Seine. I quite liked the Socialist/Green Party guy and during those years, had many occasions to be in his presence, which was “formidable” — tall, elegant and commanding.
While the direct translation of “La Nuit Blanche” means “The White Night,” the real meaning is “Sleepless Night” and is an all-night arts festival that was an instant success from its inception. Parisians and visitors hit the streets that first Saturday night of October 2002 with a vengeance and have every year since to discover all sorts of strange and beautiful creations offered on the streets of Paris. If the weather in Paris will be as good this coming Saturday, October 6th, as it has been all month, then be prepared for an onslaught.
Delanoë’s great idea cost him a bit of a set-back when during that first launch of La Nuit Blanche on October 5th, he was stabbed by an assailant while mingling with his own constituents at the Hôtel de Ville. The assailant, a Muslim immigrant, told the police that he hated politicians, Socialists and homosexuals (Delanoë was Paris’ first openly gay mayor). Fortunately, his wounds weren’t serious and he was back at the job just two weeks later.
I remember the evening well, learning of the stabbing the next morning — M. Delanoë wouldn’t allow the festivities to be altered in any way by the news of the assassination attempt and asked the press to hush it up. At the time, I thought if this had happened in the U.S., it would have been big news, everything would have stopped dead in its tracks and the event would never have taken place again. I admired him and the French for taking a more global perspective on the incident.
This year, the projects that will illuminate the night are under the direction of Gaël Charbau, a curator and independent art critic, exploring four “constellations” to promote both the well-known and the little-known monuments of the capital city — some of which have never been highlighted during La Nuit Blanche — as well as offering an opportunity to emerging artists to present their creations. The idea of “constellations” is to connect the creators with the places and the public along imaginary lines.
The four include:
1. La Constellation des Invalides
2. La Constellation de l’Ile Saint-Louis
3. La Constellation de la Villette
4. La Constellation de la Porte Dorée
A million attendees are expected here in Paris, but we’re not the only city to offer such an event. Other capitals and major cities have adopted the idea — Brussels, Kyoto, Melbourne, Taipei to name just a few of the 30 cities — and for the first time this year in Houston, Texas! It all starts at 7 p.m. This coming Saturday night, so take a nap and get ready to be out all night! Visit the official website for complete information.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. October 6th is an even more special day…come to “Bloom Where You’re Planted” during the day to hear me speak (French Property the American Way) along with many of your favorite Americans including Lisa Anselmo (Living the Dream: The Difference Between Surviving vs. Thriving in the City of Leaks, Strikes and [ahem] Parisians) and Craig Carlson (Pancakes in Paris – Living the American Dream in France). Bloom Where You’re Planted is a full-day orientation to living in Paris for English-speaking expats from around the world. Bloom is designed to create opportunities for meaningful connections with others and provide valuable insights that will enable individuals and families to grow and thrive in Paris.For complete information, visit acparis.org/bloomhome