Too Much to Do, Too Little Time…A La Rentrée
It’s officially the last day of August and the end of the summer season as well as the beginning of La Rentrée. Tomorrow the little tykes will be back at school, their parents will be back at work and life will become somewhat normal again.
It’s the same insanity year after year: August is a full month of accomplishing nothing and then on September 1, everything that didn’t get done during August must be checked off the to-do list with lightening speed. It’s like going from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye and all that stress that melted away on the beaches returns in a flash, with too much to do and too little time.
Anyone traveling back to Paris over the weekend felt the rush to get back with nary a seat to be had on any plane, train or bus. One friend who flew in from the U.S. on Sunday said that the wait through passport control was as much as two hours. He’ll never plan that kind of bad-timing again.
With everyone traveling at the same time, fares and accommodations are at their peak and of course, tourist destinations are over-crowded. Everyone claims to avoid this, but can’t, since there is no better time to take time off from work — while nothing can be accomplished anyway.
Every year I wonder how the system in Europe came to be this way, but think it is really the result of the heat and lack of air conditioning making it near to impossible to get anything accomplished anyway. Strangely, here in Paris, the weather followed suit to a tee — the end of August was horrifically hot and now on the last day of August, cool air and the feeling of fall is already in the air.
Don’t go near the stationary departments in Monoprix or BHV unless you want to be trampled by kids and parents buying up their supplies for the school year. I will never forget exactly 22 years ago when we first arrived in Paris in time for Erica to start school She came home from her first day with a two-page list of supplies she had to have by the next day. We didn’t know most of the French words for such items as “cahier” (notebook), “calculatrice (calculator), “gomme: (eraser) or “stylo (pen). She was required to have a “stylo-plume” (fountain pen) and blue ink.
It was our first cultural shock upon entry into French life and didn’t have a clue where to buy it all. So, we took the path of least resistance and ended up in a little “papeterie” (stationary shop) down the street. We handed over the list to the elderly gentleman at the counter. He and his wife (I suppose she was) gathered up the entire list and almost $200 later, Erica was outfitted with all the goods, some of which we had never even seen before. The lines in the paper were very different than those we were used to and of course, we were surprised by some items on the list. Who used fountain pens anymore? Not only was this the single most important item on the list, but the “effaceur” (a special ink eraser) was even more essential.
Things have changed a bit since the advent of the computer, but not by much. The French still love their “fournitures scolaires” (school supplies) as much as ever supporting an almost 500 million euro market. Erica learned to write with beautiful penmanship using her stylo-plume (which may have contributed to her pen-and-ink drawing talent), but fortunately that didn’t inhibit her adeptness on a computer, either. (See some of her wearable art, now on sale.)
Meanwhile, as life begins again in a more normal pace after the surge of urgency to make up for all that lost time, this is the finest time of year to visit Paris with too (!) many new exhibitions opening this month (and too little time) while the weather is as moderate and beautiful as it can be.
Here are just a few that open in September!:
René Magritte. La Trahison des Images (The Treachery of Images)
from 21 September 2016 to 23 January 2017
Centre Pompidou – Place Georges Pompidou, Paris
Joann Sfar – Salvador Dalí, One Second Before Awakening
from 09 September 2016 to 31 March 2017
Espace Dalí – 11 rue Poulbot, Paris
Edme Bouchardon, De sanguine et de marbre
from 16 September 2016 to 05 December 2016
Musée du Louvre – Musée du Louvre, Paris
Oscar Wilde, l’impertinent absolu
from 28 September 2016 to 25 January 2017
Petit Palais – Musée des Beaux Arts de la ville de Paris – Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris
Homage to one of the most famous Francophile writers in English
Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904)
from 14 September 2016 to 12 February 2017
Musée du Luxembourg – 19 rue de Vaugirard, Paris
An exhibition dedicated to the French realist painter Henri-Fanti Latour
European Heritage Days
from 17 September 2016 to 18 September 2016
Tout Paris – Paris
Discover or rediscover Parisian museums and monuments over one weekend
Hodler Monet Munch
from 15 September 2016 to 22 January 2017
Musée Marmottan Monet – 2 rue Louis Boilly, Paris
Three of the greatest painters of the 19th century in one exhibition!
Hollywood Stars in Dolls
from 02 April 2016 to 03 September 2016
Musée de la Poupée – Paris – 28 rue Beaubourg – Impasse Berthaud, Paris
Discover dolls that are mirror-images of icons of American cinema
from 28 September 2016 to 15 January 2017
Grand Palais – Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris
The Grand Palais pays tribute to the father of the European comic-strip
The Spectacular Second Empire, 1852-1870
from 27 September 2016 to 16 January 2017
Musée d’Orsay – 1 rue de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris
from 16 September 2016 to 23 January 2017
Musée Jacquemart-André – 158 boulevard Haussmann, Paris
The painter Rembrandt is the focus of attention at the Jacquemart-André museum
That’s enough to do, right!?…à la Rentrée!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. For those of you interested in an in-depth discussion of “Why the French Ban the Veil,” read Paul Berman’s article in Tablet Magazine.
I’d also like to thank all those who commented on Monday’s nouvellettre® “Women Unite! Swim in Whatever You Like (or Not)!,” particularly one anonymously written letter which said, “You wrote this in the context of men controlling women; it is not surprising that they achieve this so easily when there are air head women like you around.” (Chuckle)