Like the rest of us,the Parisians are dealing with pandemic lockdowns. Their city – our city – is just making do with what’s available – and that’s far less than normal. But they’re trying and so are we. Having spent five solid months in Paris, I fell in love with it in the 1980’s, learning to speak and write in French, and always exploring. Above, the deserted Rue de Rivoli enduring a nationwide curfew, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., due to restrictions against spreading coronavirus in France, Credit: Reuters Photo/Gonzalo Fuentes Before Covid-19 arrived I was planning to fly back and see it all again – the museums, galleries, riding the buses and metro, some of the oldest theatres in the world, tiny cinemas and their festivals, the antique markets, year-round carousels, restaurants and patio dining, the parks and gardens, the people themselves, the hookers themselves greeting passersby – and the magnificent skies after a rain. Who wouldn’t go back? But it’s not all there right now.Saul Bellow, the American-Canadian writer <photo – Literary Arts> had this to say in 1983: “A gray sadness has settled over the city like a fog. Parisian gloom is not simply climatic. It is a spiritual force that acts not only on building materials, on walls and rooftops, but also on your character, your opinions and your judgement. It is a powerful astringent.” A powerful statement from Mr. Bellow.In my French class at the Eurocentre, some fellow students were hoping to avoid the “Parisian grisaille” (the gray skies) and fly south for the holidays. Some were seduced by Air France, whose advertising used the word “grisaille”, something to avoid if we could.For me, grisaille was only atmospheric – rain, wind and cold. But believe me, some days the sun did shine and then the city was splendid.I know Paris will be back, and I’ll be there to love it all over again.
PARIS has captured social distancing, temporarily anyway, with a floating movie theatre on Saturday, July 18th. ‘Cinéma sur l’Eau’ (Cinema on the Water) is a creation of Paris Plages (Paris Beaches) with support from Haagen-Dazs and mk2. There’ll be a fleet of 38 electric boats, each holding four to six friends and family members. In addition there’ll be 150 deck chairs on land in the area so the curious can look down on the scene. The movie – ‘Le Grand Bain’ (The Big Bath) will be a 2018 French comedy/drama about 40-something men who are all on the verge of a mid-life crisis, so they decide to form their local pool’s first synchronized swimming team.
Given the forest of high-rise office & condo buildings in downtown TORONTO, ‘Playtime’ seems like an appropriate copy. It’s set partly in a PARIS glass and steel office building.Jacques Tati (playing Monsieur Hulot) arrives for an important meeting, but gets lost in a maze of rooms, ending up in a trade exhibition of lookalike office designs and furniture.The old Paris touch is a brief reflection of the Eiffel Tower in a glass window. A heritage structure if there ever was one. ‘Playtime’ is a wonderful film. <ABOVE – living in a grid of television screens. Heavy traffic BELOW>
The medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité was built between 1160 and 1260, making it one of the world’s oldest and finest examples of French Gothic architecture. <PHOTO – Eduard Baldus, 1860’s>
It’s so much a part of France that embedded in the square outside is Paris Point Zero, marking the centre of the city and the country itself. Now that the roof and other parts have been destroyed by fire, the world is mourning the loss of the treasures sheltered there – the enormous stained glass windows, sculptural decorations, the organ and altar (saved), the roof, the spire (destroyed), the paintings and religious collections.<Front page ’24 Minutes’, PARIS, April 16/2019> The destruction of Our Lady of Paris comes at a time when the city itself has seen some of the world’s most vicious acts of terrorist violence. France is badly divided in 2019, but in the face of all this, PARIS will survive – as it has through the French Revolution and two world wars.
<Editorial cartoon by GRAEME MACKAY, Hamilton Spectator, April 16/2019>
The City of Light has come up with a new design for public urinals – this time without significant sidings. They could be mistaken for post office boxes and are causing quite an uproar.
“In order for Uritrottoirs to be accepted by Parisians, we had to imagine equipment that doesn’t look like a urinal,” one of the product designers, Victor Massip, explained.
Beneath the bright red box sits a collection of straw, sawdust or wood chips. A sensor measures how much urine the box is holding at any given time. Once full, the lower box is taken to a composting site, from where mulched compost returns to feed the window-box that grows above the urine funnel.
L’Uritrottoir is yet another reason why we love PARIS!
If steel girders and coloured lights can bring one close to tears, the Eiffel Tower hit the mark last night with its red, white and blue colour display.
Gustave Eiffel, no doubt, would be elated that his creation could lift the spirits of today’s Parisians and those worldwide who love Paris – myself included – 126 years after the monument first appeared on the Champ de Mars.
GUY JONES is a videographer who brings history to life by editing old films and making them more watchable. He slows them down to a natural speed and adds sound – making them a totally new viewing experience. This one is a collection of high quality remastered prints from the dawn of film taken in Belle Époque-era Paris, 1896-1900, by the Lumière company —– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjDclfAFRB4&feature=youtu.be
And you think we have it bad in TORONTO? PARIS, a city noted for teeny, tiny hotel rooms has topped itself. An “apartment” measuring less than 17 square feet has been rented for over 15 years to a 50-year-old man, identified only as “Dominique”, at 330 euros, or about $442 per month. “I come home, I go to bed,” Dominique told the French website and radio station RTL, describing how he coped with living in the space. The “apartment” has a skylight and a slanted roof, but “a person doesn’t stand correctly” in the space, the Fondation said on its Twitter feed. It added that the photo might make the place seem larger than it actually is. This is highway robbery under the guise of an overheated real estate market.