Some news from France, CCCVIIII

And now picking up in these troubled times of medically incurable  sickness that the medical profession is still trying to solve as always. When they talk of life expectancy of 84 etc, ask them how many years you will be dead? oops enough of my rant for a Father’s Day Sunday (happy Father’s day to all Dads out there!)  in my beautiful Morbihan, lovely Bretagne and in my belle France.

That time again to tell you about the latest some news from France.

Important update cannot wait: Since last Monday June 8, 2020, rope access technicians have had the difficult task of withdrawing one by one! the thousands of molten tubes from the scaffolding that still surrounds the Notre Dame Cathedral. The metal structure, consisting of almost 40,000 pieces and 200 tons heavy, was previously consolidated and stabilized so that no collapse could damage the Cathedral. The next phase, that of restoration of the Notre Dame Cathedral itself, should be able to start, at the earliest, at the very beginning of next year, in January 2021. The duration of this new phase has not been specified, but the President Emmanuel Macron’s wish to see the Cathedral completely rebuilt for the 2024 Olympic Games seems to be disappearing day by day, the construction site having already fallen far behind, especially due to the covid19 virus.

A bad for a good. Foreign tourists and their purchasing power have deserted Paris, which is not good for the economy lol!. No more bus ballet in front of each monument. And if it was up to us to take advantage and admire the most beautiful city in the world that we just cross, hurried and tired, not even in the open air.  Paris awaits us, like a sleeping beauty: Since the reopening, there are more people in the great monuments of the provinces, such as Mont Saint-Michel, the City of Carcassonne or the castle of Azay-le-Rideau, which in Paris, where we see a breakdown in tourism, according to Philippe Bélaval, president of the Center des monuments nationaux (CMN), which manages the Pantheon, the Arc de Triomphe, the Conciergerie, etc. Of course, more space in the regions!!!

Still Paris, some luxury hotels in the city and the region reopen in July, with attendance of 15% in the best of cases, pending the return of international customers and the resumption of major events. At 31 avenue George-V  (hotel George V) in Paris 8éme arrondissement, the ballet of luxury sedans has stopped. The heavy doors leading to the bright and flowery lobby are closed, the top hat doormen absent. Like the majority of Parisian palaces and high-end hotels. From Montmartre to the Petit Palais, passing through the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées, you will notice in news reports all those who enjoy the city of Paris without foreign vacationers!!!. No American to order a croissant or a buttered toast with coffee, so french. I have never seen this quiet corner in my time here judging from TV news. How beautiful Montmartre is without the crowds, without the noise. The Sacre Coeur really invites you to meditate. As you can   seat out of two to enforce the distance when there are five of us in the basilica!. Yes Paris is always better like this, numbers wise however with the economy so used to tourists, it will be hard not to bring the crowds back and some visitors complaining it is too crowded hahaha!

The Eiffel Tower will be disinfected every 2 hours! as soon as it reopens as the countdown is launched so that the monument finds its public on June 25, in compliance with sanitary measures.

The by now famous Fête de la Musique or music street festival will present a special face this year. A certain number of performances will only be translated on the Internet, which is still the best way to ensure compliance with barrier gestures. Others will still be done in the street, with formulas most often ambulatory. And today is Father’s Day in France, happy day to all Dad including me!!!

And we even have new business venture ready for tourists, unfortunately just before the wuhan virus hit us. The Lakana Paris Cruise is a venture of two young men who decide to embark on the entrepreneurial adventure and take the plunge a few days before the confinement. Created last April, the activity was stopped dead by the Covid-19. With their two small boats, Quicksilver Classic 20s with a retro look, the young captains imagined embarking couples or families of foreign tourists for romantic strolls on the Seine, around Île Saint-Louis and at the foot of the Iron Lady. Initially, they were targeting the Americans and Australians, and finally decided to focus on the Parisians. They also hope to reach the passing provincials (from the regions), via social networks. Lakana Paris Cruise offers two formulas from Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine dep 92) or Beaugrenelle (Paris, 15éme district). The first lasts an hour, and you   go around the island of Saint-Germain in Issy-les-Moulineaux, people love it because does not expect to see this bucolic landscape so close to   Paris, and when you leave, you have the direct view on the Eiffel Tower, indeed sound like a good cruise The second route of about 2 h30, begins with the tour of the Ile Saint-Germain and continues in the heart of historic Paris to the port of Arsenal. More info in English here: Lakana Paris Cruises

Now, as not a dangerous radical eco dude, this one democratically makes sense. The bottom of rue Mouffetard is already pedestrian, when will the zero car in its upper part, up to Contrescarpe? the mayor of the 5éme arrondissement Florence Berthoud (DVD no official party but member of center right), openly unfavorable to permanent pedestrianization . However, Rue Mouffetard should therefore be closed from noon to 22h ,when the barriers will be provided by the Paris city hall. At the end of the week, assures Florence Berthout. But no question of perpetuating beyond September 30. This is an old narrow street full of people and tourists abound, so if made pedestrian it makes sense. Not just the barbaric closing of roads when there is little or no space left in Paris as claim by the radicals.

And this is what I mean radicals, not comptent to close roads for cars, now they want bus out too! I told you eventually Paris will be run by horses! Or bikes/scooters like in those crowded Asian cities you know…The street around the train station such as rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis is only   400 meters of pavement, and an incessant ballet of RATP buses, which cross all day long, and until the evening. This is in the 10éme arrondissement, on the small portion of the track located between the Gare de l’Est and Gare du Nord train stations. A linkage road descended and reserved for public transport vehicles only!, which are in total more than 1,600 bus crossing with lines 35, 38, 39, 46, 54, 91, but also ,Noctilians night lines 43 and 44. Even if the mayor (PSocialists) of the 10éme, Alexandra Cordebard announces improvements for next September, after negotiations with IDF Mobilités (transport org for Ïle de France region) for better traffic regulation. the number of buses passing on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis, the Régie (managed roads) has revised the route of 2 bus lines: that of line 35 will be limited to Gare du Nord and that of line 46 to Gare de Nord to Gare de l’Est, ensures the RATP. These two lines ,which represent 500 bus crossings per day will no longer run on this street from next September, and this will reduce the number of buses in circulation. Yeah and the people will move how???.

And Paris is trying to be back with new things. From July and throughout the summer, you can meet at the Bar à Bulles (or bubble bar) for a film program not to be missed. The Bar à Bulles, this place that we like to frequent so much after dark, on a hot summer evening. It is now possible, but in addition, watching a nugget of the seventh art. From comedy to drama to indie film, so much variety to enjoy, without having to pay anything. Every Wednesday, from July 8 to September 9, you can enjoy a unique cinematographic projection in an exceptional setting with a breathtaking view of Paris at the outdoor cinema Bar à Bulles , La Machine du Moulin Rouge , 4 bis, Cité Véron   18éme arrondissement.

And another wonderful spot to enjoy in my eternal Paris. Nestled in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne, a festive tavern has just opened. La Petite Mutinerie is rosé, quality food and music by Bon Entendeur that made it its summer home. It is 800 m2 of garden; that’s good, not only is the spot surrounded by nature, but you also find yourselves on eco-responsible furniture imagined by Triple D to sip our rosé. A little joy to share with friends, coupled with environmental values that are important to them. Bon Entendeur has set its sights on this green playground for its summer residence! On the program, playlists and DJ sets will punctuate your afternoons and summer evenings. You particularly will love the hot dog with poultry sausage, red cabbage, apple, carrot, crispy onion, honey mustard and homemade ketchup as well as the Veggie cheese burger with Beyond Meat vegetable steak, vegetable cheddar, molossol pickle, raw vegetables and homemade sauce. Deliciously surprising. For sweet beaks and ice-cream fans at snack time, the chef has prepared 3 flavors of Eskimos for us: watermelon / pastis-strawberry / basil-vanilla / choco. Otherwise, there are also the incredible giant cookies; for each cookie purchased, a second is offered to hospitals. La Petite Mutinerie, Carrefour du bout des lacs 1, route de la Muette-à-Neuilly ,16éme arrondissement. Open every weekend, public holidays and more if affinities…Enjoy it nice area indeed! No web yet but in French more from the cultural Breton site Unidivers: Unidivers on la petite Mutinerie

And my fav airport (sorry folks) the Roissy CDG Airport (not in Paris), work has resumed and the planes are starting to return. Although the traffic level remains very low, it is starting to rise. ADP(aeroports de Paris)   is preparing for the future, notably by completing the rehabilitation of Terminal 2B. With life gradually resumes in Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle. If the planes are only making their return for the moment on the tarmac at the airport, the work sites are well restarted. The works should be finished at the end of 2020 for an envisaged opening in second quarter 2021 depending on traffic development. Indeed, with just its three terminals still in operation (2A, 2E for the station hall part and 2F), Roissy can absorb only 100,000 daily passengers. The reopening of Orly airport (dept 94 Val de Marne,not Paris), scheduled for June 26, will also help absorb the restart of domestic flights.

And here comes my big Versailles ! yes it’s a good time to visit the Palace/museum! The current average attendance, six times lower than usual due to the health crisis, makes it possible to discover the places in unequaled comfort. It is the first time that the galerie des Glaces it’s almost empty, it’s great. The premises normally welcome nearly 8 million people each year. But since the arrival of the Covid-19, everything has changed. In June 2019, 27,000 visitors came here every day. There will hardly be 4,500 on this weekend entering the King’s apartments and salons. There are so few people that it is still possible to buy tickets online only for this weekend. Once the formula has been chosen (from 8 to 20 € and free for those under 26), visitors must reserve a 30-minute slot on the website. During this time, they undertake to discover the castle. The formula is more flexible for gardens or the animation of water fountains play.

And as well , every Monday, Bernard Draux, inspects the palace/museum 80 clocks, most of which stopped working during confinement. This watchmaking expert also works for those in the Senat and the Sorbonne. He went every week from confinement to the Palace of Versailles to keep them running. When most of the 80 clocks of the castle are at a standstill, as in May, there is no noise, it is like an empty, lifeless museum. And noise is what allows him to practice his art: his priesthood is only a quest for the wrong note. It is by ear that he recognizes faulty clocks. And they are spotless working!! And now you know, thanks to Monsieur Draux!

In my dear Meaux, Seine et Marne dept 77 : the tourist passport makes you want to go out. The Dept distributes this small notebook in which the places visited are recorded. After five stamps or stickers, tourists receive a diploma gift. And much more to go to ten. The project was designed by the Seine-et-Marne departmental council, which this week launched its new tourism brand: “Seine-et-Marne vivre en Grand”  or live big in S/M. After five visits you become ambassadors and after ten super-ambassadors. This is done in other regions as well like my new Bretagne and is a good idea, we use it and benefits from free admissions ! More from the dept in French here: Seine et Marne Vivre en Grand project

For reference, the Seine et Marne tourist office in French here: Tourist office of Seine et Marne dept 77

In the park of the château d’Ermenonville, (Oise dept 60 Hauts de France region) nature seems to have regained its rights since the confinement. So much so that dinosaurs have found refuge there. Twenty of these gigantic animals from Amsterdam (Netherlands) have indeed stormed the 18 ha park. Some move, others make sounds. Throughout the summer, many cultural and educational events will be offered to target families. The festivities will start this weekend with the Fête de la musique. Then, starting next week, visitors will be able to discover an exhibition with 50 reproductions of works signed Leonardo da Vinci, in the Orangerie. The castle, bordered by the Launette, will be open on weekends so that families can make getaways in the park. More info in French here: Domaine Chateau Ermenonville

Something wonderful and needed to be told more to the general public here and to visitors. Very near my old home. In the middle of the Marly forest in the Yvelines dept 78, the Désert de Retz, an amazing landscaped area, immerses you in the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the life of its extravagant creator. Welcome to the Desert of Retz. From the neighboring court of Versailles, at the end of the 18C, you hurry there, piqued by curiosity to discover this unusual place. Marie-Antoinette, the Duke of Orleans or the Countess of Barry were regulars. Thomas Jefferson, future president of the United States, or King Gustav III of Sweden are among its visitors. Three centuries later, the cave has disappeared. But this atypical 40 ha domain located in the town of Chambourcy (near St Germain en Laye), in the forest of Marly, can still be visited. And it just reopened for the season. The history of this largely unknown Anglo-Chinese garden is fascinating. It immerses you in the height of the Enlightenment. And also reveals the personality of a man, François Racine de Monville, a brilliant jack of all trades, who acquired the place in 1774. You come here for a bucolic, philosophical and melancholic stroll in the spirit of Rousseau. The master of the place, keen on philosophy and art, plants essences from all the continents and gives great gallant parties here, with concerts, readings, plays by actors from the Comédie-Française. We even whisper that Marie-Antoinette, seduced, is inspired by the place to create her famous Hameau at Versailles!. Here Monville erected factories, scattered throughout the park. These constructions, very eclectic, represent the different civilizations of humanity, dear to the erudite man that was Monville. They also house the libertine loves of this extravagant owner, who multiplies amorous conquests. There are a dozen of them: among them, a real Chinese house, now extinct, a temple dedicated to the god Pan, an open-air Roman theater, a cooler topped by an Egyptian pyramid, a Tartar tent, a Gothic church in ruin, or an obelisk. Wonderful indeed. Open every Saturday from 14h to 18H until the end of October. Guided visits with reservation at tel +33 (0) 39 22 31 31 at 14h30 and regular visits check for fees, you will need to wear a mask and no picnics allowed. More info in French here: Le Desert de Retz

And two of my favorite Summer splash in the Seine et Marne or Yvelines departments of the Ïle de France region of old for us. Lying   just 50 km from Paris. 73 hectares of greenery, including 8 for swimming, picnic areas, sports fields, and especially water! A mix of greenery and beach, the leisure island of Bois-le-Roi is the all-in-one ideal for summer indecisives. l’île de loisirs de BoisleRoi , Rue de Tournezy , 77590, Bois-le-Roi. From 9h to 21h. Free admission. More info in French here: Leisure island of Bois le Roi

 And one we went several times as it is in the town my boys first went to school in France this is a huge beach on the horizon! 260 hectares of woods, with huge ponds and water bodies laid out on the beach. And for athletes, there is something to enjoy with water skiing or pedal boat. You just have to close your eyes and you feel like you are in the South! L’ïle de loisirs du Val de Seine, Chemin du Rouillard ; 78480, Verneuil-sur-Seine .From 10h to 19h and 3.80€ admission. More info in French here: Leisure island of Val de Seine

And the beat goes on all over, even in fabled Champagne. Champagne is hurting too, of course.   The Champenois may look in their registers, never their bubble wine had experienced such a brutal crisis for more than a century. Everything that calls for it has stopped since the pandemic: events, gatherings, restaurant dinners, birthday parties, weddings etc. The first assessments are staggering: up to minus 80% of sales in France during confinement ,and minus 60% for worldwide shipping. Rather than trying to sell what has been produced, the 16,000 winegrowers and 300 champagne houses are adapting upstream to the market. In other words, they collectively decide on the quantity of harvest, to come in late August and early September, in order to avoid an overflow, which would lead to expensive stocks, aggressive destocking, promotions and product devaluation. The Champagne houses buy three-quarters of the harvest from winegrowers who own vines but do not make Champagne. By reducing the production of bottles, they will suffer. This very delicate maximum authorized yield will be decided on July 22. It will be fraught with consequences. On average, over the last decade, it was 13,500 kg of grapes per hectare. Mathematically, it should be fixed below 9,500 kg to find a balance on the volumes. But economic viability then becomes very fragile for many. We no longer speak here of economic breakage but of human breakage. All will be different from now on….

So not a rosy picture of France nowdays as the world goes in the same boat. Hopefully, the scare and govts included will go away after the rentrée here in September. Remember, I know, 385 000 folks died from cancer in France (league against cancer) in 2018 (including my wife) but it goes unnotice!!! why so much news on the wuhan covid19? I need to start another blog for these socio political scares!!!

In the meantime, stay safe, and enjoy your Father’s Day if celebrating as different part have different dates, one world lol! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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