Some news from France, CCCXXVIII

And I come back to you with my latest news from my belle France. Still reduce action due to the virus but things are moving on, and on my region of Bretagne we are ok. Just don’t come in yet lol!!!

The trains oh yes the TGV, Inoui, Ouigo etc. SNCF opens reservations for the summer holidays this past Tuesday. Tickets are available until August 29 2021. Hurry up it will be an avalanche once all is open lol!!

We are having the first signs of Spring what! More like Summer is coming with temperatures of 25 ° C (77F) in the North, 28 ° C in the South-West … heat records to come. The record for a month of March in Paris, of 25.7 ° C, could be exceeded on next Wednesday. Stay tune but not yet a canicule lol!! It is now sunny in my neck of the woods with up of 23C!!

The health certificate, adopted by the European Parliament 468 votes to 203, could allow travel throughout Europe without problems this summer. It will be put online in mid-June on the website of the Ministry of Health. The 27 member countries of the European Union had validated the launch of the European health certificate. It will take the form of a paper or digital document, as desired, and will include “your name, date of birth, your certified passport number with the QR code, whether or not you have been vaccinated, the type of vaccine and if you have been a carrier of the disease ”. This document should not be mandatory, especially for those who have never contracted the virus and who will not be vaccinated. But it does not fail to cringe many French people, who fear to say goodbye to their individual freedoms and movement.(yes!!!) To this, we must add that it is still possible to contract the virus despite vaccination since the arrival of the variants. We are waiting….

Of course if can’t go out then why not go down!! In the catacombs of Paris, police officers and “cataphiles” play cat and mouse. After a rather respected first confinement, it is the return of the followers of underground exploration, however prohibited. Responsible for flushing them out, the “Ktaflics” patrol day and night. Equipped with a helmet and a headlamp, the police hunt down offenders who roam the catacombs!! Watch out for a fallen skeleton due to leaking water!!!

And another sad news of the Fatca/Fincen US regulations since Obama 2010. The poor souls of “Accidental Americans”(French born in USA while their parents stay and came back without even speaking English!) Well these French people who could find themselves without a bank account. BNP-Paribas (bank) has sent a letter to its Franco-American clients to inform them of the impending closure of their account. Blame it on the lack of their US tax identification number, which they do not have … since they have never lived in the United States. No W9 Uncle Sam is after you and since BNP Paribas have banks in USA (California) they need to follow the letter of the law.

I have mentioned in several news flash in my blog and they keep saying ready but thanks to the virus the opening to the public is not yet set. The restored Hôtel de la Marine will open to the public for the first time since the French revolution! The famous monument on Place de la Concorde, occupied for more than two centuries by the Naval Staff, is awaiting the lifting of sanitary measures to open its magnificently restored 18C apartments and 19C ceremonial salons. The 19C ceremonial salons and the magnificently restored 18C apartments await only their audience. And the French government ok!

Ah there is a delight , individual Tarte Tatin melts the gourmets deprived of restaurants. At the Petit Versailles du Marais 4éme arrondissement or district of Paris (now Paris Centre), customers praise the Tatin tart by pastry chef Thomas Marchand. It has even become the madeleine of Proust for certain gourmets deprived of restaurants. Yes of course, you can always ordered and click and collect or delivered.

Officially, it will now be necessary to speak of the “public establishment of the Orsay museum and of the Orangerie-Valéry Giscard d´Estaing museum“. But in fact, neither the Musée d’Orsay nor the Musée de l’Orangerie has changed its name unofficially! I guess folks will continue to call them as old but officially they are not anymore.

In Cergy, the leisure island focuses on novelty before plunging into summer. Despite the uncertainties linked to the health crisis, this very popular site in Val-d’Oise is preparing for its 2021 season. And has already announced a new fun and sports area which will open near the swimming area. The Aquaparc, which will be launched this year. Nice memories as took my boys here when lived in Versailles.

The Grand Paris metro:project has this gigantic site born of the future metro line 15. The operation and maintenance center of the trains of the Grand Paris Express is under construction in Champigny-sur-Marne, in the Val-de- Marne (dept 94). The first delivery of trains from line 15 is scheduled for 2023. So stay tune more folks easier to come into Paris from the suburbs!

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte ,and again the gardens are not reopening. This is a deliberate choice by the owners of the site for health and profitability reasons as the start of the season was scheduled for Saturday, March 27. The Easter egg hunt, scheduled for April 3-5, will not take place. For the second year in a row, the egg hunt will be cancelled. Another sad event of the virus.

In Rambouillet, the wool festival is reinventing itself on social networks. Due to sanitary measures, for the first time this year, the shearing and wool festival is taking place live on the Facebook page of the national  bergerie of Rambouillet this weekend. During the weekend, a hundred sheep will be shorn and the transhumance will be commented around the imperial court. Facebook webpage: https://www.facebook.com/BergerieNationaledeRambouillet/

France has 9000 km of dikes!! for centuries until today. Some are recent, like that of Montesson. Others, on the other hand, may be over 200 years old. In the region of Ïle-de-France, the inhabitants of the district of La Borde, in Montesson (Yvelines 78), observed the rise of the waters of the Seine with an unusual tranquility. And for good reason: a dike was built in 2020 to protect them from the vagaries of the river. It has prevented the flooding of cellars and gardens which have been repeated in recent years. Dikes are exposed to many risks. Erosion, the work of tree roots, galleries dug by wild animals … So many long-term attacks that can, in the long term, affect their proper functioning. The France Digues association webpage: https://www.france-digues.fr/

Easter chocolates: when the bunny passes the bell. Behind the unmistakable egg, the rabbit has supplanted the bell in the windows of chocolate makers. The village bells no longer rang between Maundy Thursday and Easter Saturday, and children replaced them as they passed through the streets with rattles. The bells had gone to Rome, tradition said. On Sunday, they would be back, with chocolate eggs. Go get some Easter bells today. The eggs are there. But the bells have disappeared from the windows. We settled for the rabbit!! Happy Easter!!!

Paris and France, Airbnb strongholds in the face of declining tourism. According to a study, France is the country where the number of ads has increased the most in a year. Paris is one of the cities that resists the best, with a stable number of announcements. A study published on Friday March 26 by the AirDNA site, which analyzes the tourist furnished rental market, shows an increase in supply despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Among Airbnb’s main markets around the world, the number of “active” listings visible on Airbnb and which have already been booked at least once – has increased the most in the past year in France. The increase in February is 9% compared to February 2020 – compared to around 1.5% in the United States, Italy or Spain. The number of ads has even fallen in Great Britain, Australia or Canada. France is thus consolidating its status as the second largest market in the world for Airbnb ; its offer exceeds all hotel capacities there. The number of active ads is up in all regions except Ile-de-France down 1.4%. The increase is strongest in the Loire Valley and on Bretagne’s coast, rural areas where Airbnb’s supply has taken off in recent years. There are now ads in more than 80% of towns in France, according to Airbnb. Webpage for AirDNA: https://www.airdna.co/

That’s good news, 4 Parisian swimming pools reopen their doors this past Monday in Paris! While the sports halls and swimming pools have been closed since the beginning of October, 4 municipal pools will once again welcome a certain public, but under very strict conditions. The Suzanne Berlioux (1éme), Joséphine Baker (13éme), Champerret (17éme) and Yvonne Godard (20éme) swimming pools will therefore welcome, from this past Monday: People with disabilities;   STAPS students; People in continuing or professional training related to swimming; Professional athletes; and People with chronic or long-term illnesses and for whom the practice of swimming, on medical prescription, is beneficial. Everyone else will still have to wait for the dip …!

In the 12éme arrondissement of Paris ,near the Reuilly-Diderot eco-district, a new XXL market hall will open in a former military barracks in the coming weeks. Douze Paris, a large market hall that brings together ten regional artisans in a former barracks of Reuilly-Diderot with nearly 1,000m2. In this new gourmet hall, you will find the fruits of the early Lille fruit Les Fruits de la Terre, pick up the cheese matured by Jean-François Dubois located in Arras and will choose fish at Mareyage Hennequin des Sables-d’Olonne. The Halle Douze Paris will also host the Mas des Confitures de Béziers, the Lyon roasters of Cafés Gonéo and the cellar of Johannes Marcon, from Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid in Haute-Loire. Meats will be delighted by the presence of the charcutier Christophe Fabre, who runs the Charcuterie du Viala, and the breeder Arnaud Billon, behind Ah la vache located in the Perche. And because shopping without snacking is heresy, you go to recharge your batteries at the Thai caterer Oth Sombath before starting with baguette taken at the Leonie bakery, originally from the 17éme arrondissement. Webpage: https://douze.paris/

And we have followed all our boys lives as the mom Martine first taught them French using these books ! A new one is soon out ,« Astérix et le Griffon » ,the 39th volume will be released on October 21 2021. While very little has been revealed about the plot of these new adventures, we can guess from the title that our two friends will be looking for the Griffin, a legendary creature that is half eagle and half lion. This will be the very first volume of Asterix and Obelix published after the death of Albert Uderzo, who died in March 2020. “Albert trusted us to respect the values of the characters he created with René Goscinny, we will continue in his absence the mission he has entrusted to us with this new album, which we hope will delight readers” explained Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad , the new writers.

After thirty years at the Auberge , the historic chef of Bocuse is about to leave. Chef Christophe Muller will be leaving the kitchens of the Auberge de Collonges-au-Mont-d´Or, temple of the Bocuse family near Lyon. Also executive chef of the Bocuse group, which brings together around twenty establishments and a shareholder in the Auberge de Collonges, near Lyon, Christophe Muller is said to be negotiating his departure with a view to expatriation to Spain, a country where his wife is a native, according to the site of the monthly Lyon people. Last year, the restaurant was stripped of its third Michelin star after 55 years at the top and embarked on a major venture of reinvention following the death of the patriarch. So don’t worry welcome to Spain! Auberge Bocuse webpage: https://bocuse.fr/fr/restaurant-paul-bocuse.html

Chef Sébastien Martinez, 33, has been a chef at the Moulin de Rosmadec, in Pont-Aven (Finistère dept 29), since June 2020. In five months of opening, his cuisine has convinced the Michelin Guide, which awarded it one star. It will have a terrace in the summer by April 2021. We know the place, dine there before his arrival and looking forward to be back when possible. Webpage: https://rosmadec.com/

In his book “Why do we drink wine?“, Published by Dunod Editions, Professor Fabrizio Bucella tackles this great question through science, history, medicine and philosophy. “Philosophy is part of science! One of the chapters of my book deals with the question of philosophy. For example, Plato advocated a lot of things about wine, and especially about drunkenness. He was interested in this disturbance of the senses, which means that at a given moment we no longer control anything! He explained why it was necessary for men over forty to get drunk; it was to regain the (sexual) vigor of their twenty years!” Ahh!!!  need to get me this book, of course, I knew it all my life, true!!!in French here is Dunod Editions and the book webpage: https://www.dunod.com/sciences-techniques/pourquoi-boit-on-du-vin-une-enquete-insolite-et-palpitante-du-prof-fabrizio

A bit more on wines, my fav!! Vines are ahead this spring 2021, but less than in 2020. The year remains precocious for the moment, but today the vines are at less advanced stages than last year. In Languedoc-Roussillon, on March 23, the most advanced plots were already with 2 or 3 leaves spread. In Vaucluse, the majority stage of Grenache in the very early zone is bud in cotton with even plots with a green tip. In Drôme and Ardèche, the vines have also started in the earliest hillsides. And according to the Zoom Viti bulletin of the Côtes du Rhône Nord, the stages oscillate between “buds in cotton” and “bursting of buds”. In the northern vineyards, the vines are much less advanced, the very cool temperatures of recent weeks having limited the ardor of the vegetation. The Champagne Committee thus estimates the average date of bud break around April 8-9 for Chardonnay and April 12-14 for Pinot Noir and Meunier. In Burgundy, the majority of vines are between the “winter buds” and “early swelling” stages. So meaning earlier on a bit behind on 2020 but not bad at all; seems like another nice vintage in 2021.

In an unreadable health context in the short and medium term, it becomes almost impossible to maintain the professional wine events planned for the first half of 2021. Already postponed for five months, Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris will be postponed purely to February 2022. The professional show Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, which was initially to be held from February 15 to 17 and had already been postponed to June 14, 15 and 16 is, according to my information, postponed to February 2022, Meanwhile, the holding of Vinexpo Shanghai , scheduled for the end of October 2021, is maintained. And a Vinexpo New Delhi would be scheduled around December 9-10-11, in collaboration with SIAL (International Food Fair). Yep no way to taste in advance it will be a difficult year to choose but experience should prevail.

The French wine exports fell sharply in 2020 falling by 11% in value to 8.74 billion euros, under the cumulative effect of “Trump taxes”, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic , noted last Thursday the public body FranceAgriMer. The Biden administration decided in early March to suspend these taxes for four months, much to the relief of the French wine industry. For their part, imports of foreign wines into France also fell by 11% in value, to 710 million euros. It fell by 13% in volume to 6.31 million hectoliters in 2020. In total, the French trade surplus on wine amounted to 8 billion euros in 2020. Nice industry lots of jobs, and traditions, needs more help. FranceAgriMer webpage for info and my memory: https://www.franceagrimer.fr/fam/content/download/66468/document/BIL-VIN-2019-Commerce_exterieur_bilan%202018_A21M03.pdf?version=5

And there you go folks, another dandy news from my belle France. Hang on times will be back and we will be at it better than ever. Planning is a virtue we are all planned waiting for the government green light! Stay safe and be patient, and we are holding on to see how this hoopla of the vaccines is working out.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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