Some news from France, CCCLIII

And I am back to my belle France , and my loving series some news from France. This is the longest running post in my blog since November 2010! Thanks for your support and readership over the years. I like to choose some of my favorite news for this new episode; hope you enjoy it as I.

The bicentennial of the birth of the author of ‘Madame Bovary’ is celebrated in France with discretion, perhaps because he never fit into the category of the great national writer, Gustave Flaubert had a relationship with his hometown, Rouen, that ranged between love and hate. It is not surprising that, on the 200th anniversary of his birth, which is celebrated this past Sunday, Rouen dedicates a discreet tribute to the most peculiar of the prodigal children. In the city, only a couple of exhibitions remember the father of the modern novel, who did not have a street named after him until the fifties of the last century, seven decades after his death. You can visit the house where he was born, in the so-called Hôtel-Dieu, a small mansion attached to the old Rouen hospital, where his father worked as chief surgeon. Today it houses a museum dedicated to his memory, as endearing as it is dusty, full of those relics. The aura of the place is relative: his childhood room is a reconstruction of 1923. It was between these walls that he spent his first quarter of a century, in a low-ceilinged residence where sickness and death were a neighbor.In the garden, a neoclassical bas-relief represents the author as a floating head with a mean face Only in this way could he work every day until dawn, in his incessant search for the mot juste in the family home in Croisset, where he settled after being acquitted of the immorality trial caused by Madame Bovary, which made him a literary star at 35, but also a public enemy, That mansion overlooking the Seine, currently under construction, will house a reconstitution of the studio where he spent 15 years signing his three great novels, five years for each title: Madame Bovary, Salambó and La sentimental education. In the absence of great tributes, the best reverence for an author who never fell into the category of national writer will remain that of his fellow workers, who continue to consider him something of a commander. Shortly after his death, Proust and Kafka vindicated his style. Faulkner made a pilgrimage to Rouen, while James Joyce was inspired by his free indirect style, that subjective realism where the narrator entered and left the heads of his characters. Sartre dedicated a long biography to him, The Idiot of the Family, just as Foucault and Bourdieu devoted essays to him. Claude Simon quoted him when he won the Nobel, confirming the debt that the nouveau roman owed to his legacy, with the notion that the main thing was language and style, and in no case the author. “Man is nothing; the work is everything ”, said Flaubert, foreshadowing the death of the author that Barthes decreed in 1968. Mario Vargas Llosa and Orhan Pamuk admit that they owe him everything. Also Annie Ernaux, a Norman like him. “He was my first teacher, my first model,” he confessed a couple of years ago on the couch in his house. For Leila Slimani, literary star of the latest batch, Flaubert continues to be “the only one, the true one, the best of all.” Indeed, if you are a writer need to visit here! Museum in Rouen :

The hospitals of Rouen on the museum :

Between offices and department stores, few Parisians live on Boulevard Haussmann, which crosses the 8éme and 9éme arrondissements. The west of this axis, 2.5 km long, still offers some beautiful volumes, reserved in particular for a family audience but especially wealthy. Accommodation is more frequent on the western part of Boulevard Haussmann, but, often large, they remain reserved for a well-to-do audience, It is a mythical artery where tourists flock during this holiday season. The Ile-de-France residents also gather there, especially around the must-see department stores. Each year, they come to discover the magical decorations installed for Christmas: luminous ceiling, gigantic trees, musical entertainment …But as things goes, Paris is becoming more for rich investors thanks in part to the ridiculous ruling by the mayor of Paris!

Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece traveled several times through France under Nazi occupation. An exhibition at the Château de Chambord traces its travels and those of tens of thousands of works of art, sheltered during the war. The Château de Chambord has just inaugurated a new room, dedicated to the little-known history of works of art that moved during WWII, with a focus on the Mona Lisa. It’s a strange convoy that leaves the Louvre September 27, 1938. It is 6h and a truck is driving very slowly on the cobblestones of the square courtyard. Its load is very heavy. And most precious. Ten paintings, the most prestigious in the Louvre, which take the direction of the Château de Chambord (Loir-et-Cher 41) to be sheltered. Among them, the most famous of all, the Mona Lisa. This trip, made in emergency when Hitler has just invaded the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia bordering Germany, and nothing seems to stop it, is the first in a long series for Mona Lisa. Ten displacements, in total, during the duration of the conflict in the north, the west and the south of France. All worth it thanks to those who did it. Webpage :

At the heart of the giant warehouse of RecycLivre, French leader in the online sale of second-hand books, Located in Essonne (91), in a business area located in Villabé, the huge warehouse of RecycLivre stores more than a million books, Each year, the company sells nearly 1.4 million copies. At the French number one in the online second-hand book market, endless rows of books, donated by individuals, run over nearly 6,000 square meters. Yes indeed a good alternative for all to read a book, Webpage :

A major traffic accident left many injured on avenue d’Ivry and at the intersection of rue de Tolbiac in the 13éme arrondissement of Paris. According to initial findings, a technical failure of a vehicle could be the cause. The accident took place in the early evening, shortly before 21h, at the intersection of rue Tolbiac, avenue de Choisy and avenue d´Ivry. In total, nearly fifteen injured were reported. At least five seriously injured people were taken care of by the emergency services. A taxi, which transported customers and whose “accelerator remained blocked”, would have struck a first vehicle before being able to avoid a second one at the crossing where it also destroyed a traffic light which was with red in its direction of circulation, I putting this up first because it is a taxi that ,also, many visitors take, and second because it was a Tesla car prone to have this type of malfunction with their breaks, My advise is not to get into one, use G7 taxis in Paris.

Here here here, did I say we have less in Paris regardless of what the central government tells you, here is the proof, Are the metro and RER at rush hour full like in 2019, before the Covid crisis and the spread of teleworking? This is the feeling of many travelers in Île-de-France. And yet, according to statistics provided by Île-de-France Mobilités (IDFM), the line-by-line load level is still very far from the pre-Covid normal. most metro lines oscillate between 70 and 80% of the traffic recorded two years ago. According to the RATP count, only line 14 returned to 100% during the morning rush hour. It is followed by lines 11 (89%), 9 (80%), 1 (79%), 8 (78%) and 3 (77%). Deemed to be saturated, line 13 would only be 70% of pre-Covid-19 attendance. Lines 2, 4, 6, 7 and 12 also oscillate between 70 and 76%. On the SNCF network, the RER A, the RER E and line N are 80% of travelers compared to November 2019, still during the morning rush hours. The RER B is at 75%. Lines C and D oscillate between 75 and 80%. And of course less travel into Paris less for the merchants as well, already suffering from covid19 crazy ruling with increase in bankruptcies and more to come in 2022.

Update as train travel between Paris and Lyon, Milan etc has become cheaper beating SNCF prices by half. The deal is open just in time for the holiday season. From December 18,2021 travel at high speed between Paris, Lyon and Milan with the Frecciarossa trains. Reservations are open. High-speed trains Frecciarossa offers 2 daily round trips between Paris Gare de Lyon and Milan Centrale, via Lyon Part-Dieu, Chambéry, Modane and Turin, in the morning and in the evening, at flexible prices. French webpage:

Pierre Scholla, the painter has exhibited all over the world and rubbed shoulders with the greatest. At 93, he continues to paint in his studio in Corbeil-Essonnes. He exhibits until January 30 at the Paul-Bédu cultural space in Milly-la-Forêt (Essonne 91). During his long career, he exhibited all over the world, won several awards, rubbed shoulders with the greatest such as Picasso, Utrillo, César, Giacometti… Sold paintings to Frank Sinatra or even Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Here he is back in Milly-la-Forêt , Pierre Scholla is exhibiting around forty paintings and lithographs at the Paul-Bédu cultural space until January 30 2022. « I had already exhibited in a gallery in Milly alongside Jean Marais and Jean Couteau » He said,, webpage :

The temporary ice rinks return to the heart of cities. On last Saturday, the president of the French board sports federation inaugurated that of Saint-Cloud,(Hautes de Seine 92) an area of 300 m2 of real ice. For the first day of this “Christmas in the garden”, access to the ice rink is even extended at night, until 22h in a disco atmosphere like “The tanned people go skiing”. Around the track, the town of Saint-Cloud has associated its local artisans and traders to put them in the spotlight. In Antony, it has been open since Friday at Marc Sangnier Park, until January 2. That of La Défense is due to open on December 20, while the Montrouge On Ice rink will be accessible from Wednesday, until January 2 as well. Ice skating and Christmas market at Saint Cloud:

Le Bourget Air Museum, the conquest of space told in 180,000 Lego bricks, Since last Tuesday, and for six months, a new temporary exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to rediscover in a fun way the history of aeronautics and the conquest of space, through some thirty Lego models, paintings and sculptures.Webpage:

Will a 5,000 square meter old barracks with arcades 100 meters from the Palace of Versailles (Yvelines 78) and built under Louis XIV soon be in the hands of Emirati investors? In any case, the latter would be in contention for the purchase of the old Récollets convent, 9, rue des Récollets,(to your right coming out of castle go around it and see the street) owned by the French army since the 19C. Built in 1684 for the Franciscan order ,chaplain of the king’s armies ; it currently houses the Technical Service for Fortifications and Works, an agency of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. Investors from the Arabian Peninsula would not be the only ones interested: there are currently around sixty potential clients , The barracks, imagined by the architect Jules-Hardouin Mansart, architect of the Palace of Versailles, would be estimated at 50 million euros. It does not exclude either transforming the site into a luxury hotel complex, in order to meet the tourist demand of the 2024 Olympic Games. Riding events are in fact planned near the castle, Leave it to the army not to recognised history !!

During these end-of-year celebrations, discover the Musée du Jouet or Toy Museum (see post) in Poissy (Yvelines 78). It traces the life of toys from Antiquity to the present day, through 600 objects on display. And offers entertainment throughout the month of December. discover all kinds of toys in this pretty museum , such as the Nicolas and Pimprenelle dolls which have made several generations of children dream with “Teddies”. The little cow made of wood and papier-mâché, covered with goatskin, moans when pressed on its back. An ingenious fabrication from 1878. With a funnel, children could pour milk inside to milk it. Marguerite Yourcenar had fun with this luxurious ruminant, offered at Christmas to children of middle-class families. This little realistic cow is enthroned in a display case at the Toy Museum , in the middle of 600 nuggets, dating from Antiquity to the present day. Webpage :

In the national domain of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, (see post) soon the rebirth of the large basin, Disappeared throughout history, this architectural element will be reconstructed in the coming months to allow the park to regain its original perspective, A huge circular pool 50 meters in diameter surmounted by a large jet of water. This is what the end of the large parterre will soon look like in the national domain of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines 78). It is in fact a question of reproducing the perspective imagined by André Le Nôtre at the request of Louis XIV in the second half of the 17C, when the castle of Saint-Germain where he was born was still the main royal residence. Webpage :

At the Domaine de Chaalis, Christmas is celebrated like in the last century! During the holidays, the castle invites visitors to discover a Christmas like at the beginning of the 20C. A visual and olfactory journey to reconnect with the traditions of the past. Once past the steps of the Domaine de Chaalis (Oise 60), time stops and visitors fall into another world. The world of Nélie Jacquemart, a renowned painter from the beginning of the 20C and insatiable collector. With her husband Édouard André, they traveled the world to collect the most beautiful works of art. Part of this collection is in the Chaalis estate, in which Nélie Jacquemart spent part of her childhood and which she bought in 1902. She therefore stores nearly 5,000 works of art there, a very personal part. from its impressive collection. You may know them better by the museum Jacquemart-André in Paris. The domain webpage :

La Coupole, the star brasserie of Montparnasse. For nearly a century, this institution in the city has delighted both celebrities and the many tourists who flock to its tables. Simone de Beauvoir, Michel Simon, Édith Piaf, Jacques Prévert, Picasso and François Mitterrand had their habits there. A tour of 800 square meters of the history of Parisian life. La Coupole was built in 1927, in the midst of the Roaring Twenties, in the heart of the bohemian district of Montparnasse. All the great artists and writers of the city gathered in this chic brasserie. La Coupole, a vast brasserie located in the 14éme arrondissement of Paris, between the Montparnasse train station and the Luxembourg garden , The butlers, in the impeccable white shirt and the black bow tie, finish to set up the 330 covers for lunch. Gorgeous !!! webpage :

At this harsh start to winter, raclette is the favorite dish of the French, according to a poll commissioned by TF1 (French TV channel) . Alpine specialties monopolize the top 10 such as tartiflette (3rd), gratin dauphinois (8th) and fondue (10th). Fromagerie des Alpages, in Grenoble (Isère 38), is the mecca of raclette. Here, Bernard Mure-Ravaud, best worker cheese maker in France, sells 22 varieties of cheese to an undeniable success. And yes we love the tartiflette especially and do it often at home during winter season, Delicious ! With the snow falling and the cold, we have to do a raclette with friends to officially kick off winter! It’s an unchanging ritual, everyone loves it, and it’s easy to prepare, I agree ! We love it, This fan of the mountain specialty is like the French who place raclette at the top of their favorite dishes. This is one of the many lessons learned from a large online survey on the French and their regions commissioned by TF1 and conducted by Sociovision, from November 8 to 22, 2021, with 3,500 people polled, Another beauty of my belle France! And if you ever by Grenoble, here is the cheese store of above webpage:

For a guaranteed change of scenery, the Chalet des Îles has all the qualities, and indeed it is recommended by yours truly; magical at Christmas time. Completely redecorated in the winter version of fir and company, we used go there every Wednesday to eat a good family fondue, now they also have djsets evenings organized every Thursday, Friday and Saturday , Châlet des îles, Bois de Boulogne, Embarcadère du Chalet des Îles (or pier), Porte de La Muette, Ceinture du lac inférieur (around the inferior lake) 16éme arrondissement of Paris, webpage :

There you go folks , another wonderful episode of some news from France, me think ::) Hope you enjoy it as I, and see you around soon!! Merry Christmas and all others to celebrate and best wishes for the New Year 2022.

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

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