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There’s a lot happening in Paris this week as la rentrée kicks into high gear. Kids are back to school, parents are back to work, museums are launching exciting new exhibits, and restaurants are back in full swing after their August break. But perhaps the biggest news for visitors is the new law restricting the speed of vehicles to 30 kilometers per hour (around 19 miles per hour) on most streets. (Certain boulevards, like the Champs-Élysées, are exempt.) Practically speaking, this means that it’s not necessarily faster to hop in a taxi than take the metro (or bike or walk). Even though taxis have the right to use the dedicated bus lanes, they are not immune to the traffic jams clogging the city these days.
The Paris mayor’s office hopes that the new speed limits will help road safety while reducing pollution. But experts are not in agreement about the environmental impact. Will a slower speed mean less harmful emissions? Or will the resulting traffic jams, and increased time on the road, mean more pollution? Only time will tell. But perhaps drivers, so frustrated by the roads in Paris, will be deterred from their commutes and opt for public transportation instead.
Paris is currently hosting the biggest criminal trial ever held in France as 20 men accused of involvement in the 2015 terrorist massacre are tried in the historic law courts on the Seine. As reported by The Guardian, “The trial, which will last nine months and feature witnesses including the former president François Hollande, is held as a crucial step in addressing the personal and national trauma of the coordinated attacks that killed 130 people and injured more than 490.” And to quote Voice of America, “The sole surviving member of the terror cell that massacred 130 people in Paris in November 20 was a pot-smoking party man who dabbled in petty crime before falling in thrall to the Islamic State group. All eyes will be on Salah Abdeslam… when he goes on trial in Paris along with 19 others over the worst terror attack in France’s history. But those hoping that the so-called 10th man of the Islamic State attacks will tell all about what drove him to be part of the macabre plot risk being disappointed. Since his arrest after a massive four-month manhunt that ended in a shootout with police in Belgium, Abdeslam has maintained near-total silence on his role in the bloodshed.”
In pandemic news, France has begun administering booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to the elderly and fragile populations (those with underlying health conditions). And in New Caledonia, the French overseas territory in the South Pacific, Parliament has unanimously voted to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all adults. This mandate includes tourists. As reported by France 24, the “archipelago becomes only the fourth territory in the world to impose such a requirement.” December 31st is the inoculation deadline.
There are some new hotels turning heads. Inside the recently renovated La Samaritaine department store, the Cheval Blanc Paris will debut this week as a showcase for luxury conglomerate LVMH. (Think Dior-branded spa.) Meanwhile IHG Hotels & Resorts has unveiled the Kimpton St Honoré with 123 rooms and 26 suites, decorated by Paris-based interior designer Charles Zana. To quote the official website: the hotel “brings creative flair to its 1917 Art Noveau facade… Inspired by minimalist Art Déco aesthetics and a light-hearted sense of Parisian chic, Kimpton St Honoré Paris encourages encounters between travelers and habitués thanks to its healthy, California-inspired restaurant and bar with a light-filled patio, a cutting-edge spa complete with indoor heated swimming pool and, cerise sur le gâteau, the unrivaled 360-degree views of its rooftop bar & garden.”
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Last but not least: fashion and football are uniting in Paris as “Dior Kicks Off Collaboration With Paris Saint-Germain Soccer Team,” to quote the WWD headline. “Dior men’s artistic director Kim Jones has designed looks to be worn by the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain soccer team for the next two seasons.” Read the full article here.
Lead photo credit : Paris streets. Photo credit: Jorge Láscar/ Flickr