Letter from Paris: December 20, 2023 News Digest

Letter from Paris: December 20, 2023 News Digest

The golden rooster is back atop the spire on Notre-Dame cathedral. Blessed on Saturday by the archbishop of Paris Laurent Ulrich, the weather wave was then hoisted onto the spire, 96 meters above the ground. This was a “pivotal moment for the Paris landmark’s restoration,” noted ABC News. “The installation by a crane of a new golden rooster, reimagined as a dramatic phoenix with licking, flamed feathers, goes beyond being just a weathervane atop the cathedral spire. It symbolizes resilience amid destruction after the devastating April 2019 fire — as restoration officials also revealed an anti-fire misting system is being kitted out under the cathedral’s roof. Chief architect Philippe Villeneuve, who designed this new rooster, stated that the original rooster’s survival signified a ray of light in the catastrophe.”

There’s been quite the brouhaha about the newly crowned Miss France. Or more specifically, her pixie style haircut. Eve Gilles, representing the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in northern France, clinched the victory at the pageant last Saturday night. Some 9.1 million people watched the show on TF1. The winner’s look was decidedly different than the luscious locks worn by the other contestants. France 24 reports, “Miss France pageant organizers accused of wokeism over winner’s short hair.” The Independent says: “Eve Gilles faces online backlash over ‘androgynous look’, but many have defended her as following in footsteps of other short-haired French icons.” NBC News notes the winner’s defenders have “drawn comparisons with actor Audrey Hepburn, who sported a short cut and for generations epitomized modern elegance and beauty.”


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Paris hotels are in an uproar over the city’s plans to triple the tourist tax next year for the Summer Olympic Games. A vote will take place in parliament before Christmas. Usually the per-night tourist tax varies from 0.25 euros for a basic room, to five euros for a luxury stay. The tax is meant to help fund public transportation, but France 24 notes the objections in a joint statement by the UMIH hotel and restaurant union and GNC group of hotel chains: “It’s another blow for the competitiveness of our sector as well as France’s image at a time when all attention is on the Paris 2024 Olympics.”

That’s not the only complaint about Olympics prices.The World Athletics President has voiced concern over ticket prices at the Stade de France. As reported by The Guardian, “Sebastian Coe [warned] they will price out genuine fans and lead to empty seats. In an unusually punchy intervention Coe, who ran the London 2012 Games, said he had spoken to Paris organisers to stress that ‘full stadia are absolutely a prerequisite’ for the biggest Olympic sport.”

Stade de France with uncovered athletics track during the 2003 World Championships. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Louvre is also planning to raise ticket prices next year. Starting on January 15, the price for admission will rise from 17 euros to 22 euros. As reported by the New York Times, officials explained that the “30 percent price hike was part of the museum’s effort to offset rising energy costs and support its free admission programs geared toward local residents”. The Louvre’s annual visitor numbers will reach nearly 9 million by the end of 2023. Earlier this year, Director Laurence des Cars “capped the daily attendance at 30,000 visitors, down from peaks as high as 45,000 before the coronavirus pandemic.”

Louvre Pyramid in Paris. © Pixabay at Pexels

Did you hear about the “stolen” diamond ring at the Ritz Paris… later recovered in a vacuum cleaner? According to Le Parisien, a Malaysian guest filed a police complaint for the ring, worth an estimated 750,000 euros. As reported by the Associated Press, “The Ritz Paris wouldn’t release details about the ring or the client but said the ring had been found on Sunday. ‘Thanks to meticulous searches by security agents at the Ritz Paris, the ring was found this morning in a vacuum cleaner bag,’ the hotel said in a statement. ‘Our client is happy at the news.’” The venerable grande dame, situated on the Place Vendôme, celebrated its 125th birthday in style this year. It’s currently starring in the Netflix hit The Crown.

The Ritz Paris

All of us at Bonjour Paris wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season. Still looking for shopping inspiration for those on your gift list? Check out our gift guide. And if you’re in Paris, consider shopping for brands that have been labeled “Made in Paris.” The city recently announced the 2024 “Fabriqué à Paris” laureates, which include vests by Six Soeurs, artisanal spirits by the Distillerie du Viaduc, and violins by the atelier de Lutherie- Emmanuelle Fayat. Pictured below: handcrafted quince jams by Un Coing de Paris, an artisanal company also labeled “Made in Paris.”

Lead photo credit : Notre Dame et ses grues. Photo credit: William O'Such

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