Letter from Paris: June 19, 2024 News Digest

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Letter from Paris: June 19, 2024 News Digest

Just in time for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, there’s a new way of getting around the city. Called Taxi Seine Paris, this brand new river shuttle service is a joint project between Paris je t’aime (the tourist office), the Paris Port Authority (CPP) and HAROPA PORT. A total of 10 taxi-boats, each accommodating six passengers, now connect the Louvre and La Bourdonnais, just beneath the Eiffel Tower. Note that this service also creates a quick liaison between two Olympic venues: the Concorde Urban Park and the Eiffel Tower Stadium. Near the Eiffel Tower, you’ll find SPOT24, a new welcome center set up by the Paris Tourist Office for the Games. Booking information: You can make the online booking up to 24 hours in advance at boat.parisjetaime.com. The cost is €145 for a maximum of 6 passengers. It operates daily from 2pm to 6pm.

Olympic Rings now adorn the Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Paris 2024 Media Center

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced she will go swimming in the Seine prior to the Olympic Games. After a huge cleanup project, the river will be used for a few open-water swimming events. The mayor’s swim has been postponed, however, until after the legislative elections which will be held on June 30 and July 7. Even after heavy rains, which complicates the cleanliness of the river, Paris Olympics Organizers say that the events will still take place on the Seine.

One of the floating “islands” of the Promenade des Berges de la Seine between the Pont de l’Alma and Musee d’Orsay. Photo Credit: SiefkinDR/Wikimedia Commons

Did you see the Netflix movie Sous La Seine (Under Paris)? The horror movie about a shark in the Seine- which has been billed as the thriller of the summer- has been grabbing headlines. As reported by The Independent, “Since its release on 5 June, Under Paris has become the most successful launch for a non-English language film on Netflix with 41 million views in its five first days on the service.” Now Director Xavier Gens is sharing details about a possible sequel, which, if it happens, “will take place in a Paris that is entirely submerged under water.” More details here.

It’s been political chaos since President Emmanuel Macron announced a surprise dissolution of the Assemblée Nationale after the far-right National Rally won European Elections. It’s a risky bet- The Washington Post writes “Macron may figure that voters are angry at him, but are not truly prepared to allow a far-right prime minister to head a new French government.” Some analysts have described it as more nail-biting than a Netflix movie. Parties on the left are negotiating a partnership, while the Republican party has imploded, with the party chairman Eric Ciotti seeking to unite with the far-right, prompting other party members to try to throw him out. Meanwhile the president has urged the country to come together to defeat the far-right at the polls.

Emmanuel Macron © Wikimedia Commons

Have you heard about Airbnb’s over-the-top Olympics viewing party? An official sponsor of the Paris 2024 Games, Airbnb has already gotten lots of buzz for the pop-up overnight suite it created in the Musée d’Orsay. (The famous clock room was transformed into a luxurious bedroom.) Another cool experience: an exclusive, celebratory soiree on a terrace of the Musée d’Orsay to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Games as the boats carry the athletes down the Seine River. The free experience also includes an exclusive museum tour, cocktails and light bites, and a DJ set by Kirou. Request to book took place earlier this month. More information here.

Airbnb “Icons” Olympics experience at the Musée d’Orsay. Photo credit: Wendy Huynh

Six months after the planting of nearly 500 trees, the city of Paris has inaugurated its first official “urban forest” on what had been a concrete roundabout at the Place de Catalogne in the 14th arrondissement. This project was part of the Plan Arbre (Tree Plan) adopted in 2021 by the City Council, mandating the creation of four such urban forests as a means of responding to the challenges of global warming and the erosion of biodiversity.

Voltaire is back! As reported by The Guardian’s Kim Willsher, “the statue of the 18th-century philosopher, a key figure of the Enlightenment, vanished from its plinth almost four years ago, sparking a series of increasingly sombre rumours.” Now a resin copy has been erected in its place in the Square Honoré-Champion (6th arrondissement). To quote: “At a time of worldwide statue toppling, Parisians feared Voltaire – real name François-Marie Arouet – had fallen to “cancel culture” because of his links to the slave trade. Rumours spread that the city authorities had succumbed to pressure and hidden him away in a dark corner to avoid protests. Some feared the artefact had been destroyed, like the city’s original 1878 bronze of Voltaire that was melted down by the occupying Nazis in 1941.”

Voltaire’s tomb in the Panthéon Paris. Photo credit: Yann Caradec / Wikimedia Commons

Lead photo credit : Taxi Boat Service on the Seine. Photo credit: Paris Je T'aime

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