Letter from Paris: March 20, 2024 News Digest

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Letter from Paris: March 20, 2024 News Digest

Could Paris be best in the springtime? Between the cherry blossoms in the city gardens and the Easter chocolate in the shop windows, the city springs to life in the most joyous way. Pictured below: one of the sublime seasonal creations by pastry chef Sébastien Gaudard. Drool over more of these impressive delights in our annual roundup of the best Easter chocolate in Paris.

Easter treats by Sébastien Gaudard

Paris is celebrating the bistro this month as an iconic symbol of the city’s art de vivre. Last week a ceremony at the Hotel de Ville celebrated 62 bistros. The owners were presented with the Grande Médaille de Vermeil in recognition of the people who work to foster a sense of community. Hankering for some classic bistro fare? Check out our guide to the 13 best bistros in the City of Light.

Paris bistro by Daxis/ Flickr

Have you heard about the plan to create a green, car-free zone around the Eiffel Tower and Trocadéro? The city has been pushing to reinvent the area as a continuous garden stretching across the river, with more trees and pedestrian areas, including the pont d’Iéna, which now gets clogged with traffic jams. Yet there’s been pushback. France 24 recounts how “the mayor of Paris is struggling to win over residents and above all the police force to revamp one of the city’s most celebrated views.” The plan is part of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s environmental strategy and ambition to remove cars. “[She] launched the project in 2019 but soon clashed with the city’s police chief at the time, Didier Lallement, and right-wing mayors of three of the city’s districts over concerns about traffic disruptions.But Hidalgo, who announced a similar plan in January to ban cars on half of the central Place de la Concorde, site of the iconic Luxor Obelisk, is hoping the fervor of the Olympics will garner support for the ambitious project.”

courtesy of the city of Paris

France’s legislators have been busy. In a historic move, France became the first country in the world to enshrine the right to abortion in its constitution. The outdoor ceremony took place on International Women’s Day. (The Guardian’s Agnès Poirier wrote a terrific column about the “electric moment.”) Now parliament is tackling fast fashion. The most polluting industry, textiles not only account for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions but also water pollution. As reported by France 24, “Key measures include a ban on advertising for the cheapest textiles, and an environmental charge slapped on low-cost items. The French clothes market has been flooded with cheap imported clothes, while several homegrown brands have declared bankruptcy.” Lawmakers called out “Chinese company Shein and its ‘7,200 new clothing items per day as a prime example of intensive fashion production.”

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Disappointingly, there’s been a storm of racism over a rumor that French pop superstar Aya Nakamura could perform an Edith Piaf song at the Olympics opening ceremony. A Paris prosecutor has opened an investigation into racist abuse the chanteuse suffered by far-right individuals saying she was “not French enough.” As reported by The Guardian, she was born in Mali and raised in the northern suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, taking “the stage name Nakamura from the superhero drama Heroes.” Her music— inspired by French-Caribbean zouk pop from Guadeloupe and Martinique— is thoroughly French. “She is the most listened-to French singer in the world, whose relentlessly catchy hits about love and betrayal have been streamed 7bn times and who made history last year when she sold out three Paris gigs in 15 minutes.”

Aya Nakamura attends Paris Fashion Week dinner at Fouquets. Photo credit: other viewnews/ Wikimedia Commons

Oh and remember the bed bug panic last fall? France is blaming it on Russian “disinformation.” Rumors spread on social media, then were picked up by traditional media in stories that made headlines around the world. As reported by RFI, European affairs minister Jean-Noel recently said “the bed bug polemic was in a very large part amplified by accounts linked to the Kremlin, and they even created a false link between the arrival of Ukrainian refuges and the spread of bedbugs.” Back when there was an apparent “infestation” in cinemas and metro trains (we wrote about it here), authorities never did find trace of an outbreak.

Lead photo credit : Cherry Blossoms in the Bagatelle Gardens © Amy Kupec Larue

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