Letter from Paris: May 11, 2022 News Digest

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Letter from Paris: May 11, 2022 News Digest

President Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated for a second term on Saturday at the Élysée Palace. He is the first French head of state for 20 years to win a second mandate. As explained by France 24, “In a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, 21 cannon shots [were] fired from the Invalides military memorial complex to celebrate the inauguration. With no drive down the Avenue des Champs-Elysées or long red carpet, the ceremony resemble[d] the re-inaugurations of Francois Mitterrand in 1988 and Jacques Chirac in 2002, the last French president to win a second term.” In his speech, Macron promised a new approach: “We need to invent a new method together, far from tired traditions and routines, with which we can build a new productive, social and ecological contract.”

The Salle des fêtes at the Élysée Palace. Photo credit: Chatsam/ Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, France’s long-divided left-wing parties have ratified a coalition deal to challenge Macron in the upcoming legislative elections on June 12 and 19. The French Socialist Party joined the alliance — with the hard-left La France Insoumise (France Unbowed or LFI), the Greens and the Communist Party (PCF)— after hours of debate. As reported by France 24, “Former French president François Hollande and his former prime minister Bernard Cazeneuve were among those voicing the strongest opposition, with Cazeneuve going as far as quitting the party rather than joining forces with France Unbowed’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a former Socialist himself turned fierce antagonist of the party.”

François Hollande (right) and outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy at Élysée Palace on inauguration day, 15 May 2012. Photo credit: Cyclotron/ Wikimedia commons

While war rages in Ukraine, France marked VE Day on May 8, celebrating the 1945 victory of the Allies over Nazi Germany and the end of the Second World War. President Macron met with World War II veterans at a military ceremony under the Arc de Triomphe. He laid a wreath of flowers at the foot of the statue of General de Gaulle on the Place Clémenceau and rekindled the flame on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As reported by RFI, “this is the first time in two years that the Champs-Elysées ceremony has been open to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.” Below listen to the “Le chant des partisans,” the beautiful song of the French Resistance.

We’ve told you about the famous historical art heists in Paris, but it’s not just the museums that are privy to the problem. High-end jeweler stores are often targeted by thieves. The latest? Armed robbers hit the Chanel watch and jewelry store on rue de la Paix, in the ultra-luxe Place Vendôme area, and then fled on motorbikes. (This particular shop is a temporary outlet while the nearby flagship store undergoes a big renovation.) Chanel didn’t disclose the value of the stolen goods.

Place Vendôme. Photo credit: Giorgio Galeotti / Wikimedia commons

The beaux jours are back in Paris, and with it, the return of the tourists to the world’s most popular destination. According to the Paris Tourist Office, numbers are up by 20 percent compared to the same period in 2019, even though the Russian and Asian tourists have not yet returned. The post-pandemic trend is seeing a “carpe diem” approach to travel, with people keen to get out there in the world and see the sights again. Going forward, the Paris mayor’s office has expressed the need to focus on sustainable tourism. If you can understand (or read) French, check out the Agence France Presse video below.

We’ll leave you with an inspiring tale: a 61-year-old resident of Virginia plans to row across the ocean to France. His solo transatlantic crossing, from Virginia Beach to La Trinité Sur-Mer, is expected to take three or four months, covering a distance of 4,000 miles in a scull called Wild Ride. The toughest part of all? The anticipated sleep deprivation. He’ll be doing shifts, rowing two hours at a time. Note that the trip is also a fundraiser. Read more in this article in Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

Lead photo credit : Arc de Triomphe. Photo credit © jianwei0727, Pexels

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