Letter from Paris: October 4, 2023 News Digest

Letter from Paris: October 4, 2023 News Digest

The buzz in Paris? Serge Gainsbourg’s home has recently opened as a museum in the 6th arrondissement. It’s been such a hit that it’s impossible to get tickets. All 30-minute slots have been sold out until next year. Closed for more than three decades since the singer’s death, the house has been turned into a museum by his daughter Charlotte. For years the distinctive facade at 5 bis rue Verneuil was covered in graffiti left by enamored fans, and now the wild and wacky interiors (left untouched since Gainsbourg lived there) are open to explore.

First there were bed bugs in the cinemas, then they were reported on metro seats. There’s been a rise in the incidence of bed bug outbreaks around the world, which experts say is linked to globalization, increased mobility, and the fact that people stay in short-term accommodations (and carry the bugs in their suitcases). A true scourge in Paris or paranoia? Whatever the reality, the French authorities are taking action— with the Summer Olympics less than a year away. To quote CNN: “French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said Friday he would “bring together transport operators next week” to “undertake further action” to “reassure and protect” the public from the reported surge in the numbers of the blood-sucking insect. The announcement comes as calls for government action from Paris officials and trade unions mount after several videos of bedbugs spotted in public transport and other locations such as cinemas have surfaced on social media. Speaking to French TV station LCI on Friday, deputy mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire called the phenomenon ‘widespread.’ ‘You have to understand that in reality no one is safe, obviously there are risk factors but in reality, you can catch bedbugs anywhere and bring them home,’ he said.”

Close-up view of a bed bug. Photo credit: Piotr Naskrecki/ Wikimedia Commons

In exciting news for rugby fans, France’s captain Antoine Dupont has returned to the Rugby World Cup after surgery for a broken cheekbone. Some say Dupont is the best player in the world. As reported by France24, “Scrum-half Dupont is expected to return in time for the quarter-finals, should France qualify, on the weekend of October 14-15. France’s next game is against Italy on October 6 in Lyon when a victory would guarantee top spot in Pool A and a last-eight tie, in all likelihood with World Cup holders South Africa.”

Fashion week has brought a host of celebrities, designers and fashionistas to the capital. The streets have become veritable runways of cool street style, while the shows were staged in beautiful venues across town. Some of the most talked about collections? Olivier Rousteing caused a sensation with his spring-summer 2024 show for Balmain, just days after 50 pieces were stolen. Kendall Jenner closed the Schiaparelli show at the Italian Embassy wearing a sequined red tulle gown– and stole the spotlight. And Victoria Beckham drew applause for her ballet-inspired show. As described by The Guardian, “The clothes Beckham wore as a dance student – leg warmers, an oversized knit with a neckline stretched to expose a shoulder, even hair nets – were given a chic glow-up for a show staged in a grand 18th-century Paris townhouse once lived in by Karl Lagerfeld.”


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The dinosaur skeleton known as “Barry” is going up for auction at Hotel Drouot on 20 October. Discovered in the 1990s in Wyoming, the 150 million-year-old camptosaurus skeleton was named after paleontologist Barry James, who found it. Nearly 6.9ft tall, the skeleton is nearly intact— a rarity. As reported by BBC News, “Alexandre Giquello, from the auction house Hotel Drouot, said it was unusual to see a dinosaur skeleton so intact…. Sales of dinosaur fossils are rare, with only a small number taking place each year globally – although some experts have raised concerns about specimens finding their way into private hands.” The skeleton is expected to go for $1.2 million at auction. (Want to get the inside scoop on Drouot and how you can score all kinds of affordable finds there? Check out our article here.)

Speaking of auctions, Gérard Depardieu’s art collection recently sold for $4.2 million at Hôtel Drouot by the Ader auction house. As reported by The New York Times, “the near-entirety” of the collection was sold, its 230 pieces including sculptures by Rodin, whom Depardieu played in the 1988 movie Camille Claudel. The career of the prolific French articles has been “clouded in recent years by accusations of sexual assault and harassment.” Highlights included paintings by Alexander Calder, Rodin sculptures, an oil painting of a flower vase by Odilon Redon, and a bronze sculpture called “Walking Man,” created by Germaine Richier in 1945, which Depardieu pulled from the auction even after the price was hammered up to €510,000. (The piece used to be on display in his living room— we guess he couldn’t bear to part with it.) The sale “attracted unusually large crowds, both during the sale and beforehand, as thousands of curious visitors crowded the Hôtel Drouot to get a peek at the actor’s collection before it was snapped up.”

A still from the 2004 film “36 quai des Orfèvres” starring Gérard Depardieu. Photo courtesy of Gaumont

It’s been unusually hot in Paris. In fact, September was the hottest month on record for several European countries — including France, Austria, Germany, Poland and Switzerland — it was announced last week. A recent reportage by DW News takes a look at the city’s big investment to help cool down Paris and reach climate neutrality by 2050. Take a look at the city’s greening measures in the video below:

Lead photo credit : Gainsbourg's house on Rue Verneuil, photo by Britchi Mirela https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_maison_de_Serge_Gainsbourg_(auteur-compositeur-interprete_et_cineaste_francais_mondialment_connu).JPG

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BP's expert editorial team includes some of the city's top English-language journalists.