Letter from Paris: October News Digest and More

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Letter from Paris: October News Digest and More

The big news this week in Paris? The city and three surrounding departments (Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne) have become “maximum alert zones” due to the rising number of cases of COVID-19. (The incidence rate is more than 250 cases per 100,000 people, and the proportion of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units is more than 30 percent.) New restrictions have thus come into force, including the closure of bars.

Restaurants are allowed to stay open, but with stricter sanitary protocols. Case in point: Once you’re seated at your table, you are required to fill out a personal information form to facilitate contact tracing (if it should become necessary). Additional regulations include the banning of gatherings of more than 10 people in public, the prohibition of amplified music in public areas, and the continued closure of gyms and swimming pools. Theaters and cinema are open with strict health measures in place.

Museums also remain open and there’s such a tempting array of exhibitions in Paris right now– from Banksy to Picasso. One of our favorites? Get a glimpse of Turner’s works from the Tate London, now on exhibit at the Musée Jacquemart-André, the jewel-box of a museum in the eighth arrondissement. (The tearoom alone is worth a trip- and oui, it’s still open during the pandemic.)

The talk of the town? The Gabrielle Chanel show at the Palais Galliera, the city’s fashion museum, newly reopened after a two-year closure for renovation. Stay tuned for an in-depth review in next week’s Bonjour Paris newsletter.

Speaking of fashion, Paris is in the full throes of fashion week as we write this. No one describes the event better than Vanessa Friedman in the recent New York Times article, “The Glorious Absurdity of Paris Fashion.” (Subheading: Balenciaga was great, Chanel was lumpy, and Thom Browne had spaceships.) Describing the “giant floating dachshund spaceship” that closed the Thom Browne show, Friedman writes:

“And it crystallized the absurdity of the whole exercise: of holding fashion month in the midst of a pandemic; of pressure by the French government (according to multiple sources) on fashion houses to go ahead as close to usual as possible, the better to support the hard-hit industry, despite the masks and social distancing and security measures put in place.”

{Gauche} Robe, automne-hiver 1964-1965. Paris, Palais Galliera. {Droite} Robe, printemps-été 1959. Paris, Patrimoine de CHANEL © Julien T. Hamon

Meanwhile, the city’s expats can’t stop talking trash about the new Netflix series Emily in Paris. Darren Star, the creator of Sex in the City, has created a glamorous fantasy version of Paris, in which a young American moves to Paris and endures the inevitable pitfalls and culture clashes.

Full of cliches and stereotypes, the show is dishing out some much-needed escapism to Paris-starved viewers (mostly in the U.S.) who are missing their jaunts to the City of Light. But— the critics say— the producers could’ve done so much more! Just check out the jokes on Twitter. Stay tuned for a full-fledged review soon on Bonjour Paris…

Lead photo credit : Photo by Pedro Szekely/ Flickr

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


  • Marcel
    2020-10-09 09:19:18
    Hi Evie, good for you. I totally agree. It is entertainment, people shouldn’t take It serious, enjoy the (larger than life) happy ending stories. The beautifull sceneries and music are a bonus.


  • Jeri Mack
    2020-10-08 11:24:16
    Jeri Mack
    Emily in Paris is a cute, although cliche , story. The scenery is beautiful, her clothes look like Carrie Bradshaw throwaways. Nobody wears stuff like that in Chicago of all places or for anyplace I’ve seen in Paris . That is the only real distraction. She’s a bit too ditzy to have completed grad school. That’s why no one takes her seriously. Worth watching for the scenery and the cute guys ! Maybe next season she’ll mature and wear real Paris fashions. That would be worth watching .


  • Evie Lillie
    2020-10-08 08:01:32
    Evie Lillie
    Loved Emily in Paris and couldn't care less what Parisians think of it! Lily Collins is a knockout and the city could not look better. Critics note this: at least she's trying. And, many of the mean spirited things are totally realistic. Most of all, remember people, it's a story. Fun fiction with beautiful background. It's not a documentary! Jeez, is anybody happy with anything these days? I found it absolutely enjoyable watching this girl trip through all things French. Great fun!


  • Patou Schneider
    2020-10-08 07:01:06
    Patou Schneider
    I rent our apt. in Paris for several weeks each year, know the city so well and have great friends there. We're supposed to return the end of this month but with Covid 19 and the restrictions imposed on U.S.-European travel waylaying those plans until the spring (j'espere!), I watched "Emily in Paris' with initial optimism; however, it's a disappoint, cliche-ridden series trafficking in the lamest and worst of clueless, bore-is American tropes. Darren Starr failed massively here. At least "Sex and the City', while completely unrealistic in its portrayal of life in the real NYC (and I live there), had its moments of real-ness and down to earth depictions of friendship, illness and heartbreak. "Emily" has none of that, and all the irritating nonsense that doses't depict la vrai Paris. While Carrie Bradshaw was a self-absorbed, annoying character, at least the other characters leveled her out. "Emily" doesn't even have that to redeem it-and we're stuck to watch Lily Collins portray a dopey young woman I'd go out of my way to avoid. A tres bientot, Paris!


  • Lynn Loring
    2020-10-08 06:21:15
    Lynn Loring
    Emily is an non sympathetic character to this woman who is way past 40. I think her unflinching upbeat innocence appeals to the non informed. One day in the future ,the constant selfies we are subject to will be deemed archaic. Although I could identify with many of her faux pas , such as not saying bonjour to the bakery employee ,and her one faux amie that I actually uttered one day, I understood her missteps as an insider but fear others in America won’t catch on. I’m glued, but more to see my beloved Paris beautifully filmed while waiting in Miami to live in my Paris apartment again.