Letter from Paris: September 20, 2023 News Digest

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Letter from Paris: September 20, 2023 News Digest

The city recently inaugurated the Théâtre de la Ville— now called Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt — after seven years of restoration work. The theater was originally opened in 1862 along with its twin Théâtre du Châtelet. The city is marking the centennial of the great actress’ death with a special exhibit at the Petit Palais; Bernhardt directed the Théâtre de la Ville for more than 20 years at the beginning of the 20th century, and performed classics there, like L’Aiglon. The theater closed in 2016 for an anticipated three-year renovation which stretched longer. Since the inauguration on September 9, the Place du Châtelet has offered free dance shows, performances and hip-hop competitions.

King Charles III and Queen Camilla will arrive in Paris today for an official state visit. The program for the royal couple will start at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, on the Champs-Élysées, for the ceremony to rekindle the eternal flame. The anthems God save the King and La Marseillaise will be played by the Republican Guard before the flyover of the Patrouille de France. Other stops will include a meeting at the Élysée Palace, Notre-Dame, the Natural History Museum, not to mention an epic dinner feast in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.

Work on Notre-Dame cathedral continues on track, even as teams mourn the loss of General Jean-Louis Georgelin who had been overseeing the project. (He died in an accident in the Pyrenees last month.) The new chief of the project, Philippe Jost, has said that the spire will rise again before the Summer Olympics 2024. Last weekend for European Heritage Days, the parvis in front of Notre-Dame was converted into an artisans’ village to show off the different trades involved in the restoration. Visitors could watch carpenters, artists and sculptors, and learn about their work.

Cranes hoist the oak trusses onto the cathedral roof. Photo credit: David Bordes © Rebâtir Notre-Dame de Paris

Speaking of the Olympics, the bouquinistes— riverside booksellers— are fighting the city’s decision to temporarily dismantle their stalls during the Games, because of security reasons. In a world first, the opening ceremony will feature a Parade of Nations on boats on the River Seine, instead of in a stadium. NPR reports on the 230 booksellers who are carrying on a nearly 400-year-old tradition next to the river. If they are forced to close, they could lose up to four months of business during the best, busiest months of the year.

The bouquinistes of Paris. Photo credit: Peter Olson

A man was arrested after parachuting off the Eiffel Tower a few weeks ago. As reported by France24, “The man, an experienced climber, entered the tower’s perimeter shortly after 5.00 am, well before its official opening. He was quickly detected by guards, according to the site’s operator Sete, but still managed to get to the top before anybody could stop him, carrying the parachute in a backpack. Once he got near the top of the 330-metre-high structure, he jumped. The man landed in a nearby stadium where he was arrested for endangering the lives of others, police said.”

Remember when we mentioned the blockbuster exhibit “Ramses & the Gold of the Pharaohs” at the Grande Halle de la Villette? Featuring treasures of Ancient Egypt, the exhibit closed its doors on September 10 with remarkable attendance figures: it welcomed 817,036 visitors since its opening on April 7, 2023. The masterpieces on display were found in the tombs of the pharaohs, and included animal mummies, statues, sarcophagi, royal masks, jewels, amulets, and the coffin of Ramses II, made of Lebanese cedar. Sixty of these artifacts traveled from Egypt for the very first time.

Paris is home to Europe’s largest cooling network, a system that uses water from the Seine River for cooling water stations that then pump cooled water through pipes to buildings, instead of air conditioning units. As reported by Reuters, “the city of Paris plans to expand [this] urban cooling system … as it seeks to meet rising demand for air conditioning while curbing carbon emission.” Sites like the Grand Palais are hooked up to this network. “Plans are to develop the system in southern parts of the city, as well as extend it to hospitals, day care centers and retirement homes…” with a goal “to triple the network to about 250 km (155 miles) by 2042.”

Seine River in Nogent-sur-Seine, seen from the Saint-Edme bridge. © Cjp24/ Wikimedia Commons

House & Garden recently published an article about “four dreamy Paris houses that will make you want to move there.” To quote: “The buildings are iconic and as lovely inside as out, with parquet flooring and corniced ceilings. The floors creak in that perfect French manner, the ceiling height is generous and the windows far from the UPVC that dominates here.” Looking for some more real estate inspiration? Bonjour Paris publishes a number of apartment and home property listings here.

Lead photo credit : Theater de la Ville Place du Chatelet, Paris, France. © Wikimedia Commons/ Pliny

More in Bouquinistes in Paris, egypt, Eiffel Tower, house & garden, La Villette, News, Notre Dame cathedral, Olympics, Seine, Théâtre de la Ville, Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt

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