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At Home and In Paris

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Are They back…

Just when we were starting to think that we‘d gotten beyond the multiple manifestations on behalf of various causes and groups, three confinements due to the COVID-19, a wet winter and a wet spring, and Paris seems to be returning to something relatively close to normal, Saturday we began to detect signs that we were now back where we were before the pandemic. According to one source, our dear friends in the yellow vests -- the Gilets Jaune -- or perhaps more likely just some socio-political protesters have returned!

The day began with an unlikely trip to the fabric district, which happens to rest at the foot of the Sacré Coeur (yes, we were back to Montmartre once again). We needed to choose some cloth to reupholster the couch in the dining room, as our chairs were being returned from a similar rehabilitation some time at the end of the following week. It’s not that we‘d grown tired of the fabric covering the chairs or the couch, but one corner of the back of the couch had suffered a gash during our move from Los Angeles in 2016, one that was spreading as fast as the pandemic, and eight of Mickey’s favorite places to sleep are the dining room chairs, and it appears that he has kneaded the corners of each one to lull himself to sleep, very diligently tearing them to shreds.

I said to myself, it’s OK because after all, they’re 30-years old. But I really liked that fabric and would’ve rather kept it until the end of days if it hadn’t been for the fact that the chairs now looked like they had been Mickey’s most favored play toys for the last couple of years, and each one had simply been loved to death.

an immense four-story fabric store in Montmartre. We took the only road off the Place, and thirty Bouchon-filled minutes later we wound up right back where we’d started. We asked one gendarme qu’est-ce que c’est? She said that there was a manifestation (known to Americans as a demonstration).

I was reminded that we needed to check the news report for the day before leaving home to make certain we’d be informed of when and where the next manifestation was to take place, especially now that we're driving the streets of Paris. I was also reminded of the days in the ’80s in Israel when inflation was so high that one always checked the price of staples and milk first thing in the morning papers before doing the marketing because prices fluctuated so wildly, another type of socio-economic disturbance affecting everyday life.

So, we turned off the GPS and just followed all the other cars like lemmings to the sea, hoping to get down to Place de Clichy, a must if we were ever to get home. However, an hour later we had passed every cross street that might get us out of the maze and, you guessed it, we ended up back at our original position, blocked by even more police vehicles and gendarmerie at every possible turn. We asked a policeman how we could get to Place de Clichy, to which the answer was, “Desole Madame, c’est impossible”.

After one more go-round, we asked how long the manifestation was scheduled to continue, and we were told 18h was the plan. It was 15h now and although our car is a hybrid and we wouldn’t run out of fuel, we had a hunger and thirst not to mention other necessities that loomed large.

All of a sudden, we discovered one of the most coveted prizes in Paris: an open parking space, right across from an attractive Brasserie that bore the name of my favorite wine, Sancerre!

This was fate at its best, even if it was a space that I would never have been challenged to fit my car into in Los Angeles, but we were happily able to spend the next two-and-one-half hours enjoying a delicious repast, complete with beer, wine, and fine coffee, and great weather, too. The service was friendly and efficient and when we left, the way was clear. We zipped home tout de suite to our very cheerful cat, who rolled and stretched happily on the floor in the foyer, delighted with our many tummy rubs, our acts of redemption.

When we arrived home, we turned on the news and found that there had been a flag-waving crowd of ordinary left-wing protesters in 140 cities in France -- 70,000 people strong in Paris alone. They had dubbed it the 'March for Freedoms' against the threat of far-right policies. Someone had even showered Jean-Luc Melenchon with baking flour.

He is one of those pols likely to run against President Macron from the left in next year’s election. Apparently, it is a custom in France to demonstrate disrespect for a government official or candidate for office by dousing them with food. Clearly, the French are truly into their ‘vittles' in more ways than one!

This calamity with a happy ending reminded me of a time when Obama, or maybe one or the other Clinton, who was visiting the Westside of L.A. where there is a huge majority of Democrats and thus is a haven for fundraising events at campaign time, especially in the area where we lived and worked. I was away from home, across Wilshire Blvd. on an errand one day when I soon realized that I was caught up in road closure intended for security purposes. That day it took over three hours to return home from Westwood Village, only one mile from my home. I had to travel in a 'conga line' with all the other stranded motorists, zigging and zagging through small residential streets in an easterly direction, practically to Hollywood. Then we flowed South to Silverlake in order to travel back West at the same latitude where I had begun, and finally North on Westwood Blvd toward my home, just a few blocks to the East.

These experiences of protest and security reminded me that The Fourteenth of July, commonly known as Bastille Day, commemorating the beginning of the 1789 French Revolution with the storming of the prison know as The Bastille (now the site of the Paris Opera) and celebrating the birth of the First Republic of France.

The appearance of the Guillotine in the Place de Concorde, where both King Louis the 16th and Queen Marie Antoinette had lost their heads over a piece of ‘cake’, is a five minute walk from our home.If you have already read my book, you know the personal significance of this place in my early courtship and first trip to Paris with Ted. It is also the location of the formal festivities on the morning of July Fourteenth each year, my favorite holiday since we relocated to this country with so many centuries of such rich history.

In fact, speaking of history, today we visited Le Musée Carnavalet in Le Marais, the awesome municipal museum of the history of Paris, from the French Revolution onward. It has been closed for as long as I can remember to build a new installation (dedicated to the 20th Century) and a total renovation, an enormous project.

Just before the re-opening was to take place, Covid-19 attacked the city and the re-opening was postponed until the beginning of June this year. We had our first of what I hope will be many visits. But we did get a glimpse of some of the best of the various items related to the revolution, including a splendid painting of my favorite, the Place de Concorde, guillotine, and all!

Hmmmm? This has me thinking, a dangerous thing to do! Stay tuned for more next week.


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