Letter from Paris: January 12, 2022 News Digest
Christmas has come and gone, and now Parisians are emptying their apartments of their sapins de Noël. Rather than getting kicked to the curb, these trees are getting a new life… as mulch for Paris gardens. The city has set up collection points in each arrondissement where you can recycle your tree. Chopped up and spread at the foot of flowerbeds and on garden paths, this Christmas-tree mulch helps limit the evaporation of water and promote the development of underground micro-organisms which improve soil life. The figures for the 2020/2021 campaign show 121,146 trees recovered from 170 collection points, i.e. around 2,400 m3 of shredded material. To find the collection point nearest to you, check out the map on the city’s website here.
It’s Molière’s 400th birthday and French theater is feting one of its giants. After all, the works of this famous 17th-century playwright are how most school children in France first learn about drama. A recent Guardian article explains how in Paris, “the Comédie-Française is celebrating the 17th-century dramatist by recreating Tartuffe, the play that outraged the Catholic church and almost ended his career.” The first version of Tartuffe caused such a firestorm that the playwright had to rewrite it (brilliantly so). Now the Comédie-Française is bringing back the original, after tremendous detective work piecing together contemporary sources since the 1664 play as it was first written didn’t survive. Read the full article here.
The pandemic situation continues to be aggravated by the exponential rise of Covid cases, with the Omicron variant the dominant strain. On Monday the number of hospitalizations rose to 22,749, the biggest increase since April 2021. The highest point in France was on November 16, 2020, with 33,466 occupied beds. Prime Minister Jean Castex spoke on Monday about trying to ease the extensive lines at pharmacies for doing Covid tests. To quote France 24: “French schoolchildren will be allowed to do self-tests instead of a PCR test if one of their classmates tests positive for coronavirus, as a surge in Covid-19 infections has made the health protocol in the education sector too heavy… From now on, three negative self-tests instead of a PCR test will be enough proof for a child to continue to attend school.”
Mourners recently gathered in Paris at the funeral of the eccentric Bogdanoff twins, the unvaccinated TV personalities who died from COVID at the age of 72. A larger number gathered across France on Saturday to protest the proposed vaccine pass- a total of 105,200 people, according to the Interior Ministry. And the ongoing Paris terrorist trial was suspended because the main suspect in the November 2015 Islamist attacks, Salah Abdeslam, had gotten sick of COVID. Now that he’s recovered, the trial is expected to resume.
The Louvre, the world’s most popular museum, has suffered the worst attendance rates in decades because of the pandemic crisis. According to the Art Newspaper, “The Musée du Louvre welcomed only 2.8 million visitors last year, less than 30% of its pre-Covid record levels when it received around 10 million. The Louvre has not seen such low figures since 1986, before the opening of the glass pyramid and the Grand Louvre project which steadily boosted attendance over the past four decades.” The majority of these visitors were French, with most hailing from the Paris region. Before the pandemic, Americans constituted 20% of visitors, followed by Chinese (8- 10%). Now Americans are down to 6% and there are almost no visitors from Asia. As a result of the lower attendance, revenues fell by €80m in 2021 compared with 2019, though the government provided a safety net through its generous recovery plan.
If you’ve just finished watching season 2 of “Emily in Paris,” you may be interested to learn that the Netflix hit starring Lily Collins has been renewed for seasons 3 and 4. According to the Hollywood Reporter, “the supersized renewal arrives two and a half weeks after the sophomore season returned. Netflix, which does not release traditional viewership data, says the new season topped its global top 10 list in 94 countries with 107.6 million hours viewed in its first five days. Season one, which ranked as its most-viewed comedy of 2020, topped the same list across 53 countries.”
And if you love fashion, check out the street style worn in Paris in this Vogue article about the new year’s best boots. The higher, the better.
Lead photo credit : The Louvre Museum © Tomas Williams, Unsplash