The iron hand has loosened its grip a bit, at least until the government finds a new excuse to trample civil liberties. More and more places are reopening, and Paris is again accessible to tourists, albeit not without numerous restrictions. It remains to be seen how long it will take for the tourists to return. Paris was breaking records for tourism before the Deadly Virus hysteria began. My intuition tells me that there are many potential visitors who can’t wait to return to Paris. But things have changed, and not for the better.
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Last Saturday, the Foire des Tuileries, a yearly summer carnival in the Tuileries Gardens (the park next to the Louvre), opened for its 2021 run. I haven’t been there in several years. It has the usual assortment of thrill rides, a big Ferris wheel, and lots of places selling food that is very tasty. I’ve never been a fan of rides, but the atmosphere is nice, and so is the food. Usually the same rides and concessions appear year after year. There’s a place that sells gyro sandwiches that I really like, plus some stands that sell decadent things like fruity granités (slushy drinks made of frozen fruit-flavored syrups), and fried donut holes and churros. The carnival is on Line 1 of the Métro, making it convenient for tourists. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go this year; we’ll see.
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After an incredible sixteen years of “renovation,” the La Samaritane department store has been reincarnated—in a different body, alas! La Samaritaine was one of the iconic grands magasins of Paris, along with Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché, and Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville, as well as the late Aux Trois Quartiers and La Belle Jardinière.
The slogan of Samaritaine used to be “On trouve tout à La Samaritaine” (“You can find everything at Samaritaine”), and this was very nearly true. It catered to the needs of everyday Parisians, in the days when everyday Parisians actually existed in significant numbers. It had great gardening and home improvement departments, and a huge selection of toys at Christmastime. But with increasing gentrification of the area, and everyday Parisians being replaced by absentee foreign millionaires with no need for washing machines or light bulbs, revenues dropped. For this reason, and also in part (supposedly) because of building-code issues with the ornate but aging Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings occupied by the store, it was closed nearly two decades ago, for renovation and repurposing.
Now it’s open again, but a bit like Aux Trois Quartiers, it has been diced and sliced and reworked so that its owner, luxury retailer LVMH, can make more money. In addition to a much smaller department store concentrating on the type of luxury trinkets that tourists prefer, it includes a boutique hotel, and I think also some offices and housing, and a day-care center (no doubt because the city insisted upon it). At least some of the original architecture has been restored; parts of the complex, at least, have historic landmark status.
Only a few days after it reopened, some external walls of the building were vandalized with graffiti, which aroused considerable public indignation.
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Discotheques and clubs have now been permitted to reopen by the Reich, after being closed for sixteen months. They reopened on Friday—or at least some of them did. Many have stayed closed, in part because of their anticipation of another wave of sweeping restrictions imposed by the Reich, and in part because of the draconian restrictions on how they operate that threaten to make them unprofitable.
And indeed, the dreaded “Delta” variant of the Deadly Virus seems to be producing a new surge in hysteria, just as baseless as its predecessors. Despite an even lower mortality than the standard virus, Big Brother is mumbling about mandatory vaccinations and extensions of the vaccination passport, as well as yet another prolongation of the perpetual state of emergency.
I'm not a clubber myself, but there are several clubs in my neighborhood, and I haven’t noticed any increase in traffic this weekend. I wonder how much business they are doing.
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The Eiffel Tower is set to reopen on the 16th, according to its web site. I only go there when accompanying visitors. The rules are a pain and the cost is too, at €26 per person—price increases have far outstripped inflation.
|Louvre in the old days|
Disneyland is open now, but a one-day ticket costs €116, and once again, you have to reserve a slot in advance, even with an Annual Pass—and those aren’t being sold yet, so who knows what they will cost? Although I’ve always been a strong Disneyphile, I’ll be forced to refrain for the foreseeable future. It’s no fun in a police state, anyway. I still have my memories of far better days.
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All in all, things are far from business as normal. Will they ever be normal again? Who knows? The future is extremely uncertain these days. Society is dominated by fear, intolerance, extreme attitudes and hysteria. I predict it will get worse before it gets better.