French word of the day: Le Pari (15/2/2024)

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Mid-february in Paris and that means school holidays, whoo…hoo!? Yes, we’ve barely taken down those Christmas decorations and it is already time for the kids to have winter break. (No wonder those school PISA scores in France were so bad.)

Anyway, there is no help for it, if you are a Parisian parent, you are going to have share that romantic Valentine’s day with overly-excited kids who are not in school.

But the good news is if you are going for a romantic walk along the Seine river, those bouquinists are still going to be there!

Yes, we are talking about those little bookshops along the Seine that are oh-so-charming in a tradition dating back to the 19th century.

The bouquinistes were supposed to evicted for security reasons during the upcoming Paris Olympics, so we are rather happy to announce that they are still going to be there.

To backtrack a bit, the Opening ceremony and Closing ceremonies of the Paris Olympics are supposed to take place along the Seine river. If you are wondering where you’ve heard of that idea before, it is because the a portion of the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony was held along the Thames river, and this is Paris’s attempt to do even better.

But obviously there are a few problems, the biggest among them being security. London is littered with CCTV cameras and they only held one ceremony on the river. (Plus the English are less like to chop off people’s heads over inconveniences, unlike the French public.)

The Paris organizing committee insists there is no Plan B, but you can already start to see a few bets (le pari = bet in French) being hedged. The initial hope in Paris was for over 2 million spectators and that has now been reduced to around 300k, with further changes possible.

But a more important question arose over the weekend: if people go en masse to their friends’ apartments along the Seine to water to watch the big show, are all those 19th century balconies going to be able to carry people’s weight?

To be clear, those beautiful Haussmanian buildings that Paris is so famous for, don’t exactly adhere to today’s building standards. And how can you ban people from visiting their friends?

Amidst all this squabbling and disagreement, Jupiter, aka President Macron has at least settled the bouquinistes debate by announcing the bouquinistes may stay, come hell or high water.

And the opening ceremony on the Seine? I’m the cautious type, I don’t think I would place a bet either way. (By the way, anyone manage to score a ticket?)

In other news:

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