Sneakers, Scooters, and Bicycles: Pedestrians in Paris Beware!

The Fashion Capital of the world has gone mainstream casual. While the Paris Fashion Week runway may still be haute couture—despite the reappearance of clunky, chunky throwback boots—the street scene is anything but. Gone are dressy work shoes and spiked heels. Dressing down seems to be the rage. Whether or not COVID hibernation is to blame, I don’t know, but even the older ladies and gents of a certain age are sporting sneakers (baskets in French).

Imagine those well-heeled 19th century folks time-traveling to Paris today. They would be aghast. Shorts and sneakers and jeans are in. As the weather cools, out will come the leggings, perhaps a skirt or two, but I bet sneakers will still prevail. Store window displays—normally the creative expression of high style—are full of the ordinary as well as shimmering, sequined sneaks, and splashes of color. Whether sparkling or plain, sneakers are the new street footwear, and stores are heeding the call. If you like to lèche vitrine (window shop), don’t be surprised at the new shoe presentations.

Even when American women were wearing jogging shoes and sneakers to work, the French femmes were holding out. Not any more. It was one of the first changes I noticed when I arrived in Paris after the two-year COVID traveling hiatus.

What would Coco say? As a woman who defied norms, she’d probably approve of the practicality.

Now, even if you are meandering the streets of Paris in those practical, rubber-soled shoes, be on the lookout for scooter speed demons of all ages and stoplight cutting bicyclists. With COVID restrictions in place last year, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, altered many of the roads, eliminating car lanes, reducing the speed limit, and creating bike paths in an attempt to transform the city into an eco metropolis.

As a bicycle rider, I applaud that. But many of the roads and roundabouts create directional confusion, and as a pedestrian I worry about being trampled when crossing streets. The crazies are out in force. And they think they own the roads.

Even when I was riding my rented bicycle along the road with the flow of bikes, I worried someone might smash into me when I stopped at a red light.  Faites attention (pay attention) when biking or scooting along the quays also. Auto prohibition notwithstanding, maneuvering on a wheeled vehicle around oblivious pedestrians can be a bit nerve racking especially on the weekends.

So, if you plan to visit Paris and wander, I urge caution. Keep your eyes open and check all directions before stepping off the curb. To read more about the developments, check out Liz Alderman’s excellent article in the New York Times:

Final Dream Wrapped Up: Christo’s L’Arc de Triomphe

Shimmering silver and bounded by red recyclable rope, Christo’s and Jean-Claude’s last project drew throngs of visitors on opening weekend. With the Champs-Elysées closed to vehicle traffic and security guards and police carefully monitoring comings and goings, the L’Arc de Triomphe-Wrapped–unveiled officially on September 18–is the fruition of a sixty-year-old dream. A monumental dream.

Covid be damned, everyone who viewed the masterpiece was in a celebratory mood, masked and unmasked, freely mingling about under a hazy sunlit sky, enjoying the mild weather. Someone was handing out woven sample swatches of the wrapping—metallic silver on one side, bright aqua blue on the other. A few people dressed in costume. Most were content to circle the monument and snap photos with sheer delight.

Imagine the material and preparation and engineering: approximately 270,000 square feet of blue-backed silver polypropylene, nearly 10,000 feet of the same plastic red cording, and a structural support of steel slabs weighing 150 pounds so as not to harm the arch’s friezes. It was approved by the France’s Center of Monuments Nationaux and supervised by Christo’s and Jeanne-Claude’s nephew Vladimir Yavachev. According to Roger Cohen in his New York Times article, “Building the cages whose steel bars pass an inch or two from the outstretched hand or foot of a frieze or a funereal relief was painstaking. So was rappelling down to work under the overhangs of the cornice. In all, 1,200 people labored on the wrapping.”

The Arc stands at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, now nicknamed—on an amusingly plastic-wrapped sign—Place Christo & Jean-Claude. Seen from the twelve roads that radiate from the Place, this imposing monument is a natural tourist site with a 360-degree view of Paris atop its observation deck.

Originally commissioned in 1806 by Emperor Napoléon to glorify France’s Grande Armée’s victories of 1792, this colossal and neoclassical arch—was thirty years in the making. Napoléon did not live to see its completion. It was erected fifteen years after his death.

Since then, the Arc has been witness to history: Among many highlights, in 1885, mourners passed by to view Victor Hugo in his coffin; returning WWI French soldiers marched beneath it; Nazi soldiers stomped through it during their WWII Occupation; French and US Military paraded around it in victory, in 1944. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier lies beneath it, and each night the eternal flame is lit in remembrance.

This posthumously completed dream—36 years after the couple wrapped the Pont Neuf, Paris’s oldest bridge—is a fitting memorial to the life and work Christo and Jeanne-Claude. As they planned, the wrapping moves sensually in the wind and reflects light. I wonder what Napoléon would have thought of it. Like life, it’s fleeting in nature, and will be dismantled on October 3rd.

L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, Paris, 1961-2021.
On View: September 18-October 3

Massena Museum in Nice, France


Massena MuseumMassena Museum, Nice, France 

Housed in a stately, 19th century villa on the promenade des Anglais overlooking the Mediterranean, the Massena Museum —the façades and roofs of which are classified by French Historic Monument Association—offers visitors a viewing of Empire Age salons and furnishings, tranquil English-style Gardens, and temporary exhibits, such as its current photography exhibit, Jean Gilletta et la Cote d’Azur, paysages et reportages, 1870-1930.


As the primary and inexhaustible landscape photographer of the Riveria, Gilletta documented its art and culture, commercialism, and tourism. According to Gilletta’s great nephew, “…nothing escaped his lens,” as he captured a time in flux, casting that lens on the modest and humble as well as the privileged. On construction sites, railways, and bridges. On market vendors, washerwomen, presidents and princes. He recorded rural life and the high life of Nice and Monaco among other sites. From fashionable spa towns, olive groves, and snow-covered mountain peaks to the 1887 earthquake, he was an exemplary reporter and witness for his times.

A 19th century Cartier-Bresson, Gillette preserved those times–forever gone or transformed–through at least 10,000 photos as he tooled around the Cote d’Azur on his three-wheeled, motorized bike—an example of which is on exhibit. In addition to snapping photos, he was also a prolific publisher of postcards and books.

Massena Museum Cut out photo 2The delightful exhibit opens with head cutouts of peasants of the day. Go ahead, stick your head though the opening slot and journey back in time. (I did; Noel was less enthusiastic.) The guards will take your photos. The balance of the exhibit holds numerous original photo prints of people at play and work along the seaside and in the country. The photographs are small and require time and close-up inspection, but to get a sense of the larger exhibit, the designers have created life-size impressions projected on the walls in each room recreating the ambience in which Gilletta worked. In addition to the photos, there’s a three-wheeled, motorized bike that Gilletta tooled around the Cote d’Azur setting his sights on images to snap. A large box camera he used is also on view.

The show recalls an insouciant time along the Cote d’Azur through five principle themes: Nice the resort capital of France, Nissa la Bella (Nice the Beautiful–the city’s unofficial anthem. Listen on YouTube:, By the Mountains and the Valleys, Under the Azure along the Coast, and The News in Pictures.

The exhibit closes March 5, 2018.

The Museum’s permanent collection displays the history of Nice from the 19th century up to the end of 1930s. Highlights include Napoléon’s death mask and Josephine’s tiara with its glittery gemstones, gold, and pearls.

Massena Museum view from window

Practical Info

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-6, winter; 10-6, summer.

Closed Tuesdays and certain holidays

Tickets: 6 Euros or buy a 7-day pass for 20 Euros (Access to all 12 municipal museums and galleries for 7 days in Nice)

Location: 65, rue de France (ticket entrance)

Goodbye Iceland

Goodbye Iceland

Goodbye to fiery sunsets. Goodbye to grazing sheep, gorgeous horses, and glacial waterfalls. Goodbye to volcanic ash and rocky terrain. Goodbye to black-pebbled sandy beach, geothermal energy, and blue ice. Goodbye to hiking and biking and trekking unstable ground. Goodbye to delicious seafood and icy drink-from-the tap glacial water. Goodbye to deep crevices, gleaming glaciers, and Mother Nature’s barren beauty. Read more ›

Park City, Utah

Comfortable and Cozy, Old Town Guesthouse is the Best Bed & Breakfast in Park City! Owner Deb Lovci is awesome and makes you feel at home any time of the year.

Dinner at Vinto with Josh. Always consistently good Italian and reasonable.

London to Go

London to Go

Regents Park in London in full bloom on recent sunny Sunday afternoon. Roses were overflowing with color. Geese accepted handouts though the signs cautioned, “don’t overfeed.” Swans glided through green muck. Surprised they didn’t get stuck. Poor swans. Though they seemed intent upon slurping the nasty stuff, I say clean up the green slime. Kids romped on the grounds and paddle-boaters gently churned the waters. A Jewish Music Festival was in full swing while Jews for Jesus passed out pamphlets at the periphery. A wondrous day to be out.

Borough Market London

Seemed all of London was wandering the market stalls here Saturday. Giant chocolate chip cookies, buckets of tempting olives, and colorful produce along with and homemade ice cream and other delights. The chocolate milk shake was worth the trip. #London

Dublin Fun City


Having arrived hungry after typically inedible United Airline meal service (though our flight was good) and, therefore, much in need of sustenance and good coffee, Noel and I unloaded our bags at the delightful Westbury Hotel, and raced out for a good brunch at Bewley’s Café (

I savored tomato basil soup and soda bread while Noel sipped seafood chowder, claiming it “the best I’ve ever had.” One pint of Guinness for him and a strong café latte for me prepared us for our afternoon exploration around the city.

A few highlights:

First up: Irish Historical Walking Tours ( Owner Tommy Graham’s regaled us with humor and history in and around Trinity College, including Old Parliament House, City Hall, Dublin Castle, Wood Quay, and Christ Church Cathedral among others. I easily give him a five star rating.

Tommy suggested chicken wings at Elephant & Castle ( Not being fans, we opted for dinner there instead, and were quite pleased with our crab cake appetizers and shrimp pasta. A pint of O’Hara stout for Noel, of course.

If you go…

Take in an evening’s performance at Gate’s Theater. We saw Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, and the actors were easy to understand.

Go on the Literary Pub Crawl in and around Temple Bar—Hint: Listen carefully to the actors as they drop clues. There’s a quiz at the end, with a prize t-shirt. And as the winner on our Crawl–yes, the winner!–I’m the proud owner of that T. Photo link:(

Admire the wealth of writers the Irish claim at the Writers Museum.

Browse Chapter’s Bookstore, but don’t go on the self-guided James Joyce walking tour. I’d never do that again. The tiny audio chips the size of USB ports had a minute screen–impossible to see, and the button to manipulate the audio was not user friendly. We gave up after the first stop at the Joyce Center, and returned the equipment after the first recording. On the upside, I noticed that they were carrying Five Hundred Buildings of Paris—one copy on the shelf, and they asked me to sign it.  So all not lost.

Wander over to the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (a few doors down from the Writers Museum) to take in whatever contemporary show they may have. Most importantly, Do Not Miss the re-creation of artist Francis Bacon’s Studio. And I thought I worked in a mess! Hah. I don’t even come close. It is a sight to behold.

Meander through the Portobello neighborhood, once home to a thriving Jewish population and stop in at the two-story townhouse that was a synagogue, and now is the Irish Jewish Museum (

Finish off any day with a pint at Parnell Heritage Pub, wherewe both had smoked salmon—delicate and delicious on brown soda bread, or sip one at JW Sweetman’s Craft Brewery and enjoy a savory a cheese platter snack.

You’re never far from a pint or a bit of Irish music. The choices are endless: The Duke, M.J. O’Neill’s, Quay’s, Old Strand, Davy Byrnes, above which Becket once had a room.

No wonder the Irish are the friendliest people I’ve encountered just about anywhere I’ve traipsed around the globe.


Francis Bacon Art Studio


Happy at Parnell’s Heritage Pub


I didn’t drink it all. Really.


James Joyce Center


Outside The Duke.