Archive for Champs-Elysées

“So President Emmanuel Macron of France called me on Thursday afternoon” [really?!]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2020 by xi'an

When I read this first sentence in The New York Times article by Ben Smith, I was a wee bit suprised as it sounded more Trumpian than Macronesque. Esp. when the article continued with the French president “having some bones to pick with the Anglo-American media”… As it transpired, it is factually correct, if giving an impression of the exact opposite of the right causality arrow. The Élysée palace indeed called back the NYT journalist after the latter asked for an interview a few days earlier and that Macron agreed to it. Beyond this misleading launch, the article is much more of an opinion piece (about Ben Smith’s opinions on French politics and secular principles) than an interview. Just like most principles, the rather specific core concept of “laïcité” (secularism) can be both debated ad nauseam and turned into political weapons for all positions on the political spectrum, from extreme-left to extreme-right. It is also almost invariably presented from abroad as an attack on the freedom of religion (and lack thereof), mostly against Muslims, and almost automatically mixed with institutional racism. The article actually goes all over the place, from attributing the uncovering of a pedophile writer to The Times journalists, to seeing Macron’s position as a theatrical posturing helping his own agenda for the next presidential elections. And while I readily concede the many woes of the French society, government, institutions, like police and justice, politics, &tc., I cannot but support an idea of a model that remains universalist and therefore secularist.

Daft Punk for Bastille Day [warning: some images may be distrumping!]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by xi'an

meet the president [of Tunisia]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2015 by xi'an

My trip to work was somewhat more eventful than usual this morning: as the queue to switch to the A train was too long for my taste, I exited the Chatelet station to grab a Vélib rental bike near Le Louvre and followed the Louvre palace for a few hundred meters, until reaching a police barricade that left the remainder of the Rivoli street empty, a surreal sight on a weekday! As it happened, Beji Caid Essebsi, the president of Tunisia was on a state visit to Paris and staying at the 5-star Hotel Meurice. And just about to leave the hotel. So I hanged out there for a few minutes and watched a caravan of official dark cars leave the place, preceded by police bikes in formal dress! The ride to Dauphine was not yet straightforward as the Champs-Elysées had been closed as well, since the president was attending a commemoration (for Tunisian soldiers who died in French wars?) at Arc de Triomphe. This created a mess for traffic in the surrounding streets. Especially with pedestrians escaping from stuck buses and crowding my sidewalks! And yet another surreal sight of the Place de l’Étoile with no car. (In this end, this initiative of mine took an extra 1/2 hour on my average transit time…)