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It’s still cold here in the evenings, but the temperature has been struggling up to 70 in the afternoons, and Tuesday through Thursday were actually sunny. Yesterday (Friday) was cloudy, and we’re in for a few rainy days. Spring is gradually arriving but I have never yet been tempted by short pants or a short sleeved shirt. I boldly went out yesterday afternoon without my jacket but I was cold.

On Tuesday I mostly blogged (you’re welcome!) and puttered around home. On Wednesday and Thursday the sun drew me outside but my hunger for art competed. I compromised on Wednesday by walking around galleries in the Marais, and on Thursday by walking across the city to see a show that was ending at the Musée Guimet, which focuses on Asiatic sculpture and art.

On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings I met two young men who I had first encountered on line; in one case we had been chatting on and off since 2016 and in the other our first conversation had been the previous evening. One guy had moved here from China for religious reasons and the other was just visiting for a few days from Thailand. Both meetings were warm and cozy, and it’s possible that we may meet up again later in my stay. I don’t have a racial preference for Asians, but I have found that we’re often compatible, perhaps because their culture calls for elders to be respected. By the way, one of these guys asked me to guess what it was about my online photo that made him want to meet me. I nailed it first try. Can you guess?

I’ll put up some art posts next, but here are a few glimpses of my wanderings these past few days.

Paris is suffering a plague of battery powered scooters (trottinettes) that you pay for online.

We had these scooters briefly in the Boston area but the city quickly banned them. Paris has finally woken up to the hazards and irritations of these devices and has taken a clever approach to the issue. They have required the ten different operators — Lime, Bird, Bolt, Jump, Wind, Tier, Hive, Dott, Voi and Flash/Circ — to sign a Charter of Good Conduct requiring that they not be ridden on the sidewalks, that they be parked only in designated areas, that there can be only one rider, and that riders must be adults. If these standards aren’t complied with over the next few weeks — which is certain — Paris plans to ban the scooters entirely. This is clever because it commits the companies to reasonable standards, then allows the city to seem less heavy handed when it eventually cracks down. I hope to be able to update this post before I leave at the end of June to report on the outcome.

Update, June 7, 2019: The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, just announced further restrictions on trottinettes, including a reduction of their maximum speed from 25 to 20 km/hr, a strict prohibition of riding them on sidewalks, and a plan to reduce the number of operators from twelve to two or three.

The careful reader will have noticed some discrepancies, which are explained below, based on an indispensible C-News article:

          • I had originally written Tire for a service actually called Tier.
          • Flash is changing its name to Circ.
          • Somehow I had overlooked the most recent service, UFO.
          • Last but not least, I had failed to understand that there are two completely unrelated trottinette operators, both called Bolt. One is operated by VTC Txfy and the other has recently been launched by none other than Usain Bolt himself.

If this all sounds like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, welcome to Paris in the spring of 2019! This can’t go on, and I think we’re on track for a pretty much total ban by the end of June.

Update, July 31, 2019: It took a bit longer than I expected, but trottinettes have now been banned entirely from sidewalks. Riding was always prohibited, but parking had heretofore been tolerated. No more! The little devils must now be parked in designated locations for car or bicycle parking. Of course this won’t happen, so they will start getting confiscated, which should rather quickly shut down the whole enterprise.

Update, August 27, 2019: Five of the twelve trottinette operators have left Paris: Bolt (the original one; Usain Bolt’s Bolt was forced to change its name to B-Mobility), Wind, Hove, UFO and Tier. Seven left, and counting: Lime, Bird, VOI, Circ, Dott, Jump and B-Mobility.

Speaking of plagues, the execrable building in this rendering has just gotten final approval:

Herzog & de Meuron’s Proposed Triangle Tower

The one mercy is that it will be tucked away in the 15ème arrondissement, where nobody (except me and my cousins) ever goes. Both the mayor and the court found (implausibly), that “the project is not likely to affect the neighborhood’s character or views.” There’s a reason, people, why the Tour de Montparnasse is one of the most hated buildings in Paris, and why there have been no skyscrapers in the city since 1973, when it was built.

On a lighter note, this street sign consoles us that the history of Paris is not so easily effaced. A “modern” sign has disappeared, leaving the rough outline at lower right. Most of the older sign, in light stone, remains, but the verdigris where they overlapped gives a glimpse of a still older sign. Layers and layers.

Here’s another street sign that’s packed with history:

Rue Vieille du Temple / Vieille rue du Temple

First off, the “modern” sign is itself quite old, indeed barely legible. What it says is also barely intelligible, “Road Old of the Temple.” The incised sign, far older, is still perfectly legible, and also more intelligible: “Old Road of the Temple.” But even when that sign was made the road was already “old,” implying that there was a newer road to the Temple, which in fact is the nearby « rue du Temple ». There’s no temple to be seen today, only a charming little park called the Square du Temple, in the haute Marais. The original Temple was the enormous, highly fortified feudal domain of the Kinghts Templar, extending through both the bas and haute Marais from just above rue de Rivoli/rue de Saint-Antoine to just below the Place de la République. The power of the Knights Templar rivaled that of the king himself, so in 1312 dozens of members were executed and the order was suppressed. To add one more layer of history, their temple in the Marais was itself known as the Villeneuve du Temple de Paris — the New City of the Temple — because it replaced an even earlier fortress near the present day Hôtel de Ville. Layers and layers and layers…

On my walk over to Musée Guimet on Thursday I started getting hungry around the Élysée Palace. Nearby places seemed stodgy but I saw two lively-looking young men with paper bags so I backtracked to find where they got them. It turned out to be a very popular Korean place, but their only meal was ground beef. Across the street, however, was a vegetarian place called Sisters (Soeurs), where I got this excellent salad.

Last but not least, the roses are blooming in the garden of the Palais Royal. More from there soon…