And Now for the Bright Side

It’s no secret that global stress levels are reaching unhealthy heights in these 48 hours or so of the countdown to Election Day in America. So, to help us all relax a bit, smile on one another and breathe deeply, here are a few notes about good things happening in La Capitale… 

Item – Now you just wait your turn, Harry and Meghan. The baby everyone is cooing and dying to cuddle at this moment (but not a chance, there are guards watching her 24/7) is Java, daughter of Theodora and Banngi, two Borneo orangutans who were already a photogenic couple popular with the papparazzi at Le Jardin des Plantes. Mother and daughter are evidently doing very well!

Le bébé orang-outan va bientôt fêter sa première semaine / © F-G Grandin MNHN


Item – Bucking the dismal trend of disappearing bookstores, a dazzling new emporium dedicated to nos chers bouquins has just opened on the bustling but anything-but-trendy Boulevard des Poissonnieres. Launched by Anne-Laure Vial and Delphine Bouétard, seasoned book managers formerly with Virgin on the Champs d’Elysees, ‘Ici’ fills over 500 brightly lit sq meters on two levels with books of all kinds, a sweet central café, papers and cards, and modular space for readings, children’s activities and other events. My favorite table is the one displaying the staff’s favorite titles: not only new releases but also classics one might have missed. A trove. It’s enough to make a baby orangutan want to learn her abcs!


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Item – So here it is November, and shivery cold, and dark is seeping early into the windy half-deserted streets, and maybe it seems like no one knows your name… in other words, you have a bad case of the Sunday blues. The cure, my friend, believe it or not, waits for you in church. To be specific, in one of the many beautiful large and small churches in Paris that offer Sunday afternoon classical chamber concerts and recitals, often for free. (A contribution for the artists is appreciated). The quality ranges from competent to amazing. Today I found six concerts listed, and took a pew in the church of St. Louis-en-Ile, where the young counter-tenor Mathieu Salama presented a program of Handel and Vivaldi, accompanied by clavicord, viola and bass. The rapt audience of young and old insisted on an encore, then filed out smiling. There’s that which heals the soul… 






  1. Lovely, lovely, lovely. What a wonderful post. Thank you. I’m avoiding the news as much as possible here in America, so this was perfect. The bookstore looks to be the perfect place to sit and watch books or people. My favorite place in Paris is sitting in semi-darkness and gazing at the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. But I’d probably like the new bookstore, too. j.

    1. Thanks, Janet. Are you in the States for long? Forever? Yes, for me too another visit to Cluny will be needed soon.

  2. Karen Chalfen · · Reply

    Ahhhh. A refreshing note indeed. My Sunday afternoon stress reliever was a lovely walk along Boston’s waterfront, where the gold, orange and purples of my favorite season and the bright blue sky and water fill me with pleasure. So it was not cold here today, though it will be dark an hour earlier because of the time change. You may remember, though, that November is my favorite month, despite the crazy politics. Did not know that bookstores were disappearing in Paris, as they have been for some time in Boston. The one you describe sounds like a perfect winter retreat.

  3. Wonderful post. For setting a tone, possibly the best ever.

  4. And now we can go back to holding our breath.

  5. margot livesey · · Reply

    Thank you for light on a dark day….

  6. Good news all, Maristed.
    I’ve made a mental note of the bookstore on Blvd Poissonière… for next summer. I do miss the Virgin store on les Champs. Took out the main reason left to stroll down. 🙂
    And… well, the House has been recuperated. Checks and balances again. That is – very – good news.
    Bon week-end my friend.
    Couvre-toi bien.

    1. Brian! How good to hear from you. Of course, the Champs are no place to be these these days.

      1. Hi my dear. So many places are no place to be these days, it is becoming a bit of a concern. Let’s see what happens. Bon week-end.

      2. I’ll be witnessing from Paris next weekend. Some things need to be captured at the moment, without hindsight.

      3. True. I think nobody knows what will happen. Don’t witness from too close. The last bouts were a tad too violent for my taste. Be safe.

  7. What a breath of fresh air this was! I spent almost 10 days in Paris and Normandy in September, thanks to a kind invitation from a friend. I’m now completely smitten with the Norman countryside — very little news from the outside and delicious food at every turn. Truly a soul-healing place to be.

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