Sour notes for Macron from striking Paris Opera musicians

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a compromise between his government and unions over plans to change the pension system that have led to sustained strikes — including from Paris Opera musicians who staged a street concert in rebellion.

PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a compromise between his government and unions over plans to change the pension system that have led to sustained strikes — including from Paris Opera musicians who staged a street concert in rebellion.

In a spirited, makeshift performance, Paris Opera musicians played excerpts Tuesday from “Carmen” and “Romeo and Juliet” on the front steps of the Opera Bastille, which served as a dramatic reminder of the rocky start to 2020 that awaits Macron.

Tuesday marked the 27th consecutive day of transport strikes. The Versailles Palace, usually a huge tourist draw, said it was closed Tuesday because of strikes, too.

In his televised New Year’s address, Macron said the pension overhaul “will be carried out” but called on his government to “find the path of a quick compromise” as negotiations with unions resume in early January.

Seeking to ease tensions, he suggested people with painful work will be allowed early retirement.

Yet Macron stayed firm on the principles of the reform, including its most decried measure: raising the eligibility age for full pensions from 62 to 64. He insisted that the new system will be fairer and financially sustainable.

“My only compass is our country’s interest,” he said.

Musicians who have put down their instruments since open-ended strikes started Dec. 5 reveled in the chance to play for the crowd that gathered to hear them on Paris’ Place de la Bastille, the site of an infamous prison stormed by a revolutionary mob on July 14, 1789, and then demolished.

“We’re all at the bottom of a deep hole being unable to play since Dec. 5,” said violinist Emilie Belaud.

But, she added, orchestra members are determined to hold firm. The Paris Opera has had to cancel all its scheduled ballets and operas since Dec. 5 — 63 performances in all.

“If the government persists in being stubborn and refusing to negotiate in good conditions, we’ll carry on,” Belaud vowed.

The crowd chanted for the abandonment of the retirement overhaul. They also cried, “We’re united! General strike!”

Macron wants to unify France’s 42 different pension plans into a single one, giving all workers the same general rights. [ . . . ]

Source: Sour notes for Macron from striking Paris Opera musicians

Hiking the Calanques: Port Pin and d’En-Vau 

This hike is probably the most popular and most accessible hike in the Calanques region, visiting the two closest inlets to Cassis. The first at Port Pin is relatively easy for non-hikers and families with small children. The second inlet at d’En-Vau is a bit more work with a slippery, rocky trail. Both very beautiful and give you a good taste of the region. This area is also very crowded, so expect full trails and lots of people crammed into the small beaches.Note: In summer, this area is often closed to hikers for fire risk. Check the trail status here the day before your visit. Sometimes they close the trail after a certain number of guests enter the park, so best to go early or visit in early spring or late fall. [ . . . ]

Source: Hiking the Calanques: Port Pin and d’En-Vau • Swiss Family Fun

How the Moulin Rouge Became the Most Famous Cabaret in the World  

One hundred and thirty years ago on October 6, 1889, the Moulin Rouge opened, and Paris hasn’t been the same since.

It’s made dances and dancers famous, been extensively depicted in art — paintings, films, music — more than any other cabaret, and brought smiles to the faces of the tens of millions who have passed through its doors. The Moulin Rouge boasts an international reputation, a rich history, and top-notch performances; how did it become the most famous cabaret in the world?

The Moulin Rouge began with an audacious bet that it would become “the palace of dance and women” that was “more luxurious, bigger and more elegant” than any other location at the time. Success came fast thanks to a dance that debuted on opening night: the French cancan, previously known as the quadrille. Revolutionary movements, screams, boisterous rhythms decorated by frills and flowing skirts that were scandalously lifted to show the young dancers’ legs — and their underwear. Continue reading “How the Moulin Rouge Became the Most Famous Cabaret in the World  “

Paris mayor troubled by new Olympic sponsor Airbnb, vows referendum on home-sharing firm

The IOC signed up Airbnb as an Olympic sponsor sparking concerns from 2024 host city Paris that the home-sharing company is contributing to the rising cost of rents in the French capital.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has been at odds with Airbnb in recent years, set out her issues with the platform to IOC President Thomas Bach last week after news of the sponsorship leaked.

Hidalgo wrote to Bach to “alert him of the risks and consequences” of the International Olympic Committee deal, Paris city hall told The Associated Press.

At the Airbnb sponsorship announcement on Monday morning, Bach was asked about criticism of Airbnb, including pricing people out of cities.

“It is quite normal that such a disruptive business then needs to settle and needs regulation,” Bach said, before details of the Paris complaint were known. “This is happening in a dialogue with Airbnb and cities and countries.”

Paris took legal action against the platform this year in a bid to have the company fined €12.5 million for allowing owners to rent their properties without having them properly registered.

In her letter, Hidalgo expressed her “absolute determination to make sure regulations relating to rental platforms are reinforced” [ . . . ]

Continue at: Paris mayor troubled by new Olympic sponsor Airbnb, vows referendum on home-sharing firm