In the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Antony Private Hospital south of Paris, no bed stays free for long and medics wonder when their workload will finally peak.
As one recovered elderly patient is being wheeled out of the ward, smiling weakly, boss Jean-Pierre Deyme is on the phone arranging the next arrival and calling out instructions to staff.
Louisa Pinto, a nurse of nearly 20 years’ experience, gestures to the vacated room where a cleaner is already at work, scrubbing down the mattress for the next arrival.
“The bed won’t even have time to cool down,” she says as the patient monitoring system beeps constantly in the background.
For now, everything is stable in the 20-odd beds around her where COVID-19 victims lie inanimate, in a silent battle with the virus.
Paris is going through a third wave of the pandemic which risks putting even more strain on saturated hospitals than the first wave in March and April last year.
“With what’s coming in April, it’s going to be very complicated,” says Pinto, a mother of three who hasn’t had a holiday since last summer and like other staff will be cancelling a planned break this month [ . . . ]
Doesn’t matter if you’ve been before or if you’re a first-timer – the South of France is one place that’s guaranteed to be an easy yes when it comes to deciding where to holiday. The beautiful beaches, amazing food and plethora of cute little French villages to pop into only serve to add more to the appeal of this sunny part of France (or indeed, to the envy of your friends visiting these beautiful French towns and cities).
So it’s decided! You definitely want to visit the South of France this summer. Now that we can take that for granted – the next question is, where to visit. It’s not like you can just visit ‘The South of France” – that’s like attempting to booking plane tickets to “Asia” – you need to be a tad more specific!
To help you along your merry way, here are 10 places you need to visit in the South of France.
Avignon is a city steeped in rich religious history and with the requisite stunning architecture that you’d come to expect from such a place. There was a time in the middle ages when this charming city was the centre of western Christendom.
No fewer than six papal conclaves were held in the breathtaking (UNESCO World Heritage) Palace of the Popes in the 14th century, and this building still has fascinating little relics from this time, such as the invaluable gothic frescoes on the walls of the papal apartments.
Essentially, if you want a city break that’s filled with amazing sights to see and perhaps aren’t too bothered by catching some rays on the beach, then Avignon is perfect for you!
Oh, almost forgot to add – the magnificent ruins of Pont Saint-Bénézet (also known as the Pont d’Avignon) pokes out across the Rhône and is also a UNESCO World Heritage sight worth seeing in the city. Shift down a gear and browse the arty walled town, take a cruise on the river, and see if you can come for the Theatre Festival in July when the city becomes one giant stage. Continue reading “10 Amazing Places To Visit In The South Of France – Hand Luggage Only”→
It was so cool to run into this gypsy jazz quartet performing at Place aux Herbes, in Uzès last July. In this video recorded from my iPhone, the Uzès guys (never caught their name so let’s call them The Uzèsniacs ) are masterfully strumming “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” in that beautiful jazz manouche style.
Apologies -my cell battery sadly dies in the middle of a great guitar solo. Mert!
“I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” is an American jazz standard attributed to the Tin Pan Alley team of Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics) in 1928. Fats Waller and Una Mae Carlisle recorded my favorite version of the song, and there are jazz scholars who maintain that it was actually Waller who wrote the song and sold it to McHugh and Fields for $500. Mert, encore!
The song “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” is also famously featured in the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938) with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The Uzèsniacs probably learned the song from this wonderful 1936 version from Django Reinhardt et le Quintette du Hot Club de France ( listen below)
Shakespeare and Company has weathered many storms, but the pandemic has been the most devastating of them all.
For over a century the legendary bookstore Shakespeare and Company has beamed out from the Left Bank of Paris like a lighthouse of literature.
The former 16th-century monastery on Rue de la Bûcherie, and its previous site not far away at 12 Rue de l’Odéon, has been a home away from home for the Lost Generation in the 1920s and the Beatnik generation in the 1950s, a publisher and reading resource for the likes of James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, and shelter for the estimated 30,000 “tumbleweeds”—young writers and enthusiasts allowed to stay for free—over the years.
But the economic disaster wrought by the coronavirus pandemic has hit independent bookstores in France, including this timeless Anglophone institution, hard. Deemed “non-essential” by the government even during the country’s second lockdown, they were forced to close to in-person customers, while commerce for online behemoths like Amazon has soared. Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo herself warned city-goers: “Don’t buy on Amazon. Amazon is the death of our bookshops and our neighborhood life.”
When the pandemic lifts, all good Americans will want to go back to Paris.
As Cole Porter’s song says, “I love Paris in the springtime. I love Paris in the fall. I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles. I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.” I suspect most people do. And with the prospect next year of being able to visit again this glorious city, which Ernest Hemingway famously called, “a moveable feast,” I am already thinking about all I want to see and all I want eat.
I’ve been visiting Paris since I was in college, though I never lived there for an extended period of time, so that I have been able to pull back from its charms and discover them anew whenever I go back. The obvious appeal of the best-known tourists sites—the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Versailles, Notre Dame—can be seen in mere days, but the city’s beauty, breadth and depth are what Thomas Jefferson said about the city: “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” Continue reading “Why Oh Why Do I Love Paris?”→
From well-known spots like the Palais-Royal to museums like L’Atelier des Lumières, here are 10 “Emily in Paris” filming locations you can visit in real life.
If you’ve watched Emily in Paris, the new Netflix show about a young marketing executive from Chicago who moves to Paris to bring an American perspective to a French marketing firm, you likely have a few thoughts about it. Love it or hate it, there’s one thing we can probably all agree on: The setting is absolutely stunning.
Glamorous shots over the Seine and scenes set in iconic locales reaffirm my personal belief that Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We’ve rounded up some of the filming locations depicted in Emily in Paris, so you can walk in Emily’s footsteps during your next trip to the city — or just daydream about the City of Lights.
1. Pont Alexandre III
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES/500PX
In a city full of picturesque bridges, Pont Alexandre III stands out as one of the most beautiful. Savoir, the French marketing firm where Emily works, films a perfume advertisement here with their client, Maison Lavaux. With an ornate design and views of the Grand Palais and Eiffel Tower, it’s a truly stunning place to walk.
2. Jardin du Palais-Royal
CREDIT: COURTESY OF NETFLIX
The beautifully landscaped grounds of a 17th-century palace called the Palais-Royal (now government buildings) are where Emily meets her new friend, Mindy, a nanny living in Paris, during her lunch break. It’s located in the center of Paris, just steps from the Louvre, making it the perfect place to stop while touring the city.
3. L’Atelier des Lumières
CREDIT: COURTESY OF NETFLIX
Emily joins her neighbor (and love interest), Gabriel, and his girlfriend, Camille, on a visit to L’Atelier des Lumières, an abandoned factory-turned-art space. The innovative experience opened in 2018, and right now, visitors can be completely immersed in the works of Renoir, Chagall, and Monet during the “Journeys Around the Mediterranean” exhibition.
4. Palais Garnier
CREDIT: SYLVAIN SONNET/GETTY IMAGES
With an Audrey Hepburn-inspired look, Emily visits the Palais Garnier for a showing of “Swan Lake.” The truly impressive opera house was built in the 1800s, and today, it’s probably most famous as the setting for “The Phantom of the Opera.”