“The book is a refuge”: in bookstores, the surge in sales and the solidarity of customers

After two catastrophic months, the book economy experienced an unexpected rebound with deconfinement. But faced with the uncertainties to come, publishers could bet everything on safe values

Like a Christmas in the middle of summer! Here is the image which returns in the mouth of the booksellers. After two catastrophic months (according to the Bookstore Observatory, between mid-March and mid-May, sales fell by 95% compared to 2019), the book economy experienced an unexpected rebound with deconfinement: + 19.6% from May 11 to July 19 compared to 2019. “An excellent surprise”, rejoices Xavier Moni, president of the Syndicate of the French bookstore. Continue reading ““The book is a refuge”: in bookstores, the surge in sales and the solidarity of customers”

Opinion | I’ve eaten at restaurants, gone to a mall and attended concerts. That is life in France

It’s time to follow Europe.

Timothy Searchinger is a research scholar at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs

Over the past six weeks, I’ve eaten out at restaurants five times, attended two concerts, visited a large, busy indoor mall three times, had two haircuts, and repeatedly watched school kids run around the schoolyard. But that’s all been responsible behavior — because instead of being locked down in my house in the D.C. area, I’ve been in France, where life and the economy are now carrying on close to normal.

What France, like virtually all of Europe, has shown is that following standard expert recommendations for dealing with covid-19 works. France had a massive outbreak of covid-19 in the spring, almost as soon as anyone realized the novel coronavirus had reached Europe. The deaths began occurring late March and reached more than 24,000 by the end of April — a higher death rate than even the United States at the time.

But while the outbreak occurred primarily in only two parts of France, French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a severe, nationwide lockdown on March 16. And during that lockdown, the government put extensive testing and contact tracing in place. Almost exactly two months later, France mostly reopened. And for the last two and a half months, the country has functioned in a primarily open status with around 500 new cases per day and only about 450 deaths in the last month.

The French lockdown was severe. People were only allowed out, after filling out a form, to take care of elderly relatives or to go grocery shopping. To buffer the economic impact, the government directly paid a portion of salaries for those who could not work. And, voila, it worked.

I’m in France because I was farsighted enough to marry a French woman 30 years ago, who was farsighted enough to save our marriage license, which let me fly to France with her in early June to visit her elderly parents even as other Americans are barred. For two weeks, we kept to ourselves, speaking to my in-laws only across a garden. With an easy-to-get doctor’s prescription, we were also able to get tested for covid-19 at a parking lot drive-up with no wait and received (negative) results in two days (now down to one day for others).

Continue reading “Opinion | I’ve eaten at restaurants, gone to a mall and attended concerts. That is life in France”

Big Tech needs to step up. But instead we get “Mwa-Mwa-Mwa”

By Michael Stevenson, aka Monsieur Pas de Merde

The chief executive officers of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook sat before congress yesterday. Four white guys with unimaginable wealth. I wanted congress to inform them of the new “Big Tech Patriot Emergency Relief Bill” – informing them that, TFN, all their profits after 1 Billion will now be taxed at 99.5 percent. That revenue stream would EASILY replace the expiring Covid Relief package that we all pay for. But instead of my “Big Tech Patriot Emergency Relief Bill” – these creeps just blathered on like the teacher in Peanuts cartoons. Cue the trombone: “Mwa-Mwa-Mwa”

Makeshift patios take over Paris streets in virus summer

Paris (AFP) – At his cafe under the shadow of the Paris district of Montmartre, Guillaume Dubois shows off the brightly painted wooden pallets enclosing a quickly built patio that he says has transformed business in the summer of the coronavirus.

Following a loosening of regulations by city hall, customers at the Sunset cafe are now spread out on tables and chairs across three parallel parking spaces, in a scene repeated throughout Paris.

“It completely changes the face of Paris,” said Dubois, adding that it helped propel a surge in sales last month, when the city’s bar and restaurants were allowed to reopen after 92 days of COVID-19 lockdown.

With the general scientific consensus that it is much harder to catch the virus outdoors than inside, cafe-goers are more at ease on the street in the summer sunshine.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo eased outdoor seating limits so owners could lure virus-wary clients, and commandeered hundreds of parking spots for additional seating.

Hammers soon rang across the city as plywood platforms were cobbled together over uneven roads, with delivery pallets serving as “walls” to offer a sense of security from drivers who are often just an arms’ length away.

“It’s a little ragtag, but it reminds me of the beach and paddle boats — you feel as if the entire city is on vacation,” said Roxane, 50, enjoying her coffee at the Sunset.

While some owners stick with the rough look of raw wood, many others have added splashes of colour and installed plants or small trees and other decorations.

As a result, pallets that usually languish behind stores or warehouses are being put to new use — some restaurants have even reported having their newly installed structures stolen.

“Everyone is scrambling to get hold of them,” said Momo, whose Taverne 28 is a few streets away from the Sunset in the 18th Arrondissement.

He said he enlisted a friend in the construction business to get the 10 pallets he covered the French national colours of red, white and blue. Continue reading “Makeshift patios take over Paris streets in virus summer”

Coronavirus: which parts of France are seeing more cases?

Health authorities in France are warning of a “worrying development” of the coronavirus, as new clusters are reported across the country, and the crucial “R” transmission rate rises above 2 in Brittany, and 1 elsewhere.

Health minister Olivier Véran has said that there are “small signs” that the virus is returning in Paris, as health authority l’Agence Régionale de Santé (ARS) of Nouvelle-Aquitaine issued its own warning about a rise in cases in the region. Continue reading “Coronavirus: which parts of France are seeing more cases?”

French cheesemaker accidentally creates new ‘lockdown’ cheese

A French cheesemaker has created a new type of cheese after he forgot about items stored in his cellar during the lockdown.

Lockdown has been difficult for many of France’s artisan cheesemakers as sales collapsed when markets, restaurants and workplace canteen throughout the country closed down.

One cheesemaker in the Vosges area was left with many unsold munster cheeses on his hands, so he stored some in the cellar and forgot about them.

But when Lionel Vaxelaire, who owns 25 cows and converts all their milk into the strong-smelling, soft white munster cheese, rediscovered his cheeses, he found something interesting.

They had developed a greenish-grey flowery rind and a completely new flavour.

He told local French news: “We left about 60 munsters at the bottom of the cellar. We even forgot about them a bit. After a month of maturing, we tasted one that had new flavours!

“It lies between our Munster and a Camembert type. It’s chalky inside, with a greyish, mottled flowery rind. It took all the flora of our whole raw milk and the flora of the cellar.
Continue reading “French cheesemaker accidentally creates new ‘lockdown’ cheese”