Strike, Le Jean Burnt, Sinead and Beaujolais

The big news of the week is the huge general strike in Paris that started (and continues as of this writing!) this week. It mostly involves the transportation workers but like most big strikes here, various other unions join the movement in solidarity.The train, bus and metro system were mostly shut down but a few of the lines were still running with very limited service; I love the term they use for this … “quasi-nul”. I wasn’t here for the last big daddy strike in 1995 but my impression is that people here are handling it pretty well. There are tons of bicycles on the streets and although I’m sure regular commuters are livid, those who take the metro from time to time actually seem in a better mood than normal, probably because of the ridiculousness of the situation. A few other unions are expected to join the strike this week so things could get worse before they get better. Every poll still shows that the majority of people here do not support the strike and want Sarkozy to continue to fight. This could get ugly.

Some terrible news this week … an iconic café (well, it’s only iconic to me and a few of my friends) burned this week. Le Jean Bart café along rue Saint Antoine in the Marais had its interior pretty badly charred.My first few years in Paris I lived just across from “The Bart” and spent many hours there people watching, wondering which government program the barely-functioning waiters were hired because of, and trying not to look too closely at my meals. “Le Jean Burnt” will be missed … by at least 3 or 4 people (5 max).

This week I shot the premiere of “My Blueberry Nights” starring Norah Jones (yes, the singer Norah Jones) as well as the return of Sinead O’Connor. Sinead looked quite different than the last time the world saw her but she still sounded terrific.I was also supposed to shoot Kanye West in concert so I took the massively cramped metro across Paris, walked a long way in the freezing cold and upon my arrival was told the management changed their minds and no photographers were allowed to shoot the show. You can imagine how happy I and the other photographers were. The only saving grace was I found the motivation to take an invigorating 35-minute bike ride on a Velib (the “free” city-wide bicycles) all the way home along the canal.

Beaujolais Day also happened this week in Paris. The annual event happens every third Thursday of November (the release date chosen by the French government) and wine stores, wine bars, and restaurants fete the arrival of Beaujolais nouveau, wine made of grapes that were still on the vine only three months earlier (thus the “nouveau”). I’m far from an expert but this year’s Beaujolais nouveau tastes better than past years, although it’s still far from great. For more on Beaujolais Day, check out this BBC article.

And for all of you that asked, yes, I’m feeling much better thank you.

A few photos of the week:

Bicyclists near Place St Michel during the strike
Beaujolais Day
Beaujolais Day

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