“La rentrée” is an institution peculiar to France. Straddling the first days of September, “the return” marks the moment when the country shudders back to life after a long and lazy summer. Students return to school and parents return to work. If the French year begins in September, the writer Stephen Clarke acerbically noted, it ends in May.
This year, however, early September also marks the surprising return of Emmanuel Macron. At first glance, this is not surprising: After all, he is still president and has two more years on his lease to the Elysee Palace. Instead, what is surprising — and deeply reassuring — is his return to life as a political presence in France and Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
“Is Paris burning?” Adolf Hitler, having ordered the leveling of Paris to a “pile of rubble,” supposedly kept asking that question in August 1944. Chief among the city’s marvels he wished to see in flames was Notre Dame de Paris.
The medieval cathedral, of course, was not burning. Intact, it instead welcomed Charles de Gaulle on Aug. 26, when the commander of the Free French forces and de facto president of France led a victory march from the Arc de Triomphe to Notre Dame. Greeted along the way by a mass of jubilant Parisians and the occasional sniper, the cortege filed into the cathedral to hear the “Te Deum.” The hymn was first performed at Notre Dame in 1467 to commemorate the eviction of the English from French soil — a celebration repeated every year until 1793, when leaders of the French Revolution decided that a cathedral was no place to praise the nation.… Seguir leyendo »