Down underneath Paris, in the Hauts de Seine, there’s a botanical garden called the Vallée-aux-Loups. There are no actual wolves, but there are a zillion different trees, and a bonsai collection (closed to the public due to covid restrictions right now), and the house of the writer François-René de Chateaubriand, now a museum.
While Chateaubriand’s house is currently closed, you can visit it in 3D here if you so wish. Chateaubriand saw himself as “the greatest lover, the greatest writer, and the greatest philosopher of his age” – I think we’ve all known dudes like that. (Confession: “Atala” is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read forever, but never getting around to. One day. One day I’ll do it.)
I must admit that for me, the trees were the main attraction. I went here this morning with a friend I hadn’t seen in a very long time, and with her son. This week she told me she’d never been hiking in her life and wanted to try, so we pencilled in a hike for Sunday. The weather forecast disagreed and warned us that there was a storm due around 3pm, but before 3pm would be glorious sunshine and intense heat. So we picked this garden instead.
We walked happily around the gardens telling each other gossip about people the other person didn’t know (“but you DO know him! He worked at that bar for ages!” “No, but I didn’t ever go to that bar, so I haven’t actually met him.” “Well never mind, anyway, he has a kid now!!” “…Yay!”) and catching up on life and making frantic plans for after-covid, which still isn’t quite a thing, but it’s on its way.
So many sentences these days start “When Covid is over” and there’s now a concrete plan for covid to be over: museums, theatres, cinemas, and outside seating in bars and restaurants reopen on 19th May with the curfew being pushed back to 9pm that day too; gyms and whole restaurants reopen on 9th June, with the curfew going to 11pm; and on the 30th June the curfew is lifted entirely. This is not due so much to the figures (our death rate hasn’t shifted much since November, honestly) as to the fact that the economy needs to be kickstarted, and that everyone is pretty much bored with covid now, at least that’s the way it seems. I don’t know how this is going to go. But it’s going to go.
In personal news: well, nothing really happens during the Covid Era to me, nothing I can blog about anyway. I switched out my Coke Zero addiction to those San Pellegrinos with fruit juice to see if I would feel healthier and it would make me sleep better; so far I feel exactly the same, but I suppose it’s nice to have a change. The cat and I fight a lot. I went to some of those outdoor exhibitions in the middle of Paris because my brain was starved for it.
And I saw some pretty trees and plants with a friend that I like a lot, and caught up on her life, and this kind of thing does make you feel like a human being again, even when during the week it’s just work-at-the-computer-in-your-living-room all day until the work day is over and the curfew arrives, when it becomes sit-in-your-living-room-alone-with-cat with a book or a movie or a videocall with someone or a course (I am supposed to be studying in this time; I am not particularly assiduous, and have exams coming up), which is a very restricted version of life. [chateaubriand enlightened philosopher voice] “We have BECOME the shadows on the wall of the cave” etc.
The 19th May is a very exciting date to me.