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What's New in Paris (2016)

Vill'Up at La Cité des Sciences

Vill'Up shopping mall at La Cité des Sciences

(December 3, 2016) When visiting La Cité des Sciences you might want to take a look at the new leisure-cum-shopping complex called Vill'Up which was open on November 30, 2016. The entrance to the mall itself is to the left as you head for the main entrance to La Cité des Sciences. But if you are already inside La Cité there is no need for you to come out again. You can enter it from La Cité des Enfants end.
Among the shops and restaurants there are Marks & Spencer, Cultura and Indiana Café. It is open 7 days a week from 10h00 to 20h00 (the restaurants and cinema stay open till 01h00).
Want to have the sensation of parachuting (picture below)? You will be able to do so here at the iFly center at the end of the mall. But be prepared to pay from 50 to 60 euros for the experience. Cost and reservation from their website here. The minimum age requirement is 5 years.
Parachuting in a tube at iFly at Vill'Up

Goodbye Calais, Hello Paris!

Migrants camping at Stalingrad/Avenue de Flandre in Paris

(October 30, 2016) Over two thousand migrants are now camping in squalid conditions at the Stalingrad/Avenue de Flandre area in the 19th district of Paris, a number of them admitting to have come from Calais. (Above picture was taken near the entrance to the Stalingrad metro station on October 29, 2016.)
Actually what you see in the picture above does not reflect the really scandalous situation some 200-300m away along Avenue de Flandre (from the Rotonde de la Villette to 50 Avenue de Flandre near the Riquet metro station). There, in the wide alley-like path right in the middle of the broad avenue, you can walk for a full 500m among crowded pop-up tents of all sizes, colours and shapes in very unsanitary conditions (video here). Paris is likely to become the next "Calais Jungle" if such a situation is allowed to deteriorate.
Though it is not an avenue frequented by tourists, Avenue de Flandre is within walking distance of La Cité des Sciences and La Gare du Nord.
(Updated November 6, 2016) All the tents have been demolished. Things are back to normal at Stalingrad and along Avenue de Flandre now.

Eye-catching Russian church near the Eiffel Tower

Eye-catching Russian church near the Eiffel Tower

The new Russian Orthodox cathedral called La Cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité (Holy Trinity Cathedral) was inaugurated on October 19, 2016. It stands at the junction between Avenue Rapp and Quai Branly and is a short distance from the Eiffel Tower. The cathedral, funded by Kremlin at a cost of more than 100 million euros, also houses a cultural centre and a school. The complex is legally part of the Russian embassy in France.
Above picture was taken from Pont de l'Alma on October 25, 2016.

"My daughter was frozen like an ice cube," says mother. Parisians feel the chill as swimming pools get colder to save City Hall money.

Frozen like an ice cube!  Parisians feel the chill as swimming pools get colder to save City Hall money.

In a bid to save energy and money Paris City Hall has decided to lower the temperature of its swimming pools and the locals are feeling the chill. Earlier this month (October 2016) the temperature in the main municipal pools (excluding the pools for beginners) was dropped from 27°C to 26°C. More here...
(Updated October 23, 2016) Paris City Hall said it has listened to the public and decided to reverse the above decision from October 21, 2016. So the temperature in swimming pools is now back to 27°C. Good call, Paris!

Paris without cars for a day
The Champs Elysees taken over by cyclists, roller-bladers and pedestrians

The Champs Elysees and much of the rest of Paris were taken over by cyclists, joggers, roller-bladers and pedestrians on Sunday 25 September 2016 as it was the "Journée sans voiture" (Day without cars). This is the second year that the Paris City Hall has undertaken such an event and it is likely to become a yearly affair. (Above picture was taken along the Champs Elysees on 25 September 2016.)

Open-air swimming at La Villette. A taste of things to come?
Swimming at Bassin de la Villette in Paris

While waiting for Paris City Hall's authorisation to allow public swimming on the basin at La Villette (some say it could come about in the summer of 2017) swimming fans could only watch well-trained swimmers participate in the 1.25km, 3km and 5km races along the Bassin de la Villette on Sunday 28 August 2016. Among those who took part were Marc-Antoine Olivier, who won the bronze medal in the men's 10km marathon swim in open-water at the Rio Olympics and Aurelie Muller, who came out second in the women's section of the same event but was later disqualified on technical grounds.
The organizers had earlier announced that the public would be allowed to swim in the basin after the three races were over but it was called off at the last minute. (Above picture was taken on 28 August 2016.)

The Place de la Republique is back to its former self
The Place de la Republique is clean again

(14 August 2016) The graffiti, drawings, posters, flowers and candles that have swamped the makeshift memorial for the victims of numerous terrorist attacks in France around the statue of Marianne at the Place de la Republique are there no more. The statue, which is the focal point at the Place de la Republique is now back to its former "clean" self after meticulous cleaning-up operations by Paris City Hall during which time it was closed to the public.
It all started with the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks on 7 January 2015 when overnight the Place de la Republique became the central point for people to gather and pay their respects to the victims. This was followed by a series of carnage (click for more) carried out almost simultaneously at Bataclan and a few pubs on 13 November the same year.

La Canopée at the Forum des Halles
La Canopee at the Forum des Halles in Paris

La Canopée (The Canopy) at the Forum des Halles, a stone's throw from the Pompidou Center, was inaugurated on April 5, 2016 after nearly six years of restructuration. Conspicuous with its undulating roof, it was designed by architects Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti. Photo (above) shows Le Patio at Level -3. The escalator here leads to the Nelson Mandela garden (which will only be ready in 2018) and the new Médiatheque de la Canopée (municipal library) on the street level.

Earlier page on "What's New in Paris" can be found here.