Society

Emily Out Of Paris: French Quartier Is Sick Of Netflix Show

The first season of the Netflix show Emily in Paris was a boon for some businesses in the French capital's 5th arrondissement, where it takes place. But with production returning for Season Two, many local residents are exasperated.

Lily Collins and Philippine Leroy Beaulieu shooting the Emily in Paris TV show in Paris, France

Robin Richardot

PARIS — At the foot of the Pantheon, in Paris's 5th arrondissement, the trucks are back. A few steps away, the small and usually quiet Place de l'Estrapade is animated by the coming and going of cameras, projectors and costumes. All the hubbub is because of a project called "Charade." That's at least what the many posters hanging around the neighborhood explain, but that is in itself a charade — a cover to keep the paparazzi at bay.

The real story is that Emily is back in town. Emily in Paris, that is, the hit Netflix series that first aired in October 2020 and is currently shooting its second season. The recipient of two Golden Globe nominations, the show follows the adventures of a young woman from Chicago who moves to Paris. It's marked by just about every cliché in the book, starting with the scenery.

"The Place de l'Estrapade is quite cinematic in its architecture. Everything lends itself to this glamorous and Parisian atmosphere," says production manager Jérôme Albertini.

Since May 24, the production has occupied the premises (already used for the first season, in August 2019) a few days a month. And among residents, annoyance swells with each return trip.

Laurence, who is 50, has lived here for 37 years, between the restaurant Terra Nova and the bakery. Both establishments are used as backdrops for the series.

"There is no compensation for the inhabitants who can no longer park, nor go out or return home freely," says Laurence. One evening, at the beginning of July, she had the misfortune of taking a souvenir photo with her phone. "A guy came up to me, demanded that I delete the photo and even took my phone to confirm the total deletion of this unfortunate picture," she says.

With Emily in Paris, we discovered the arrogance of blockbusters.

In June, her husband was simply looking for parking. With seven streets in the neighborhood and part of the Pantheon square closed off, he expressed his displeasure to a member of the production. "If you're not happy, you can go live in the provinces," he was told.

Virginie, a pharmacist a few blocks away, is equally fed up with Emily in Paris. She talks about problems with the production team because she is "not allowed to walk on their sidewalk." One evening, she and her husband were on their way to dine with friends at the Place de l'Estrapade when they were stopped.

"They didn't want to believe us," she explains. "Finally, a security guard escorted us to the door to check that we were going to the right place."

Lily Collins on the set of Emily in Paris — Photo: Official Emily in Paris Instagram Account: @EmilyinParis

Laurence says that people here are used to the presence of film crews. "But with Emily in Paris, we discovered the arrogance of blockbusters. Because they pay the shopkeepers and the parking, they think they have bought the whole neighborhood."

Recently, this area of the 5th arrondissement also became the set of La Page Blanche, an adaptation of the comic strip by Boulet and Pénélope Bagieu. "But they're at least more discreet than the American productions," says Stéphane, a hairdresser on rue de l'Estrapade.

Neverthless, Albertini, the Emily in Paris production manager, says no complaint has reached him, though he does recognize the inconvenience caused by the parking.

It is above all the shopkeepers who are the most satisfied.

"We would consider paying the parking for the residents to compensate them," he says. So far, though, the producers have made no effort to do so. As far as relations with the arrondissement's city hall, everything is also going well. And it's true that some residents find the filming "amusing" and are even pleased that it "gives life to the neighborhood."

But it is above all the shopkeepers who are the most satisfied. Tonka, a baker whose establishment appears in the series, understands that residents are frustrated, but doesn't hide the fact that it's been good for business. "I make my usual turnover thanks to the production's compensation without having to produce a single baguette," she says.

The bakery also benefits from the free marketing. Tonka still can't believe it: "It's unimaginable how many people it brought in. I don't know how much I would have had to spend to get such worldwide publicity."

It's the same situation a few feet away, at the restaurant Terra Nova, a key location renamed "Les Deux Compères" in the series. A new, young and trendy clientele has shown up on the establishment's red benches. Terra Nova has even added an "Emily menu" as a nod to the show.

Many are already looking forward to the release of Season 2. In October 2020, hundreds of Emily in Paris fans crowded Place de l'Estrapade to take pictures of the filming locations. They returned again this summer.

Maëlys, a 14-year-old living in Créteil, a suburb, is there to take pictures. Her mother Nérysa says, "She is a fan, we came just for that."

The teenager is a little disappointed not to have seen the star of the series, Lily Collins. This was her last opportunity to witness the shooting, which officially wrapped up on July 30. For the local residents, it didn't come a moment too soon.

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Economy

Merkel's Legacy: The Rise And Stall Of The German Economy

How have 16 years of Chancellor Angela Merkel changed Germany? The Chancellor accompanied the country's rise to near economic superpower status — and then progress stalled. On technology and beyond, Germany needs real reforms under Merkel's successor.

Chancellor Angela Merkel looks at the presentation of the current 2 Euro commemorative coin ''Brandenburg''

Daniel Eckert

BERLIN — Germans are doing better than ever. By many standards, the economy broke records during the reign of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel: private households' financial assets have climbed to a peak; the number of jobs recorded a historic high before the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020; the GDP — the sum of all goods and services produced in a period — also reached an all-time high.

And still, while the economic balance sheet of Merkel's 16 years is outstanding if taken at face value, on closer inspection one thing catches the eye: against the backdrop of globalization, Europe's largest economy no longer has the clout it had at the beginning of the century. Germany has fallen behind in key sectors that will shape the future of the world, and even the competitiveness of its manufacturing industries shows unmistakable signs of fatigue.

In 2004, a year before Merkel was first elected Chancellor, the British magazine The Economist branded Germany the "sick man of Europe." Ironically, the previous government, a coalition of center-left and green parties, had already laid the foundations for recovery with some reforms. Facing the threat of high unemployment, unions had held back on wage demands.

"Up until the Covid-19 crisis, Germany had achieved strong economic growth with both high and low unemployment," says Michael Holstein, chief economist at DZ Bank. However, it never made important decisions for its future.

Another economist, Jens Südekum of Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, offers a different perspective: "Angela Merkel profited greatly from the preparatory work of her predecessor. This is particularly true regarding the extreme wage restraint practiced in Germany in the early 2000s."

Above all, Germany was helped in the first half of the Merkel era by global economic upheaval. Between the turn of the millennium and the 2011-2012 debt crisis, emerging countries, led by China, experienced unprecedented growth. With many German companies specializing in manufacturing industrial machines and systems, the rise of rapidly industrializing countries was a boon for the country's economy.

Germany dismissed Google as an over-hyped tech company.

Digital competitiveness, on the other hand, was not a big problem in 2005 when Merkel became chancellor. Google went public the year before, but was dismissed as an over-hyped tech company in Germany. Apple's iPhone was not due to hit the market until 2007, then quickly achieved cult status and ushered in a new phase of the global economy.

Germany struggled with the digital economy, partly because of the slow expansion of internet infrastructure in the country. Regulation, lengthy start-up processes and in some cases high taxation contributed to how the former economic wonderland became marginalized in some of the most innovative sectors of the 21st century.

Volkswagen's press plant in Zwickau, Germany — Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa/ZUMA

"When it comes to digitization today, Germany has a lot of catching up to do with the relevant infrastructure, such as the expansion of fiber optics, but also with digital administration," says Stefan Kooths, Director of the Economic and Growth Research Center at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).

For a long time now, the country has made no adjustments to its pension system to ward off the imminent demographic problems caused by an increasingly aging population. "The social security system is not future-proof," says Kooths. The most recent changes have come at the expense of future generations and taxpayers, the economist says.

Low euro exchange rates favored German exports

Nevertheless, things seemed to go well for the German economy at the start of the Merkel era. In part, this can be explained by the economic downturn caused by the euro debt crisis of 2011-2012. Unlike in the previous decade, the low euro exchange rate favored German exports and made money flow into German coffers. And since then-European Central Bank president Mario Draghi's decision to save the euro "whatever it takes" in 2012, this money has become cheaper and cheaper.

In the long run, these factors inflated the prices of real estate and other sectors but failed to contribute to the future viability of the country. "With the financial crisis and the national debt crisis that followed, economic policy got into crisis mode, and it never emerged from it again," says DZ chief economist Holstein. Policy, he explains, was geared towards countering crises and maintaining the status quo. "The goal of remaining competitive fell to the background, as did issues concerning the future."

In the traditional field of manufacturing, the situation deteriorated significantly. The Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft (IW), which regularly measures and compares the competitiveness of industries in different countries, recently concluded that German companies have lost many of the advantages they had gained. The high level of productivity, which used to be one of the country's strengths, faltered in the years before the pandemic.

Kooths, of IfW Kiel, points out that private investment in the German economy has declined in recent years, while the "government quota" in the economy, which describes the amount of government expenditure against the GDP, grew significantly during Merkel's tenure, from 43.5% in 2005 to 46.5% in 2019. Kooths concludes that: "Overall, the state's influence on economic activity has increased significantly."

Another very crucial aspect of competitiveness, at least from the point of view of skilled workers and companies, has been neglected by German politics for years: taxes and social contributions. The country has among the highest taxes on income in Europe, and corporate taxes are also hardly as high as in Germany anywhere in the industrialized world. "In the long run, high tax rates always come at the expense of economic dynamism and can even prevent new companies from being set up," warns Kooths.

Startups can renew an economy and lay the foundation for future prosperity. Between the year 2000 and the Covid-19 crisis, fewer and fewer new companies were created every year. Economists from left to right are unanimous: Angela Merkel is leaving behind a country with considerable need for reform.

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