The D&O Diary is on assignment this week in Europe, with the first stop in the French capital city of Paris. I have been to Paris many times before, and in all kinds of weather. I have been in Paris in the snow, in the rain, and in the sunshine. However, I have never seen Paris as we experienced it over the past few days. We enjoyed a string of sunny, warm, clear, pleasant, summery days — the best word I can think of to describe the weather we enjoyed in Paris is “magical.”

The primary purpose of my Paris visit was to participate as a speaker at the Liberty Mutual’s Financial Lines Excellence (FLEX) Institute, held in the company’s offices just off of the Champs-Élysées. The attendees at the event were Liberty Mutual underwriters from the company’s offices around the world — Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, as well as the U.S., Bermuda, and Canada. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak to the audience, to answer their many questions, and to discuss the D&O insurance market conditions around the world. It was also a pleasure for me to meet so many enthusiastic readers of The D&O Diary. I would like to thank James Areago, Michael Berardino, Sam Adamson and their colleagues for inviting me to be a part of this event.

A group picture, after my presentation. It was a lot of fun to meet so many young, enthusiastic underwriters from around the world.
Here’s a picture with my hosts (the event organizers): Samuel Adamson, Emma Pearce, Carolina Carmona, me, James Areago, Michael Berardino, and Caroline Ridge.

With Elsa Diaz DeCastro of the Liberty Mutual Puerto Rico office.


With Tom Leahy, the Financial Lines Global Product Leader for Liberty Mutual

My wife and I arrived in Paris a few days in advance of the conference, so we had a good opportunity to enjoy being in the city — and to enjoy the beautiful weather. We have seen many of the city’s most famous attractions on prior visits, so we tried to spend our time exploring new places. Just the same, there are certain Parisian places which, though familiar, we had to visit again, if only just to check in.

The first place we had to visit upon our arrival was Notre-Dame (pictured above), which is still recovering from the April 2019 fire. The church structure is surrounded by an impressive array of scaffolding and construction equipment. The workers appear to have made a great deal of progress; unfortunately, it also appears that the restoration will not be completed, as had been hoped, for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

We also had to visit one of our favorite places in Paris, the Jardin du Luxembourg (pictured above). Our hotel was just steps away from the entrance to the gardens, and we wound up spending quite a bit of time in the gardens during our Paris visit. We even picnicked in the gardens, as reflected in the pictures below.

Another familiar place we visited is the hilltop neighborhood of Montmartre, north of the central city. In the beautifully clear conditions that prevailed while we were in Paris, the views from the steps of the Sacré-Cœur basilica, located at the top of the Butte- Montmartre, were spectacular (as reflected in the first picture, below). The crowds of tourists right around the church were pretty daunting; but further away from the church steps, we were able to see some of the neighborhood’s more interesting sights.

The view from the steps of Sacré-Coeur
In Jehan-Rictus Square, just steps away from the Abbesses metro stop, is the “I Love You Wall” (Le Mur des Je t’aime). The wall features the words “I Love You” in 311 languages. The wall is a favored site for visitors seeking to connect with Paris’s romantic image. While we were there, a bachelorette party appeared and posed for pictures with the wall as a backdrop. I suspect the ladies were not entirely sober.
On the North side of the Butte-Montmartre, away from the tourist-clogged streets around Sacré-Coeur, is one of the last remaining vineyards in Paris, Le Clos de Montmartre. It is quite a surprising sight to see the vines among the congested city streets.
There were once as many as 30 windmills on Butte-Montmartre, but now only a few remain, and the last remaining functioning windmill is le Moulin Blute-fin, more popularly known as le Moulin de la Galette. The windmill figured in paintings of many of the impressionist era painters, perhaps most famously in Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette.
A decorated bicycle in front of a macaron shop on Rue Lepic, in Montmartre.
Montmartre’s more famous windmill, Moulin Rouge

On Sunday, we ranged a little further abroad; we visited the historically working-class neighborhood of Belleville, an area that has become increasingly trendy. Our main objective there was to see some of the famous street art in the area, and also to see the famous view of Paris from the Parc de Belleville.

The most well-known street art area within Belleville is along the Rue Denoyez, a cobble-stoned pedestrianized street lined with artistic expressions of various kinds. As this picture reflects, there are some interesting works, but, at least in my opinion, all too much of the figuration amounts little more than graffiti.
The view from the Parc de Belleville did not disappoint. It is a perspective on the city that you don’t often see. (That is the tip of the Eiffel Tower on the right side of the image.)

After making it to the top of the hill in the Parc de Belleville, we walked down the hill’s far-side to the east, to look for a place to have lunch. We chanced to find a very pleasant restaurant call Le Vieux Belleville, which serves tasty food and has outdoor seating. Unknown to us, the place also features live traditional French bistro music, including audience sing-alongs and even dancing. The musicians, the happy singing people, and the dancers were all clearly locals who had chosen to spend their sunny Sunday afternoon singing along with friends. It was great fun.

Le Vieux Belleville, on the rue des Envierges, in Belleville
The musicians at Le Vieux Belleville

After our lunch in Belleville, we went a short distance to visit Paris’s famous Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (Père Lachaise Cemetery). Visiting a cemetery may seem like a strange thing to do, but this cemetery is both quite pleasant and quite interesting. We had the opportunity to visit the gravesites of many of the famous people buried there.

The most quintessentially Parisian thing to do at the cemetery is to visit the gravesite of the famous chanteuse, Edith Piaf. Her grave is covered with flowers and other mementos. I am glad we found the grave, but if we had not, I wouldn’t have regretted it, because I regret nothing (Je ne regrette rein).
We also visited the gravesite of the American rock musician, Jim Morrison. Actually, his grave was not difficult to find — we just followed the sounds of the LOUD American voices. Why are Americans SO LOUD?
This is the gravesite of Frédéric Chopin. Readers know that I am a huge fan of Chopin. This nice lady was tending the flowers on his grave while we were there. Chopin’s body is buried here, but his heart is buried in Warsaw. His dying request to his sister was for her to take his heart back home. Even though he lived his entire adulthood in Paris, his heart was always back in Poland. (There is more about the story of Chopin’s heart in the blog post to which I linked at the opening of this paragraph.)

More Pictures of Paris

The is the restaurant Le Christine, in the 6e arrondissement, in the Odéon district. My wife and I had dinner there on Saturday night. This isn’t the best picture in the world but I need to tell you about our dinner anyway. My wife and I first had dinner at Le Christine when we were in Paris on our honeymoon. The honeymoon dinner was 40 years ago, this year. Though we have been back to Le Christine several times since, our dinner at the restaurant on Saturday night was a very special occasion and a particularly nice way to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.
The Saturday night dinner at Le Christine was pretty special but we did have one other very special meal while in Paris as well. On Monday, on a particularly beautiful summerlike evening, we had a picnic dinner on the lawns in the Luxembourg Gardens. As far as places to have a picnic go, it would be pretty hard to beat a warm June evening at the Jardin du Luxembourg.
On Monday morning, we were up early to take Metro Line 1 to its eastern end, to visit the Château de Vincennes, a historical structure we had tried to visit on prior trips to Paris. The Château had been closed for many years for renovations, but this time it was open, and it was great to finally be able to see it. The castle will be familiar to students of The Hundred Years War and also to anyone who has read the novels of Alexandre Dumas, particularly The Three Musketeers and its sequel, Twenty Years After.
In Parc Monceau, in the 8e arrondissement
Another view of Parc Monceau.
After my presentation on Tuesday, my wife and I decided to take a stroll along the Promenade Plantée (also known as the Coulée verte René-Dumont). The promenade is a nearly 3-mile pedestrian walkway built atop a former railway viaduct. The promenade floats above the busy city streets as an oasis of calm and quiet. A great way to spend our last afternoon in the city.

A rose in bloom along the promenade. The flowers were in bloom throughout the city during our visit. June is a great time to visit Paris and the weather we enjoyed while there was just brilliant. It is always great to visit Paris, and the hardest part is that eventually you have to leave. Even though we only just left, we are already planning what we will do next time.