Paris scooter ends a pianist’s career

Paris scooter ends a pianist’s career


norman lebrecht

June 03, 2019

We were shocked when a group member was unable to join our Tunisia tour last week after being felled by one of those pestilential scooters that make the Paris sidewalks a threat to life and limb.

Today we read in Le Parisien that the pianist Isabelle Albertin has suffered a double fracture on one arm after being hit by a speeding scooter while crossing the Nelson-Mandela garden near Les Halles.

Isabelle has been a rehearsal pianist at the Opera Garnier for 32 years. She may never play again.

Paris is one of the most dangerous pedestrian cities in Europe.

Read here.



  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    I’d be suing the city over this; if they cannot regulate or outlaw these dangerous scooters then they pay for those who are injured. If you attack the bottom line the hearts and minds follow shortly afterwards!! 🙂

  • Isabelle says:

    The scooters in Paris are a real problem, but what makes it so particularly bad in Paris and elsewhere in France is the total lack of civilised behaviour in the country. Few places in the world are inhabited by such disrespectful, rude, selfish, egocentric, arrogant “humans” as France. Any person who lives here, as I have for thirty-five years, quickly realises that all of the French formalities, such as obsessively saying “bonjour”, “merci”, etc., etc., are nothing but ingrained cosmetic formalities having little true meaning. Strip that away and you are dealing with one of the most barbaric societies found anywhere on earth. What the world has recently witnessed with the French “yellow vests” should serve to confirm this. Nothing wrong with a protest or a demonstration in a healthy democracy, but in France it inadvertently turns into frenzied barbaric destruction and burning of both public and private property, burning of people’s cars, smashing and total destruction of private businesses, attacking and beating of bystanders, etc. The knocking over of a pedestrian by a scooter should come as no surprise to any frequent visitor to Paris. I personally have seen three people hit by a scooter driving wildly on the pavement, without regard for pedestrians. On one of these occasions the “driver” shouted some rude obscenity at the person knocked over and rode off, leaving the person on the ground. On the second occasion, the “driver” stopped only to shout something inaudible at the injured pedestrian, make a rude gesture with their finger and ride off. On the third occasion the person stopped, helped the person up off the sidewalk, didn’t apologise and told the injured person that they should be more careful!
    The myth of France being a civilised and cultivated nation is nothing but a myth, dating back to a long gone culture of the 18th Century. France in 2019 is a human tragedy, a place where being run over and injured by a scooter is a minor event in a mental and physical war zone.

    • Marie Christine says:

      Some french people too are complaining about the lack of proper behaviour !

    • Simon Scott says:

      “You must hate a frenchman like you hate the Devil.”
      Admiral Lord Nelson to his sailors.

    • Giulio says:

      I spent Easter in Paris and Bordeaux and couldn’t wait to get out of there! Although I wasn’t hit by any scooters, I have never encountered such unpleasant, miserable, rude and uncivilised people on my many travels throughout the world. I will NEVER go back there again!

    • Ms.Melody says:

      Nothing particularly refined or civilized about 18th century France. Remember the terror, the killings, the destruction that followed French revolution. I haven’t been to Paris for a number of years, and even though I never felt particularly comfortable or welcome there ( unlike almost anywhere in Italy), it did not feel like a war zone. Very sad that a great city is bent on destroying itself.

  • Bruce says:

    That’s awful.

    I suffered a double fracture (radius & ulna) in my right arm in 2002 and was back to playing in a few months. My surgeon promised I would have trouble with arthritis, doorknobs, turning keys, etc; none of it came to pass. Everyone’s situation is different (and I’m a flute player, not a pianist), but there is hope.

    • steven holloway says:

      NL’s header notwithstanding, there is indeed hope. Every other report on this I’ve read, all of them French, says that she MAY not be able to play as she did before. Ms Albertin herself says she fears she may not be able to play as she did. Only here do I read that her career is ended, not exactly supportive, no whit of comfort or encouragement. But clickbait comes before accuracy or kindness in these benighted days.

  • John Rook says:

    I’ve heard it’s hell in Paris with these things – it was bad enough about twenty years ago when there were only pedestrians on the pavements. Nothing to do with people’s behaviour, just the fact there were too many of them for the space they were allocated. It’s also a regular feature on radio phone-ins. My sympathy to this lady.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Dear Isabelle,
    Don’t listen to Norman or any of the other doubters.
    If you have the true inner passion for playing the piano, you WILL play again. No question.
    Best wishes from a true believer in musicians, Greg Bottini

  • Mikebrahms says:

    Vienna is a Paradise for scooters, bicycles, and other personal wheeled vehicles and rules are neither -in a typical Viennese style- followed nor enforced… a serious accident ending a musician’s career will happen sooner or later

  • Julien says:

    “Paris is one of the most dangerous pedestrian cities in Europe”

    In about 4 clicks, you could have found date showing the opposite :

    Paris has 1.8 fatalities per 100 000 resident population, slightly worse thant inner London (1.7), worse than Stockholm (0.9), but better than Barcelona (2.2) Brussels (2.5), and way better than Warsaw (3.8) or Rome (5.2).

    As for Isabelle’s rant on french society, well, I’ve been leaving in Paris for the last 47 years, and I don’t recognize the city I live in from her absurdly apocalyptic description.

    • Louis H says:

      Concerning the “apocalyptic description” of Paris in the message above, all you need to do is go to YouTube and watch the countless videos showing the “yellow vest” protests from November 2018 through March 2019. If after watching these videos you still don’t believe that a very large number of French people are “barbarians” then I would invite you to take a break from Paris for a few weeks, going to any other major city in Europe or Asia and then return to Paris and try to see it with objective eyes. If you still don’t realise that something is very wrong in that society, then you really should stay there permanently.
      I sadly must agree with those that are appalled by French incivility, rudeness, unfriendliness and arrogance. I long ago (about 5 years ago) decided to avoid France and most French people as a general rule. Life is too short to be wasted in a society that is so sad and unpleasant.

    • John Dalkas says:

      Julien has conveniently overlooked the title of the chart he refers to. It reads: ”Fatalities per 100 000 resident population, 2011-2015.” As he well knows, electric scooters only appeared on Paris streets in the last year or so. So the numbers he quotes, and the seeming low fatality rates, are out of date and have been unrepresentative for ages.

      If anyone has read the article in Le Parisien referenced and watched a couple of the short videos following it on the paper’s site, they will have seen a video showing police training young riders in handling electric scooters. One rider who is interviewed, a girl identified as being in “cinquième” grade at school, is thus just 12 or 13 years old. Yet she doesn’t need a driver’s license to drive a scooter, often with a buddy balancing precariously with her on the scooter’s narrow step, at up to 40 kph on the flat. Not a day goes by when I’m on the streets of Paris that I see such dangerous behavior, with children her age giddily riding with no inkling of the danger they pose to themselves and others.

      A law passed November 19, 2018 fines riders up to €135 for driving an electric scooter on a Paris sidewalk. But I have yet to see the rule enforced or the number of riders on sidewalks decrease despite the exploding number of accidents. Not to mention the bicycles and motorcycles you can see every day riding on sidewalks, riding against traffic and running lights. Today you dare not walk on a Paris sidewalk without being doubly alert to two wheelers competing for space with you coming from behind and in front; nor do you dare cross a street, especially at a light, without being especially alert for vehicles of all kinds running the red.

      In the 49 years I have been living in Paris I have seen uncivil behavior of this and so many other kinds increase until now the situation and my experience here match Isabelle’s description above, seriously compromising the quality of life in this town.

      New regulations governing the use of electric scooters (including no children under 8!, no ride sharing and a maximum speed of 25 kph) are scheduled to take effect this September. Knowing the French contempt for rules and the general lack of enforcement, my French and foreign friends and I hold out little hope for change.

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    Had the victim been Khatia Buniatishvili, the world would be up in arms. I wish Ms Albertin a speedy recovery.