Arts, Culture & Media

A vanishing French institution

In an upscale apartment, this 82 year old woman takes a break from her concierge chores. She says she does everything here. she is an institution in her building, just as the concierge is an institution in France. The job dates way back in French culture in history. Most concierges live in modest, ground floor apartments close to the front door. Another informal role of the concierges is to benefit the tenants of the building. One resident says having a concierge makes one feel less anonymous. Across town at this art gallery, one resident says the concierge is a vanishing part of French culture that should be reserved. The resident says the concierges helped create a feeling of life and communication in France. But France's concierges are on the way out and some 10,000 have been replaced in the last decade, often by things like electronic doors with pushcodes. Doors are cheaper, and some also prefer them because doors don't gossip. In the film �Amelie,� the concierge knows everyone and everything that goes on in the building. That reputation is a well earned one. Concierges are making a comeback in public housing, who had been fading out guardians to save money. The guardian-concierges insist that their responsibilities are a far cry from traditional concierges. The concierge from earlier doesn't disagree and she says more often than not she finds herself alone and by herself in her building.

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