Oui Audrey, Paris is Always a Good Idea…

So, yeah, I went to Paris, again. This time I really needed it. I needed to recharge my batteries, as trite as that sounds. I needed to be in my favorite place, that foreign city that feels like home to me, and I needed to have my soul soothed and I needed to be alone and to think and just to be. And Paris, being her fabulous beautiful difficult wonderful self, said ok, come on home baby, I am here, waiting for you.

And so I cashed in my remaining AA FF miles and I went, and was welcomed into my lovely little cocoon in the 11th arr…thank you Denise for your positive review because it was just perfect. And cheap! I miss this view…

my view

This trip was not a sightseeing mission. I went to one, count em one, museum…and I am not apologizing for it. And even then, I had issues. It was a fabulous exhibit at the Carnavalet (the Museum of the city of Paris, free) called (en francais) Roman d’un Garde-Robe: Le chic d’une Parisienne de la Belle Epoque aux années 30, which loosely translated means the novel of a wardrobe: one Parisian’s fashion from the 1900’s to the 30’s.  It contained the dresses, hats and accessories of a trend setting Parisian who helped launch 2 major French fashion houses, which of course appealed to my fashion loving side. So I enjoyed it very much from that aspect.

Some fashions in the exhibit, which was all in French, so I also practiced...

Some fashions in the exhibit, which was all in French, so I also practiced…

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But, as I reflected later, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after as I couldn’t help but wonder about all the workers who sewed those sequins and toiled to make those dresses and hats. I really wanted to see their pictures, and read their stories. I thought about them all afternoon. I guess you can take the girl outta CEPR, but you can’t take the CEPR outa the girl (See here to understand)

And so what did I do in Paris if I didn’t go sightseeing or museum hopping? I communed with my women. I was uplifted and inspired. I laughed and I listened and I was listened to. I am so very fortunate beyond words to have the deep good fortune to have so many good friends who have the deep good fortune to call Paris home, and how lucky I was to spend time with them, along with some fellow visitors who have also become my friends. I needed them and they came through, each and every one, French and American, Australian/New Zealander all Parisian by birth or by spirit. Un grand merci et beaucoup de bisous a Roniece, Nancy, Jane, Kathryn, Sue, Mez, Sylvia, Margarita et Axelle. I so enjoyed seeing you, and drinking with you and laughing out loud with you and breaking bread with you and walking and shopping and talking talking talking. Je vous embrasse. Toujours…

Some of my women...my Muriels...mes tres cheres...xoxo

Some of my women…my Muriels…mes tres cheres…xoxo

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I also wandered, I was lucky to have been spared the polar vortex freeze that has gripped the East coast of the US. Some rain (ah but Paris in the rain is still beautiful), so I was able to wander around and look at the known and not so known places that call to my soul. I spent a great afternoon in Montmarte…I always like to climb to Sacre Coeur and gaze out out upon “my” city and hold her in my hand. I was fortunate to have chosen the weekend of the Fete de Saint Jacques…only in France could you stumble upon a scallop festival.

a walk through Montmarte

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DSC00069 DSC00082A nice young man from India and I took turns taking one another’s pictures

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I made my way through my adopted hoods, the 11th and the 20th – Republique, Oberkampf, Menilmontant. Belleville, Pere Lachaise, Gambetta – with no agenda, just taking it all in. I was green with envy at the markets, one literally right outside my front door. I sure love visiting Roniece in her lovely slice of heaven in the 5th, as she calls it. It is nice, I like it, but it isn’t home. I gravitate to the quartiers listed above, not sure why, just feels like home to me, like me.

My Paris

My Paris

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My apartment building on Blvd Richard Lenoir

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The markets!

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Menilmontant, my favorite hood. Met A at Lou Pascalou, one of my favorite spots in Paris, and ended the night here. We spoke French all night. She is very patient…

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I walked to Rue Sainte Marthe, in the 10th, on the  fringes of my hoods.

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And back to Oberkampf, and a goodbye shot from the second floor of L’EstaminetIMG_0939

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My moment of serendipity came as I was waiting for the metro after my lunch with Kathryn.

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(This is the view from the Pont Mirabeau bridge. It makes me think of you K!)

Anyway, I was in the metro station waiting for the next train, looking at the metro map to pass the time, when an old man started talking to me in French and asking me if I knew who the Gallieni metro stop was named after. I said no, and he proceeded to tell me the story of Gallieni, how he was a general who “saved Paris from the Germans”. When I told him I didn’t know that, he asked me where I was from, and when I told him the US, well, his face lit up and he proceeded to regale me with tales of the Americans who rescued him during WWII. The train came and we sat together and I heard all about his trip to the US and about how much he loved Americans, he thinks we’re so friendly, with our “open faces”. He told me that his name was Jacques, that he was 84 (I think I got that right), As he got off the metro, he told me that he was happy to have met me. He shook my hand and told me that my French is very good. I smiled all the way down line 10.

All wasn’t fun and games as I also worked hard, very hard, to improve my French. Days and years of slogging through classes and reading silly French novels and listening to French on my IPod on the MARC train as the DC Suburbs pass by have left me with decent comprehension skills. But my verbal skills are sadly lacking, so I took a workshop at the Alliance and spent more relaxed evening at a bar at a Franglish event. I would definitely recommend it: For 12e you get a drink and an hour and a half of conversation with 5 native French speakers. It was tiring, but inspiring, and everyone there was super nice…tres sympa ! I am gonna master this language even if it takes me the rest of my life to do so.

And so, another January in Paris…feeling as always grateful that I am able to go back again, and again. And I will be back…Roniece, save me a seat at LPC. And tell Pierre (another dapper 80-something Frenchman who charmed me) that I said bonjour.

La Reine !

And in the meantime, I will spend time with my dear girlfriends on this side of the Atlantic. Candace, Liz, Tamara, Chris, Claudia, Elaine (and on the phone and on facebook, Maureen (my Boo2), and Jo, and Sara and Vickie and all of the rest of my dear Muriels, those great women all around the world, who lift me up every day)…and my mom, and Jordan. My family.

A new year, and a new life. Full of hope and joy and peace and remorse and melancholy, all at the same time.

C’est la vie, n’est ce pas ?

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17 thoughts on “Oui Audrey, Paris is Always a Good Idea…

  1. Wonderful, Dawn. Loved reading the above blog post. Made me feel..dare I say..homesick…looking at all those photos…gave me that very familiar and missed feeling..sigh. That is perfect medicine for you when you might need it. So glad you had significant muriel sisterhood there waiting for you in person as well. Nothing like the sisterhood of women. I am also quite impressed with your French..if you could understand that man who told you about Gallieni! That sounds far superior to my abilities…I just can’t “hear” French at all! Sigh. But hugs and so glad you had this wonderful time in Paris. Bises!

  2. Well, you’re all that and a bag of chips! What a beautiful piece! And aren’t I just proud as punch to be part of your latest adventure! We are blessed, indeed! I think it all the time. I think I’ll write Mark Zuckerberg and thank him personally…oh, never mind, it’s been done! Dawn, keep up the good work. You’re worth it!!
    XOXOXO

  3. Beautiful post! I loved reading about this new chapter in your life! Wish I was there to share it with you, I remember our luncheon at La Verre Vol well! Now, if you don’t contact me soon to get together, I will have to whip you with a stick, so let’s make a date! LOL – love you bunches! xoxo

  4. Love your post Dawn ! I’m glad that you found in Paris what you were looking for. I am considering coming to the Vendange this year, are you ?

  5. Hi Dawn,
    Loved your trip report! And what’s more I recognized the people in the photos, though I know only one of you — Sue 🙂 I have been looking at the photos Sue has been sending of the Muriels to Facebook, but Sue and I have been online friends for years. We have been on a Paris discussion list for several years together, and though we have both gotten together with other friends on the discussion list, we have yet to be in Paris at the same time. I feel sure, though, that we will meet in the future. I believe you and I are on a Paris board together, Our Paris, because I think that’s how I discovered your blog. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed your photos and felt like I was walking through Paris with you. My husband and I are going back to Paris in the Spring. We took grandchildren the last two trips, but this year is just for us. I look forward to more of your blog entries 🙂

    Sandy in Central Illinois p.s. I too am trying to learn to speak French, though I think you are far ahead of me.

    • Hi Sandy! Thanks for reading and keep studying!!!
      And Anne, I REALLY am going to try to make it to the Vendage this year. Seriously,I can’t believe I’ve never gone. It’s made for me! 🙂

  6. Oh such a nostalgic blogpost. I miss my little studio on Bolo Richard Lenoir.and my Oberkanpf hood. So sorry I missed you on my flying visit.
    Congratulations on your French skills. Glad it’s paid off.

    I felt the same about the un named seamstresses at the YSL exhibition a couple of years ago. The dresses were exquisite, but all the acclaim went to the designer and not a mention of the seamstresses who had put in such talented work. In London, I think it was at Kensington palace there was a display of the conditions the poor girls worked under, who made the clothes for the rich Victorians. Very interesting and really made you think.

    I’m so glad you found some new friends and were able to sooth your soul. I was there with you in spirit.

    Love the picture of the Eiffel tower from Montmartre with the roofs. Very atmospheric.

    Love Denise

  7. Thanks again Denise, I loved that apartment. And thanks for your comments, we see a lot of things through the same eyes. 🙂

    Sorry that I missed you, I hope all is well…next time I hope. xoxoxox

  8. You no doubt know the story of the troops rushed to the front in and on Paris taxis? Well, that was Gallieni. He was the military governor of Paris and when he saw what was happening (the great German sweep to envelop Paris had failed and there was a chance to take them in the flank) he rushed every available soldier in Pairs to the front by taxi or private car. The “Miracle of the Marne” was the result, the German advance was halted and after a race back to the Channel
    things settled into trench stalemate for a bloody slugging match until 1914. Gallieni was made a Marshal of France posthumously.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog immensely! Thanks!

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