Paris is where I really want to live.
The City of Lights fascinates me beyond all understanding.
It’s been that way for over 50 years
The first time I went, I was in my 30’s and I instantly felt I was home.
There have been many trips to Paris- for work and pleasure.
I want to go back again-
one more time…
not just for a visit.
My desire is to nest there a while,
not just perch for a few glorious days.
I want to LIVE in Paris-
even if it’s only for a couple of weeks…..
immerse myself and be swept away in the stream of Parisian life,
as a part of Paris….not just as an observer.
There might not be any visits to the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower.
Been there done that.
I just want to BE .
My dream rental would have a small balcony & french doors,
opening onto a vista of crooked little streets and gray slate rooftops that grace
it’s venerated old buildings.
A spectacular view of some famous landmark is not necessary….
Just a view of the neighborhood will do.
It should be in the 6th arrondisement-
near the Blvd. Saint Germain or the Luxembourg Gardens.
I’ve always stayed in or around St Germain and it feels comfortable there.
Picture rising each morning, throwing open the window and
breathing Paris into your lungs.
Even the first time I went to Paris- I recognized it
in my heart and soul.
I’ve never gone anywhere in the city that has felt unfamiliar or inhospitable.
When I was there with my husband,
he would nap a little in the afternoon and
I would wander the neighborhoods
searching the local markets to buy some cheese, bread and wine;
and practice my French.
My rule was :
I needed to ask for it in French or I would not buy it.
My French usually failed me at a Patisserie,
when I was desperate for something
decadent and delicieuse!
More than once, a vendor said to me:
“you are American, aren’t you?”
I said:” how can you tell; is my French that bad”?
“No- your French is quite good,
but you speak French with an American accent.”
That was something I had never considered before!
Strolling along the Seine watching the bookinistes-
opening their stalls, brimming with
wonderful books and prints and postcards,
from another time
you start to dream about what Paris might have
been like a century ago….
What you might have done there had you lived during that time.
Perhaps I would have sat next to Hemingway at Les Deux Magots,
noticed him writing in a notebook;
or bumped into him while browsing through books
at Shakespeare & Company;
where most writers of the time received their mail.
I probably would not have had the vaguest idea who he was.
The echoes of all the great painters, poets, writers and artists who lived there
are still whispers in the air.
The inexplicable force that drew them to Paris is still there, as well.
It is a place of dreams and possibilities.
There are delights every where you look in Paris.
In the Tuileries Gardens,
one can spend an entire afternoon watching children play in a pond
with wooden sail boats-
knowing that a few hundreds yards away
Monet’s “Water Lilles” are always in bloom,
displayed in an elliptical room that transports you to Giverny
& the lushness of his gardens.
Then, past L’Orangerie you can glimpse the tip of the Eiffel Tower,
rising from a tree -filled horizon.
Turn a little to the right and
there’s the Carousel near Place de la Concorde.
Look behind you and there is the Louvre.
Every where you look, there is beauty.
Your soul comes alive in Paris.
Every thing is art,
Even the light.
You do not see Paris with your eyes.
you absorb it.
Finally, if you are lucky….
it enters your soul.
The innermost part of you somehow reacts
to all the beauty surrounding you.
When that happens…..
The light is different,
the air more fragrant.
Your senses are heightened.
It’s unlike any other place on earth;
and I’ve been to a lot of places.
You don’t go to Paris to observe.
You go to become one with Paris.
You go to be changed…
You go to Paris to be baptized in it’s beauty.
It’s a place where the present and past exist side by side.
Hemingway and Hadley,
Matisse and Modigliani,
Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and Scott Fitzgerald.
There are ghosts everywhere-
in a good way.
I can almost see Capucine posing for Vogue in 1954
at The Cafe des Flores.
That Paris still exists.
There are still so many things I haven’t seen in Paris.
One of them is Pere Lachaise Cemetery.
All the great artists are resting there –
each of them
entombed in great works of art;
the echoes of their genius captured in the quiet rustling of leaves,
behind high iron gates.
Where else could you find all this brilliance in one place?
Modigliani, Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Edith Piaf
and Jim Morrison!
The 16 year old girl in me still wants to visit his grave.
Maybe when I live there-
I’ll take a bottle of wine and
Jim & I will finally have our long-overdue talk..
The secret of Paris is that you don’t have to do a thing
while you are there.
All you have to do is BE.
Paris does the rest.