French Friday: Saint-Étienne-du-Mont | Purple Doors + Magic Steps

“This is unbelievable! Look at this! There's no city like this in the world. There never was…Imagine this town in the '20s. Paris in the '20s, in the rain. The artists and writers…” - Gil Pender, Midnight in Paris

steps + purple door.jpg
Imagine sitting on these steps when the clock strikes midnight…

Imagine sitting on these steps when the clock strikes midnight…

You look down this street to see a vintage Peugeot approaching. The car pulls over to invite you into Paris of the 1920s — Hemingway, Scott and Zelda, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Dali, Josephine Baker, Man Ray…

You look down this street to see a vintage Peugeot approaching. The car pulls over to invite you into Paris of the 1920s — Hemingway, Scott and Zelda, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Dali, Josephine Baker, Man Ray…

Completed in 1626, the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont is located around the corner from the Panthéon on the top of la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève in the 5th arrondissement. In addition to the magical steps, the church contains the tombs of St. Blaise, Jean Racine, and Jean-Paul Marat.

Completed in 1626, the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont is located around the corner from the Panthéon on the top of la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève in the 5th arrondissement. In addition to the magical steps, the church contains the tombs of St. Blaise, Jean Racine, and Jean-Paul Marat.

in St-Etienne-du-Mont.jpg
The church is mentioned in Hemingway’s  A Moveable Feast:  "I walked past the Lycée Henri Quatre and the ancient church of St-Etienne-du-Mont and the windswept Place du Panthéon." Seems like Woody Allen did his homework!

The church is mentioned in Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast: "I walked past the Lycée Henri Quatre and the ancient church of St-Etienne-du-Mont and the windswept Place du Panthéon." Seems like Woody Allen did his homework!

Currently • January 2019

Many bloggers do a regular “Currently” series to share what they have been reading, watching, doing, thinking... Let’s try it!

latte.jpg

READING:

Just like last year, I pledged to read forty books in 2019. We’re less than two weeks in and I have already finished three: one that I think I’ve read before (The Piano Shop on the Left Bank — It wasn’t too memorable the second time around either), one that was more of a workbook and not terribly innovative (The Curated Closet), and one that was overhyped, predictable advice from a self-absorbed, preachy cheerleader (Girl, Wash Your Face).

I used to read one book at a time, but since rediscovering my public library and its digital collection, I put holds on several of the books on my To Read list and I never know when they will become available. Sometimes, like right now, I have to juggle several books at once — what a wonderful problem to have! Here’s my current stack:

WATCHING:

  • We just finished season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime. The dialogue is so fast-paced and witty — just what you’d expect from Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls (which I confess is one of my guilty pleasures). The costumes and sets epitomize New York in the late 1950’s: Upper West Side apartments, gritty Greenwich Village clubs, department store make-up counters, full skirts, great hats and shoes and purses, and even a summer holiday in the Catskills (it’s Dirty Dancing redux and Midge is Baby)! I’ve loved Midge’s style since the first episode, but this season, my eye has been on Rose, especially in — *spoiler alert! — the Paris scenes! It’s been a long time since a show has captivated me like this one. I can’t wait for season 3.

  • While we wait for more Mrs. Maisel, Eric and I have been searching for another new(-to-us) series to binge. Last week, we finally landed on The Americans. This show is set in Washington DC in the 1980’s. Philip and Elisabeth Jennings are KGB spies masquerading as typical suburban parents/travel agents who just happen to live across the street from an FBI agent. We do seem to gravitate toward 20th Century period pieces, don’t we? Is it wrong to be a little nostalgic for the Cold War? Now before you get all political, I’m simply stating that spy dramas were so much more intriguing when we feared the Soviets. Let’s face it, James Bond movies really haven’t been the same since. I have to say that I could do without the gratuitous bedroom and torture scenes though.

  • OK, yes, I did watch the new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and, if you know me, that shouldn’t be a surprise. I read Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a couple of years ago. Rather than transforming my life, it was really more of a validation of what I already do. I am definitely not a sentimental saver. I do believe in a place for everything and everything in it’s place. I really love having a capsule wardrobe…BUT I’m not Zen enough to thank my unwanted clothes for their service and I know that not everything in my house truly “sparks joy.” Some things are just necessary. As with most books, I don’t think that the KonMari method translates well on screen. Marie, who relies heavily on a translator, is a cross between a pixie fairy godmother and a Stepford wife. The families on the show were also a set of archetypes — empty nesters, burned out millennials, a widow, newlyweds, etc., and some of their comments really bugged me: “When I’m mad at my husband, I go shopping. I like to hit him where it hurts — in the pocketbook.” and “It’s my fault that our apartment is a mess. I’m the mom. I should be able to do it all.” Eek! I think my life will be tidier without this show.

LISTENING TO:

  • After a month of Christmas music, we immediately turned to our old friend, Jimmy Buffett. Songs about summer, sailing, and boat drinks are the perfect antidote to a post-holiday malaise.

  • Movies have also influenced my music selection recently:

  • And when in doubt, it’s always cool jazz — George Winston’s Linus and Lucy or Vince Guaraldi Radio on Pandora.

  • I guess since I’m confessing all of my guilty pleasures in this post, I’ll admit that I loved listening to Shaun Cassidy on Pat Francis’ Rock Solid podcast. Is it weird that the 10-year-old girl in me swooned over the music of her childhood while the 51-year-old woman felt oddly proud of how intelligent, thoughtful, and authentic Shaun Cassidy has become? Anyhoo… I know I’m late to the party, but I think I’m finally getting into podcasts. Do you have any suggestions?

PLANNING: Another trip to Paris in February! In 2017, I went alone and did just want I wanted for seven glorious days. In 2018, I shared the trip with a fellow movie-loving, book-devouring, francophile who reveled in my cinema and literary tours and immediately fell madly in love with the City of Light. This year, I’m traveling with Eric’s mom and her best friend who are both discovering Paris for the first time. It is such a fun challenge to plan for travelers with different interests while satisfying my own need to reconnect with the Paris that I know and love. I seriously think I might like to do more of this — customized tours for women, couples, art lovers, book lovers, movie lovers…pourquoi pas?!

Love Actually in Concert

(328/365) “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” - Love Actually

best.jpg
Riverside.jpg

Last night we had the pleasure of watching the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra perform the award-winning score live to Love Actually while the film played in high definition on a giant screen at the Riverside Theatre.

screen

French Friday: Versailles

le 11 mai 2018 (131/365)

« Tout ceci est ridicule! » « Tout ceci, Madame, c’est Versailles. » - Marie Antoinette, le film

French Friday: Le Petit Hameau

May 5, 2017 (125/365)

« Nous avons fait un beau rêve, voilà tout... »  - Marie Antoinette

The opulence of the Château de Versailles is world renowned, but I've always preferred le Hameau de la Reine (The Queen's Hamlet) -- Marie Antoinette's rustic retreat in the park of the palace. Built in 1783 near the Petit Trianon, it was a rendez-vous for the queen and her closest friends to enjoy nature and life's simpler pleasures.The hamlet includes gardens, orchards, meadows, lakes, streams, a classical Temple of Love, a grotto, and cascade. The farm produced milk and eggs and included a dovecote, a boudoir, a mill, and a lighthouse. In the tempestuous political atmosphere of pre-revolutionary France, the hamlet was understandably quite controversial.

Guilty Pleasure Confession: I love this scene from Sofia Coppola's 2006 film, Marie Antoinette 

(almost as much as this one where they eat macarons and try on shoes!)

Unbroken

December 26, 2014 (360/365): (#decemberphotochallenge Day 26: Gratitude)

“America’s fighting men and women sacrifice much to ensure that our great nation stays free. We owe a debt of gratitude to the soldiers that have paid the ultimate price for this cause, as well as for those who are blessed enough to return from the battlefield unscathed.” - Allen Boyd

I have been anticipating the release of the Unbroken film with conflicted emotions since I read riveting biography of Louis Zamperini -- juvenile delinquent, college track star, 1936 Olympian who shook hands with Hitler, WWII Air Force captain, survivor of a plane crash and forty-seven days drifting over 2000 miles on a raft in middle of the Pacific Ocean, tortured prisoner of war for two and a half years, recovered alcoholic and PTSD sufferer, inspirational speaker, coach, and philanthropist. As I turned the pages last year, I continually reminded myself that Zamperini was going to make it through all of these harrowing trials, knowing that, at 97 year old, he consulted with Angelina Jolie in the making of the Unbroken film. Sadly Louie Zamperini died last summer before yesterday's film release. I knew that this film would be hard for me, but I kept telling myself that if Louie could survive all that he went through, I should be strong enough to watch. Unfortunately, the movie focused more on the horrors of Louie's experiences and less on his remarkable character. Though to be fair, how could such an extraordinary life be depicted in just two hours? Despite my disappointment in the tone of the film, as real photos of Louis appeared on the screen in the closing sequence, I found myself in tears. I felt a rush of emotion for the brave men and women of The Greatest Generation whom I will always honor in humble gratitude.

French Friday: Opéra Garnier

The first time I visited the Opera Garnier was the first time I visited Paris. In fact, since I was staying near the palais, Opéra was my Métro stop.

I landed at Charles de Gaulle on a warm day in June 1994, took the RER B into Paris, transferred to the Métro, and emerged in front of this magnificent façade. It was my very first impression of this enchanting city -- and it was love at first sight! I hadn't even seen the Eiffel Tower yet, but I couldn't resist the allure of the opulent and mysterious Opéra. As soon as I settled in, I returned to the Palais Garnier for a tour. 

The last time I visited the Opéra was a snowy day in January 2013. It was cold and gray outside, but inside, it was warm and mysterious -- almost deserted because of the unusual Paris snowstorm. 

I almost felt as though I were trespassing. Perhaps, I've seen The Phantom of the Opera too many times! This grate protects the entrance to the REAL underground lake. You can't go down below, but you can go up the grand staircase.

If you're lucky, you may be allowed inside one of the private boxes (maybe even Box 5).

Peer out into the magnificent theatre.

Marvel at the stunning Chagall ceiling

Enjoy the juxtaposition of Garnier's beaux-arts architecture and the quirkly modern details.

Channel your inner Christine Daaé

or your inner Audrey (Funny Face)!

L'Opéra est magnifique!

Wonderful

December 2, 2014 Photo (336/365): "It's A Wonderful Life"

Zuzu Bailey: "Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."

George Bailey: "That's right, that's right. [Looks heavenward] Attaboy, Clarence."

I love Frank Capra's 1946 holiday film, It's a Wonderful Life!  It's not only my favorite Christmas movie, it's my favorite movie of all. Jimmy Stewart is a quirky and charming, yet troubled and frustrated George Bailey, a selfless man who has spent his entire life thinking of others. George has given up his life dreams of travel, architecture, and financial security to help the people of Bedford Falls. Yet despite his good intentions, due to circumstances beyond his control, he finds himself disheartened. Thinking of his family and others he loves would be better off without him, he contemplates suicide. But the prayers of his loved become manifest in the apparition of Clarence Oddbody AS2 (Angel, 2nd Class). To earn his wings, Clarence must show George what life would have been like if he had never been born: Bedford Falls is transformed into Pottersville - a seedy bastion of haves (Mr. Potter himself) and have-nots. All those George whom loves are either dead, ruined, or miserable. Clarence succeeds in showing George that "each man's life touches so many other lives." Who among us hasn't felt that despite our best intentions, we haven't made a difference, yet each of us has the power to improve not only our own lives but those of so many others. Upon realizing that he really has had a wonderful life, George returns home to family and friends who have banded together to save him. I cry every time George's younger brother, Harry, a war hero, raises a glass to his "big brother George, the richest man in town!"

I haven't watched the film yet this Christmas season. I'm saving it, along with White Christmas and Love Actually for an afternoon of wrapping presents and writing Christmas cards.

(#decemberphotochallenge - Day 2: Your Favorite Holiday Movie)