Monalia's World

Observations on a New Life in Spain

Skip to: Content | Sidebar | Footer

February in Paris 2009

1 March, 2009 (16:05) | Living in Europe | By: admin

View of the Alps from Airplane, View of Eiffel Tower from our hotel room

Every year we try to go somewhere special for Mark’s birthday and also for mine. Mark’s birthday is Dec. 29th so we went to Senegal to celebrate his birthday and also the first week of the new year.
My birthday is Feb. 18th. This year it coincides with a friend Bobbie having a pinhole photography exhibit in Paris.

Here’s the link to the Robert Mann Exhibit

We arrive on a bleak Saturday, cold and damp. We quietly wonder if we have made a bad decision to come to Paris in winter. That is my first thought. But the magic of the city soon takes over.

We are very satisfied with our spacious hotel room. We have 2 beds, a big bathroom with bathtub, and a view of the Eiffel Tower. Perfect! The room is also warm. It proves to be a great location with 2 metro stations nearby.

Sunday is miserable so we go to the Louvre. What a treat! it is a rainy winter day and not many people out. On a nicer day there would have been more visitors, but today is miserable. We had to brave a strong incessant rain, brandishing our umbrellas in front of us like shields to make our way from the metro to the Louvre entrance. It is cold today, but somehow magical. Hardly any people out and about. The Louvre is comfortable. Not many visitors on a winter day like today. We head straight to the Monna Lisa.

Mona-Lia and Monna Lisa

The Louvre on a rainy day in winter is as ideal a place to be. Here’s some thumbnail photos I share:

Some shots of or from the Louvre

Some random shots the of art inside the Louvre

Some shots of me and one of Mark inside the Louvre

When I was in Paris age 22 I was travelling with a girlfriend. She was a classical pianist and I had ambitions to conduct orchestras. So we didn’t do any of the usual tourist things. On our first day in Paris we had a bit of luck; Someone I knew in Hollywood when I was a teen was going to the post office at the exact same time as I. We literally bumped into each other. “Why its Mona´Lia!” he exclaimed. It was my hippy friend from Hollywood, in the days when I was too young to actually go out to be a hippy. I was enamored with musical hippies I’d meet in Hollywood. Alan was one of them. He was one of those characters one meets and hangs out with. He was a few years older than us.

My girlfriends and I used to hitchhike to his house off Highland to hang out with him, pretend we were 18 when we were actually 15. His place was one of a series of places we’d go to hang out. Alan was an actor and a musician. He would play his one song over and over again (in the style of Donovan; contemporary folk). It was an insidious melody with not many words:

I’m a wanderin´round and round
I’m a wandering through the town
I’m a wandering through the air.
I’m a wandering everywhere
Ain’t got no place to call my home
Ain’t got… some line that ends with roam
Ain’t got no … I forget the rest of things he didn’t have in the song, however the beginning stanza has stayed insidiously in my memory to this day.

One day my friend and I stopped by to see him in Hollywood but he had moved out. End of story. I didn’t give him much thought really, although I did wonder where he had gone. Then about six years later I was travelling with my classical music girlfriend, going into a post office in Paris to send cards home, and literally bumped into Alan there. We both remembered each other very clearly, he was elated to see me, had been living in Paris for over four years, making a living with his music. He introduced us to friends and found us a free place to stay on the 6th floor of a building with no elevator.

In those days, as I mentioned, I was a classical musician. I wanted to visit the conservatoire and to maybe meet the famous (in classical circles) Nadia Boulanger, who was very old but still teaching.
I have all these adventures documented in my trusty journal, now stored away somewhere in my Hollywood archives back home in USA. Somewhere in those pages there is a handwritten letter by Nadia Boulanger about 6 years before she died, saying she would be willing to accept me as a student. However, my parents had other ideas for me, and funding my further studies (and escapades) in Paris was not one of them.

The funny thing is to this day what I remember most about Alan was his simple song:

I’m a wanderin´round and round
I’m a wandering through the town
I’m a wandering through the air.
I’m a wandering everywhere…

¥ † ¥
¥ † ¥
¥ † ¥

My impression decades ago when I was 22 of Paris and the French was and remains the same: they are a very gracious culture. I have always spoken reasonable French so I know that helps. But it is more than that – the French, even the Parisiens have a great joie de vivre and a quick sense of humor. Never has a Parisien been rude to me. Not once.

Now, as a middle age tourist with my American husband, we are finding the same Parisian graciousness and general willingness to help as I did with my 22 year old girlfriend. All these years I thought it was because we were cute (we were) and young and naive that the French took to us but now I know different. It is a fact – the French are clever, gracious, helpful in general. I speak passable French with a french accent (I’ve been told I speak French like someone from the north, whatever that means) and completely understand most conversations. Even Mark, who speaks no French was impressed by how gracious everyone is. Some say the “new French” being nice is due to political pressure and tourism, but I disagree. The French are not the type of culture that does what it is told. I am of the firm conviction that they always have been and at least to me always will be gracious and helpful.

Fortunately day two is not as rainy, though it is certainly cold enough. We do some perfunctory tourist stuff with “we have decided to be happy” attitude, including Notre Dame and a boat cruise up the Seine, underneath all the wonderful bridges that can only be appreciated from below.

Le Notre Dame

The sound of Mass at Le Louvre

Other than the Louvre, there are three memorable experiences to relay:

– Pompidou modern art museum has a thought provoking exhibit by Ron Arad who fuses the boundaries between architect, designer and artist. Evidently this show spans 25 years of his work. We almost feel like we are part of the design process as we meander through his distinctive theatrical environments. We love his furniture.

The Ron Arad exhibit at Pompidou Centre

The sound of a Ron Arad rocking chair
The Ron Arad furniture

¥ † ¥
¥ † ¥
¥ † ¥

– Eiffel Tower – We ride to the top on a full moon. How romantic is that?

Photos from the top of the Eiffel Tower on a full moon

The sound of the metro in Paris

¥ † ¥
¥ † ¥
¥ † ¥

– Bobbie’s opening – His opening is very trendy, the people a mixture of upwardly mobile French elite and artists.

reunion with Scarlett Rouge

I have a friend living in Paris named Scarlett Rouge I haven’t seen in about 20 years. She used to be the youngest kid in a group I wrote songs and played keyboards for in the late 80’s. In the following video she is the littlest kid, closest to the camera. (I play keyboards behind her).

Scarlett was FOUR years old in this video

Scarlett is now 27. We have been back in touch through Facebook. I invited her to Bobbie’s opening and she shows up with her delightful boyfriend named Cyan plus a friend.
Scarlett and Cyan

Mark and I took lots of photos of people looking at Bobbie’s very pricey pinhole photos. They have been selling well ever since Brad Pitt bought 11 prints from him recently.

People-watching at Robert Mann exhibit

Click here to see the rest of the photos from exhibit


A Wi-Fi moment in the park, tiny me in huge sculpture

While Mark did his Wi-FI iPhoto/Twitter thing, I wandered around and recorded these few moments in the park