Just Because It Smells Like Marshmallows, It Doesn’t Mean It’s Good.

I was amazed to learn that there are one or two of you out there still willing to read this, even though the fabulous Parisian fantasy has come to an end. Bless your hearts. I did enjoy this entirely self-centered writing experience, so I may continue with this blog, until the novelty wears off once and for all. I promise never to write about dieting.

I have two days to choreograph and polish my first ever solo burlesque number. This prospect is entirely terrifying. I’m trying hard to channel some of the tenacity (and perhaps insanity) that drove me off to Paris by myself, but I fear that without the help of a stiff gin and tonic I may not pull this off.

The number will make it’s debut at a fundraising cabaret on Saturday night, and I’m pleased with the concept. It’s an Edward Gorey inspired tribute to the silent film era vamp. The music is of course a Lenni Jabour tune with just the right mix of drama and silliness. The trick will be to make the number read as being really tongue-in-cheek, and not like some crazed artsy chick taking herself way too seriously. I think breaking into the cha-cha mid-way through will help.

There’s something a bit sadistic too in getting up and doing that in front of people when you have not lifted a finger to exercise in several years. I try to console myself with the idea that the women I am trying to channel would have had very similar bodies. I won’t get too hung up on it, because some of you reading this may want to punch me. Let’s call it empowering instead, shall we?

Also, there’s the idea that perhaps it’s better if I curate and cultivate the burlesque numbers rather than participate in them. If it’s not my forte, I don’t want to look like I’m up there just because I need some of the glory, you know? I have been curious about what will happen if I just go for it though.

I’ve booked a private studio at work on Saturday, and I have a bag of treats to practice with. Fingers crossed…

(p.s. The title of this entry is because a bottle of marshmallow scented body spray leaked everywhere in my purse, and now only my left earphone works. But my ears smell delicious.)

Please don’t forget me…

Are any of you still reading this?

If you are, this is my very last evening in Paris. I’ve just returned from a quiet walk up to Sacre Coeur, where I had a look at the city and said goodbye to the Eiffel Tower. I’m trying very hard to keep my chin up right now.

This has been an incredible opportunity to run away from real life for a brief spell, and there are lots of things to deal with when I return to Canadian soil, and lots of decisions that are effected by this experience that I’ve just had.

I spent the entire day today with the incredibly gracious Lenni Jabour. She took me to the Marche Alesia in her neighbourhood, which was a lively open-air fruit, vegetable, and flower market. It was incredible, and the vendors were all hurling compliments at us. Besides the fact that the produce here is out of this world delicious and fresh, they also like to arrange beautiful samples of the food to entice you to buy. My favourite were the full pineapples will sliced rings resting prettily on the spiky tops, and a female flower vendor who was screeching “Come and see my pretty tulips” at the top of her lungs. Ladies, if you want a delicious treat, and a lovely little ego boost (not that I needed one after the last couple of days here…) head to the Parisian street market nearest you with une jolie amie.

After that we visited her boulangerie of choice and got a little arrangement of patisseries to enjoy at the cafe across the street where we each had un creme. A creme is the Parisian way of ordering a coffee with cream, rather than an espresso, which is what you get when you simply order a cafe. I tried macarons for the first time today. Macarons are delicate little morsels available in several different flavours and happy, lovely colours. They are a blend of almond flour and meringue, with a layer of gooey happiness in the middle. They only make them in Paris, and the boulangeries pride themselves on their good macarons.

After returning the groceries to Lenni’s lovely apartment, we strolled through the streets to St. Germain, in the hopes of catching the jazz festival there. We grabbed some crepes and a couple of kir as we made our way through the streets. It was quite a hike, and it was 26 degrees here today. The lovely thing about Paris is that you never grow tired of walking because there is so much to see here. We did a lot of window shopping, which in Paris is aptly named “Window Licking”.

The sampling of French Jazz turned out to be a bit of a let down, but the weather was lovely, and the company grand, so we grabbed another kir at the Cafe de Flore, which is legendary. After that we were pooped, so we headed back to Lenni’s to relax and then she made an exquisite little supper. (Bless you Lenni for keeping me company all day!!)

After we ate and rested, we met with Lenni’s lovely British viola player Caroline at The Canal. It’s a lovely Canal, which is of course part of the Seine, and there were groups of young people all lined up along the banks enjoying picnics. The picnic is a phenomenon that we don’t appreciate nearly enough back home, and with the summer right around the corner, I think I’m going to make it a new fun thing to enjoy with my darling posse. I crashed hard after my final Parisian Kir, and I think everyone else was tired too, so we called it early.

I had to climb the millions of steps to Montmartre one last time though. I wanted to see the city again by night, and see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. I didn’t wait to see it sparkle again, because the last one was really special, and I’d like to keep it at that until I return.

The photos today weren’t taken by me. My camera battery died again, and with only one day left, I didn’t want to spend too many Euros on new ones. You’ll see pictures of me above with the Mountie who stands guard at Crazy Horse (who says he’s grossly underpaid), and at the Cafe de Deux Moulins, which is the cafe in Montmartre where Amelie works in the movie. There is also a great photo of the Moulin de la Galette, which is the only original windmill left in Montmartre. Tomorrow I will get up early to pack and do laundry, and then hit a couple of choice shops here one last time.

What an incredible experience this has been. It’s everything I dreamed of and more. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity, and will always remember my first trip to Paris.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Ernest Hemingway

Something In Me Changed

Yesterday was incredibly touristy.
I did an open-top bus tour of half of the city, which was a fairly decent way to get around, but then I felt like I was getting heat stroke. I hopped off near Notre Dame and then took the Metro home. Walking around the city is still the best way to experience it.
I got back here, and showered, and then went to the Crazy Horse show. I had a lovely little supper at a bistro on Avenue George V, and then went to the cabaret, which was absolutely out of this world. I was totally inspired. The venue itself was gorgeous, and the show was everything I dreamed it would be. Any questions about this will be fielded via my personal email. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
After that, I went to the Eiffel Tower and paid the small fare to ride up to the second level and see the entire city by night. The tower sparkled for me not once, but twice, and is truly the most magical thing I have ever seen. Walking along the Seine, watching the tower sparkling, was incredibly romantic. This place, and this experience really does fill me with hope.
Today was the Louvre, which I barely put a dent in before my feet gave out. What a massive, magnificent place. Then the Jardin Des Tuileries, which was a perfectly manicured French garden of huge proportion.
After that, lunch and a pitcher of drinking chocolate at Angelina’s
The drinking chocolate was unbelievable. It was the best sex I’ve ever had served in a teacup with a bowl of cream to add to it if I wish. It was the miracle of life in a tiny pitcher. It was Christian Bale in smooth, silky, velvety drinkable form. The restaurant itself is an exquisite, elegant salon du the with original decor from when it first opened in the 1900’s. I wished so much that I could bring my mother there. She would be the perfect travel companion for my next trip. (Um, maybe the second best. No offense mom.) This city would sweep her off her feet, for sure.
After that I returned to Notre Dame to see the inside, and visited a gorgeous outdoor flower market, where I bought petite Lenni a fushia for her little French balcony. She’s having me for dinner tonight to meet some of her other Paris friends, but first a kir at the local bistro.

A little bit before my nap…

Yesterday I visited Musee d’Orsay, which was the realization of a huge dream. Blessedly, it was fairly quiet when I first arrived there, and I was able to explore the Impressionist paintings fairly unscathed. The Toulouse Lautrec room was out of this world. The lights were very dim because they are mostly watercolors and pastels which are easily damaged by harsh light, but they were breathtaking. It made me quite emotional, actually. To see these images that have been so hugely inspirational in my life, in the city where they were painted, while I’m living in the very neighbourhood were they were conceived was just too much. I felt more reverance and humility than any old cathedral could ever conjure. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.

The other tourists seemed to be having a very different artistic experience. It seems that in order to prove to themselves, and their friends that they had taken in culture, they needed to pose in front of each painting, and either look ridiculously goofy, or stoic and pensive while having a photo snapped. Other people were taking photographs of the art itself. I just don’t get it. You come to this place to see first hand these exquisite works that have sparked a new movement in art history. You can see every line, and every brush stroke, and the colour is so vivid and alive, and somehow you need to experience that through the lense of a camera? Were we not built with two perfectly lovely lenses of our own to experience the world? Don’t we also each have a pretty decent hard drive onto which we can store all of the images we capture? Also, when you position your obnoxious ass in front of a painting trying to shoot your stupid friends who are making the rock and roll sign with their fat, meaty hands, you are in my way. By the way, in case you haven’t already realized this, the images above are from the internet. I didn’t shoot them in the museum, but I did see the originals there. What I did shoot was the beautiful architecture (d’Orsay used to be a train station) and the view from the roof top terrace, where you can see my neighbourhood and Sacre Coeur.

The Van Gogh paintings were something to behold. I’ve never been a huge fan of his work, but to see the incredible texture and detail in real life really made my heart sing. The Degas exhibit was lovely, and I also found two artists I’d never heard of who really are incredible. One is Gustave Caillebotte. Check out his Raboteurs de parquet above. The other was in a special exhibition and is an expressionist painter named Lovis Corinth, depicted above in a self-portrait with his wife. That looks like a happy marriage to me!

I was pretty exhausted after d’Orsay, so I sat down at a bistro and had a little lunch and un verre du vin rouge. I also tried foie gras au cannard. If you think too much about the ingredients, it’s a bit scary, but it really, really is out of this world. I was very, very happy after that.

I then wandered around St. Germain, which was full of lovely shops. If I had a lot of money, I could spend it beautifully in Paris. I did splurge a little and bought myself a French perfume. I almost walked out of the store right after I entered, because there was a general smell of an overly-scented grandma, but then I saw this tiny little bottle with a purple ribbon. The label said “Violet”, which when said en Francais actually has three syllables, and is so pretty! It smelled very sweet and floral to me, but I spritzed some on my wrist, and then headed off. After it had settled, it evolved into this delicious sweet, clean, peppery smell that I couldn’t get enough of. My hope is that I can use it for good, not evil, but with power like that you can never be sure which way it will go.

I took some photos of the church at St Germain du Pres. It’s ancient, and very pretty.

Last night I went to see my friend Lenni perform at a very popular club called Le Baron. Her show was lovely, but the place was really old, and seedy. It was a bordello many, many years ago, and was then a swinger club in the 70’s. Now all the models and hipsters hang there, and they arrived en masse as Lenni was finishing her show. The DJ took over, and then I learned that French people cannot dance to save their lives. I’m also hoping it was a retro night, otherwise I worry about their musical taste. It was interesting to watch these very skinny, 11 foot tall girls who were so very young get plied with liquor and god knows what else by very, very slimy looking men. I wanted to take them out of there and send them home. I think that means I’m getting old. Also, the washroom, which was only a small step above the seriously scary pay per use public stalls on the street had a powder girl! She was honestly put off when I didn’t tip her, even though I caught not one, but two men in the stall in the ladies. I think they were trading ties. I really can’t be sure.

I shared a cab home with a lovely gal named Nathalie who is Lenni’s friend. She lives in Montmartre, and is French Canadian, so she spoke excellent English. It was a very late night.

Today, I woke up at 9:00 and headed out to meet Lenni. I stopped at the Boulangerie for un pain au chocolate (which is French for “this will make you see god”) and then hopped on the Metro to Le Bon Marche. After a quick cafe at a bistro we ventured into the very first department store in Paris. What a beautiful place, but so expensive! We then went to an incredible food market, where I stocked up on some French treats to bring home, and we got a picnic which we ate in the park in true French style. I ate a lot of creamy French cheese smeared all over a fresh baguette. Now I know why I didn’t bring any pants to wear here.

Next on the agenda was the Camille Claudel exhibit at the Rodin Musem. Gorgeous. You should google Camille Claudel if you don’t know who she is. She was a student of Rodin, and in my opinion, her work was far more expressive and evocative than his. The museum used to be Rodin’s home, and it was gorgeous, with incredible gardens to wander through, filled with sculpture. I saw “The Thinker” in real life, and that was painful because every tourist who passed through had to have their photo taken sitting at the base of the statue in the same pose. God help me.
(Though, I do still think that he looks like he’s taking a complicated shit…)

After the musem, we found another bistro where we each enjoyed un Kir, which is my new big thing. Lenni and I are going to try to figure out how to create kirgaritas this summer.

I’m really not sure where we went after that. I think we were both keen to continue exploring, but we were both so damn tired from the night before. We poked into some more shops, and then plunked ourselves down at ANOTHER bistro for une autre cafe. It was 25 degrees today, and glorious, but definitely sleep inducing.

We had to part ways, and now as I sign off, I’m going to take a nap avant le dinner. I will also have to consult my travel guide because I fear that I will not be anywhere near doing all of the things I wanted to do before I leave here, and I think it’s time to hatch a plan.

Look how happy I look on my little French Balcony. Can you even imagine me returning to life in Toronto?

Lundi, Part Two – “The High Road Isn’t Always the Best Road”

O' City:

A change of landscape
Is a very good way to escape
The roof tops from six stories high
Breath their heat into November Sky
Could be a ship or a train
Driving, sailing, keeping sane
Wind is blowing through my hair,
Feeling fine in this foreign affair,
Biding and killing my time,
This city's taking me for a ride.

Oh City -
Be my lover!
You and I look good on each other,
I'm a girl on the rebound,
And I am throwing myself at this town .

Oh City -
Be my lover!
You and I could touch each other.
Show me yours and I'll show you mine
We could to have a real good time

I don't speak the language well
And I'm not from here, they can tell
I didn't know the currency was
My reason for coming was just because
And I can't seem to catch my breath,
I'm dizzy and sick just for a sec.
Yellow street lights on wet sidewalks ,
City's soaked in piss or a greasy chicken broth.
But it's timely rain, cause I'm under the weather
And I think chicken soup would make me feel better
City, in your bouillon I want to shower.
Especially when you're hot at rush hour
Your aggressio's infectious
Though your style is awfully pretentious.

Oh City -
Be my lover!
Though I know you've got many others
I'm a girl on the rebound
And I am throwing myself at this town.

Oh City -
Be my lover!
We could spend the night together
Show me yours and I'll show you mine,
We're gonna have us a real good time.

I have come so far to find
That I'm still pursued by my nagging mind.
I carry it like a passport.
Reminding me that I've got to return to the start.
'Hobo', hobos have found,
Is the short word for 'homeward bound',
I cam here to find myself
bBut I could have just stayed back home on the couch
Cause I'm still playing with bored and depressed
I'm just a loner kid killing time at recess.

Oh City!
Be my lover.
It doesn't have to be forever
I'm a girl on the rebound a
And I am throwing myself at this town.
Oh City -
Be my lover!
We could run away together
Shpw me yours, and I'll show you mine.
We're gonna have us a real good time.

Lyrics by The Fabulous Mille Shannon Duncan.

That's about it for tonight, I think.