Why I Love Paris, partie première.

I ran into a woman today who said she had no desire to go to Europe. It’s true she lives in a California beach town, and we have great wines, and rolling hills and it’s lovely here.

Inwardly, though, I just started stammering. But-but-but-but!

I guess there’s no way to explain it if you don’t already get it, and if you already get it, you probably want to share your love for Paris. Paris is like a lover that your partner has no trouble accepting into his or her life. Paris cannot grow old, and yet it is already old and beautiful and still sexy. A person can get a little jealous of Paris.

The small town I grew up in was cheerful, and a great teacher of lessons about people. But it was not Paris. How the Parisians stand themselves, I don’t know. I would be inwardly gloating every minute, if I lived there. It seems to me that most of them do have that je ne sais quois attitude, and when I think about it, most of the words I’d use to describe what I love are…French:

Style. Attitude. Elegance. Sophistication. Art. Music. Towers. Cathedrals. Museums. Culture. Enchantment. Glamour.

If these words aren’t completely French, they’re still derived from French – which I wish I could speak. After years of trying, it’s not the language itself that defeats me. Non, c’est l’aire, la mystique, la mystère.

Now, it’s true that some French are a bit imperious, which is why I’m shy speaking to them. And they really do cut people’s heads off, occasionally, usually for the right reasons – but sometimes, the wrong person. But the ideas behind the violence are good ones. I totally understand the motive.

And then, there’s the Art. Where else can you stand in front of a huge painting of a huge historical event, with realistic detail, from centuries ago – and the events depicted took place just steps from where you’re looking at the painting? Who did that, back then? Who recorded history so meticulously – or had the talent on hand to do it? The French.

Sure, some of the people who painted were immigrants, but the French don’t care – as long as as you are a good painter. Not a good painter? Don’t paint in public, please, and we won’t exhibit your drawings. You can still draw and paint – just do it at home.

They say that 75% of Parisians play a musical instrument of some kind. On the Summer Solstice, at Fête de la Musique, anyone who pleases can come out on the street and play. Manu Chao gives a concert up on Montmartre hill, the college kids bring their stereos into the streets, the Churches get their groove on with sacred music and organ work, classical music is never overlooked, and jazz is everywhere. Just wandering around, on our first night on our first trip to Paris, we ran into Potzi and part of his manouche group. We stayed up until 2 a.m. in Montmartre, at Au Clarion des Chausseurs (highly recommended – ignore Tripadvisor on this one; and I’m a Tripadvisor Destination Expert – just not for Paris). Potzi was amazing, but his bass player was equally amazing. I tried to tell him that – he thought I was confusing him with the guitar player (of course – most bass players think that). I think I managed to tell him I was a bass player too and that I admired his bass playing. I said it was “Superbe.” He corrected my pronunciation. Really. He did. I should have said “Magnifique” in the first place.

So I’m boning up on French words for Awesome (okay – now, that’s one great English word):

Redoutable

Extra. C’est extra! Genial!

Extraordinaire.

Miraculeux.

En plein forme!

Beau/belle.

Superbe.

Merveilleux/Merveilleuse.

Excellent.

Remarquable.

Sensational/le.

Stupéfiant.

And sometimes, Dingue.

That’s crazy, dude. C’est dingue, gars argot.





Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: