The Intimate Parts of Paris
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
Yesterday evening at dusk, I sat with Thirza Vallois at the café under the colonnade at Palais Royal overlooking the one-and-only bejeweled Métro entrance sipping on a Coca Light Rondelle (with a slice of lemon) discussing the route of the Grand Tour and what else?…Paris, of course!
Our opinions about the crazy Métro entrance in front of us differed…she’s not as fond of it as I am…and we discussed the feelings we had about the juxtaposition of the modern Pyramid at Le Louvre, the industrial design of the Le Beaubourg that many still think is an eyesore and the absurdity of the the new Bibliotèque Nationale.
Thirza is acknowledged worldwide as an expert on Paris, is the author of a three-volume series about the history of the city (“Around and About Paris”) and recently published a beautifully illustrated work of “Romantic Paris.” She is clearly a romantic herself (as well as a brilliant historian), evident from even just our one conversation last night.
This is the third time we’ve gone through this process…pouring over detailed maps of the city outlining the route the bus would take through all 20 arrondissements on Sunday, October 26th. The Grand Tour is part of the Working and Living in France Conference, but it’s open to anyone else who wishes to come (until the bus is full, of course!). As the bus winds slowly through the intimate parts of the city, with me directing the driver’s every turn, Thirza at the helm with the mic lectures on what is ahead of us…describing the past, present and future of each neighborhood with anecdotes that make the stories personal, relative and alive.
As we reviewed the route, street by street, refining every turn and checking for the one-way streets that might give us problems, Thirza had a hard time editing out any minute part of the route. “Oh, but it’s so gorgeous there! They should see this ‘petit coin’ of Paris!” she argues, even knowing there’s no way to maneuver these streets with a 50-passenger bus. And we laughed because there’s no part of Paris she doesn’t see as special in some way, even when being most critical.
Thirza’s tour is a tour like no other. It’s two hours in the morning before the city is fully awake, a break for lunch in the cafés at Convention and then another two hours to complete the full circle, all the while she tells us stories we’d never hear otherwise.
If you want to join us, there may still be room on the bus.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]
P.S. For the detailed information or to register for The Grand Tour of Paris, visit /frenchproperty/conference/grandtour.html or contact Michael Whetstine at +561.968.8007 or +888.968.8007 or email: [email protected]
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* Further resources:
* If you can’t make the conference…then take us up on a one-on-one.
* Get your French up to snuff with the best teacher in town.
* Max’s wine of the month is a 4 euro bargain not to be missed.
* Great meals in Paris don’t have to be expensive. Parisians do it every day…pay less. Learn how.
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