Traveling Back to Le Vieux Paris

Les Trois Mousquetaires at the Place des Vosges
By Cinéma au Clair de Lune
Photo by Pamela Shandel

Traveling Back to Le Vieux Paris

Parler Paris Nouvellettre®
Your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, August 17, 2009
Paris, France

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Photo by Pamela Shandel

Dear Parler Paris Reader,

Seating had been set up in front of the enormous inflatable screen, but roped off until about 30 minutes before ‘showtime’ at the Place des Vosges Thursday night while we picnicked on the grass adjacent to the rows of plastic chairs. This is the best way to get the best view of the screen — by arriving early to pick your spot, lazing on the blankets, passing around the edibles and potables while waiting for the movie to start.

The movie shown by Cinéma au Clair de Lune as part of the Forum des Images was “Les Trois Mousquetaires” — in French, of course, with enough swashbuckling to keep us laughing (although I was caught snoring through some of the film).

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Parler Paris Nouvellettre® continued…

Usually there’s at least one small cultural encounter that punctuates the evening. This time it was by a young Frenchmen behind me who audaciously asked me to move to one side or another so he could see better from his position on the grass!…to which I replied, “You’re joking, right? There’s an entire Place to enjoy!”

And yes, this is one helluva “Place.” It’s so easy to travel back in time through your imagination while watching scenes of The Three Muskateers, set in Paris in the early 1600s. It

‘s also so easy to become ‘smitten’ with these centuries-old buildings that were home to the people who shaped not only Le Marais, but Paris, France, Europe and in essence, the world.

Sunday morning I had the pleasure of sharing a café crème with an author and historian named Bruno Remy and his wife Zagorka, who has written a tome in French (with one chapter excerpted in English) after his retirement, simply because he became so fascinated by the Marais. His quest was to discover and prove how the people who evolved from the Marais shaped not only their small enclave, and not only the entire city and country, but in fact, the history of the world.

The book is called “Le Vieux Paris: La Fondation et l’Evolution du Marais Médiéval” and is more than 700 pages of a self-published account beginning with the genesis of Le Marais in the middle ages. The book is complete with old maps and drawings of a Marais past.

In the English version of the 7th chapter titled “The Kings in the Marais,” the preface by Alfred Fierro, formerly a curator at the Bibliothèque Nationale agrees: “The Marais is only a small part of Paris, yet to a great extent, its history reflects that of the entire city and indeed of the whole French nation. Successive layers of historical events have impacted this area for more than 2,000 years, and today the buildings and the streets remain to tell the story.”

According to Remy, La Place des Vosges, then known as “La Place Royale,” construction having begun in 1605 and completed in 1612, never was home to any king, but was the site for the “Chevaliers de la Gloire” tournament and the “Duel des Six” in May 1627. Since that time many illustrious citizens have resided and do to this day. Madame de Sevigné was born there. Victor Hugo lived there 16 years. Poets such as Gautier and Daudet, Cardinal Richelieu and the courtesan Marion Delorme…all lived in the Place.

When I hold the key that enters the door at number 9, where the Academy of Architecture is situated and L’Amroisie, the Michelin 3-star restaurant…and “Le Palace des Vosges,” our fractional ownership apartment, I get a bit welled up with emotion for feeling like we’re making a difference in the history of the Place, the Marais, the city of Paris, the country of France and the world, just as Remy sees the ‘players’ in his written documentary.

And maybe it’s just a stable-turned-storage-turned apartment in an old building to some…but not to me. To me, it’s a link with another lifetime to which there is some kind of magnetic hold one cannot explain.

Notes: to acquire your copies of Bruno Remy’s books (not yet on!), visit the bookstores at Le Musée Carnavalet, Hôtel de Sully and the Association de Paris Historique or the English language bookstores in Paris: the Red Wheelbarrow, Shakespeare & Co and Galignani (no web site, 224, rue de Rivoli, 75001, Phone: or email the author directly at [email protected]

A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Friday afternoon, Gail Aboudara, the second shareholder of Le Palace des Vosges, came to Paris from San Diego to see it for the first time. She was more than enthusiastic to share her impression with us and agreed to be videotaped while sitting comfortably on the spring-green velour sofa in the spacious living room of the apartment. To see what she has to say, click here:

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“Vacation Home in Paris” – Episode HHINT-1A05

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September 01, 2009 10:00 PM ET/PT
September 01, 2009 2:00 AM ET/PT

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