A Multi-Colored Paris House Hunt
Passover this year was spent taping House Hunters International #46. There was no seder, no matzot in the pantry (the traditional unleavened bread), not much of anything to remind me that I should be celebrating the holiday. It’s not so much a religious holiday as it is tradition to tell and retell and retell again and again and again every year the story of the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt to remind us of the hardships we’ve faced to obtain freedom. We all believe the story to be true, but it’s no truer than any bible story as scholars have been trying to pinpoint its origin for centuries. We just accept it to be what it is, and nonetheless, enjoy the celebration, the story and all that goes with it…mainly eating and drinking wine…and lots of it.
Two years ago, before Covid-19 and confinement, I was in Nice and invited a few friends over for a traditional seder. We giggled through the entire ritual because my old, worn-out “haggadahs” (a text/booklet that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder) that were once distributed at an American Cathedral Seder held in Paris eons ago, weren’t printed very well, so the beginning letters of some of the words were missing, such as the “P” of “Passover.” We read it as “Assover,” hence the natural hilarity of our service. Ever since, these friends and I cannot think of Passover without laughing and it will forever be known to us as “Assover.”
The taping is with a young American woman lawyer who scored a plum job as in-house counsel for a software company here in Paris. She’s looking for an apartment that matches her wish list…the things just about the same as what every American moving to Paris wants: a fireplace, a terrace and a view of the Eiffel Tower. On top of that, she’s in great need of way more closet space than the average immigrant to house her ginormous wardrobe. What I say to that is: “Wish in one hand, pish in the other and see what you got.” (The real saying, written by Stephen King in The Dark Tower, is this: “Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first.” I like my version better, don’t you?) What that means, though, is she’s highly unlikely to find it all in one pretty package, but we sure as hell are going to try.
Amber, the young lawyer, is as American as apple pie. Dressed in very bright colors, sporting designer clothing and accessories, has a big gorgeous smile, and glows with intelligence and a big personality. She had an array of her designer shoes, designer purses and jewelry spread out on a long table in her office in the 17th arrondissement when I entered midday on Saturday to tape my first segment there—the “meet and greet.” This is when we supposedly first meet and she tells me all about her search for the perfect Paris apartment. (BTW, there’s no such thing.) Amber is a live wire and we’re having a blast taping the show. Her mile-high stilettos are having a tough time on the cobblestones as we visit properties in Le Marais, but as I understand it, those are mostly donned for times when she’s sitting at her desk, not maneuvering the old Paris streets.
Amber and I have become fast friends and the episode is sure to be a hit, just based on the positive and electric energy between us, not to mention our crazy color combinations—she in hot pink and lavender; me in the primary colors of red, yellow and blue with a splash of green. The camera’s eye loves the color…as do I (as you likely already know, if you’ve watched any of our episodes). Neither one of us quite fits into Paris, however, where most Parisians don’t venture much outside of wearing black, navy, gray, brown or beige…maybe a bit of winter green, burgundy or taupe, but bright colors are simply not part of the usual landscape in Paris like they are in the South of France.
On the way home from taping Sunday afternoon, I stopped in a pop-up plant shop on rue des Filles du Calvaire and scored a bright fuchsia orchid, a hot pink hyacinth and a hot pink African violet* for a whopping 14€—to be company for the others like them at home I nurture and love. It’s the color I crave and there’s nothing so beautiful as a the natural color of flowers. I must have been inspired by Amber’s jewel tones to go for the pinks this time around.
*I learned Sunday that what we commonly call an African violet is known in France as a “Saintpaulia.” It originates from Africa, but the flowers look like violets…hence the common name. It was discovered by Baron von Saint Paul, the German governor of a part of Tanzania, in 1892 growing among shaded rocky ledges in the Usambara Mountains, at which point it was sent to Hermann Wendland at Berlin’s Royal Botanic Gardens, who named it Saintpaulia ionantha after Baron’s family name. (Don’t you love this kind of trivia? I do!)
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian with Amber Johns
P.S. Speaking of past HHI episodes…you can find information on all of them on our website. Some of them still have videos of the episodes on HGTV, click on the episode to see if it’s scheduled for re-airing or has a video you can watch now.