Enlightened by the City of Light
Paris was pretty with a Capital P this weekend. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and the streets were jam packed with people…all in the interest of the 25th edition of “Les Journées du Patrimoine.
Saturday morning started off with the annual Rentrée Party for Parler Parlor. Parler Parlor is the French-English conversation group we have organized for more than 10 years where more than 50 nationalities have come together to practice speaking French and English as well as to make friends and learn about each other’s cultures. “We” refers to Marie-Elisabeth Crochard Fitère, a past director of Berlitz Champs Elysées, and myself. It is because of Parler Parlor that Parler Paris exists — as the newsletter was its first “communiqué” long before newsletters such as this were popular.
If it weren’t for Parler Parlor, I’d speak no French at all, nor would we have met so many wonderful and fascinating people…of all ages, all professions, all nationalities. It’s free the first time you come, so if you haven’t already tried it, please do (!) and bring along your French friends, as it works best with a good balance of Francophones to Anglophones.
For a look at the party and for more information about the group, visit http://www.parlerparlor.com/ and then click on the link for “Events.”
That afternoon, the annual “Techno” Parade was in full force, this year being its 10th year. Beginning at Place de l’Opéra and winding down rue Réaumur, turning d
own rue du Temple and then down boulevard Beaumarchais to Place de la Bastille over the course of eight hours, it filled the air with music and with an estimated 400,000 young in the streets to witness it. We noticed we were among the oldest in the crowd, and there were many ‘cautious’ people who were actually wearing ear plugs! An announcement in “Le Parisien” reported that the parade had limited the decibel level to 105, and organizers had distributed 100,000 ear plugs along with 50,000 information flyers.
Saturday evening there was no let up on the activity on the streets, but we chose to bask in the blue glow of the Eiffel Tower and dine nearby at Christian Constant’s newest restaurant on rue Saint-Dominique, Les Cocottes. The glow in the restaurant is a soft greenish-gray. The tables are high and all the seats are stools — a bit too ‘avant garde’ for my taste, but the food is well worth it…à la brilliant chef, Christian Constant. If you like chocolate, do not miss the “fabuleuse tarte au chocolat de Christian Constant.” Visit Paris-Update.com for a good review of the restaurant.
Sunday was devoted to seeing Paris’ historic monuments — the ones we never get to enter, but once a year. Our first stop was the Hôtel Amelot de Bisseuil at 47 rue Vieille du Temple. I’ve passed it hundreds of times and admired the big carved Medusa heads on its massive doors. It’s also known as the “Hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande,” and was Beaumarchais’ mansion at one time, built and rebuilt over the course of the last six centuries!
It is said that it was here that Beaumarchais wrote Figaro, that it was visited by luminaries and artists while harboring his operation to supply American revolutionaries with arms. Part of it is restored, the rest in disrepair, but the full restoration is sure to come. And as I understand it, it’s up for sale…are you interested?
Le Marais was filled with fascinating buildings and monuments to discover during the sunny afternoon, of which we were able to visit several easily. With each we entered, we were awestruck by these hidden treasures — the depth of the history behind the walls of the buildings we pass daily and think so little of. It teaches us that there so much to learn about Paris — a never ending quest to discover the City of Light that is forever enlightening us.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Coming soon…La Nuit Blanche, October 4th! For more information, visit http://www.paris.fr/
P.P.S. While you’re celebrating a Sleepless Night in Paris, I’ll be listening to Gay Marshall, part time Parisienne, part time New Yorker, sing Edith Piaf at the Metropolitan Room at 34 W. 22nd Street in New York. If you’ve never heard Gay sing, then don’t miss her rendition of Piaf on October 4th, 11th and 18th. It’ll be my way of keeping in touch with Paris while basking in the glow of the Empire State Building. Visit http://www.metropolitanroom.com for more information and to reserve your place.