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Fête de la (Sometimes ‘Mauvaise’) Musique and Other Merry Makings

Early last week someone jokingly called the upcoming “Fête de la Musique” — “Fête de la ‘Mauvaise’ Musique” — and we chuckled, naturally. Then the evening came (June 21st) and the realization set in that sure, sometimes that was really true, but it really didn’t matter. It’s all a lot of fun, no matter how good or bad the music.

The rainy day brightened up just in time for most of the concerts, so the crowds came out prepared with umbrellas and warm clothing to weather any storm and take in the musical venues. Sadly, the Melo’men choir scheduled at the Musée Carnavalet was cancelled due to threat of lightning! That didn’t stop any of the others who ventured out to play or sing their hearts out to the massive adoring crowds.

25-6-12fetedelamusiquebymichaelhonegger-225-6-12fetedelamusique-225-6-12fetedelamusique-bymichaelhonegger25-6-12CaraBlackMedal25-6-12sandrinedeparisSandrine de Paris25-6-12MademoiselleCharivari25-6-12Tango25-6-12Tango-225-6-12redbandanaplayreadingStaged reading of Red Bandana

With every public event in Paris, one cannot help but notice how well-behaved are the hoards — (almost) no drunkenness, no loud or obnoxious behavior, no aggressiveness and most amazingly of all, virtually no police presence. They are there, but in their undercover clothing for no one to suspect or feel threatened. How different from what you might experience Stateside at a similar event.

We stayed in the Marais, where there is always plenty of ‘action’ and good spirits. The band at the intimate and lovely little Place Marché Sainte Catherine had everyone dancing to such “goldie oldies” as Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” There were sing-a-longs happening everywhere, particularly under the arcades of the Place des Vosges — so anyone could raise their voices in song if they wanted to or dared (not me!). A rooftop DJ had a party going on a terrace as well as attention from those who just wanted to hang out and hear the music down below on the street.

Our favorite was the simplest of all — a young man on guitar with a young woman on a chair next to him, singing operatically under an arch on rue Saint-Paul where the acoustics were ideal. Her voice was mesmerizing and the evening was another one of those memorable times in the City of Light (and music) “mauvaise” or not.

The next morning, a small group gathered in the office of Olga Trotiansky, Deputy Mayor responsible for solidarity, family and the fight against exclusion, who presented American author, Cara Black, with the official medal to the city of Paris. Cara has written a dozen murder mysteries that all take place in the various districts of the city. She has worked closely with city and police officials to authenticate her written words — no doubt the city would want to reward her for her efforts.

Madame Trotiansky said a few words, then turned over the floor to Cara Black who spoke sweetly and carefully in French about her experience as a writer whose “mise en scène” is Paris and of course, her appreciation of the city and its officials who were so indispensable to her success. The scene was overwhelmingly touching evoking tears and a large round of applause, before the champagne was poured for all to partake. To Cara, we say “Congratulations! — Well deserved!”

Friday afternoon I had my first formal French lesson with “Sandrine de Paris” who carries an iPad using it to type out the lesson while you’re in the midst of it. Much like having a black board to write on like in the ‘old days,’ it was instrumental as a valuable teaching tool. In no time at all, she discovered a few of my weaknesses in French and has already sent over a few exercises to prepare for the next time we meet.

At this stage in life in Paris, it’s the only way to seriously improve my level of French is with a good private instructor who can pin-point the problem spots and knows how to find the solutions to alleviate them. Meeting doesn’t have to be in person — that’s the big advantage. Sandrine can be anywhere, as long as you have Internet access and Skype, it can all happen remotely. When Sandrine returns to San Francisco, she and I will be able to continue the lessons without a hitch. She was so impressive as a teacher, that I signed up for five straightaway to help me get beyond the level at which I am now stuck.

For more information contact Sandrine.

On route up to Abbesses Saturday afternoon we stopped at the foot of Sacré-Coeur to visit our favorite chapelier (hat maker) — Mademoiselle Charivari! Clara Garcia (a.k.a. Mademoiselle Charivari) has a kiosk at Place Suzanne Valadon right at the entrance to the “funiculaire de Montmartre” where she sells many of her own creations. Tourists stop by, naturally, but the hats are not of the usual tourist beret variety and are very reasonably priced. For something really French and chicer than chick, it’s worth a special stop…and if you do, tell Mademoiselle I sent you.

A few toes were crushed during the 1.5 hour tango lesson at the Festival Corazón des Abbesses, but all in good fun. There were a few different group lessons in which to participate and then later that evening, the Orchestre Silencio came out to play and the dancers filled the room.

These were seasoned tango dancers, not rookies like me. The women were in flared skirts and high-heel leather-soled shoes. They sat around the edge of the dance floor waiting for the gentlemen to ask them to dance. The partners didn’t always seem so suited — one very, very statuesque woman danced with a very short man whose head perched on her breasts…dancing one dance after another. Looks didn’t play a part to get asked — only how well one danced. Women never ask the men, I was told.

Some of the dancers were clearly professionals or at least, very experienced and watching them was great, envious all the time of their skill. By the end of the evening, I made some decisions about my future as a tango dancer: 1. I’ll never be able to wear the right shoes for fear of being crippled, 2. It’s virtually impossible for me to let the man lead(!) and 3. I really don’t want to get so close to so many strange men who potentially have bad breath or sweaty armpits.

So, the conclusion is…it takes two to tango…so, until I find the right partner, I’ll be on the sidelines for a very long time.

Find more information about your FIRST tango in Paris (not your last).

On a very rainy Sunday night a large crew of actors who each played many roles staged a reading of Timothy J. Smith’s newest screenplay, Red Bandana. This was under the guise of Moving Parts, a cross-cultural institution in Paris for playwrights and screenwriters and an important resource for writers led by actress, Stephanie Campion.

Smith is the winner of this year’s American Screenwriting Competition. His story is about a repo man on the run from a Mexican drug gang who sets up his identical twin brother to take the hit for him, only to have a change of heart and try to save his life. It was an exciting, fast-paced, dramatic thriller that was difficult to stage as such, but was done skillfully and fun for everyone.

Moving Parts holds most of the readings at Carr’s Pub, 1 rue du Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris. For more information, visit Moving Parts.
On Tuesday, July 10th, Timothy will be speaking on “Real Life Experiences that Made a Book” — a discussion of his novel, Cooper’s Promise. To learn more, visit Parler Paris Après Midi.

Coming this week: Gay Pride and a whole host of upcoming events, so be sure to tune into Wednesday’s Parler Paris!

A la prochaine…

adrian by Michael Honegger FeteAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

(photo by Michael Honegger)

Respond to Adrian


25-6-12ecoleculinaryartsP.S. Looking for a fresh breath of culinary inspiration to carry you through the summer and on through the year? French North Carolinian Susi Gott Séguret is bringing the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts to Paris to tickle your senses and please your palate. Join an intimate group of food and wine enthusiasts in a champagne cruise along the Seine, two market tours and intensive hands-on culinary sessions at l’Ecole des Gourmets, a “tour de France de vin” in the ancient vaulted caves below the Louvre, a gastronome’s tour of Paris with world-renowned author Thirza Vallois, a bicycle ride and picnic along the Seine leading into a foray in Monet’s gardens in Giverny, a crash course in French culinary slang, and an evening in one of Paris’s many fine restaurants. Students may attend the full 4 days (June 27-30), or choose certain sessions tailored to their schedule. For more information, visit the website above or contact [email protected].

P.P.S Don’t mis the Aussie-Francophile Property Network! Join us for our first meeting June 26, 2012 at 6 p.m. upstairs at La Pierre du Marais! Meet with Adrian Leeds, Director of the Adrian Leeds Group, LLC and Sarah Potter, Director of Endroit Property Pty Ltd to learn more about living and investing in France. It’s free and it’s informative!

viewP.P.S. Take advantage of our West Village New York City studio apartment (with a perfect view of the Empire State Building) is available for vacation rental July 11 TO 22 (22nd is departure date) for as little as $195/night, $1225/week (7 nights or more — $175/night). Located in the heart of the coolest ‘hood’ in the city. “It’s super cozy, clean and comfortable.” A 50% deposit reserves your stay. Visit West Village Studio for more information.

20-6-12CHEZPALMIERSP.P.P.S. Help our long-standing staff member, Schuyler Hoffman, receive a small business grant to make improvements to his B&B in New Orleans, Chez Palmiers. With at least 250 votes at Mission Small Business by June 30th, he and his partner can qualify and be considered for a $250K grant! To cast your vote, all you have to do is:

1. Go to and login using Facebook or create your own login.
2. Search for “Chez Palmiers”
3. Click on the blue Vote button next to our business name to show your support for our business.

Schuyler Hoffman and David Peterson really appreciate the support!
Chez Palmiers Bed and Breakfast
1744 N Rampart Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
Local: 504.208.7044 or 504.729.8686
Chez Palmiers Bed and Breakfast


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