“It Really is “”April in Paris”””
Glorious couple of days…
blossoms, eclectic dress, a jazz exhibit at the Musée de Branly…
A cliché photo of dying. Newspapers and the old man not even buying….
Finding the last parking space for the Vélib bicycle…
Lots of meals with friends…
And catching up with one not seen for over 20 years!
The city as beautiful as ever…
Crowded but not crazy….
Time to go as the hotels are cheap…
Back in London to rain, cold etc…
Off the Eurostar and two ‘beautiful people’ selling copies of the Evening Standard for 10p. Normally 50p…
Entire newspaper itself, just sold to new billionaire owner for the flat rate of ONE POUND.”
hh (alias Harry Hamburg)
I found his letter very poetic, although I doubt it was meant to be — Harry Hamburg’s note to me along with a series of ‘snap shots’ taken by his camera-phone — the man who “spent his career taking pictures, right at the heart of American political life.” This is how the London Student described him in their March 16th issue.
He and my friend and last weekend’s traveling companion, Annalee Beverley, both headed to London this week, both having snapped p
hotos of April in Paris during their few days taking in the freshness of Spring in the city that never seems to stop awakening your senses.
Annalee spotted a very tiny, very old, but very alive woman dancing to a street band on rue Saint Antoine. She, too, must have felt the energy in the cool, wet air — the same energy of Spring that has the tulips in full bloom and the trees bursting a bright green. The newly planted geraniums in my window boxes are standing tall, the heads of the flowers are big and the color a day-glo red. They scream “April in Paris.”
The weekend was full of surprises. After Judith Merian’s workshop Saturday afternoon, “Writing for the Independent Film Market,” with a small, but serious group of playwrites, Annalee treated us both to a three-hour decadence at Les Bains du Marais — the hammam, “gommage” (body scrub), massage and sauna.
I’d passed it on rue des Blancs Manteaux and heard about it ‘umpteen’ number of times, but had never indulged in it myself. She booked it on a “jour mixte” — a day for both men an women — and asked for male “masseurs” who could provide a strong massage. (The term, “masseuse” is a strictly female term. Often because of the ‘unsavory’ associations that have gathered around the term “masseuse,” some serious practitioners generally prefer to be called “massage therapists”… but not in France.)
Les Bains du Marais is one of Paris’ more upscale hammams and obviously one of the most popular by the numbers of people scrambling to get lockers, towels and robes or an empty seat in the lounge. That didn’t seem to deter our schedule however, moving rather quickly from the sauna to the body scrub to the massage.
What Annalee didn’t say was that swimsuits are required on ‘jours mixtes,’ so when we disrobed in the sauna, a very hot steamy cavern of relaxation where one could see virtually nothing at all, I was quickly told to put on a “maillot de bain” and because I hadn’t brought one, one was offered. Being both surprised by the modesty requirement (in France) and of a rebellious nature, I refused the offering, but was careful to be as modest as possible in “mixte” company.
Annalee laughed when I told her “the sauna was like New Orleans in August” and we blindly found our way out in a massive sweat. Then they called us for the “gommage” — a total body scrub by a woman in a bathing suit using a raspy glove. Annalee was screaming in pain from the harsh exfoliation while I was boasting of Baden Baden’s Friedrichsbad Roman-Irish Bath scrubbing brush that put this little mitt to shame and that I use almost daily (where the days are always “mixte” and the dress code is always “sans des maillots du bain”).
We laughed again when I chose the handsome masseur over the one who resembled Uncle Fester of the Addams Family, and I laughed through the entire massage as he touched the ticklish spots under my feet and down my spine. Still, I left the table ‘loose as a goose’ and ready to get dressed and back on the street.
Annalee tried to sneak in some ‘quiet time’ in the relaxation room while I was showering and trying to find a Q-Tip and body lotions –none to be found. It was my only real complaint — that the dressing area was void of these little luxuries — the little necessities that would have made the experience complete. And when I mentioned it to the man in charge, who had been the one to offer the bathing suit, he explained that the customers steal the products and so it had been their decision to remove them. “Quel dommage”…or “Quel Gommage!,” I wondered?
Sunday early was the perfect time to easily enter the exhibition at the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, “Le Grand Monde d’Andy Warhol” — portraits and other works by the leader of pop art in America whose “wildly diverse social circles included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats” and who coined the expression “15 minutes of fame.” Get your tickets online in advance to avoid any wait or show up at opening time on Sunday morning as we did! Visit http://www.parisinfo.com for more information.
And to end a perfect weekend, Moving Parts presented a staged reading of Timothy Smith’s screenplay, “Stolen Crimes” at Carr’s Pub and Restaurant. It was a “quirky story about how a woman’s scheme to steal a celebrity’s identity backfires.” The play was fun, well ‘staged’ and acted and the comments from the audience constructive to the playwrite. Stephanie Campion runs the readings regularly throughout the year Sunday evenings from 7:30 p.m. for free attendance, except for one paid drink at the bar as appreciation to the hosting facility. For more information, visit StefCampion.com/Movpart
On the Métro homebound after this weekend of activity, a bunny stared at me from his owner’s lap, tickling me with the thought of being a “lap lapin,” and it dawned on me it wasn’t just an old lament. It really was “April in Paris.”
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
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