It’s in Paris They Find True Love
The antibiotics kicked in and by Saturday, there was enough strength in these old bones to proceed to vacate my virtually empty apartment (in preparation for renovation) and move the most important possessions over to “Le Provençal” — computer, printer, external hard drive, single cup coffee press and hairdryer along with one change of clothing and whatever else we could carry over in two trips that I cannot live without more than 24 hours.
Before the end of the evening, everything was properly installed in its own special place and the only things not at full speed were the Vonage phone (the U.S. VoIP phone) and the Satellite TV (Freebox). Normally a midnight source for news and the perfect bedtime sedative, the TV was blaring a bright blue screen and the text, “No Signal.” Luckily, on the bookshelf is a small collection of DVD’s for paying guests — all Paris and France related, of course, such as “Amélie Poulain” and “French Kiss.” “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003) gave rise to a midnight showing.
You remember it, I’m sure. Playboy Harry (Jack Nicholson) has an fondness for younger women, but ends up falling in love with Erica (Diane Keaton), an age appropriate woman who is the mother of his current young flame, after a heart attack renders him helpless in her Hamptons beach home (the kitchen is twice as big as Le Provençal!). She, a playwrite, has an ongoing fantasy love affair with Paris, a more dependable lover than any man, and dreams to set the closing scene of her newest play in Paris at the elegant bistrot, Le Grand Colbert.
I had forgotten how poignant and charming this movie is (single women my age can relate!) and while the big house in the Hamptons looked awfully luxurious, all I could think about was how content I was to be in 16.5 square meters of pure color and frivolity in an 18th-century “maison” with its exposed ancient wood beams, while getting choked up over the scenes of Paris — in the restaurant set to candlelight and on the bridge overlooking the Seine with the soft lights of the Hôtel de Ville in the background.
There wasn’t much of Paris really, and the overlooked logistics of how Harry gets from Le Grand Colbert to the Seine in a matter of only a few minutes with Erica pulls up in a taxi beside him, miraculously found(!) was the director’s lack of respect for millions of peo
ple who know it’s simply not possible. (2008 was a record breaking year with more than 80 million visitors to France, with more Americans visiting than ever since 2001.) Still, the message was: Paris is where dreams come true.
Sometimes I feel jaded, having lived here so long that unusable spaciousness (house in the Hamptons) seems more like a burden than a luxury (you just have to keep it clean and walk further to the refrigerator). Taking a stroll Sunday afternoon along the Quai Branly to the Salon des Antquaires with the Eiffel Tower looming overhead seemed like just any other day. The sky was typically gray. There was nothing unusual about the Métro ride over.
Within a few minutes of entering the temporary tented exhibition of fine antiques, the electricity generator blew rendering the entire space in pitch darkness. No one screamed. No one moved a muscle except to locate a box of candles and load the centuries-old silver candelabras so one could see his way among the furnishings…a hand-painted harpsichord, crystal chandeliers, carved, gilded mirror frames, inlaid wood armoires, etc. At the far end with light entering through the exit door, the refreshment stand served up cool glasses of white wine and spicy olives while no one seemed the least bit perturbed or had any plans to go elsewhere.
These are the times that a sense of true fortune comes over me. Reality hits that millions of people, perhaps all 80 who visited last year alone, just DREAM of living in Paris and flittering an afternoon away under the Eiffel Tower, but never make it happen — like at the end of Erica’s play, when it’s in Paris that they find true love.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Paris is more popular than ever as the setting for films and photographic productions of all kinds. 765 films were made in Paris in 2007, up 5% from the previous year. One out of two are French films, but six American full length feature films were produced along with 10 other nationalities.