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Paris Black and Blue Marks

It rained. Then it was sunny. Then it rained. Then it was sunny. The sky went black and then blue and then black and then blue. The awning over the terrace at Café Charlot opened and closed and opened and closed. The umbrellas came out, then they were closed. Then they came out and closed again. The sunglasses came out, then were put away. We didn’t know if we were coming or going.

 House Hunters International crew members Noel Thompson and Gordon RossHHI crew members Noel Thompson and Gordon Ross do what it takes to get the shotOn the Orient ExpressOn the Orient ExpressMurder on the Orient ExpressMurder on the Orient ExpressJosephine exhibit at the Musee Luxembourg - Paris, FranceJosephine's famous Empire DressThe famous Empire DressJoséphine Beauharnais' Chateau MalmaisonThe Chateau MalmaisonDemocrats Abroad's Webex with Al FrankenDemocrats Abroad’s Webex with Al FrankenAl Franken live via Webex - Paris, FranceWebex with Al Franken

It was a schizophrenic weekend that wreaked havoc with the House Hunters International film crew trying to meet a deadline. We filmed yet another episode here in Paris (my 18th) and another is scheduled to be filmed next weekend. Both of these episodes are about renting an apartment, not purchasing, and both are about young people moving here for work reasons. Strangely, while the young French are suffering from high unemployment (as of March 2014, 10.4%), the foreigners with specific skills and a strong command of the English language are being moved in to fill international kinds of posts.

The episodes take a few days to film working with a small crew consisting of a director, cameraman, sound engineer and “fixer.” The main “contributor” also has a sidekick — whether that person be a spouse, family member or friend. So far, the sidekick has never been a pet — guess that’s because we can’t count on the pet to say something meaningful, like “Are you sure you want to live up five flights of stairs and still walk me twice a day?”

So, now there are 18 shows filmed, four of which have not yet aired and are still ‘in the can.’ It takes months before they are edited and scheduled for airing — the timing over which we have no control. If you want to stay up on the broadcast schedule so you can catch the shows, be sure to read Parler Paris (we always announce them) or visit our HHI Web page.

Last weekend when we tried to see the “Il était une fois l’Orient Express” exhibition a the Institut du Monde Arabe, we were told it was sold out and we were sent away. My friends purchased tickets for two days later and reported back that they waited in line a long time to enter the legendary train and then were “railroaded” through the exhibition.

I laughed at the time to the pun, then experienced it myself on Saturday afternoon. Again in the rain, sun, rain, sun, rain routine that kept us opening and closing our umbrellas. Even with tickets we waited almost an hour to walk through the cars, only to be told that the dining car was closed as a private party was about to fill it for a special event.

We were slightly cheated, but still, the legendary long-distance passenger train, originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits most prominently associated with the route between Paris and Istanbul, and of course, Agatha Christie’s murder mystery, “Murder on the Orient Express,” is well worth the line and the visit…even in the rain, and the sun, and the rain.

When you hear the name Josephine associated with France, do you think first of the performer Josephine Baker or Joséphine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon I and the empress of France? The empress is the one and only on display at the Musée du Luxembourg in an exhibition rightfully titled, “Joséphine,” and simply that.

When I think of Josephine, what first comes to mind is her particular fashion style — the “empire” dress in which she is portrayed over and over again, a few of which are on display. The second thing is the romantic affair she and Napoleon had that was illustrated in numerous love letters and tales…

“Since I left you, I have been constantly depressed. My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart. When, free from all solicitude, all harassing care, shall I be able to pass all my time with you, having only to love you, and to think only of the happiness of so saying, and of proving it to you?”

If Joséphine de Beauharnais fascinates you more than this one exhibit, then you can have even more of her by visiting her home just outside Paris, the Château de Malmaison, noted for its magnificent rose garden.

Sunday evening, the umbrellas were stacked up outside the Democrats Abroad Chairperson’s (Connie Borde) apartment and the living room was converted into a theater to hold a live “Webex” with Minnesota Senator Al Franken. Before Al Franken spoke, a few special tributes were made by his brother Owen, a photojournalist living in Paris and his daughter, Thomasin, while holding his grandson proudly to the camera so Al could see him and say hello.

Al has an interesting pre-Senate life, having been a writer and performer for Saturday Night Live, host of a political radio talk show, author of six books — political satires critical of right-wing politics. He won his 2007 election by only 215 votes and is therefore working hard to get re-elected by a much larger margin this go-round — hence the Webex and fundraising campaign.

Special note: It’s easy to vote from abroad. Visit to get your absentee voter registration application on-line in just two minutes.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds - photo by Gordon RossAdrian Leeds

Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC


(photo by Gordon Ross)

Respond to Adrian


P.S. Support our local American artists! Visit the Paris Alumnae Network “Art Show 2014” exhibition of members’ works May 13-25 at Gallery B&B, 6 bis rue des Récollets, 10th arrondissement (Métro Gare de l’Est or Bonsergent), open Monday-Friday 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The “Vernissage” is Thursday, May 15 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. and artists include Anne Morton, Barbara Navarro, Catherine Jullian, Clive Manuel, Fred Alden, Helen Tange, James Kigin, Karen Pratt, Kent Ravenscroft, Mary Ann Rivet, Meredith Mullins, Mimi Horne, Robert Seabrook, Rosemary Flannery and Sarah Perves.

Parler Paris Apartments - La Paris PlageP.P.S. Unique in Paris — a gorgeous luxury apartment in a 17th-century Marais building with private rooftop terrace, elevator and air conditioning! The charming exposed beams, high ceilings, skylight, a sand beige, gold and turquoise décor done in mosaic tile by a local Mosaiste, plus every luxury and amenity you can think of, make La Paris Plage and Le Parisol a holiday oasis right in central Paris! Sleeps up to four in two apartments. Visit La Paris Plage/Le Parisol for more information and photos — and book your stay today!


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