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Paris Pleasure and “Pain”

The plane landed in Paris Friday morning and I hit the ground running. Not surprising — there is simply an awful lot of life to be experienced in the City of Light and never enough time in which to do it all.

While I was with family in New Orleans, one of my cousins asked about what kind of network of friends I had in Paris. In a flash of remembering the days when I could count all my friends on one hand and how now, because of Paris, I have come to know literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of people, it must have sounded awfully bragadocious to expound on what was…the truth…and how life in Paris is very, very ‘full.’

7-1-13sarabarasbyNachoCuberoSara Baras – photo by NACHO CUBEROFour hours after the plane landed, I met a friend for lunch. By dinner time, there was yet another rendez-vous with a friend, starting off the usual two meals-a-day in restaurants socializing with friends and meeting with clients. Then there are the cultural events — realizing that there are too many great exhibitions to visit before they close and managing to take in one of Sara Baras’ last performances at the Théatre des Champs Elysées Sunday evening.

Sara Baras is the reason for my love affair with flamenco. First experiencing her form of flamenco ballet was at the same theater from one of the seats in the little boxes at the very top where you have to lean out to see anything at all, and even then, the performers are dots on the stage — but it was mesmerizing. The native of Cadiz whose mother, Concha Baras, taught flamenco at a school, has taken the dance to a new height. She uses simple sets, stunningly elegant costumes and elaborate choreography, while surrounding herself with amazingly accomplished singers, guitarists and dancers to create flamenco for a modern world.

7-1-13SaraBarasAt last night’s performance, tears ran down my face as the sound of the Spanish guitar sent chills down my spine and as she pounded her heels and toes at such a pace that her whole body was vibrating and the room was pulsating. Even my companion, who reluctantly agreed to join me, confirmed the performance was spectacular. The appreciative audience, in typical French style, gave her a long standing ovation and no one wanted her or her troupe to leave the stage nor call an end to the pleasure and leave the theater.

Sara Baras performs in Paris almost every year at this time, so put it on your calendar for next year as a ‘must see.’ Meanwhile, to get a taste of flamenco, Flamenco en France is featuring a Fiesta Flamenca on January 25th on a boat on the Seine! See Flamenco en France for more information.

7-1-13oldestbakery photobymsn.comThe oldest bakery in Paris – photo courtesy msn.com7-1-13manonbakery

Last week as the new year was unfolding, the sad news came that the city’s oldest bakery, a ‘mere’ age of 202, is closing due to the landlord doubling the rent. Claude Esnault, the proprietor of Au Grand Richelieu Boulangerie told Reuters, “I would like to see someone take over the bakery, but I know it will close. It will die.” The rent is increasing to €18,000 and that’s a whole ‘helluva’ lot of baguettes to sell at about 1€ apiece. 

According to, the bakery produces more than 400 baguettes, 200 croissants, 150 pain au chocolate, and dozens of other pastries per day, but it’s still not enough to keep them alive. We’ve lost one bakery in my immediate neighborhood in the last 15 years — that’s likely better than most. High rents are making it harder for independent merchants to stay alive. So, what will we lose next?

A la prochaine…

Adrian-Leeds-Paris thumbAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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P.S. Reminders:

Tomorrow January 8, 2013, Harriet Welty Rochefort, author, speaker and freelance journalist will be discussing “Putting some French Joie de Vivre into your life” and talking about her latest book, “Joie de Vivre,” at Parler Paris Apres Midi coffee gathering, 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. Visit Parler Paris Apres Midi for more details.

And Wednesday evening, author Timothy J. Smith will be speaking at the American Library in Paris about his latest book, “Cooper’s Promise” at 7:30 p.m. Visit American Library in Paris for details.

es-photography101P.P.S. Photography 101 with Erica Simone In New York City and Vicinity

Take a private class with well-known New York-Paris photographer Erica Simone! She’ll teach you everything you need to know about your camera (manual or automatic) as well as how to train your eye and compose photographs that make amazing images! Outdoor and/or inside studio lessons available.

First hour: $125 2 hours: $225 (save $25 by booking two hours) 3 hours: $300 (save $75 by booking three hours)+$25/hour for an extra person (minimum 2 hours required)

To book your 1, 2 or 3-hour private class (individuals and couples age 13+) with Erica Simone, email: [email protected]


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