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Pour la Joie de Vivre

I caught a “doubloon” at the Mid City parade and on it is imprinted the phrase “Pour la Joie de Vivre.” That seems to sum it all up down here in New Orleans where Mardi Gras is gearing up for a very Fat Tuesday tomorrow.

Schuyler Hoffman, Conference Coordinator and John Howell, International Property Attorney, with his wife, Janie, and I, are all here taking advantage of the festivities before buckling down to start off the Living and Investing in France Conference beginning Friday afternoon here in the “Big Easy.” We hope lots of the attendees are doing the same.

This is my home town, but I have somehow managed to miss celebrating Mardi Gras for 32 years, so it’s like experiencing it for the first time, now as an adult — but behaving like a child. It’s an amazing phenomena, how no matter how mature you think you are, when the parade float comes by with all those costumed and masked riders, laden with brightly colored beads they love tossing to the adoring crowds, how you just can’t stop yourself from screaming “throw me some’in’, mister,” going for the biggest and best of the throws, only to hang them around your neck until you can’t stand up.

New Orleans is a party town from the word go. These people know how to eat and drink and enjoy that “joie de vivre” like no one I know. We loaded up the table at my niece’s St. Charles Avenue apartment (perfectly situation on parade routes) with spicy fried chicken and fresh-made King Cake (a throw back to the French Galette des Rois), filled the cooler with Barq’s Root Beer (a New Orleans specialty) and chowed down between every parade from early morning till late at night all day Saturday and all day Sunday. That’s just the beginning for what will take place tomorrow when the party really gets into gear.

Standing on St. Charles Avenue with the beautiful old anti-bellum homes in the background, recently gentrified and looking oh so charming, I can’t help be reminded of Paris at party time — the annual Fête de la Musique when New Orleans-born jazz is in the air…Gay Pride when the costuming rivals Mardi Gras…and Bastille Day when everyone comes to picnic on the grass of the Champs des Mars to watch the fireworks.

While watching the procession of floats and high-school bands go by, a young Frenchman from Bordeaux visiting friends came over to say hello and speak a little French with me. Then, another visitor to Mardi Gras for the first time, asked me if it’s true that the French hate Americans as much as the media says they do. That’s when I cringed and went into a defensive mode. I tried to politely explain that they certainly don’t like the current politics or administration, but that has never swayed their positive and friendly opinion of Americans as a people…and don’t forget, it was the U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria that renamed French Fries to “Freedom Fries”– what a slap in the face to the French from the U.S. government. “Imagine how you would feel?” I asked.

It wasn’t until then that culture shock struck, since being in my home town tends to feel more comfortable than other parts of the U.S. after living in France for so long. And the realization hit, too, that the longer I live in France, the more different my view of politics gets.

Tomorrow, while we’re partying in the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday, Yolanda Robins, FPI Property Manager, will be hosting our monthly Parler Paris Après Midi from 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais, so don’t miss it just because I am — you’ll have lots of fun without me. For more details, visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]

Speaking of parties…Mark Saturday, March 19th on your calendar for Parler Parlor’s 7th Anniversary Party, at Eurocentres, beginning 11 a.m. with conversation and then a soup and salad lunch (10 euros), when you can save 10 Euros on a 10-session card and 20 Euros on a 20-sesion card that day! For more information, visit http://www.parlerparlor.com/

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