Thinking Outside the Périphérique, Puttin’ On the Plage and Garden Variety News
PART I: PARISIANS DON’T DO THE PERIPHIRIQUE…OR DO THEY?
When my daughter was living in Brooklyn and invited her friends to come visit her from Manhattan, they found all sorts of excuses for not crossing the bridge into the borough. She said, “Mom, Manhattanites ‘don’t do rivers'” — meaning as you can imagine, they were too self important to leave the island of Manhattan.
The same can be very true for Parisians, who, for the same reason, “don’t do the Périphérique” — meaning they don’t cross the outer ring road that separates the 20 districts in Paris from the suburbs. I am ‘guilty as charged’…normally…but, for House Hunters International, I made an exception, and discovered there is life outside of Paris. Shocking!
They asked me to be a part of an episode involving a young American couple who were moving here for work and seeking a rental apartment near his job somewhere between Paris and Disneyland Paris in Marne-la-Vallée. The couple has one two year-old daughter and a baby on the way. They were seeking a two-bedroom apartment or home in an area that would have schooling facilities and a hospital. Their budget was 1,000€ per month.
The three-days of filming with a crew which had come from the U.K. took place in three different suburbs and three very different types of properties. We began with a lovely apartment on the east side of the Bois de Vincennes, just outside the Périphérique and accessible by Métro. This makes it easily accessible to Paris and closer to city living than the other properties, yet it had a full on view of the park on a wide residential street. A cross between city living and country life, it was an ideal situation…for someone who enjoys that dichotomy.
The second property was a large home in the heart of old village near Disneyland Paris. It oozed charm and massive amounts of space plus a large yard for the kids. There was one restaurant at the corner across from the church and the setting was idyllic…but a trip into Paris was either a one-hour RER ride or 45 minutes by car.
The third property was a spacious apartment in one level of a house closer to his work dead center between Paris and Disneyland Paris in a “new town” community about 21 kilometers from Paris which interestingly enough, has an Asian community (Chinese, Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese) taking up about 40% of all the inhabitants and is known as “the first Asian town of France.” The RER stops there, making it a good compromise.
My role was “property consultant” who had found the three properties and advised on which of the three would suit them best. For the filming, I took the RER to and from all the locations, or hitched a ride in one of their cars to travel between them. It’s not something of a habit, as when you’re living in central Paris, transportation is as simple as your own two legs and feet, or perhaps an occasional bus or Métro. Remember, ‘we don’t do the Périphérique!’
The experience in the suburbs did not change my point of view, although I could see the attractiveness and advantages for those who like seeing the fields, the birds, the lakes and the open skies…but for an urbanite such as myself, I’ll stick with the banks of the Seine, the gray stone monuments, the hustle-bustle of the busy city, particularly Paris, any day of the week.
It takes a couple of months for HGTV to finalize the production and air the episode, so you’ll just have to wait till it officially airs to learn which of the three properties they chose…as I will not divulge!
PART II: THE PLAGE ALONG THE SEINE
I used to own a pied-à-terre in Paris known as “Le Saint-Tropez” until I discovered that pretending to be on the beach was MY dream and not that of visitors to Paris — who wanted a real Parisian experience, not a beachy one. So, I did what seemed to be a good solution (thanks to the suggestion of a friend) and renamed it “La Paris Plage.”
The mural on the wall behind the bed was commissioned of an American artist and old friend to represent the beach in Saint-Tropez, complete with a Brigitte Bardot look-alike and a handsome man with a dog. It looked nothing like Paris Plage, so a new mural was commissioned by Paris artist, Pascal Amblard.
Pascal Amblard is a ‘trompe l’oeil artist extraordinaire’ whose works adorn the walls of many Parler Paris Apartments. He presented a scene from the Seine one might typically see while wandering along the “quai” on a hot summer August day at Paris Plage, complete with palm trees, parasols and lanterns. It’s beautiful!
Yesterday, strolling along that very same path next to the water’s edge on route to visiting the newest exhibit at the Jeu de Paume of Berenice Abbott’s photographs (on until April 29, 2012, and well worth a visit! — jeudepaume.org), I noticed the very same scene as Pascal Amblard’s painting…although lacking the “accoutrements” of Paris Plage and partly obscured by the renovation works taking place on the Conciergerie. Still, it confirmed the decision to make the change and bring the Riviera beach home to Paris, gay or gray.
In the midst of installation last week — removing the old to make way for the new, my neighbor knocked on the door to tell me that because the walls between the two apartments were paper thin, they could hear much of what went on in Paris Plage.
“Ah, bon?” I was not really all that surprised to hear this news…and what a perfect moment to have learned it. Before the new mural makes its way to the wall, the wall is undergoing a large shot of phonic insulation to alleviate the problem and make everyone happy. La Paris Plage’s next guests will have a bit of a surprise, when the beach on the wall is no longer along the Mediterranean, but along the Seine — although there is no doubt that the view from the terrace of La Paris Plage is that of Paris and NOT Saint-Tropez.
PART III: JOHN OF THE GARDEN (Jean Dujardin) WINS THE PRIZE
I tried in vain to stay awake for the Oscars last night, but the nine-hour time difference got the best of me, leaving it to this morning’s news.
It wasn’t a surprise that John Dujardin and his revolutionary black-and-white silent film “L’Artiste” (as we call it here in France), took five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Actor. Dujardin has been described as France’s answer to George Clooney…who (Clooney), in the opening to the awards ceremony, kissed Billy Crystal on the lips. I’m really sorry to have missed that!
Dujardin is the fourth French actor to be nominated to the Oscars and the first one to win the Oscar as best actor. His next film “Les Infidèles” (imdb.com) opens this coming Wednesday here in France — a remake of Claude Berri’s “One Wild Moment” (Un Moment d’Egarement) in which he will star opposite Vincent Cassel. You may remember that recently “Brice de Nice” was given as a gift for “Le Matisse” (the Niçois apartment) — another one of Dujardin’s films…about as silly as any film I’ve ever seen, to the point of being brilliantly poignant about life on the Riviera (adrianleeds.com/parler-paris-nouvellettre/parler-paris-past-issues). In this film, you may never recognize him as “The Artist.”
As an aside, I’ll take Dujardin over Clooney any day of the week.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
P.S. Mark your calendars for March 13th when Bernadette Martin of
Visibility Branding, LLC talks about “Fusing Personal Branding and Storytelling” at Parler Paris Après Midi! (Visit the site for details.)
P.P.S Don’t miss your opportunity to sign up for Writing From the Heart! Tomorrow is the last day to register. Details are below or see www.essoyesschool.com