Tulips Time, Pop-Up Butcher and Parisiennes de Belleville
REMEMBERING NOVEMBER 13, 2015
I literally cried this morning while watching France 24’s report report on the anniversary of the November 13th, 215 attacks in Paris, remembering them as if they were yesterday, not as many as four years ago. This past April, Paris inaugurated a Jeff Koons sculpture of a hand holding a bunch of tulips in a garden behind the Petit Palais, a gift to Paris by the artist, to honor the victims of the attacks, after a bit of controversy over where the tulips would be installed (france24.com/en/). The tulips were intended to mimic the Statue of Liberty grasping her torch, but personally I still don’t get the symbolism.
Tulips, schmulips, I say! At least there is something somewhere to mark the horrific occasion as every November 13th we will be pained remembering how many lives were lost so senselessly. At the time, I was dining blissfully at Chez Janou with American friends, where it was too loud to hear each other’s words, and the huge terrine of Mousse au Chocolat was being passed around for dessert. Where were you when the attacks happened?
POP UP “BOUCHERIE”
On route to my apartment Monday, Patty Sadauskas noticed that there was a new butcher shop that hadn’t been there only a few days earlier. She’s way more observant than I am, always casting an eye for some photo op and quite adept at capturing life in Paris (or wherever her iPhone takes her). Like many, I’ve become jaded, even to my own street…I pay so little attention to the comings and goings of the retail around me as I hustle from place to place. Meanwhile, she never misses a beat.
On the other side of the street in front of the Post Office, the cameras were being set up to film the new butcher with its generic signage, just like one might imagine a Paris “boucherie” to look like. When I passed it last night on the way home, it had already been partly dismantled and the camera crew was long gone. Meanwhile, no one paid much attention to any of it…jaded just like me, with no particular cause for notice. Thanks to Patty for keeping me abreast of what’s going on in my own neighborhood!
A PARISIENNE’S POINT OF VIEW
Yesterday at Après Midi, Edith de Belleville (not Edith Piaf, who was well known to also be raised in Belleville), whose real name is rarely divulged, graced us with her extraordinary humor talking about her book (written in French), “Belles et rebelles : A l’ombre des grandes Parisiennes” (Beautiful and Rebellious: In the Shadow of the Great Parisians). Edith (pronounced Eh-Deet in French, youtube.com/watch) honors and investigates five inspirational and influential women in French history in order to understand what characteristics they each had that contributed to their success during a time when women had little power.
Edith was a lawyer for 25 years before going back to school to become a licensed tour guide (one must be licensed to do just about anything in France), dividing her time between taking Anglophones all over Paris to sharing her passion for the city. That didn’t stop her from writing her books and bringing us to heightened laughter with her hilarious view on life as a “Parisienne” herself.
She had us in stitches as she described her path to writing the book about the five women she deemed to be most worthy: actress Sarah Bernhardt (pronounced Ber-Nar in French); mistress of Louis IVX Madame de Montespan (aka Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Marquise of Montespan); writer George Sand (aka Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin); wife of Bonaparte and Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais; and feminist author Christine de Pisan.
Author Janet Hulstrand recently interviewed Edith for Bonjour Paris and asked: “Do you have a favorite thing to do, or place to be in Paris?”
Edith: “My favorite thing to do in Paris? Oh, that’s not easy to say, you know…just sitting in a café and doing nothing. Just watching the people, looking at the buildings, feeling the light, listening to the city’s sounds and the conversation of my neighbors, engaging in small talk with the waiter to complain about something. (Like most Parisians, I like to complain.)“
Just that gives you a small glimpse into Edith’s sense of humor that had us all in virtual tears of laughter.
For more about yesterday’s Après Midi and to see the photos from the afternoon coffee gathering, visit the event’s page. For more about Edith de Belleville, read Janet’s entire interview with her in Bonjour Paris.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(with Edith de Belleville at Après Midi)
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