Archive for November, 2022

A Few November Highlights from Paris…and Essoyes!

The real reason for my visit to Paris this month was to see and support my friend Edith de Belleville, who was the speaker at Adrian Leeds‘s monthly Après-Midi gathering. Edith is a licensed tour guide in Paris, a lawyer, and the author of two wonderful books, Belles et Rebelles and Parisian Life: Adventures in the City of Light. If you can read French, you should read both of them, they’re wonderful. I keep hoping Belles et Rebelles will be translated into English, it’s too good to stay in just one language, DO YOU HEAR THAT, PUBLISHERS? But also (to be clear), Parisian Life is already in English: Edith wrote it in English (another feather in her cap). So you should all buy it. 🙂

You can learn more about Edith in this interview I did with her for Bonjour Paris. if you are a subscriber. She is a very smart, lively, funny, interesting woman! (If you’re not a subscriber to Bonjour Paris, and if you’re a serious Parisophile, you might want to subscribe. Lots of great articles, Zoom talks, etc. available there!)

Then I got lucky: Adrian invited me to come for the weekend before Après-Midi to just “hang out” and have fun in Paris with her. (She didn’t have to twist my arm about that…)

You don’t hang out with Adrian in Paris (or anywhere, as far as I can gather) without eating a lot of really good food. This woman believes in eating at least two full meals a day, which is kind of a novelty for me; and a culinary adventure whenever I stay with her in Paris. Whenever she asks me what I want to eat for dinner, my main requirements are generally the same: “Not too expensive. Not too fancy. Not too far away (so we can walk there).” I like to keep it simple! And she always has great suggestions. Here are just a few of the culinary pleasures I enjoyed in those few days in Paris.

Then I got even luckier. My son’s girlfriend, Diane de Vignemont, is a historian, and she was recently involved in putting together an exhibition at the Musée de l’Armée at les Invalides. She invited me to attend the opening for this exhibit, which happened to fall on my last night in Paris. This was very exciting indeed, and it was really fun to see her in this professional context. (Though I’ve actually been able to see that before in my last couple of classes for Politics and Prose bookstore, which were focused on France under the Occupation, during which Diane was kind enough to visit via Zoom, and share her expertise with my students. She is, in a word, amazing!)

The exhibition, which focused on the years of the Algerian War, and De Gaulle’s role in it, was beautifully mounted and very interesting indeed. One of the things Diane was involved in was arranging for the loan of a beautiful Calder mobile called “France Forever.” (Can you see the Cross of Lorraine in it?)

Of course it would not be a trip to Paris without a visit to The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore (Here’s another interesting interview to read on Bonjour Paris, this one is with Penelope Fletcher, the wonderful bookseller who runs the store. See what I mean about subscribing? 🙂 ) Adrian and I went there on Saturday afternoon, and I was delighted that my son and Diane were able to meet us there too. With an armload of new books, some of which I will use in future classes, I left the store very happy indeed.

Well, anyway. This is really only a sampling of what I was lucky to experience in Paris this time in just a few days: there was more! Sometimes when I am in Paris I really don’t “do much” at all, I just wander around, walking, sitting in cafés or parks, reading, writing, and eating only one full meal a day. That is fine with me too! But I have to say, this time was pretty fun, thanks so much, Adrian! (and Diane, and Phineas, and Penelope–for just being there–at The Red Wheelbarrow!)

A few days later, in Essoyes (and all around France), Armistice Day was being celebrated. This is a very important–and moving–national commemoration of the day that brought peace (temporarily! 😦 ) at last to war-ravaged Europe in 1918. Here are a few photos from that day here in Essoyes.

Let’s hope that today’s fragile peace in Europe can be maintained, and the forces of hate and tyranny pushed back. We can’t afford to keep fighting like this all the time. We have big problems to solve together!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the US and France. She is the author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You. Her memoir, A Long Way from Iowa, will be published in early 2023.

November 19, 2022 at 9:12 am Leave a comment


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