Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Paris in Love:a memoir

 'I walk through the streets and enjoy listening to wild chattering French with the same level of understanding that one has glimpsing a row of sparrows crowded on a telephone line. Are these people really talking, or are they just singing to each other? They look far too elegant and sophisticated to be uttering the half-assed things people say to each other in New York.'

 This is one of many vignettes from Eloisa James new book I can't put down,
After a series of crisis author James insists her Italian husband, Alessandro and two children, Anna (11) and Luca (15) pull up stakes in New Jersey, sell off everything and take off for a year's sebatical in Paris. Most entries are short, yet they paint an unforgettable picture of Parisian daily life that makes you feel you're there with her whether you've ever visited or not. I've tried to match up photos to her inimitable words. I'm smitten. I think you will be too.

 James scatters throughout mini weather reports seen from her window.
'My study looks directly onto the gray slanted roofs of the other side of rue du Conservatoire. I love watching rain pour over the slate, creating dark rivers that sheet down the gutters. The cat who lives opposite, whose owner puts her out on the little balcony when she cleans the apartment, is not enthusiastic about the rain.'

 '...I sallied forth to La Grande Epicerie on rue de Sevres and bought three different kinds of chocolate: Zanzibar's orange en robe (twists of rind with delicious coating), Cote d'Or's citron gingembre (a bar with ginger and lemon peel), and Michel Cluizel's noir aux ecorces d'orange (a dark bar with tiny chunks of orange). Anna and I had a tasting test. The winner was Cluizel's chocolat noir. It's astounding:deep and rich, with a silky melt.'

 'There is a bakery down the street from Anna's school, on avenue de Villars, where there is always a line. They specialize in little fruit tarts. The most beautiful one has figs sliced so thin as to be translucent, then dusted in sugar. Luca's favorite looks like a tiny version of the Alps: small strawberries, each one sitting upright and capped in a drop of white chocolate.' 

 'My personal favorite has sliced apricots arranged in overlapping patterns, like crop circles in an English field.'

 'Yesterday I went with a friend to the Musee Jacquemart-Andre, the home of a nineteenth-century couple who were passionate art collectors. The collection is spectacular: the bath alone was worth the price of entry...'

 '...If you're planning a trip to Paris, this museum is a must-see - the cafe is catered by a fabulous patisserie, Stohrer. Nicolas Stohrer worked in Versailles as pastry chef to King Louis XV; he's famous for creating the beloved baba au rhum (rum cake). Diet suspended for the occasion, I had it, and I think he'd be proud.'

 'I've discovered at least one secret of thin French women. We were in a restaurant last night, with a chic family seated at the next table. The bread arrived, and a skinny adolescent girl reached for it. Without missing a beat, maman picked up the basket and stowed it on the bookshelf next to the table. I ate more of my bread in sympathy.'

 'My mother placed white sugar right next to crack cocaine in the catalog of the most dangerous substances known to man (not that she knew what crack was, but you get the idea). To this day my idea of heaven is a handful of small marshmallows: pure undiluted, bad-for-you sugar in a form that could never be mistaken as healthy. I have found a supplier here in Paris, which is akin to a junkie discovering a private poppy field'.

 Photo by Mes VitrinesNYC
'My favorite Galeries Lafayette window is set with an exquisite dinner party scene: crystal chandeliers, fabulous dishes, tiaras scattered among the plates, wine glasses draped in pearls-all of it being enjoyed by assorted marionette bears. One has a wineglass in each paw and a tiara tipped over one ear. He raises the glasses drunkenly, toasting all the children outside the window'.

 'My cocottes will remind me that food is meant to be served to others, to be beautiful, to be original (even violet-colored), to be dreamed over. They will remind me that indulgence is not a virtue we should keep for the holiday season alone, and that saving time - when it comes to food - is more sinful than virtuous'.
'The impetus to move to Paris - to sell the house and the cars and simply fly away -  sprang from my mother's death and my own brush with cancer. But I wonder if I would have acted on the idea without the lessons learned from Rose.
So this book is my phone call - not from the top of the mountain, or even the top of the Eiffel Tower: the "here" is negotiable.
It's so beautiful here.
You must come before you die'.
Please read Eloisa James, Paris in Love.
Let me know if you love it as much as I do.


  1. LOVE it Carol....what we be without you inspiring us, and expanding our lives with your gorgeous art and great finds. Merci!

    1. a truly inspiring book.
      I'll take it with me next time though I've wrecked it with yellow markings..

  2. Marene Chiesa Bowman12:16 PM

    I'm buying the book, Paris in Love, today. Your post made me weep, as I miss Paris so much. Please wish me luck for my "Open House" on Sunday. I've been giving things away, selling things, and packing in anticipation of my move to Paris. Please Saint George, answer my prayers and bring me a buyer!

    1. BON CHANCE Marene!!
      I am looking at this as my future too.
      I'll light a candle bien sur.

    2. Marene Chiesa Bowman8:02 AM

      MERCi, Carol! Perhaps you will tell me which is your favorite place to swim in Paris. Swimming in my pool and the ocean are about the only things I'm going to miss, when I make my move. Also, downloaded Paris in Love to my IPad as soon as I finished my note to you yesterday.

    3. I love the St.Germain pool but it's closed for the summer, so I've moved on to Pontoise but really I have yet to be disappointed by a Paris pool.
      Hard to go wrong in the pool or on the Paris' buses.

  3. Bravo Carol. A standing ovation for this post!

  4. You are one temptress! :-)
    Comment's short 'cause I need to rush to order the book,
    sincerely yours,

  5. I loved the words and the way you accompanied each paragraph with your photos..it makes it much more real for me who has never been..
    It is so much fun I bet for you to have walked her words..As when I watch a movie of Italy or Provence..and I have seen that part:) Rare..but it has happened..Rome in particular.

    I will look into this book..
    That little petit plat maison is calling my name.

    You do share so much..and I do feel like I learn with you.
    Je te remercie~

    Marena..you need to buy a small statue of St-Joseph and have him blessed..then put him in the earth feet up near your for sale sign..

  6. You are a beautiful and gifted soul indeed Carol. To you I say, 'life is fleeting'. If one has passion and opportunity, one must seize the moment before it too is 'no longer'. Follow your heart dear Carol and we will all follow along -- wherever it takes you. Just be well and be happy. You make me smile, you make me cry, you make me wish... Make yourself feel exactly the way YOU want to feel. It's 'your' time. Much love, Risa

    1. Thank you Risa!
      I shall print out your comment and hang on the wall for when I have doubts.

    2. You 'always' manage to make my days better, but today, even more - merci tres bien!! BTW, consider the petit chien you will be able to rescue who will love you forever, and vice versa (and Bear will adore!!) HUGZ!!!
      'Dogs ROCK ~ make adoption our first option'

  7. This post is truly wonderful...thanks for the photos to go with witty excerpts.

  8. Great post, Carol. It seems like you are headed in the same direction!
    I love those two opening shots of the very elegant young ladies.

  9. I enjoyed this post. Very good storytelling. I am inspired already. I will definitely add this to my summer reading list. Merci!

  10. I just finished it yesterday - thoroughly enjoyed it - I felt like a was a fly on the wall to the real life of a foreigner there. I'm nostalgic and I haven't even lived there!

    1. Exactly...you get to walk in her shoes and enhale all the richness of Paris

  11. It's wonderful!!
    I love all the pictures you put in.
    I'm going to post it on my Facebook page tomorrow.
    thank you!!

  12. Geri, NJ8:19 PM

    So lovely ~ you obviously worked very hard on this inventive post, and the writer has a unique voice ~ poetic & insightful. I enjoyed this very much, so thank you ~

  13. Well Carol, your photos linked with Ms James' verbal observations about Paris truly do create very strong temptation to travel.

    I will seek out that book. And you do know that I will seek out every one of your posts.

    A crystal globe might predict a certain journey for me.


  14. Oh what a great idea this was Carol! And the bit at the end is just wonderful and poignant. I am so very thankful I was able to visit this fabulous city when I did. Today my life is more complicated and I'm not sure when or if I will ever be able to go back. However I have such great memories and photos of our time there! i also have your generous blog to visit whenever I want! thank you!! we3

  15. Such a great post. Book is ordered and will be here Thursday. Can't wait,

  16. Fantastic Carol...loved your images.....a beautiful match for the beautiful text. A bientot.

  17. Anonymous7:15 AM

    MMMM so french and fantastic:) I asked you a while ago if you have twitter or FB??..so I can follow:)

    LOVE Maria at inredningsvis.se

    1. I have Twit but don't do it and same thing with FB :(
      I do PINTEREST!!
      Love it :)

  18. Ah Carol. I've been seeing this book around and picking it up, knowing that I want to read it. Now I have to read it. What a fabulous post you made. I too love your stylish ladies in the first two pictures. That bakery sounds fab too, but then what Paris bakery doesn't sound fab?

  19. Dear PB~
    this last trip to Paris must have been very inspiring....the last few posts have just been incredible....I like the variety.
    I do not know what I would do without your book recommendations....this memoir sounds wonderful...what a way with words she has. (and you very adeptly put photos with them)

    I loved the post about Paris dogs....I remember a family getting on the Metro with the family dog and he immediately took his place under the seat and stayed there until it was time to get off....Paris dogs are very polite....so French!!!
    Thanks PB!!! You make my day!!

  20. Beautiful photo of the Tour Eiffel here, Carol. I love the silhouette of the arch. I agree--I'd want to eat that bread that maman took from that poor child. AND I have a terrible sweet tooth--I attribute that to my mom--she never let us ever snack inbetween meals, but we always had dessert, so to this day, whenever I eat a meal, I crave a dessert at the end of it.

    I love your new profile photo--you look great!

  21. Are you staying in Paris now for good?

    The Eloisa J's book looks and reads well.

  22. Sounds like a fabulous book. I will have to check it out.

  23. And I guess we must have rubbed shoulders on this last trip while in the Marais.
    I read Paris in Love on the plane there and back.
    It set the mood just right.
    Thanks for visiting the sites since I ran out of time.

  24. I did indeed love the book, and discovered your blog when I went to the author's website. Also linked to your blog from mine when I reviewed the book. Your entry makes the book come alive even more. My husband and I were in Paris last summer for our 16th wedding anniversary and Paris visits are always special, no matter the occasion.

  25. Your comment on how the author's description of her life in Paris has inspired you is exactly how I feel when I read your blog! Your blog is so exciting and vivid in descriptions and images that I feel like I'm there! Love, love, love bear! So cute!

    Best wishes from the UK!


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