I did not know I spoke French until I moved to Japan. I was visiting a Japanese market, trying to ask a question, and instead of my newly learned Japanese phrases, a very stale high school French poured out of me. Then again, I also told a Japanese shopkeeper “Gracias, adios!” earlier this week. So with all my knowledge of English, French, Spanish, and Japanese combined, I speak a whopping 1.45 languages. I am, however, very good at Pictionary.
It just occurred to me that my very own mother is summering in Cannes right now, not responding to phone or emails. And why would she? Why break the spell? I can remember trolling though the cobblestone streets of Poitiers, picking up my younger sister from the convent school she attended there (I kid you not). My suitcase wheels had not been created to roll over miles of those ancient roads, and I thought to myself, I should really ditch this bag and set up shop, right here. The thing that struck me most about the French towns was…people actually live here. In this wonderful place. And I lived on the 405 Freeway, (second lane from the left, just before the 10 interchange). As the sun rises each day, they get to walk these streets and inhabit these stone walls. I was entranced.
So, really, any excuse to devote a week to France, but truly, we are not exaggerating when we say that there is so much to be inspired by in French culture. And yes, we may hate French women for not getting fat, but then, it’s because of these skinny and fickle women that the world has 457 kinds of cheese.
What better way to dive into the fantasy than film? So let us begin….and Ollie, I believe the phrase you are looking for is “tout de suite!”
1. Triplets of Belleville – Here is a preview of a wonderful film that I am particularly fond of. I used to illustrate children’s stories, and I love the exaggerated proportions and the rich color scheme. The animation in this film is the stuff of dreams. Also the soundtrack is amazing.
2. GIGI – I was literally raised on this movie. Leslie Caron and the absurdly handsome Gaston Lachaille played by Louis Jourdan. There are a few scenes where they go to a famous Parisian restaurant called Maxim’s – the dresses the women wear are spectacular, I would rewind the tape over and over to see them….signaling an early development of my fashion obsession.
I have every word in this movie memorized, yet I did not realize until LAST MONTH when I bought the DVD that Gigi was being raised to be a courtesan. It felt like when I realized my senior year of college, graduating with a history degree, that J. Edgar Hoover and Herbert Hoover were not the same person. Mind blowing.
3. Paris, Je t’aime – This is a lovely little bouquet of stories about people in Paris. Makes me think of Ollie and taking her red mini to a small Hollywood theatre to see it. It humanizes that glorified city and makes it tangible, even gritty, and beneath it all, just as lovely as we had hoped. Break out the Netflix, a few varieties of brie and enjoy!