It’s been a rather busy week so for a change of pace it’s time for a movie review.
But first for my first day in Paris, a day I have thought of often.
In my much younger and prettier days I arrived in Paris by train early on a November morning, and after having a nice breakfast, finding a place to stay, and having two cups of expresso, I went walking on my own. I was wearing my red trench coat, which I still own.
I’m a city girl and love walking when I arrive in a new city. Paris was the ultimate place for walking. I walked for at least six hours, stopping only to eat at a cafe for lunch and later at another cafe for afternoon snack. It was the most extraordinarily beautiful city I had seen in my whole life.
It still is.
The people were nice (some even understood my French), the place was uniquely beautiful, the weather was cool and clear and pleasant for a long walk, and the place was made for walking.
After walking for miles admiring the people, the shops, the architecture and the sights, the food, and even the traffic, it was getting late in the afternoon just as I started to cross the ponte Alexandre III. The bridge has everything one can throw on a turn-of-the-19th-century bridge: winged horses, cherubs, lamps on Art Noveau pillars. I was quite familiar with the story of Tsar Alexander and of his son the last Tsar, Nicholas and Alexandra his wife, but I opened my guidebook to read what they had to say about the bridge and to collect myself for a moment.
I closed the guidebook, returned it to my shoulder bag, and touched the cold stone railing. Every city smells different, so I breathed in the cold Parisian air. It smelled of bread and metal and water.
The particular setting is quite lovely, as you are standing on the bridge over the Seine, with the sightseeing boats carrying tourists rolling beneath, the Hotel des Invalides to your left, the Grand Palais and Beaux Arts buildings to your right, the Eiffel Tower in front of you and the rush-hour traffic running by.
I stood on the bridge for I don’t know how long, taking it all in. Then I crossed the bridge and watched the view from the other side.
I absolutely loved it.
The sun was low in the sky. The air was clear and the light had turned everything a unique shade of light blue. I thought of my next door neighbors when I lived in Puerto Rico, three girls who loved Guerlain perfumes, and one of the perfumes was named L’Heure Bleue. “This was what Guerlain had in mind” when he named his classic fragrance, I thought.
The outdoor lights from the public buildings started to come on. As I stood on the bridge watching the Eiffel tower, the sun was about to disappear on the horizon while the entire sky slowly turned from orange to red, and the Seine changed from water to a stream of resplendent fluid silver. And just then, the evening light changed to dark blue.
It was the most amazing sight I had experienced in my whole life.
I was completely overwhelmed with emotions, elation, happiness, joy, sadness, excitement and amazement.
My right cheek felt damp and when I touched it I realized that tears were flowing down my face. A sob came out of my mouth, almost as if I were hearing it come from someone else. I groped for Kleenex in my shoulder bag.
A young and very handsome French guy walking by asked me in English (because believe me, they can tell you’re American), “Are you alright? Is anything the matter?”
“Oh, I’m alright. It’s just allergies”, I said, and moved on.
I remembered this while I watched the ending of Paris, Je t’aime, which is not a film, but rather a collection of 18 short films by famous directors. Parts of it could be called “Americans in Paris”, some parts are so-so (if you find mimes annoying), and some are excellent:
A grieving mother has a last chance to say good-bye.
A lonely guy meets a vampire.
A movie star gets her fix.
A blind guy finds a short-cut.
Oscar Wilde comes to the rescue.
Steve Buscemi waits for the metro.
A man’s heart leaps at the sight of women in red raincoats.
Ben Gazzarra and Gena Rowlands visit Gerard Depardieu’s restaurant.
The mail deliverer walks around the city.
And I enjoyed every moment of it.
Go see it.
Paris, Je T’Aime