Now is the time to write about my trip to France. Even though I made this trip a year ago, I’m feeling very Bohemian and Parisian today. And I’m ready to tell my story.
In preparation for the trip, I began learning French 6 months before I decided to go, actually, it was a year but then I’d have to admit that I am a reeeealy a slow learner. I used the Carpetz Method along with Tell Me More system. I think that those are very good programs, but nothing beats just being there and having to make conversation. Did I learn anything? Not really. I was never very disciplined and this goes for more things in my life that I care to admit to. Although now, I really am determined to learn the French language, something I must do before I die.
I arrived on May 13, 2008, around 12:00 pm. I was met at the airport by Pascal Fievet. I had not met Pascal face to face but we had corresponded via email. I met Pascal through a friend of mine Christina. She and Pascal had attended the same master’s program in London. How the story goes is that through their conversation Christina found out that Pascal liked jazz. At the time she had a CD of mine and passed it on to him. He really liked the CD a lot and being a musician himself thought that it would be great to talk about jazz once I came to visit. My visit was to last 6 weeks and I was staying in an apartment that Elodie and Pascal were so graciously providing for me. During that wonderful time, Elodie became my French teacher, a job that she was very good at and also very, very, very patient. Pascal, however, was working on a project where his English skills would be a big plus, so he wanted to speak English. I found it quite amusing at times when Paul, Pascal and Elodie’s son, would ride over to the apartment on his bicycle and would talk to me in French. I only knew a few words and I felt very embarrassed that after all that time with my CDs and DVDs, I couldn’t carry on a basic conversation with an eight-year-old.
The weather was actually quite chilly most of the time I was there, even though it was the middle of May beginning of June. My purpose was to revisit Paris and to scope out the jazz music scene. The real beauty was being there for 6 weeks. I had an apartment and went shopping every day for food. I had a chance to look at the city from a resident’s point of view as opposed to a tourist. My days were spent traveling into Paris as the apartment was in a suburb of Paris (St Lazare), roughly about a 20 minute trip to and from Paris. I would take the train from Saint Lazare to Paris. Gare Saint Lazare was the first Parisian railway station; it was first built (1837) a little further to the North, next to the Place d’Europe. Its main line was its link from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The Gare Saint-Lazare was immortalized by Claude Monet in 1877 with his painting of the same name. I walked all over Paris; by the end of my trip, I could travel the Metro and or walk anywhere in Paris and the arrondissements. Other times I went on excursions with the Fievet family, where we visited museums and galleries. Elodie was an art historian and had worked for art museums in the past and her knowledge was extensive. And then there was the day where just the girls, Hortense, Elodie and I visited Maria Antoinette’s little farm right next to Versailles.
All in all, I could say that I was successful in my adventure, but the best part of the entire trip was spending time with the Fievet family. They had two incredible children, Paul who was 8 years old and Hortense, who was 18 months. Hortense and I hit it off right from the very beginning. Her nickname for me was Coca. They made me feel so welcomed and at home. I will never forget that and I carry that still and always will. The funny thing about this trip was that I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked, because my brand new camera broke on the second shot I took. Elodie did get some nice shots in and when Travis arrived the last week, he brought a backup and we took some shots.
One day when I have time I will post more pictures of my time in Paris, but for now….I definitely plan on going back; actually I would like to make Paris a second home for me. The jazz music scene is not really as active as it is here in New York, but perhaps it can be a point of departure for me when I do other jobs around Europe. I do love Paris, it’s culture and it’s people. Who doesn’t?