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Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year and Some Paris thoughts

First I wish you all a happy, healthy and abundant new year.  Stay warm for those of you in cold climates - like me!  

FYI, It is J.R.R Tolkien's 119th birthday anniversary today.  The Tolkien Society requests that you honor him by raising a glass to the Professor.  Cheers to a man who made elves and hobbits household terms.

My trip to Paris was memorable and a dream come true.  One of those long standing resolutions finally realized, which attests to perseverance.  The city has tremendous history on every corner.  The 1920's saw a generation of writers, painters, musicians and composers that went to Paris to make their name.  Hemingway wrote his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, about Paris. 

We only made it to a few of Hemingway's hangouts.  We stayed in a studio apartment on the left bank in the heart of the historic Saint Germain des Près neighborhood right across for the Village Voice Bookshop .  I took special notice of the Ritz, Hemmingway's favorite hotel when in Paris and Lipp's restaurant where he would eat.  We strolled past the L'Hotel where Oscar Wilde died. 

The Rose line leading to the obelisk
The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, L'arc de Triumph, Champs Elysee, the Seine, Christmas day at the Notre Dame, Saint Sulpice (featured in the DaVinci Code), the Roudin Museum, The Egyptian Obelisk, Napoleon's tomb, Palaise Royal, Princess Diana's memorial and Montparnasse were all wonderful.  Sainte Chapelle was unfortunately closed and I was really looking forward to that.

We tried to see the Père Lachaise cemetery (most famous cemetery in the world) where notables such as Jim Morrison of The Doors, Richard Wright, Marcel Marceau, Isadora Duncan, Frédéric Chopin, Eugène Delacroix, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein and Oscar Wilde among many more important and historical people are buried - but it was closed due to snow. 

We even went to "the ultimate rock bar" (The Cantada II at 114 rue de Bagnolet) that serves a wide selection of Absinthe (alcohol made from Wormwood plant) that was featured in an Anthony Bourdain episode! That was a strange experience because of the decor.  But even in this punk/metal bar the wait staff was kind and explained the differences in the variety of Absinthe they carried.  The modern Absinthe is not made the same as the original controversial liquor.  It does have an "energy drink" effect to it along with the licorice flavor.  I hate licorice so I didn't taste it.

While England socializes in the Pubs, Parisians socialize in the cafes and we found many great ones.  Interestingly, the 2X2 tables are lined up next to each other and you are elbow to elbow with the folks at the next tables.  The old buildings are just small and cramped.  The food was truly fabulous.  I really have to say that we met many very kind people who helped out the confused Americans.  It is a very big city and there are crowds and no sense of personal space so I can see how some would interpret that as rude and pushy.  But we had a great overall experience.

I had this wild idea to find the French author(s) Claude Izner (pen name for two sisters) who write the popular "Victor Legris" mystery series.  Legris is a bookseller in late 19th-century Paris who is also an amateur detective.  Unfortunately all I could find out is that the sisters, Liliane Korb and Laurence Lefevre, are booksellers on the banks of the Seine, and they are experts on nineteenth-century Paris.  Well there are a lot of little kiosk type shops along the miles long Seine and many were closed for the holidays. I never did find the elusive sisters -  I guess I flunked as a sleuth,  but it was fun to try.

I also considered the Aimee Leduc Investigations author Cara Black but found out she doesn't actually live in Paris...but in San Francisco!  Foiled again.

In any case try out Claude Izner or Cara Black for some mysteries set in Paris and see what you think.  There are the Bruno Courreges investigations by Martin Walker that are set in rural France if you want to try breaking out of the British country mysteries.  I ran out of reading material and started the suspense novel The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry.  My review will be coming in a few weeks for that.

So, what resolutions did you see come true in 2010?

I want a Quarter-Pounder with Cheese?

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