Like A Contessa

I have put off writing this post for nearly two months because I don’t want to do it. It’s not even procrastination this time, even though that curse plagues every thing I do on a daily basis, I just don’t want to write about my last day in Paris. Well, it isn’t my last day in Paris…it’s not as if I’m never going back, but it was my last day in that perfect city for the year. I never thought that a town would mean so damn much to me, but it does. I love it with all my heart. That doesn’t even make sense. Your heart is a rather small muscle. I love Paris with more than that. I love it with every fiber of my essence. And because I just finished watching the most delightful Angela Lansbury film, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, I feel as if I can finally muster the courage to write.

*****

I had an incredible number of things to accomplish, so I had to laugh when I finally got up and out of the hotel around noon. I’m never going to be a morning person. It’s just not who I am, but I do enjoy who I am, so I suppose I should never try and change that. The hotel that I was staying at was quite close to Père Lachaise cemetery, so I decided to go there first and check in on Tiger.

It had been a rainy morning, and there’s nowhere better than Paris after it rains. The grey and white stones that compose every building take on a richer hue, the lights reflect off the puddles, and the leaves release this fragrance that I only ever smell in Paris. It’s like boxwood, but it’s heady, and I love it. I got a bit turned around, which rarely happens to me, but this was a part of town that I’ve never explored. There’s nowhere better to be lost, though.

I stopped in a cute bakery and bought a piece of Opéra cake. I am beyond obsessed with that rich chocolate and coffee cake. I need to make one now that I’m back home and gorge on it. With my elegantly wrapped box of cake in hand, I made my way down the street to my favorite place in the entire city of Paris. I saw a cat in a doorway along the way, and we played with each other through the glass.

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I didn’t care what anybody thought of me. I took it as a sign. I’m all about signs.

The gates to Père Lachaise were wide open, and there was quite a crowd that day, but I didn’t mind. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to find a desolate corner away from the world to be alone with your reflections and memories.

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When I arrived, it hit me for the first time just how over everything was. My summer was done. Work was starting. School had already started. The seasons were rapidly changing, and the leaves in Paris were already falling to the ground. Beautiful though it was, I couldn’t help but feeling a bit melancholy as I wound my way around to Madame Brochard’s tomb where I had interred the cremated remains of my beloved pet, Tiger.

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The stone behind the tomb was still in place, and so I reminisced for a while about the good times Tiger and I had shared while eating the most delicious cake. It was wonderful to visit that spot. It’ll be special to me until the world ends and even afterwards when we’re all star dust again.

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As I walked out, I noticed a person come out of the ground by the crematorium. Intrigued, I found a set of stairs and made my way below into a strange subterranean burial ground that I had never known of before.

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It extends two stories below ground and is covered in slots to bury ashes. The lighting is poor, flowers fill the place, every name plaque is unique, and it’s simply the most unsettling place I have ever been in my entire life. I have slept in the same house where children were massacred by an ax murderer. I have walked through the worst ghettos. I have eaten at chain restaurants. And never in all my life have I felt such a chill run up my spine as I did in the dark recesses of that burial ground. I was quite happy to get out of there and into the dim sunlight.

I made a quick stop to check in on Champollion and Fourier as I must every time. It’s a treat to visit the graves of people who make huge impacts on your life, even if they died centuries before you were born.

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People are leaving coins on Fourier’s grave. I couldn’t figure out why? I had a relatively popular Tumblr post about him, so it’s probably my impact. (Probably not.) And Champollion’s grave had this bizarre chunk of concrete with poorly carved hieroglyphs on it.

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I tried my best to translate the writing, but it was impossible to make out even with photo enhancement. I looked at it from every angle but gave up and replaced it where I found it.

It was time for my next excursion of the day, so I headed off to the Musée d’Orsay, and with my ticket already in hand I quickly sashayed by the losers waiting in the lengthy line. My FNAC tip is very important.

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I hated the museum instantly. It was far too crowded, and the collection feels cluttered. There is no flow to it at all. You have to backtrack repeatedly if you want to see everything. Then there was this man posing next to a giant oil painting of a vagina. I have nothing against vaginas, but to see a line of grown people waiting to take selfies with female genitalia really gave me pause about the state of our civilization. Thankfully the Oriental galleries were close by and they were absolutely marvelous.

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“La Sahara” by Gustave Guillaumet.

Upstairs was the Van Gogh collection and I was instantly reminded of the idiocy that goes on around the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Hundreds of people gather around his paintings with their cameras and you can hardly have a second to yourself to experience the art. I don’t understand this phenomenon. Of course I take pictures of the art I like. I won’t ever deny that. But I don’t see the need to photograph images that I already know or that I know are in the gift shop as a well-printed postcard. I love the modern world, but there are certain aspects that are beginning to drive me absolutely insane.

I was miserable, so I hurried to the main collection of Impressionistic art. This is my absolute favorite and the collection was phenomenal. I had been quite excited to see a painting by Caillebotte that I’ve long fancied, but was crushed to discover that it was on temporary loan to another museum. That was a rather devastating blow. There isn’t a chance to see much Caillebotte. So here’s a sampling of what I did enjoy:

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“Réception du Grand Condé par Louis XIV” by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

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“La Buveuse d’Absinthe” by Pablo Picasso.

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“L’Attente” by Jean Béraud. He’s one of my favorite unappreciated artists.

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“Les Invités Attendant La Noce” by Jean-François Raffaëlli.

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“Dans Un Café” by Edgar Degas. This was an accurate representation of how I felt leaving Paris.

The building was truly a work of art itself, and I appreciated this monstrously large clock:

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and another one that hung in the main gallery:

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I had finished seeing what there was to see, so I stopped in the museum’s restaurant and had a beautiful risotto. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better one in my life. Even the simple side salad was a treat. And the generous glass of wine didn’t hurt.

You can go out on a huge balcony beside the restaurant and stare at the Seine and at Paris. Once you bat away all the selfie sticks, you get the most remarkable view of the city.

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I don’t think I will ever find a more perfect place in the world than Paris. It satisfies me in every way.

On the way out, I wandered through a beautiful suite of rooms and decided that if I ever get married, it’ll have to be here:

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I did some shopping on the Champs-Élysées and then decided what to do for dinner. The image of Ina Garten dining at the Café du Flore with her darling husband, Jeffrey, sprang immediately to mind,

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so I made my way across the river to the Faubourg Saint-Germain to dine at the famous establishment. I don’t really know why I’ve never gone before. Everybody who is anybody is seen there. Especially in the heyday of fashion in the 60s and 70s. Karl Lagerfeld was always there, so was Yves Saint Laurent, and their mutual boy toy. Models littered the joint and authors filled up every empty space. It would have been divine to see it back in those days.

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There was no wait and I had a nice spot on the sidewalk. I wanted to be just like Ina, so I ordered a flute of champagne and an omelette. I also saw an intriguing tomato salad, so I ordered one of them as well. The waiter was a living stereotype, which was a shock to me. I have never encountered a truly uncaring waiter in France. I have always had the most lovely experiences. Nothing went wrong, and he brought me what I requested, but it was quite different for me. I’m no tourist!

The omelette was fine, but that tomato salad was extraordinary. I don’t know what they did to it, but the thinly sliced tomatoes were dressed in a creamy vinaigrette and I could have eaten an entire garden’s worth. I’d go back just for the salad and a glass of champagne!

I wasn’t ready for the night to be done, so I strolled down the street and had to stop and laugh when a giant image of Karl Lagerfeld appeared on my right.

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That man is an endless inspiration to me. He’s otherworldly and I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that I someday have the chance to meet him. I’ve been lucky in life with my encounters with people and objects and places I want to see. If I can see Angela Lansbury and crawl inside a pyramid, I can surely meet Karl Lagerfeld.

That was a moment of closure for me, so with a lot of happiness mixed with regret, I made my way back to the hotel. I had to pack up and get ready for my flight back to America in the afternoon. I would happily have remained in Paris for the rest of my life. Surely it’s just a matter of time before I live there at least part time. Why live at all if you don’t do what you like?

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2 responses to “Like A Contessa

  1. Hey, just enjoy where you are, where you head to, and true that it’s nice to live in you dream. Hope you will make it to Paris again 🙂
    Keep up the good work!
    Cheers

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