Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Let's Monet

Monet vu du ciel, a giant human jigsaw puzzle, gathered 1,250 people, each of whom held a square of cardboard over their heads to recreate Monet’s La Cathédrale de Rouen, effet de soleil, fin de journée. It was filmed from 1,200 feet by a helicopter.

Or gather flash-mob French style Obliged to dress in white and summoned by phone call, text or email to a secret location 15 minutes beforehand, the participants in Paris's Big Open Air White Dinner more than earn their supper. The annual event took place this year in the courtyard of the Louvre.

Honestly it's enough to make me buy a ticket. What group things do we do here with such classe, elan or style?
Yesterday was féte de la musique. Here's some less formal Parisians doing a Vietnamese dance

to music involving bamboo poles.
All over Paris you find music: in courtyards, on the street corners, under the arcades of Place des Vosges, in the churches and it ranges from baroque, to reggae, jazz, a chanteuse singing Piaf outside a cafe. The city throbs with different beats, the streets and Metro are jammed and it lasts into the night.

I've been in Paris for féte de la musique twice and the first time sobered me up. Crowds disoriented me and we had no plan of where to hear music - BIG mistake. You need a plan, a goal, my friends said, if you leave your quartier and they were right. My son, about six at the time, was hungry, the noise hurt his ears and my British friend, Lesley, diagnosed with a brain tumor had disappeared somewhere in Saint Germain. Lost. And in the crowds impossible to find.
Somehow we wedged into the Metro and made it back to Montmartre like homing pigeons. I fed my son, put him to bed and left my husband at the flat. Ready to brave the crowds and look for her, I figured I'd cross back to the Left Bank. But there she was on the street. Smiling.
She hooked her arm in my mind...'let's go dancing,' she said.
We ended up still in Montmartre our quartier, at the fire station with the pompiers, the fireman - well known as les beaux hommes - and the chansons playing in the courtyard of their caserne. Dancing laughing and talking to the local cafe owner and his mother.
I'd learned 'never leave your quartier' a rule of thumb for most Parisians and if you did, plan.

Féte de la musique holds bittersweet memories. My son's taller than me now. And Lesley lived another five years. But of my many memories of her....she's dancing with a fireman at féte de la musique

Cara - Tuesday


  1. Cara, your friend left you with a lovely memory of a special time and place in your life.

    It is disorienting when you have to look up at your children. I do have one child who is shorter but the other two, a girl, 5'10", and a boy, 6', are not actually girls and boy anymore. How did they get so old?

    When my son was a little guy and we were in a crowd, I would be holding his hand but he would reach up with the other to make sure my fingers were curled tightly around his hand. Now I can't get my fingers around his palm. It seems like one minute, when he was about 14, he looked like he would never have to shave. The next minute, he needed to shave twice a day. Now he has a beard and my little guy has disappeared under the Grizzly Adams hair. Someday he'll shave and I'll find out what he looks like at 24.


  2. Cara,
    The last two lines of your post touched me very much.
    Bittersweet memories.