Monday, July 21, 2014

Paris in my Mind's Eye

When I think of Paris, vignettes from the past, from novels, and from films fill my mind's eye -- along with the standard images of boulevards, monuments, and metro rides. I think of the Musee Carnavalet, full of Paris history -- and recall one particular exhibit, the actual furnishings and noise-deadening wall-coverings of Proust's actual bedroom where he wrote. The museum has a long page devoted to this room. I'm thinking of it partly because Proust was a contemporary of Edouard de Pomiane, the cookbook author who is the subject of my current research project.

Musee Carnavalet: Proust's Bedroom
At the moment, I'm reading Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette a biography by Judith Thurman. Colette lived in Paris and was a nearly exact contemporary of my subject, Pomiane. They may have lived in the same city, but in two totally different worlds! The cover of her book, published 1920:
Another view of Paris: I recall scenes from Godard's film "Breathless," especially the scenes where Jean Seberg was selling the Herald-Tribune on the street. When I saw the film recently, it took me back to my first visit to Paris, a few years after the film was made.
From the New York Times: a scene from Breathless
And the film Pépé le Moko (1937) has memories of Paris, the title character's home, though the action takes place in Algiers. A certain style of film noir from the thirties was characteristic of the way Parisian film makers worked.

Last year, I had just come back from Paris before the blog event "Paris in July." It's been a year since the trip, but my mental images have not faded. Back then, I listed a number of films that featured Paris. They were: "Charade," "Hugo," Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame,""Last Tango in Paris," "Midnight in Paris," "Night on Earth," "Ratattouille," "Sous les toits de Paris" and "Zazie in the Metro."  Now I've thought of these two -- I suspect there are many more.


Jeanie said...

This is a wonderful list, Mae. I'm embarrassed that I've never seen Breathless... must check that one out.

I'm so behind -- up north had limited internet and coming back was a madhouse! I'm slowly getting my act together before I take off for up north again!

Geraldine Saucier said...

I am ready to go to Paris.

Vagabonde said...

To answer your question on my blog – no, I did not know of Edouard de Pomiane until I saw you mention it on your blog. I enjoyed reading about your memories of Paris. I have some too, many actually, but for me it’s different since they are mostly mixed with family, going to school there, studying in the Latin Quarter, going shopping with my mum and so many other memories, like playing in a sandbox under the Sacre Coeur as a child or running down the stairs in the dark during a WW2 siren. It is the difference I think between remembering a foreign city one likes and being a home town, whether it is a known city of not – I don’t know if I make sense. I guess I mean Paris is not “Paris” to me, it’s home, it’s where I grew up and was not aware at the time that it was so loved by so many.

Adria J. Cimino said...

The Carnavalet is such a great museum! And you have some of my other Paris favorites here... Colette, Zazie in the Metro. Great post!

Mae Travels said...

Hi Vagabonde,
I love your blog exactly because you present your memories of Paris as home, which have such different meanings. Although I have been there for several long stays, one over a year, it will never have that type of deep childhood meaning for me. Thanks for your comments.


Tamara said...

I'm going to see if I can find Pepe - it looks like something I would enjoy and learn from. Thanks for such an interesting post and for mentioned your films from last years posts. Great Paris in July hints either for this year or next! visit my blog if you;d like to find more links for this year or previous years posts.

Paulita said...

Great. More movies for my list. Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

Liking your memories and movie lineup.
My personal favourite - 'French Kiss' with Meg Ryan . I Should do a review post for Paris in July =)

Ally said...

I can totally relate to memories not fading after you return home, maybe that's the city's way of trying to mesmerize you into revisiting it :)