Friday, September 18, 2009

French Friday

For your listening pleasure I share one of my favorite songs:

D and I discovered Carla Bruni a few years ago while perusing in my favorite shop downtown. I asked the clerk who was playing and then went and bought the album the next day. This is the first song on that album. Last weekend I happened upon a documentary about Carla on the Sundance Channel. I enjoy documentaries and this one was no exception - I did not realize she married President Nicolas Sarkozy of France last year!

Carla is a former model - most famous during my coming of age years in the mid-1990's when supermodels and their salaries soared to new heights. (I was a Vogue addict during high school - I loved (still do) the high-art style of Vogue compared to other magazines.)

France has been on my mind a lot lately and I thought it a good subject for a post.

I did not love Paris. My time there on study abroad was ok, but not fantastic. The art, now that's another story, because the art in Paris IS fantastic (we spent 3 days in the Louvre, a day at the Orsay and days at countless other museums throughout the city). The city itself and the people did not seduce me. But I'm starting to change my mind.

I read Julia Child's My Life in France and enjoyed Paris through her eyes because she learned to love those things about Paris and French people that usually annoy or offend Americans - the inefficient services, the tedious procedures for everything, the aggressive opinions, etc. Julia learned to love the French passion for high quality in all things. That is what I've been trying to embrace lately - developing a love for having a FEW fine things instead of lots of mediocre or plain things. It's that American obsession with having lots of stuff - big stuff like SUVs and cookie-cutter McMansions and giant dinner plates with piles of food on them - that I'm trying to purge. All that "stuff" is not necessary!

Then I read Sarah's Key last week. A fictional story about an actual event in Paris (though it's not often talked about). The 1942 roundup by French police of 13000 Jewish families who were all eventually killed in concentration camps. It was a heart-wrenching story. D kept saying, "Why are you reading that depressing book?" He and I both don't really do WWII stories because they make us so sad. But my mother-in-law recommended it and I went for it and it made me appreciate my own circumstances and so many other things I won't go into.

On a lighter note, Little S has been OBSESSED with Madeline lately. She's had the books since birth but a few weeks ago got into 2 cartoon dvds of Madeline's adventures in Paris and America. Little S now says, "Viola" constantly - especially when she completes something like getting her shoes on or drawing a picture. Little S has her first paying job now - she's doing things around the house to earn the $5 for the "real person" Madeline dvd at Target (it's not a cartoon and she's way excited about the possibilities that are contained in that movie!).

At the Getty last weekend, D and I saw a fantastic exhibit of the photographs of the master Irving Penn (famous for his Vogue spreads, of course!). The show contained the images he took of "Small Trades" workers in Paris, New York and London during the 1950s - seamstresses, butchers, newspaper sellers, etc. We had fun trying to determine which subjects were French and which American before reading the labels.

Finally, check out the blog stephmodo for some French eye candy. This BYU alum and her husband and 3 kids are renovating a small chateau in the French countryside to eventually run as a bed and breakfast.

Au revoir! Have a great weekend.

1 comment:

Shane and Becca said...

Steph! I love this post. I have to say, my first trip to France was the same, and it really took a trip with Shane to open the country up to me. Having a French speaker really transformed my perception of folks being disgusted and annoyed to very helpful and friendly. Let's plan another European trip--Shaner will manage the French in France and the McNairys can handle Spain....and maybe a little Italian would come back between the two of us?!

By the way, that blog is out of sight. I love and hate it--love it, because it is so fantastic and hate it, because that is not my life and I really, really want nothing more than to have an excuse to go to a tiny French town every few months. ca va...