My upcoming canal cruise is the main reason I am visiting France, but before I get to Sens, where the cruise begins, I plan to spend a few days in Paris. I will be able to get my rusty French language skills in some kind of order, and also to enjoy one of the best cities in the world.
France has fascinated the world for centuries and so, to get in the right frame of mind to really appreciate some time in this rich culture, I have prepared myself by reading some of the books that have either been inspired by France, or written as a love letter to it.
Years ago I had a Hemingway orgy, reading everything he wrote and loving in particular his autobiographical book about his time in Paris, A Moveable Feast. That led to books by F. Scott Fitzgerald who, with his glamorous wife Zelda, drank and partied in Paris with Hemingway and a whole circle of literary giants.
I also read Canadian novelist Morley Callaghan’s book about those years, called That Summer in Paris, as well as books by and about Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas.
But this summer I have enjoyed some contemporary books that celebrate Paris. The Greater Journey by David McCullough, is a fascinating read, detailing all of the Americans who came to Paris from the early 1800’s to study medicine or art or culture and detailing the influences and ideas that these people brought back with them to America.. Then there is The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, about Hemingway’s years with his first wife Hadley, in Paris.
And for a guilty treat, I re-watched the movie Amelie, starring Audrey Tautou, filmed in Montmarte, and thoroughly enjoyed Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. (Watch the You-Tube Trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYRWfS2s2v4)
So now, I am totally in a French state of mind, and ready for a few glorious days in The City of Light.