During my first year as a teacher in 2003, I shared a crappy apartment in East Harlem, ate in almost every night, made few purchases and hoarded my money so I could spend the summer in France. It began in September as a crazy idea. After dinner one evening, my friend Fred said "we should go to Paris."
Of course we should, I agreed. I mean, who doesn't want to go to Paris?
By October, we had an elaborate plan. We were going to take on as much of France as possible for four weeks over the summer.
While my friends bought new shoes and bags, I saved and saved. I would go shopping in Paris I told myself ( this was before the Euro overtook the dollar).
I wish I had a fancy photo collage to share with you of my enchanting time on the Parisian shore, but I don't. In 2003, I was still working with Kodak fun saver cameras (yes, remember them). This was before I had a digital camera and way before I could have ever conceived of an iPhone or of blogging (gasp!). All of my photos from France lie in a scrapbook (oh my gosh, remember those), in my house in Maryland. I'll have to dig them out later. In the meantime, I will continue like the rest of the posts in this drawing inspiration series.
When I think of France, I am reminded of:
- Drinking red wine at a busy outdoor cafe. The breeze, warm on my shoulders as we watch people parade by. Often we'd order things we never heard of as an experiment and why not; the food, almost without exception, no matter what we ordered, was spectacular.
- Taking in a new French film a week. The small intimate theatre in Paris that I visited was the perfect place to practice my French. In the velvety darkness, I wracked my brain to recall the French I learned from elementary school through college. I saw every film that was being shown and got a crash course in French culture and fashion while doing so.
- Breakfast! Oh, the glorious breakfast pastries, croissants, pain au chocolates and the savory quiches and tarts complimented by the strongest, smoothest, soul fulfilling coffee. My tongue has yet to feel so happy and alive.
- Eating buttery baguette on the banks of the river Seine. A moment of stillness, beautiful simplicity, as the rest of Paris hustled and bustled in the distance.
- Evening in Pigalle. The midnight sky. The smoky amber glow of cafes. The cluster of artists that set up camp along the narrow cobblestone streets. The sweet taste of hot sugar and lemon crepes.
- Landing head first at the base of the Basilica Sacre-Coeur. Eye to the lense of my sophisticated Kodak fun saver, in search of the perfect panoramic shot of Montmartre from where I stood at the top of the Sacre-Coeur. One false step forward (no fair how looking through the camera lense distorts your sense of space) and I'm suddenly airborne, tumbling head and elbows first down the hallowed stairs of the Sacre-Coeur. A crowd of horrified Italian tourists gather around me, pull me to my shaking feet. Scraped elbows, chin and knees and no photo to show for it. I wish I could say this was the last time I ever used a fun saver.
- Strolling down the Champs Elysee, the Tour Eiffel, elegant and fragile in the distance. Spreading a picnic blanket over the lawn at its base and taking it all in, pen in hand, thinking I'm going to come back here when I'm in love....
- Beneath the glassy top hat of the Louvre, into a world of heat and color. Searching for my favorite Chagall (the one with the green goat beside a lady in red beneath a crescent moon) when someone caught my eye, a mischievous lady in grey, the Mona Lisa up close- beguiling eyes and that signature gamine smile.
- Rolling fields of green, right before the land meets the sea. Colorful manicured gardens and lavender carried for miles in the breeze.
France, what a pleasure and an honor it was to be in your presence.
Two products were inspired by my time in France, the Paris Fragrance oil, a light, roll on formula that epitomizes romance and pleasure, with notes of lavender and jasmine and the Provence Whipped Body Butter, a creamy, whipped butter scented with lavender.
If you can’t experience France in person for yourself, take the journey with a Paris Fragrance Oil or a Provence Whipped Body Butter.
Click HERE to purchase.