Saturday, January 11, 2014

The weather, Paris, tourism ... and Chopin

Here is another long and eclectic post as I'll be addressing a couple of subjects and I'll give you ample time to read it.  First, the weather, of course.  The beginning of this week was extremely cold in Georgia.  It was colder here last Monday than in Anchorage, Alaska.  The cold affected almost 190 million people in the country - too cold for the polar bear in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago as it had to be kept inside.  I even read that some places were colder than Mars which was -32.8F on January 2, 2014 and Babbitt, Minnesota was -37F (-38.3C.)  I saw beautiful pictures on the web showing snowy scenes, like Thomas Zakowski's photos below of Lake Michigan.

Some people scoff at global warming.  Global warming is creating extreme temperatures in the earth's climate: extreme cold, extreme heat, floods, storms, droughts, etc.  Some parts of Australia have seen record heat with kangaroos collapsing and bats dropping from trees.  The Pilbara region in the northwest coast of Australia had a heat wave approaching 112 F (50C.)  The heat balance between the North Pole and the equator is being altered by arctic warming.  Many people who do not understand the scientists' reports deny that there is global warming or climate change, and that is depressing.  Unfortunately this has become a political issue which slows the programs working for solutions to this menace to our planet - very depressing, indeed.

Today it is warmer here - 63 F (17C) but dark with rain, severe thunderstorms and we are under a tornado watch - still depressing.  When I am depressed I read a French book or think about my hometown to feel better.  To give you an idea, just image that you left your country, your family and friends and went to tour Japan, then married a Japanese.  Imagine you speak fluent Japanese, even write a blog in Japanese and have been living there for years.  However, you do not know anyone who speaks English, have no English speaking friends and never hear it spoken.  You may be happy in Japan, but when you feel kind of low, wouldn't you read something in English, or think of your hometown, whether it is Washington, New York, Toronto or Sydney, Australia?  and also to get back a little to your own culture?  This is the way I feel - my language is French and my hometown happens to be Paris, France - a long way away.  Vintage postcards below - Kyo-maiko girl and Kinkakuji Temple next to Kyo-maiko girl and Sanjo-oashi bridge by Masaki Nakamura (1907-1993.)

 Which Paris do I think about?  The Paris I grew up in or the Paris of today?  In some aspect it has not changed, and in others it has changed tremendously.  I have seen it change because when my mother was still alive I used to fly to Paris twice to 3 times a year.  I counted that, until 2002 when she passed away, I went back to Paris 59 times (for 2 or 3 weeks or more,) and since then I have been back at least 5 times to Paris (plus one time to St Pierre et Miquelon, France in North America -  across Newfoundland, Canada, one time to Nice on the Riviera, and one time to Martinique, France in the Caribbean.)  So it is not such a shock to see the changes in Paris and France but there are many.  The predominant one is the number of tourists.  I like to travel so I know that tourism is good, although I think that I am more "traveling" than being a tourist as I go independently and sometime avoid the better known attractions in a city.  The last time I went to France, in October 2012, I did not even go into Paris, but went to Nice instead.  Below are some tomatoes we bought from the Nice vegetable market.

 I love Paris of course but it is not easy to have it as your hometown when so many other people love it too.  For example when my father passed away during a month of August I could not get a flight out of Atlanta for several days to attend his funeral as the tourists and travel groups had booked all the flights - his funeral had to wait.  Also, when my mother passed away in late December 2002, I could not fly back home to Atlanta on December 20 in time for the holidays as all the flights were booked from Paris to Atlanta until January 5th in my airline in coach.  I was lucky to get a ticket on the Eurostar train to the St Pancreas Station in London on the 20th to catch a flight to Atlanta (via Birmingham, England and another stop in New Jersey) on December 23rd.  Would I have had such a hard time if it had been another town than Paris?  Well, I think so since it was already easier, somewhat, from London.  Below is the clock tower from the St Pancreas Station in London (courtesy of Wikipedia.) 

I remember when I would tell my co-workers I was going to Paris to see my mother they would exclaim "Oh how lucky you are to go to Paris."  I would tell them my mother had Parkinson's disease and was paralyzed and that is the reason I had to go so often to help her since she had no close family to take care of her and could not come here because of the non-existent health care (or that I could afford for her.)  I did not go as a tourist, I just went home.  I rarely went to the tourist areas in Paris and that is why I have so few photos of them.  Does anyone take tourist photos when they go home to take care of an ailing parent?  But I have postcards...

When I was growing up I lived in Paris, in the Cite Condorcet.  That was in the 9th arrondissement or quarter - which is on the Right bank and goes from around the Opera to the avenue at the base of the Sacre-Coeur of Montmartre.  On the bottom map below of the 9th quarter I circled where our apartment was located.  (Please click twice to see better.)

Going up and down the stairs of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, I rarely saw tourists around.  The last time I went to the Sacre-Coeur, in May 2011, I barely could get up the stairs because of the crowd.  Of course that was in May during the high tourist season.  I have read many articles on Paris these last few days and picked up some statistics.  In 2012 the population of mainland France was 63.7 million and 83 million tourists visited the country, or about 30% more than the whole population.  In 2012 the population of the USA was 315 million and 67 million tourists visited the US.  It if had been the same proportional number like France there should have been 409.5 million tourists coming to the USA and only to the most touristy cities and sights, just think of that.  My point is that it is wonderful that France is the most popular tourist destination in the world (and the top one for US tourists) and that 29 million people visited Paris last year, but it is also hard for the 2,300,000 Parisians (intra-muros, i.e. inside the perimeter) who live there (or are trying to go there ...)  So please understand when they seem cold or too reserved.  Below is a postcard of the Sacre-Coeur in the 1950s and a current photo.

Tourism brings much revenue to Paris, that is true, but mostly to the restaurants, hotels, shops, etc.  In addition many tourists come just for the day or on tour buses and do not stay there.  The Parisians and French have to pay taxes to upkeep all the monuments (all churches are classed as monuments and maintained by the government = taxes,) security forces, cleaning, etc.  I was reading that 300,000 people walk up and down the Champs-Elysees per day, on average.  The city has to pay an extra 720,000 Euros ($984,125) a year to keep the boulevard clean - just that one boulevard.  I read that Berlin, in Germany, is thinking about asking the tourists to pay a tax to help upkeep all the sights they visit.  I believe Venice is considering the same thing as its citizens are moving away from the center of town as rents are rising and regular shops have closed to leave room for tourist shops, hotels and restaurants.   My friend Peter in Paris told me that, in 2012, 13,650,000 people visited the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris (built in 1160-1345.)  This is good but hard on the old building and much litter is left around it.

The other numbers Peter mentioned were 10,500,000 visitors at the Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre, 9,667,000 at the Museum of the Louvre, and 6,270,000 at the Eiffel Tower, in 2012, and it keeps going up.  All these visitors have to use either public transportation or tour buses or cars.  They of course visit mostly the tourist areas in the center of town, so this becomes difficult for French people who work there (not counting all the extra carbon dioxide.)  I read in a travel magazine a Parisian saying "The center of Paris is a museum.  It's for tourists.." and "most Parisians don't feel comfortable there anymore"  and certainly outnumbered more than 10 to one.  With 29 million tourists in Paris (and only 2,300,000 inhabitants many of whom are foreign residents or immigrants) it is clear that apart from the monuments, tourists can only photograph shopkeepers or other tourists - either from the rest of France, Europe or other countries.  This is OK, but too many people bring extra pollution.

When I took my husband to the Louvre in 1968, we saw the Mona Lisa painting with hardly anyone around, in the morning on a week-day.  Now, I read that it takes at least 2 hours to get into the museum, and with 30,000 people a day coming in, this brings quite a lot of human heat and perspiration to the priceless masterpieces there.  Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) painted the Mona Lisa between 1503 and 1506, so it is extremely fragile.  You can see above how many people gather around it.  (You may see it better below...)

Unfortunately with such a large number of visitors congregating in limited areas this attracts pickpockets.  Paris is not number one for the number of pickpockets in Europe - I believe it is either Rome or Barcelona, but it is in the top ten.  I read and look at, with pleasure, American, Australian and other foreign blogs on Paris, showing beautiful pictures of the sights in the tourists areas and people they see there.  They rarely show the other side of Paris, the crowds, the poor and seedy areas, and that is understandable.  So I am afraid that some people who have never been there and are under the spell of all these lovely photographs think that Paris has mystical qualities and forget that there are many types of people living in the city, and some are unsavory.  There are many beggars, homeless people, and immigrants from many continents who are not fashion-conscious.  Paris is a living city not just a bunch of tourist sights, just like Chicago or Hong Kong where there are gangs.   I am trying to show another look of Paris, just not lovely artistic photos.  Tourists may have a deeply romantic view of Paris (the Paris usually represented on TV, travel brochures and blogs) and may not take the regular precautions that they would take in another city.  They may become an easy prey.  I believe that my hometown, Paris, is the most beautiful city in the world and still low in crime rate.  It would pain me if tourists, because of pickpockets, or a rude waiter, taxi driver or passerby, would no longer think that Paris is a magical city.

I read that some new groups of pickpockets dress like tourists (maps in hand, cameras dangling from their necks) to look innocent and to blend in, but are very quick and slip away without getting caught.  The usual gangs to watch for are little children unfortunately.  Most come from Eastern Europe and are run by criminal gangs.  Since they are usually under age they cannot be arrested.  They work in groups and are very good at getting wallets and at snatching purses.  Little girls come and surround you and their opening ploy is to ask "do you speak English?"  you better never answer them.

La Petite Mendiante (the little beggar) by William Bouguereau, French 1825-1905

I saw some of these Eastern young ones doing just that while my husband and I were on the Pont des Arts which is well known for all the "love locks" tied there.  The children and even older teenage girls (mostly Romanian, Bulgarian, etc.) indicated that they could not speak, that they were mute and made hand signs asking people to sign their names on clipboards on their phony "charitable" petitions and give money to "starving orphans back home."  A couple of these "mute" girls would encircle the tourists and pick their pockets and bags.  When the police appeared they suddenly got their voices again to warn their accomplices and they all scattered.  I was so surprised I did not even take a picture.  An earlier year while in Paris, I saw some kids snatching a purse from an older German lady in the Metro, going up the escalator.  I am not trying to stop you from taking a trip to Paris, au contraire, I think everyone should go there at least once in their lifetime, but stay on your guards as you would in any other large city.

When I am depressed, I do not think about these disgraceful developments in Paris.  I feel that just as some beautiful women, Paris is victim of its beauty.  It is the price to pay for success.  Instead I try to remember our apartment in Paris.  I can visualize the sitting room where I slept on the sofa.  As you came in you could see the large marble chimney with the piano on the left and the French doors on the wall going into the dining room.  A large painting from a Dutch master was hung over the chimney.  On the right was a curio cabinet.  I do not have a photo of this room but the vintage picture below gives a good example of it.

My father would often come into the room to play the piano, usually Chopin.  Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) was born in Poland and at 20 years of age immigrated to France.  He never saw Poland again.  My father immigrated to France also when he was in his twenties and never saw his native Turkey again (he was Armenian, which is why he could not go back.)  Below is a photo of my father, dated January 1935, when he was in his twenties.  In the back he wrote "A mes Parents, respectueusement" (to my parents, respectfully.)

Maybe my dad felt a connection with Chopin.  He often played the piece below called "Tristesse" which means sadness - it is Chopin etude 10, op 3.  In the video below it is played by Freddy Kempf, a British pianist born in Croydon to a German father and a Japanese mother.  He now lives in Berlin.  I listen to the music and I can see myself in our Paris flat once again, and I am happy.

Chopin reminiscing on Poland by Jan Styka, Polish, 1858-1925


Pondside said...

Such a poignant post you have written. One's hometown is one's hometown no matter what it might be to others. Your version of Paris is precious and known only to the privileged ones born to it. Having lived abroad a number of times I understand the longing to speak your own language - it's about more than communication, since your command of English rivals most that of most native-speakers.

David said...

Vagabonde, Another amazing blog with great stories, great photos and lots of information! Over 60 trips to Paris...our daughter would be envious as its her favorite city in the world. As for St. Pierre et Miguelon, we may visit there this coming summer as we're planning a trip to Newfoundland. I was surprised at the amount of trash around the Cathedral of Notre Dame! Tourists can be such pigs... As for the thieves from Eastern Europe, we have them here in the USA. They specialize in retail theft and they operate in gangs. (So do the Columbians and Gypsies) FYI...I loved the look of those tomatoes on the right side of your produce photo! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Kay said...

This is a lovely melancholy post. I understand what you feel about missing your hometown. It reminds me of the joy my mom feels when we've taken her back to Japan and she can speak as much Japanese as she wants to.

I know Paris is OFTEN very jam packed with tourists. I have a friend from Illinois who goes every spring. He would have loved practicing French with you. :-) We loved our week long trip to Paris and truly understand why everybody likes to go there... often.

Friko said...

Oh dear, V. your post sounds so sad, in spite of all the statistics and information you provide.

You are suffering from ‘Heimweh’, a deep longing for your home and the past.
I know so well what that feels like.

Paris is a honey-pot for tourists and you cannot stop them coming. Besides, a lot of revenue would be lost and France cannot afford that.

BTW: we are hearing a lot about Hollande’s affair with an actress; it seems that even the French, who for so long thought that everyone is entitled to privacy, take pot shots at important people for moral turpitude now.

DJan said...

I am writing my comment while listening to that beautiful Chopin piece. It is indeed rather poignant, but it's perfect for this post. I spent a week in Paris organizing a conference that was held at the American Embassy. I walked across the Tuilleries every day and still remember the feeling of the place, back in 1994. Now that is twenty years ago! Thank you for this wonderful post, VB. Sending you my gratitude... :-)

PeterParis said...

You are quoting me … and since I live in Paris since 40 years (although somehow I’m also a foreigner, born in Sweden), I definitely felt that I must comment espcially on the “Paris part”. I appreciate a lot what you have written and I feel that you are basically right in most of your statements; they are balanced – everything is not good, everything is not bad.

Some tourist spots are probably overloaded quite often, although there is a difference between a rainy weekday in November and a sunny day during Easter. So, an advice is of course to avoid the peak season and the peak days, if you can. Of course, most tourists who stay only a day, or a few days, are concentrating on the same spots. If you have the time to see something more… there are of course also in Paris some areas which you may not consider as nice, but we must not forget that there are also so many nice areas and spots to discover, which most of the visitors will not have the idea or the time to discover.

As said above, I have lived in Paris for 40 years and I have never (so far) been robbed, pickpocketed or whatever. I have also met hundreds of visitors, blog friends, but also visitors I meet when I regularly do voluntary – unpaid - “guiding” via the Greeter organisation. So far, I know only about one pickpocket case. But, you are right, you must pay attention, use your common sense to protect yourself. There are also beggars, often outplaced by some mafia organisations, which pick them up by the end of the “shift” – and also collect what people may have given to them. Then, unfortunately, there are also some real beggars.

We may think that Paris would be nicer with no or less tourists…, but the truth is – maybe unfortunately – that tourism today probably is the biggest economic factor in Pars and that the city and its habitants to a large extent live on tourism. We may reach a day, when the whole of France is only a “museum” and then the real French or Parisian touch would of course be gone, but we are not yet quite there.

But, most of us like to travel, to see other countries, cultures and there are so many good things with that – to learn about different ways of living. I think that the plus factors around tourism are more important than the negative ones, although there are many of them.

So, to conclude, I will still encourage people to come here… and I also hope to continue my own travels to different countries and continents.

Once again, thanks for your post, with its balanced statements, some nostalgia… and for the “Tristesse” by Chopin!

Frances said...

Vagabonde, I am so glad that I found myself at home on this drizzly January afternoon, after spending earlier hours with friends seeing some splendid exhibits at the Met. Coming home and looking at new blog posts from friends, I have had the great pleasure of reading your fine post about beautiful Paris.

You write well, in many languages, and clearly, your home town Paris draws words from your memory, and from your heart.

I would draw your attention to the January 13 issue of The New Yorker magazine. It contains an article by Adam Gopnik (who's definitely lived in Paris,) entitled "The People Who Pass." I think you would find this article very interesting. Hoping that TNY might be found in your library. If not, I would be happy to mail the article to you.


Vagabonde said...

Pondside, David, Kay, Friko and DJan – I read your comments with interest and am pleased that you took the time to read my post, which is longer than usual. Thanks my friends for your time with me.

Vagabonde said...

Peter – Your comment really adds good information to my post and I am much obliged to you for taking the time to write it. I appreciate it and thank you- merci beaucoup!

Vagabonde said...

Hi Frances – I went online on the New Yorker website and read the first page of the article you mention – it is there free. I’ll call my library on Monday when they are open and ask if they have the magazine to read the rest of the article. Thank you so much for mentioning it, it sounds quite interesting.

Amanda said...

It might be a long post but your posts are always interesting. For the past 8 years when I visit my family, I land at CDG and fly directly to the countryside. I just know Paris so well and I have a hard time with the hordes of tourists since I generally go back in spring or summer. The same thing happens in Rome, Barcelona, London... too as tourists who travel with children have few options because of school. Chopin always brings back to mind George Sand; I still cherish her wonderful stories of a France that is long gone. We reminisce about the past, choosing to remember what we love, forgetting the worst but I hope those pickpockets and thieves would just vanish. Thank you for the melancholic post and the nice comments from your followers.

Elephant's Child said...

Such a beautiful nostalgic post. Thank you, and I hope that writing about your Paris eased the ache in your heart - at least a little.
I like to attempt to immerse myself in foreign cities, cultures. The beautiful is a part of the whole, but not all of it by any means.
Hot here, and getting hotter. And sadly our Prime Minister once famously (infamously?) said 'Climate Change is crap'. And the advisors he has, and the policies he promotes suggests his views haven't changed much.

Hilary said...

I can feel you homesickness, Vagabonde. I can't imagine what it's like to live someplace where you don't hear your native language spoken around you - despite your fluency in in English. You made Paris come alive for me more than anything else I've read of it. You made it real. Still beautiful.. still romantic.. but full of real life - the good and the less so. Your love for your native city is so clear.

Stewart M said...

Great post - nice to see I am not the only one who writes more than 20 words!!

I have lived in Melbourne for less that 20 years - prior to that I lived in the UK.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Nadezda said...

It's a pleasure to listen to Chopin, Vagabonde! I've also seen the gipsy children in Rome and they do steal wallets. I was worrying all time. I hope the cold days have gone away and you aren't in depression.
Have a nice weekend!

biebkriebels said...

I read your interesting post and can imagine your desire for your hometown from time to time. About the tourist booming I agree with you. I like to travel and see the interesting spot of a country I have read about, but it has become a horror to visit a so called touristic place. We decided to go to Norway last year, a quiet country we thought. But to make a tour on a boat along the famous fjords, became a fully packed boat with people. You had to fight to get a chair or had to stand for two hours. To watch the sunset at the North Cape was an event with hundreds of people.
With the prosperity of many countries the tourism has become a kind of a tsunami. People from all over the world are visiting in groups hop on hop of the cities of Europe. In Amsterdam you can in summer hardly walk through the narrow streets anymore or along the canals or visit a museum.
It has all become commercial big business.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

A lovely Post, my dear.....I thought your example of living in Japan and no one speaking English was so very well chosen---it really gives one such a clear idea of the loneliness one can feel, no matter bow many years one has lived in Japan---or in your case, The U.S.
Chopin.....BEAUTIFUL! I love that your father played for you all the time....You must miss him so very much.... is amazing that people would not "get" that you were going home to care for your mother and NOT to be sight-seeing all over Paris, like a tourist.
It is almost beyond comprehension, isn't it?
A touching post, dear Vagabonde. And as always, rich with wonderful pictures.

BTW: Those pictures of the Winter Ice and Snow were fantastic. Horrible, yet, Beautiful, too, in their uniqueness.....! Global Warming...what more evidence do people need???

Christine said...

Beautiful post ... I cannot imagine how you feel as I have only lived here in my City. I hope that thinking of how it was and hearing the music has cheered you up a wee bit.
I love Paris but try not to visit touristi spots any more. I did visit Versailles last year and came away heartbroken at what had happened to it. Thank goodness I have photos etc from an earlier time. It IS heartbreaking to see things change so.
I make flying visits to Paris, two or three days only, although this year we are hoping to stay for a week. We will be there in April but have our own agenda.

sablonneuse said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings and memories. I do hope the extra cold spell is over for you now and, no doubt, it has played a part in your nostalgic reminiscences. The UK has suffered from flooding and high winds and 'they' are only just beginning to acknowledge a connection with climate change.
We should count ourselves lucky in the Ardennes as, so far, all we've had to put up with is heavy rain and strong winds. The poor chickens are living in mud! Fortunately their houses are raised above ground level.

Jeanie said...

I LOVE the Chopin. Love it.

A fascinating post and an interesting one to hear from a native Parisian who has seen much change. When I visited, I stayed with my friend Jerry (an American) who has lived in Paris for 20 years. We were able to get off the beaten path, thanks to his advice, while still seeing a number of sights. To be honest, when I return -- and I will return -- I don't need to go back to many of the tourist spots. I loved seeing them and I'm glad I did, but I've done that. I want to get off the main streets a little more or see the more obscure museums that one passes by because they don't have as many stars in the guide book.

Jerry clued me into several of the schemes -- the petitions, etc., and one involving a stranger finding a "gold ring" and saying "I think you lost this." Engaging you in conversation, trying to get you to take the ring and give him something for his trouble. When I was walking alone that happened to me and I was glad I had been clued in!

As always, your illustrations are fabulous. I laughed at the Mona Lisa -- Rick and I both noted that seeing the Mona was like going to a circus -- and the real show was the people edging one another out, holding up their cameras to take photos. We found ourselves taking photos of the photo takers!

rhymeswithplague said...

Dear Vagabonde, being right up the road from you in Cherokee county I have also experienced the recent cold snap and the tornado warnings. Today it was 60 degrees Fahrenheit -- in January. Something does seem to be changing, and it is most definitely the weather!

I had not visited your blog in a few weeks and when I happened upon this post first I giggled a little because my current post features not only classical composers (hurling insults at one another) but also a photograph of St Pancras Station in London. What a coincidence!

Your homesickness and longing for the Paris you remember is almost palpable in your words and photographs.

I do love Chopin but the performer in your video is a bit too dramatic for my tastes. Throwing one's head and torso around at the piano bench is one form of showmanship, of course, but my piano teacher would never have permitted it. She taught her pupils to make up in technical ability what others achieved through showmanship. I suppose an untutored audience member would think "How impassioned is that pianist!" -- I prefer to listen to (and watch) the virtuosity of, say, Vladimir Horowitz in this clip of Chopin's Polonaise No. 53 in A-flat Major (the "Heroic"). It is not that Horowitz is not impassioned -- he certain is -- but all his passion comes out where his fingers touch the keyboard!

Chopin wrote at least 23 Polonaisses, so we know he never forgot his native Poland and must have missed it terribly, even while living in Paris.

Your posts always inspire me. Keep up the magnificent work.

(A non-native of Georgia who has lived here 39 years and has difficulty remembering his schoolboy French from 55 years ago but would gladly have a wonderful French converstion with you if he could....)

Cynthia said...

I'm sad for you, missing your home and family where you grew up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and memories. I do love Paris and have been one of those in the tourist crowds more than once. It's too beautiful a place not to visit!

Magic Love Crow said...

I am sorry about your mom! I hope she didn't suffer! I am happy you were able to help her!
That's horrible about the people pick pocketing!
The weather has been horrible!
Please take care and thanks again for a very interesting post!

Mae Travels said...

In the end, Paris seems to mean something different to everyone who has been there -- whether as a native place, a temporary home, or somewhere to visit briefly. In this way, I think it's different from any other city.

The expat Americans in the early 20th century wrote about one Paris, Simone de Beauvoir about another Paris, and so on. I love the Paris that you give your readers, which differs so much from the one I have visited and lived in (briefly compared to you, but at least twice for a year or close to a year).

Anonymous said...

❀ ✿ ❀
Un petit bonjour chez toi en ce lundi matin chère Vagabonde !!!

J'aime la façon dont tu présentes tes publications. C'est très attractif et très intéressant !!!

Le portrait de ton papa est magnifique ! Quel bel homme ! (1935... l'année de naissance de mon père).

J'ai lu sur mon blog que tu as visité Chiang Maï avec ta fille ! C'est EXTRA ! Tu en gardes de bons souvenirs et du Laos aussi ! ... Patrice et moi comptons bien aller au Laos ... mais on ne sait pas encore quand. On verra. Merci pour tes gentils messages sur mon petit blog chère Vagabonde.

Je t'embrasse et
je te souhaite un bon début de semaine !!!!
BIZ d'Asie
❀ ✿ ❀

Ratty said...

This makes me think of my hometown of Detroit and all of the changes I've seen there since I was a small child. Home is home no matter where we come from.

BJM said...

Most interesting.... B.

EG CameraGirl said...

It had never occurred to me that it would be difficult to return home for a funeral. I guess I have always assumed airlines made special arrangements for such situations. But I guess that must be impossible for them to do.

Sally Wessely said...

Your post was poignant that I nearly cried when I read some parts of it. I agree with Friko. I think you are suffering from some homesickness.

You gave us a very interesting view of your beloved city. I learned so much about Paris by reading this. I've only spent a few days there as a tourist a few years ago. My husband I were determined to go to the Louvre even though we were told the lines were horrendous. We managed to get there by ourselves on the bus. We then walked right in the door. There were no lines to buy tickets. We had a hard time finding the Mona Lisa and nearly gave up. We then found it. This tiny painting, I was surprised at its size, was surrounded by hoards of people. My husband took my shoulders and pushed me forward and held me in place in front of it while I savored the moment of seeing this masterpiece.

There are so many other masterpieces in Paris. I loved the masterpiece you shared with us by Chopin. I can only imagine how listening to this must give you great joy.

Jeanne Henriques said...

What an interesting and thoughtful post. Your father was a handsome fellow and the thought of him playing Chopin for his family to enjoy is a wonderful one.

In regards to Paris...while living in London, I made a pact with myself to visit every season via the Eurostar and I did. My favourite...was a trip at the end of January. It was was beautiful. When I returned in the high season I felt fortunate for having the Pairs I visited in January...albeit within the well travelled areas of Paris.

Living in Japan..without hearing English must have been difficult. I am fortunate that English is easily found in Saigon, at least in the cities. It would be another matter if I lived in the rural areas.

The life you live, the tales you can are so fortunate to have them tucked in your memoirs. Always a pleasure to read...

Very best wishes...

Jeanne xx

Elaine said...

I can only imagine how difficult it would be to live in a foreign country, but I can understand how at times homesickness for the world you grew up in can overwhelm you. Even in the US there have been tremendous changes since I grew up, and i sometimes feel nostalgia for what was. Living in a tourist destination I can understand your mixed feelings about tourists. Here at least we don't get many in the winter, although it is a favorite winter destination for the Japanese. But all those people who are making the trip of a lifetime help to fuel our economy, so we are happy to have them visit.

Miss_Yves said...

A première lecture, très rapide, et au vu des photos et documents iconographiques (superbes, surtout les 2, 12, 13, 16, 18!) ce billet"souffle le chaud et le froid", non seulement du point de vue climatique, mais quant au mode de vie (Passé/présent, beauté/laideur, sublime/sordide)
J'y reviendrai.

Arti said...

This is just lovely, and gives a sense of melancholy as well. Alas, the days that have gone by will never come again. Things will always be changing. I know what you mean as you long for a quieter Paris of your childhood, not the Paris over-saturated with tourists. And that Chopin Etude brings back memories for me too, as my son used to play it. But, no more. He had even gone to Vaison la Romaine for a summer music program and played a Chopin Ballade in a 12 C. Chapel when he was a teenager. But no more. He's not playing piano anymore and that I feel is a great loss. Thanks for sharing your precious memories with us. As for the cold, I feel for you... ;)

✿France✿ said...

vagabonde bonjour je viens de perdre mon commentaire et je n'ai pas la force de le refaire je suis désolée
mais je disais que le portrait de ton papa est si beau
je garde celui de mon papa dans mon coeur et il me manque tant tu sais
je t'embrasse mais je repasserai en prenant mon temps
car des articles ne sont pas courts et tu en as des choses à dire et à nous apprendre

claude said...

Pas de chance, le traducteur ne fonctionne encore pas.
Je vois que comme moi tu es une amoureuse de Paris. J'attends que les affaires de ma Maman soient classées pour aller y faire un tour.
Paris me manque.
Je repasserai.

La Table De Nana said...

I so enjoyed this post..
I have never been to Paris.. and love the country..I am hoping I will not be disappointed when and if I get there.
Crowds are not my comfort zone..
Love the parts about your dad..
and I love how kind you were to visit your mom so often..
Parkinson's is unforgivable..

Cergie said...

Un message très nostalgique, il est difficile d'être d'ici ou de là on finit pas n'être de nul part...
Savais tu que le père de Chopin était vosgien ? Son village Marainville-sur-Madon est situé à quelques kms d'Epinal où se dresse notre maison familiale...

Cergie said...

Je ne peux pas dire que je connais bien le 9ème mais mon fils a habité rue Henner quelques temps. Dans son immeuble avait habité Apollinaire. Et puis le Sacré-Coeur je le vois si je veux en descendant de la station rue de Rome... La tour Eiffel on l'aperçoit de partout, même de Belleville. Mais c'est vrai que Paris change mais je crois que le monde change et s'uniformise. Des cadenas il y en a en Italie, en Chine, en Allemagne et pas seulement à Paris. Je me souviens ne pas avoir été dépaysée à Soho il y a deux ans alors qu'il y a 15 beaucoup : les même enseignes partout à présent... Par contre l'arrivée à St Pancrace, c'est un sacré must ! J'ai adoré ! Quelle belle gare !

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, this posting of yours lodges within me the grief you are feeling for your home and the longing you have to be there and to know that others see her beauty. I was reminded of that song from World War II--"The Last Time I Saw Paris."

And as I listened to the Chopin etude--played so feelingly and intuitively by the pianist--I thought of what it must be like to be an ocean away from your home. I feel that Minnesota--where I lived for 38 years--is my home and yet here I am in Missouri, which feels so different from what I knew. And I can truly appreciate your longing to speak your first language because I felt that when I visited Greece in 1993 and no one spoke English to me for many days. I wanted to wrap myself in the cloak of familiar.

When I visited Paris in 1976, I went to Sacre-Coeur and was dismayed by the sight of children missing toes on ulcerated feet. They begged for money and so I gave them what I had. But at that time, no children came and surrounded me.

Your love for France is quite beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. You often leave me speechless with your breadth of understanding of humanity. Peace.

Vicki Lane said...

As Thomas Wolfe said -- You can't go home again. My hometown (Tampa, Florida) has changed so much in the past fifty years that I don't go back . . .

As always, your eclectic posts are a delight. I HATE being a tourist and have always tried to avoid the crowds. Sometimes it's hopeless . . . We saw Stonehenge in '69 early one morning (back when you could walk among the stones) and it was deserted. Venice in June of '69 was busy but enjoyable. Venice, when we returned in June of '91 was PACKED. Back to belly, we shuffled through St. Marks ... a completely different experience.

Sometimes memories and books are the best refuge.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

Lovely and interesting post. I love Chopin, and I'm lsitening to the piece while commenting. I didn't grown up in Paris, so I can't really feel a difference, but I always have a weird feeling when visiting because of the number of people always around me. Blogging has allowed me to act like the "amazed tourist" again while I take pictures for my reader and for that I'm thankful, because yes, Paris is beautiful, even if it's evolving too fast according to me.

Jocelyn said...

I hadn't realized your father was Turkish before now!

The numbers you give regarding population of France versus number of tourists were eye opening. I'd never thought of it that way before.

See how much I learn here?

Vagabonde said...

Jocelyn – thank you for your comment. I am pleased that you learned a bit from me, but because of your comment I went back and edited my post. You see my father was born in Turkey, but he was Armenian. When he was a child he was sent to his married older sister in Egypt because his parents feared for his safety in Constantinople (former name of Istanbul.) He did not have the Turkish nationality because he was Armenian – none of them did – he was accepted in France as a political refugee or as an “apatride” a man without a country (under a Swiss statute.) But he was born in Turkey anyhow and could not go back. He never saw his father again.

Jocelyn said...

I so appreciate you coming to my blog to share your response; I wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

As I noted, in reply to the further information about your father, I am glad you clarified. You might not know that my family and I lived in Turkey from 2010-2011, so I'm more aware than most Americans of the tensions and injustices the Turks have perpetrated on Armenians (and, by the way, Kurds). It's very important, indeed, to know your father was Armenian and not Turkish.

Have you read the book by Louis des Bernieres called BIRDS WITHOUT WINGS?

Al said...

It's been too many decades since I've been to Paris. And I do love Chopin's music, and listen to it regularly.

sweffling said...

Ah, I do empathize with this post but am sorry that you are feeling home/culture sick at the moment. As to Paris, I have never met with a rude or brusque response and I have found people to be unfailingly polite and helpful but I do always remember how I would hate to have to share my home with so many tourists for so much of the year.
When my mother died a distant cousin from Sweden came over to read at her funeral. I cried so much because I realised that this was probably the last time I would hear Swedish spoken to me in my own home. I will not continue more now, but having lived in France as a child and my parents speaking several languages to me, I often feel ennui for one or another country, and never feel totally whole in any. I hope you feel less sad soon:)

sweffling said...

I did not mean ennui in the French sense of boredom, but more the sad rather depressed emotion that the word has come to represent over here. Suddenly realised that I was not expressing myself very well!! Yours was such a poignant post.

claude said...

Il va falloir qu'on m'explique pourquoi quand je viens une seconde fois sure ton blog le traducteur fonctionne et pas la première fois.
Suis bien contente qu'il marche ce matin
Comme tu parles bien de notre cher Paris, Vagabonde. Je me suis promenée un jour dans Paris avec Peter et nous sommes allés visiter l'Eglise de la Madeleine. Les escaliers devant étaient occupées par des gens qui mangeaient. Il y avait des barquettes vides partout ainsi que des canettes de toute sorte. Il y avait de tout sur les marches de la nourriture et des boissons renversées. Cela m'a mise très en colère. Je ne comprends pourquoi les touristes ne respectent pas plus cette ville.
Tu as raison, Paris est la plus belle ville du monde et on peut en être fières.
Bien sûr, il faut faire attention aux pickpockets. C'est un réel fléau.
Je compte aller à Paris bientôt.
Une petite cure parisienne me fait du bien.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour et merci pour ton passage sur mon petit blog chère Vagabonde.
ça m'a fait plaisir de te lire.
Je t'envoie de GROS BISOUS et je te souhaite une bonne continuation !!!!

Ratty said...

One thing I learned a long time ago is to visit my hometown as a tourist. I do it all the time now because it's so much fun.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi this is such a poignant story about your family and Paris. I have visitied it now 7 times , first time 2009 (all because of blogging) and then last July. I don not feel like a tourist anymore , I go and visit friends , I am in no rush to cram everything in , I adore it. Yes it is such a shame about pickpockets , some females tried to do that to me outside Gare du Nord , but they were being watched and got pulled up. I was well aware of what was going on. Luckily.

I found your blog after reading Paulita's blog An Accidental blog :-)

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hello dear Vagabonde , thank you so much for your very honest comment on my blog. It was sad to think that this happened to your grandparents and that there were treated in this horrible manner, not respect and with the loss of their home too. I did not know the history and would not want to sadden anyone. Take Care Anne

dritanje said...

An excellent in-depth view of Paris! And thank you for your comments on my blog - I wondered if you could recommend any books in particular on Paris, apart from the ones you mentioned, Robert Sabatier and Stanley Karnow - in English or French? I've ordered Julian Green's book, recommended by the solitary walker, in a bi-langue edition.

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