Monday 1 July 2019

Paris in July 2019

C'est reparti!
As we bunker down for a long cold winter in Australia (okay a moderately cool and relatively short winter compared to the rest of the world, but hey, it's all relative), the one thing that can brighten our short, grey days is to dream of warmer climes.

Tamara @Thyme for Tea has tapped into this desire we all have for something a little more exotic, a little more glamorous and a little more sophisticated than our regular daily lives. It's a desire not dependant on the season it is wherever you are right now, but a desire more universal to break out of the everyday routine into something far more séduisant.

Paris in July is a celebration of all things French - literature, movies, food, music, history, fashion, culture and language - with a particular focus on life in Paris.

What are my memories and plans for Paris in July 2019?

My real life memories are based on one all too brief visit to Paris in 1991. It was late July and hot, hot, hot. It was my very first visit to a foreign speaking country. I was a little overwhelmed. We arrived in the afternoon and went straight to our camping ground on the outskirts of Paris to set up before dark.

The plan was to then bus into the city to catch an evening cruise on the Seine, so that our (my) very first sight of Paris would be by night. Seeing Paris for the first time, all lit up, with twinkling fairy lights, coloured lights and neon signs was truly a magical experience, and I'm so grateful it was organised this way. I was only 23, but I knew I would never forget this moment.

The rest of Paris is a bit of a blur. I remember trekking up the spiral stairs in the bell tower of Notre Dame, feeling faint in the heat, but I don't remember the gargoyles at the top or the view.

I remember climbing all the stairs up the Eiffel Tower (I was only 23 after all!) and I do remember the view from the top of that monument. It was a smoky haze that blanketed the entire city (and most of Europe) thanks to the Gulf War oil fires in Kuwait.

I tasted escargot for the first (and probably last time) and I finally accepted that I just don't get all the fuss about pastries, bread and cakes. Although walking along the Left Bank watching everyone else eat them felt very Parisienne!

I went to the Louvre and stood in front of the Mona Lisa with hoards of others, but mostly remember being in awe of the Venus de Milo. I know I also went to the Musee d'Orsay, but sadly can't bring any of it to mind.

I remember sitting on the grass under a tree in a park along the Champs Elysee, feeling too hot and bothered to join the others in their trek across to the Arc de Triomphe. Looking at it from across the way was enough for me. I took off my sandals, wiggled my toes in the grass, guzzled lots of cold water, and enjoyed watching the people stroll by as I wrote in my journal.

I'm sure I ate well (or as well as a 23 yr old expects), but I can't remember anything but the snails. I'm sure I drank something other than cold water, but I can't remember that either.

Obviously, I'm overdue for a repeat visit!

I have several books on my #20BooksofSummerWinter list that I hope to get to. Including a couple of Maigret's, a few more stories from The Best Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant and a memoir by Herve le Tellier called All Happy Families.

Although not set in France, I also have Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. Dai is a Chinese born French resident.

The wonderful, extraordinary lives of Mirka and Georges started in France before WWII, before emigrating to Australia. Their biography is littered with recipes for some of their most well-known French meals in their various Melbourne restaurants. I hope to make a few of them throughout July.

I'm also still reading The Count of Monte Cristo one chapter a day. July will see me reading from chapter 54 - 84. The Count has now arrived in Paris and I suspect he will remain there for most of July.

No doubt Midnight in Paris and Julie & Julia will get another viewing and that I will add to my Spotify playlist - Brona's Paris in July (which I've just realised was in secret mode, but is now in public mode if you'd like to follow and suggest more songs).

That should be enough for me to get on with!
What about you?

Que la fête commence!


  1. Though I lived 27 years in Madrid I never got to visit France, however I used to watch French movies, and read French books.
    Good luck celebrating!

    1. And I have visited Barcelona, but not day :-)

  2. Oh you're well overdue for a Paris trip, so am I, although it's only coming up to five years for me. I gasped in horror at your words: I just don't get all the fuss about pastries, bread and cakes! C'est vrai???? Can that really be true? Surely not. I need to get moving with Paris plans.

    1. Yes it's true Louise. I've never understood why people rave on about croissants (too much airy crumbly mess) or eclairs (too much cream). I'm thrilled that profiterole wedding cakes don't seem to be the thing anymore, but then I seem to be one of the few people left in this world who loves a good solid fruit cake (the only type of cake I will actively seek out)! I don't mind a macaron every now and again, but my dessert of choice is usually a cheesecake or a creme brulee :-)

  3. It's time for you to go back to Paris. You sound quite prepared for this July's event, though, and perhaps that will suffice for now. I'm interested in Maigret, too, so I may give it a try. I'm willing to stretch my qualifications for books and movies this month; I just finished a book for children about an African-American woman who became a famous mathematician at NASA, and the only real link to PiJ is that the woman majored in French and math in college. I'm still smarting from your easy dismissal of French pastries, bread, and cakes...surely you are joking? That seems impossible.

    1. I suspected that might have shocked many of you Deb! But apparently it's something I have in common with my Nan this (happy for waistline) aversion to cakes and pastries and bread!

      I will eat a little if it's on my plate or presented to me at a party, but I never buy them for myself or order them off a menu. I love the smell of fresh baked bread in a boulangerie, but find them too heavy to eat. I tend to prefer turkish bread or flatbreads. In a patisserie, I admire the tarts but tend to just eat the fruit or savoury filling, leaving the pastry crust for Mr Books.


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