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Happy Day After Bastille Day!


(P.S. About Casablanca, Umberto Eco once wrote that by rights it shouldn’t be a good movie, because of all of the archetypal situations and characters, and all of the clichés. But that’s precisely why it does work, according to Eco: because the combination of so many different clichés allows the movie to transcend cliché to become something better. I always feel really cool when I pull out that little factoid. It’s from an essay in a book that a friend gave me for my birthday in high school, which is not quite this one, but you get the gist.)

Anyway, yesterday was a really lovely Bastille Day. I was determined to see the disco ball on the Eiffel Tower, but was reluctant to brave any tourist trap on the evening of quatorze juillet, so I got up and out early and saw what there was to see.

Then I had a wildly overpriced cup of coffee and a tartine–

–and started reading a Ruth Rendell mystery the plot of which I seem to recognize from a French movie called La Cérémonie with Isabelle Huppert, about an illiterate woman who goes to work for a wealthy, well-educated family and a lot of people end up dead in the last scene. (Spoilers? I don’t even know where you’d see that movie. I caught it on some foreign film channel my junior year of college.)

I spent the afternoon singing (though not doing any practical work), napping, eating lunch and just generally laying like broccoli in my room, listening to the beat of some Bastille Day concert going on nearby. And then I went to meet David Lebovitz, one of my favorite Paris food and everything bloggers. The picture we took together didn’t come out well (I should never let other people take pictures with my camera!), but he did sign my copy of The Sweet Life in Paris.

The weather couldn’t make up its mind at all, which was irritating because I no longer own an umbrella, but it made for some pretty dramatic clouds. It’s cloud illusions I recall…

The Parisian sky is something I will definitely miss when I leave in August. I know it’s the same sky the world over, but there’s a reason they write songs about le ciel de Paris.

Anyway, then last night I met up with my friend Cary and his boyfriend Todd, who are traveling in Europe before moving from Chicago to Seattle, and we braved the perils of St. Lazare to meet Heather and Jake at Suresnes-Mont Valérien, where there is a perfect panorama view of Paris. I may eventually poach some good pictures of last night from Cary and Jake, whose cameras don’t spazz out at night, but for now this is the best I’ve got:

It was a wonderful place to sit and have a wine and cheese picnic. There’s nothing like getting out of the city, especially on a day when the city is absolutely mobbed with drunk celebrating people. There was a pretty good crowd at Suresnes, but nothing like what I imagine Bastille or Sacré Coeur would have looked like. We were far enough away from the city that we couldn’t feel the vibrations from the fireworks, and we could only barely hear the explosions, but we could see the whole show, which you can’t really do from up close. The Eiffel Tower was sparkling and the fireworks were beautiful (and all of the French guys sitting next to us were like, “Oh la laaaaaa!”), and as Todd said, and we all agreed, it was the perfect way to end Bastille Day.

And then nobody sang the Marseillaise. I was disappointed, but also reluctant to start singing it myself because, er, I don’t know all the words. Tant pis.