Write Part of My Memoir in November, Day 16: Paris Edition

Write Part of My MemoirOn this 16th day of my memoir challenge, Paris is much on my mind.

Some assorted musings, then, on the city that’s long been a part of both my fantasy life and my travel life.  I started studying French in high school so I’d be able to order food and drink fluently once I got settled into my pied à terre on Île St. Louis.

The first of the eight or so times I visited in reality, I was in college; I flew on a cheap charter from New York. Many people warned me about snooty Parisians. As a young New Yorker, I never noticed. Dressed in black and no doubt scowling, as was my wont, I fit right in. I was never so proud as when someone asked me for directions — in French. Tant pis, I couldn’t answer in kind.

I made another trip to the French capital in the mid-1980s when I was editing the Gault Millau dining guides, published by the Paris-based Gayot Inc. and distributed in the U.S. by Prentice Hall. I was feeling terribly cosmopolitan and professional, being in Paris on business. The morning I was scheduled to meet Andre Gayot, head of Gault Millau, I slipped in the tiny stall shower of my hotel room and hit my head. I ended up in a Paris hospital, getting X-rays to make sure I didn’t have a concussion. I didn’t. What I did have, I discovered, was a pointy head. I wish I still had that film to show doubters that I’m not exaggerating.

Later, as a professional travel writer, I went to Paris on several press trips. One of them took place the week of Bastille Day, and our group of journalists was lucky enough to dine on the deck of the Eiffel Tower on the day itself.

Ah, yes, Bastille Day. It occurs to me now that the streets of Paris have run with blood before, but that guillotines and tumbrels were the last thing on my mind when I sat gazing out over the City of Lights, watching the fireworks flare up in bursts below.

New York was still New York after 9/11. Paris will return to being Paris, and I will think again of the quirky things that made it special to me, not of the bloodshed. I look forward to another visit, even as my French is growing rusty and that pied à terre on Île St. Louis is looking about as likely as a permanent cessation of all the world’s violence.

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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

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  1. Kate Kaemerle says:

    France will thrive, just as NYC did. Vive la France!

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