Monday, March 30, 2015

Pausing in the Place des Vosges - Paris



Paris can impress, even on the best of days.

I needed to find the eye in the storm of the energy swirling around me and to get reacquainted with her under the best of circumstances. I had to remember...je connais cette ville, ça va, respire...I used to live here, I am no stranger.


But the truth of it was that I was also quite nervous about meeting my friend. Taking that leap from virtual to real makes my heart pound even if it is someone that I know I will adore ("but will they feel the same about me?" I always wonder). I am shy.


And so I bought my metro tickets while still on the TGV in order to directly hop on the 1 after weaving my way through the madness of the Gare de Lyon. In only three stops, I had arrived at the Saint Paul Station. I turned down the rue Saint-Antoine and tucked myself under the arches of the Place des Vosges.

Voila. An old friend was right in front of me and I sank into the closest bench with a sigh of relief.

It has always been one of my very favorite endroits à Paris. The architecture of the Palais du Louvre is magnificent but so grand as to be overwhelming - that was the point. I think that Henri IV had a far better scheme in building this royal residence, even if he did not live there. I wonder what it could have been like for the court if he had. How they would be able to keep an eye on each other from across the square, what intrigues would be laid out under the vaulted arches. And how lovely it must have looked at night with the hundreds of bougies burning in the multi-paned windows. I can almost hear the click click of 17th century satin shoes sashaying across le parquet...


My reveries were rudely interrupted. It was the lunch break for the nearby college and a group of ten young ados started boisterously competing for a game that might well have been called "impress the tourists." It wasn't the only time in the day when I would be surprised by French teenagers acting surprisingly...American. How time passes. Or does it? I looked at the scene in front of me, changing and unchanged from when I first visited so many years ago with my family - when the Marais neighborhood in which it resides was still quite scruffy around the edges - and then yet again when I moved to France to live with Remi in 2001.


How different it was because how different I was as I projected my dreams upon the landscape. Nearly fourteen years ago, I would take the metro directly here as well from our apartment in the suburbs to sit and ponder - despite the enormity of my Love for Remi - the adventure that I had thrown myself into by moving to a foreign country where I had no words, none in French at least, to describe the complexity of what I was feeling. Within the confines of that square, neither too big nor too small and soothingly symmetrical, I felt protected and halted in what at times resembled a free fall into the unknown.

And in 2015? I became so still as to no longer be of interest to the young men jumping from bench to bench until I blended into black and white, a part the scenery. Once so calmed, I took stock and realized that I was contented as well as reassured. My sole agenda was simply to enjoy with something approaching an ironic distance...sans l'amertume. No bitterness or confusion, none at all. My life is elsewhere now and I have the words. I gathered myself around me, tight like a cloak not an armor and with a silent merci let the gate swish shut as I left the Place, moving swiftly on.

43 comments:

Joan McKniff said...

Just the visit I needed on this day of way too many out of my control issues. Thank you.

La Contessa said...

HOW GORGEOUS is THIS!!!!!!!!!I have to go READ it AGAIN!!!
XOXO

George Snyder said...

Oh this makes me ache with longing. My favorite place in la plus belle villa du monde. bisous, G

Judi of Little House said...

Now that we've decided that we can't go to Paris this year like we had planned, I am eating up every blog, every visual, via words and photos -pretending, wishing, and waiting for the 'next time.' I was right there beside you! I'm glad it was very special for you!

Emilia Tremante said...

This is my favourite "endroit"in Paris too.
"Le Marais" is such a lovely and interesting place to visit ! The only place you can feel the real Renaissance spirit.
Your reveries were so vivid!
Even if your life is elsewhere now, and I know you like it so much, I feel that Paris, the best of it, is still inside you.
You are a Wonderful, unique French/American Lady dear Heather!
Have a nice Holy week!

Rowan said...

A lovely "fly on the wall" view of you and the Place des Vosges, while also sensing those ghosts of history drifting between the candles and the Christian Louboutins there in the background! You also shared that sense of being other than, but a part of, feeling, that comes from being a resident but a visitor also. A couple of months ago we visited my old home town of Sydney, having not returned in quite some time, other than fleeting visits. Spending time wandering around, I experienced a strange feeling of familiarity, but a separateness, which was a very strange sensation.
Lovely writing, very true to your emotions. And gorgeous images, beautifully composed!
Cheers,
Deborah - Melbourne.

Bill Facker said...

Merci, Heather. Excellent photos .. excellent writing .. poignant thoughts .. Merci ..

Aloha,
Bill

www.kauai-to-paris.com

Wyn Vogel said...

Hi Heather - I heard Germain Greer some time ago comment on the fact that as she has shed years - she becomes more content!! So, there is hope for all of us and you have really drawn us into this moment - you have shared so wonderful to feel that peace and calm - I am sure you will not stand still though!! Cheers!!

Marsha Splenderosa said...

Truly, my favorite place in all of Paris. Amazing post, Heather. So soulful and evocative. xx's

RebeccaNYC said...

I love that you are shy. I am always scared when meeting someone new. It vanishes at the first "hello", but it is with me all the way to the meeting place!

Gillian Longworth McGuire said...

Such a special place. Such a special story.

Karena Albert said...

Beautiful experience and images Heather. I had a long talk with Andrea the other day and she is very excited to see you this summer with some of our other friends!! I wish I could make it to France this year!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

Catherine Robinson said...

Oh, Heather...I so love the way you write; you always transport me such a place of grace and serenity...your writings say you are a very special lady...and I love that you are shy; I think I thought that...I can recognise it :)

Stephen Andrew said...

What a gorgeous post! I see I am about 100 posts behind! I thought I was a subscriber but I guess not. I wish I had a fraction of your sense of adventure! I could use a *little* more.

Jennifer Connolly said...

So very beautiful Heather. Your words paint pictures in my mind. I'm gong back to read it agin too!! xoxo

Tish Jett said...

Dearest Heather,

What a beautiful, beautiful writer you are. I like to think that you were one of the sparrows at our lunch in the Place des Vosges. Next time we'll be five.

xoxo toujours,
Tish

Judith Ross said...

As always, your words and photos together create a mood that makes me want to look at your posts again and again. Merci beaucoup.

Lisa Southard said...

These posts are little holidays Heather- I've been far too busy lately, have missed far too many of your moments, it is relaxing to catch up. If I make a trek over the Channel one day we should be brave and meet :-)

silkannthreades said...

A beautiful place of refuge.

Loree said...

I am shy too. Paris always looks so grand, it feels a little scary sometimes.

Heather Robinson said...

Oh dear. Joan, just know that I am sending you hugs and support...I really wouldn't want to be living in Florida these days, politically speaking...but then again, my "canton" just passed FN...

Heather Robinson said...

Merci beautiful friend!

Heather Robinson said...

Is it really? And yet that doesn't surprise me in the least. So very you, G. Bisous right back...come back to France!

Heather Robinson said...

It was, Judi. I have a few more posts to share.

And you know, one of the differences between NYC and Paris that I love is that Paris always feels like Paris while NYC? Well, I end up missing "my" spots that are no more so much...So to say, Paris will wait for you... :)

Heather Robinson said...

Oh, thank you so much beautiful Emilia! What a lovely thing to say...just as you make Roma real to me...

Heather Robinson said...

Deborah, you put it perfectly! Of being apart of something but not really. It is actually similar to what I was hoping to write for an upcoming post. ;)

Heather Robinson said...

Aloha and Mahalo, Bill.

Heather Robinson said...

Cheers right back at you Wyn. And thank you for the wonderful Germain Greer quote. I have heard that said so often in one form or another and dearly hope that it is true!

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you , Marsha. I am tickled pink to know that so many people that I care about feel the same way that I do about this iconic Place.

Heather Robinson said...

I am wack shy. I was shaking when I walked in the door to meet my friend! And meeting groups of strangers all at once? Whoa. Luckily, Remi is a charming front man, that is all that I have to say...

That said, it totally surprises me that you are shy. I would have never guessed that at all!

Heather Robinson said...

It is and thank youuuuu, Gillian. Now we need to get you to visit Provence... ;)

Heather Robinson said...

I really hope that works out Karena...and I hope that you can make it another time!

Heather Robinson said...

You?! Goodness, that is surprising too. With your looks and elegance!

And thank you so very much for your kind compliments, I am blushing. You know, I decided to keep the name of the blog "Lost in Arles" for a reason even though we no longer live there. I am most certainly still trying to find my way through and this blog is a helpful tool for that.

Sending gros Bisous to you...

Heather Robinson said...

I think that you have absolutely tons of it, just in a different way!

And I have no idea what is up with the notification ghosts. *sigh* I don't get ones for your blog either!! I certainly don't ever wish to miss a one...

Heather Robinson said...

Thank you, Jennifer!

Heather Robinson said...

It is so strange to me that I was right there a week before your amazing rendez-vous! I would probably have to sit at "the kids table" instead of sitting with all of you beautiful bigtimers. ;)

Thank you, thank you, thank you - always - for your kindness and support, dear Tish.
Much Love to you,
H

Heather Robinson said...

Judith! You are a nicer person than I am for even looking one time at this blog considering that I still haven't read your new piece! Bad friend...but I am so very behind in the internet world right now. Please forgive...

Heather Robinson said...

Hooray! Lisa, the only way that I would be shy to meet you is because I love your writing so much - but I know that we would get a long well! That would be lovely...

Heather Robinson said...

It is. I wish that I had taken more photos but honestly I just needed to go inside instead of looking around!

Heather Robinson said...

Yep, that is why knowing about the many gorgeous little corners is so great. Just to stop, take a breather and get perspective. I am not surprised that you are shy too...but if we ever do meet, perhaps because we are both shy it would cancel each others out?

RebeccaNYC said...

I think this is where our acting skills serve us well. I can "act" confident until I am. Fake it 'till you make it. I am guessing you do the same thing. Smiling on the outside, shaking on the inside. (I am remembering your TV interview...you radiate poise and confidence. But I am guessing that on the inside a whole different thing was going on. I know how I would have been feeling!!!!!)

Heather Robinson said...

Oh my goodness, Rebecca, I was SUCH a mess for two weeks before that interview. Do you know what I did? ohdear When I was out in the fields walking the dogs I would talk out loud, preparing my responses and stories because I was so sick with nerves that my throat would close up. I did that over and over and it worked! The day of the interview I woke up and felt fine. I was only shaking a wee bit during the first minute of the interview and it went so well that I agreed to do a second one for the Vancouver show!

But when I was acting on stage? I was fearless! I bet you are too when you are in character. :) Your amazing costumes ALONE would give me the goods. :)

Judith Ross said...

You are definitely forgiven! I assumed that you were behind. Stay in the real world all around you and enjoy!!