Posts tagged ‘Paris ‘


Driving in my car to work I listened to the audio book of Buying a piece of Paris by Ellie Nielsen. While my mind imagined Paris streets, buildings, traffic and people, my vision was filled with green pastures stretching to meet the blue sky at the horizon. As I dodged dead koalas and potholes from winter rain, my mind swam in French conversations.

The book tells the story of an Australian couple who decide to buy an apartment in Paris and the ensuing dramas that unfold. Ellie Nielsen is a little-known Australian actress and her description of this experience is filled with humour, as she tries to communicate in French. As her comprehension and courage with the French language builds so too do the paragraphs of conversation in the book. So whilst it is a delightful book about Paris it is also a lesson in Franglais.

Listening to the audio book is a far more enriching experience because the accents and pronunciation fill the gaps that my own level of understanding and competence could not.

Once finished I prolonged the “French feeling” by listening to the soundtrack from the movie Amelie. So I drove along unhindered by traffic or buildings smiling and humming along to the music.


1 comment November 5, 2010

Le cinema

French movies can be weird, don’t you think? But I love them. Not only do I love to be immersed in the French language, but there is an off-beat quirkiness that I also feel an affinity for.


I have recently seen four French movies: Hunting & Gathering, made in 2007, starring Audrey Tautou, Francoise Bertin, and Guillaume Canet; Paris, a 2008 film by Cedric Klapisch, starring Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, and Fabrice Luchini; and two of Jacques Tati’s classic satires on modernism from the 1960’s, Mon Oncle and Play Time.


Hunting and Gathering is really a relationship movie that could have been located in any city of the world, but I am a big fan of Audrey Tautou. It is a feel-good movie with a satisfying ending where lonely strangers meet and enrich their lives through their human contact.


Paris is a beautiful portrait of this city in the current time. Separate stories are told but are linked by the most tenuous and irrelevant thread. The music and cinematography are beautiful. Scenes vary from beautiful, shocking, bizarre, discordant, sad, and funny. I loved this movie and can recommend it to all lovers of Paris.


I had seen Mon Oncle and Play Time many years ago when I was a design student. It was weird to watch these movies, that were made in the 1960’s, now in 2008. Jacques Tati makes social commentary about the modernization of France, which was seen by many as an abomination. The skyscrapers of Paris are still seen as a separate part of the city and despised by many. Dialogue is sparse, but he loves to use footsteps on hard surfaces throughout the movie as a nagging reminder of the dehumanizing nature of “progress”. We have “progressed” far now from the 1960’s trends and this distance offers us more food for thought.

Add a comment November 27, 2008

French blood

Deception is a novel written by Michael Meehan and published this year. It is about a young Australian man who traces his family tree to Paris during the student riots of 1978. He meets an obnoxious young lady in Paris who is also researching her own family history and their two tales are entwined both in the past and in the “present”. They relive the disruption of the French Revolution amidst the disruption of the student riots. The tale follows the journeys of their ancestors from Paris to New Caledonia, Australia, and then out to the South Australian desert near Mount Deception. Colourful characters abound; the ancient French aunts still living but not for long, and the homeless vagrant intellectual who is a font of all knowledge although banned from the libraries of Paris.


Reading this story aroused in me a thought to trace the French branch of my own family tree. All I have heard through family stories is that they fled France during the French Revolution, arrived in England, changed their name, and then eventually traveled to Australia. I knew my Great Grandmother who died as an old lady many years ago when I was still a young girl; still too young to be interested in family history.


I will trace this line of my family tree, learn the history, and then perhaps at some future time I will go back to France and visit the places they once lived.

Add a comment November 4, 2008

France at last

Me on ferry on The Channel 2008

 As an Australian with only one vague family connection with France this growing “homesickness” that I had been feeling for years was inexplicable. My only words of French were as a high school student. My only visit to a French community was to New Caledonia for 8 days in 1974 with my French class. And yet the older I got the stronger this yearning to go to France became. I know of others who feel this same strange pull towards France.

So we landed at Calais then immediately drove to Amsterdam and out of France. Our bus tour was to take us to Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy before we were scheduled to visit France. A fantastic trip for sure but too fast to soak in the atmosphere. I was merely a tourist; one of thousands; following the tourist trail like mindless sheep in a production line. Nevertheless it was still fantastic.


We arrive in France via Nice and stay on the Cote d”Azur for 2 nights; then to Lyon and Paris. We stopped at the medieval hilltop town of Saint Paul de Vence and I begin to fall in love. By the time I am in Beaune I am cocooned in a veil of bliss; I feel like I have fallen in love. The yearning is fulfilled and the Frenchness has penetrated my soul leaving me smiling with joy. What is this? How can it be? C’est quoi exactement? In Nice I see the modern library building modeled to represent a human head and understand and appreciate the design immediately. Other cultures would think of the idea but only the French would build it. In Paris I go to the cabaret and laugh until I cry at the antics of a comedian acrobat. I have not laughed like this for perhaps 30 years. I get their humour. I agree with their reluctance to speak English because French is a beautiful language so why should they be expected to speak English in their own land? I attempt my high school French wholeheartedly and make no apologies for my halting mistakes. At least I try and realise I would quickly pick it up were I to stay longer. If only I could stay longer!


Me at Le Louvre in Paris 2008

Me at Le Louvre in Paris 2008

We visit Le Louvre, Versailles, and Le Tour Eiffel but too soon we leave France and return to London and then Australia. Was it a dream? I have not experienced Paris at all. I will have to return. But I realise I won’t be back there again for a long time; if ever. So my plan is to bring something of France, however small, into my life here in Australia. This blog and my accociated wiki are to be the vehicles for that quest.




Add a comment October 30, 2008






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