Paris is my city. I was born here, I loved, worked and almost always lived here.
Paris, I love you...
Here is an autobiographical story, the will, I hope, allow you to get to know me a little better, and give you some ideas on your stay.
One of my first memories of Paris ? When I was 8 or 10 years of age, I went on top of the Eiffel Tower. Fortunately, my parents and my older brother accompanied me. It was a damp day, a cold day, but I remember the awe I felt when, once we arrived on the second floor, I discovered this amazing landscape : those monuments baring so much history (I stared at the Arc de Triomphe, the Sacré Coeur, the boats on the Seine), this feeling of power mixed with vertigo. An emotion and a joy, that remained with me all those years.
I recently went back with my younger daughter. After an hour and a half spent queuing (a little long...), I felt the exact same joy, I was so happy to share this experience with my daughter.
Another important childhood memory : The Palais de la découverte, I went there numerous times. It was opened in 1937, inside the prestigious Grand Palais which itself was built in 1897 as part of the universal exhibition of 1900. The Palais de la découverte is a remarkable museum as well as a cultural and scientific Parisian center. You can find anything to drench your thirst of knowledge : in astronomy ( a superb planetarium), chemistry, life sciences, mathematics.
Even though I never really had any particular talent in that last discipline, The π room (pi), fascinated me ! This constant relationship between the circumference of a circle and its diameter is an irrational number having an infinite number of decimals. Yet, the Palais de la découverte offers us a room completely dedicated to these decimals, 704 first ones of which it presents, even though the four first ones are enough for the most frequent calculations. In case you will not take the time to go to visit this moving room, here are the first 100 decimals: 3,14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937 5105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067. The rest is in room π !
Another place I kept a vivid memory of : The galleries of paleontology and compared anatomy of the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle at the Jardin des plantes.
On the first floor, you'll find all the adaptations of vertebrates's skeletons according to their living environment from fishes to birds, from reptiles to mammals, from man to whales...
In the paleontology's arcade, the time warp is impressive : the exposed fossils illustrate the animal forms which followed one another for 600 million years. Stars of this demonstration: the fascinating dinosaurs and the mammoths, which dominate us at the same time by the size and by the age ...
For the famous writer Paul Claudel, the gallery of Anatomy was "nothing less than the most beautiful museum of Paris [...]. In each of my stays in France, I come back to visit this sublime gallery with a feeling of religious worship, which every time, tempts me to remove not only my hat but also my shoes." Do not remove either the one or the others but go there fast ...
Then, I grew up and the π room and the monsters of the Jardin des plantes were soon erased by the charms of a young, sweet blond haired girl ! Imagine the emotion of the shy teenager I was, holding my first love's hands during long walks along the Seine. Everything was possible, love had to be forever, life and Paris were opening up to me...
A few years have passed and here I am, pursuing higher education in the prestigious Stanislas's college, near Montparnasse. Adopted by numerous artists of the Belle Epoque, Montparnasse, in spite of urban planning around its Station, keeps a real stamp. The numerous pubs, the theaters and the cinemas make an always attractive cultural place of life.
Even though I was a preparatory class's applied student, I always took advantage of Paris's night life with my companions, formerly livened up in the mythical places that are bars like The Dome, the Rotunda, the High-end and a little farther, the Flower-garden of Lilas. Cocteau, Brassaï, Man Ray and Modigliani, Hemingway, Miller, and Fitzgerald had their habits there ..
However, all good things must come to an end, even the studies. The time of responsibilities and the first important purchases comes. I acquired my first apartment in the 13th district, in the Chinese district. I got married in the city hall of the 13th, the place d'Italie.
My wedding night? It took place in the very beautiful hotel Napoleon in Fontainebleau situated in front of the castle of Fontainebleau where the sovereigns followed one another since the Middle Ages: kings, Queens Emperors and Empresses liked this place that they all stood out with their imprint ... Before exiling himself on the Elba Island, Napoleon told it its farewells on April 20th, 1814, not without having pronounced the immortal words: "officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of my old guarding, I say to you my farewells. For twenty years, I constantly found you on the way of the honor and glory ...".
As far as I Wass concerned, a young bridegroom, I didn't really look for the honor and for glory, but more for a way in which to pay off my first credit ...
I worked more than five years in some of the big towers of the Defense, this famous business district, in the west of Paris, which extends over 160 hectares, offers not less than 2,7 millions of m ² of offices, welcomes 1 500 companies (among which 15 of 20 national first ones) and also welcomes more than 10 000 housing.
I was thus one of 150 000 employees who worked in it. Even if I had a fascinating job in the service of a big insurance company, I hardly liked the place. Too cold, anonymous, without soul. I started working there on the big arc of the Defense.
Inaugurated on July the 14th of 1989, on the occasion of the festivities of the bicentenary of the French Revolution, during the summit of the heads of state, the Big arc is a part of the politics of the big works of President François Mitterrand. Hollywood cube in which our lady with her arrow could hold, this building makes the admiration for its uncluttered and dynamic architecture.
However, the offices are as everywhere else. Mine was situated on the 12th floor, giving onto the inside of the arc and its panoramic elevators which I absently looked at going up and down during my telephone communications.
During the big strikes of 1995, to avoid the gigantic traffic jams which formed in the entrances of Paris, I arrived at 4 am in the morning. Well, in spite of his(her,its) architectural genius, the big arc at 4 am in the morning is not cheerful! A unique shy light ignited: the one in my office....
Strikes, an almost sacred right in France! No matter the fact that those actions disrupt the life of millions of citizens. I also went alongside this national sport in the Fnac, prestigious company of cultural properties, created in 1954 by two activists troskystes. I indeed worked two years in Fnac Ternes, magnificent store situated near the Champs-Elysées.
The last job I had in a company was at the Post office, a company not completely like the others. Only French company to go back to... Louis XI, it plays a major role in the French society but its future is threatened by the reduction in the traffic of the mail. The story of the Post office is a little like France's. Go visit the museum of the Post office, (34 boulevard de Vaugirard) just next to the station Montparnasse, it is simply fascinating. When was the creation of the first stamp post in France? On January 1st, 1849. It was is in the effigy of Cérès, goddess of the harvests who symbolizes the Republic.
Fortunately, professional life sometimes offers the opportunity of the most pleasant meals. For example, this excellent dinner in the prestigious " Silver tower " with my hierarchical person in charge at the time. We celebrated with our lawyer a beautiful and important judicial victory there. In 15 quail de la Tournelle in the 5th district, the Tower of Silver offers a sublime sight, in the daytime and at night, on the Seine and the Notre-Dame. Magical.
Have I always lived and worked in Paris? In fact, yes or almost. My experience allowed me to work in the good city of Cognac, situated in the southwest on the banks of the Charente, in prestigious company of Cognacs Hennessy. I was taught that the world consumption of Cognac amounts in 20 seconds of the Niagara Falls whereas that Whisky's world consumption corresponds to 20 minutes!
But I missed Paris, I only spent a few months in Cognac. Nevertheless, I always kept a certain nostalgia of this province, more quiet and calm experience of life than in Paris, rather stressful city for whom lives there all year long.
And then, the time of the children comes. And it is the childhood which passes, according to the song of Brel ....
How happy I was ! My daughters, two girls, so many happy memories of all these Parisian places visited with them. Among them, the floral park of Vincennes (with its Valley of flowers, walk covered with 28 patios and detached houses, numerous areas of game), the park Montsouris (just next to your apartment), the garden of plants (my daughters threw bread with some honey to the bears, and then they adored visiting the tortoise Kiki, died since at the beautiful age of ... 146 years!), and also the zoological garden, in the Wood of Boulogne.
Inaugurated in 1860 by Napoleon III himself, this big leisure park is magic for the children, with numerous attractions (rather expensive, it is true) and of numerous playgrounds.
The visit in the zoological garden was the reward of Sunday ..
Other big happiness shared with my daughters: puppets. Ah the puppets of Paris! And their great classics, adored by all children: Guignol, famous puppet created at the beginning of the XIXè century by a worker of Lyon. At the beginning, this nice character takes to task small people by crying out the social injustice and by denouncing the middle-class persons as the regional or national authorities. Then, at the end of the XIXth, the bourgeoisie of Lyon gets back this character and transforms its stories into shows for children.
My daughters's favorite puppets were the ones of the Champ de Mars (after the show, hop, a small tour of pony at the foot of the Eiffel Tower) and of the garden of the Luxembourg.
Located at the heart of the Latin Quarter of Paris, the garden of the Luxembourg extends over 23 hectares livened up by flowerbeds and by sculptures. Property of the Senate, the Upper House of the French parliament, this beautiful garden is one of the favorite meeting spots of Parisians, student, lovers, walkers, which also attracts visitors of the whole world.
One day, when my elder daughter was 4 years old, while we were leaving the puppet show, I offered her a helium inflated balloon. I told her to hold it tight so that it did not fly away. A few meters away, she presses my hand, looks at me with a roguish smile and... Releases it voluntarily. Her crystalline roar of laughter, the joyful flight of the balloon in the Parisian summer sky will stay forever as a light in my heart. Forever connected with the garden of the Luxembourg.
And Eurodisney? Impossible not to talk about this leisure park opened in 1994 to 30 kilometers east of Paris and which attracted in 2008 not less than 15 million visitors, of whom my youngest child. My daughters adored it. Not me. Too many people, too expensive, too commercial, too much queuing (far too much). In brief, everybody adores but, for me, it is a nightmare ... I prefer the park Astérix, in the North of Paris. A little like Eurodisney, in smaller, more French (we meet famous Astérix, Obélix, Panoramix and all the characters of the small Gallic village there), cheaper and more pleasant.
Paris is a city of Beaty. Through its soul, its architecture, its museums, its operas and music salons.
Classical music ! It reconciles me with man and the world when need be. Some big works are such a delight, express such a purity, such a beauty that no word can express the felt feelings.
Amongst numerous concert halls that Paris offers, I have a favorite one, the room Pleyel. Opened in 1927, situated just a step from the Champs-Elysées, it fast became the place of the most famous concerts of Paris. Stravinski and Otto Klemperer played there. The Orchestra of Paris elects residence there and conquered a wide public with Daniel Barenboïm. Louis Armstrong, Ravi Shankar, Sviatoslav Richter, Jorge Bolet, Jascha Heifetz and David Oïstrakh will contribute to make the glory of the room.
Between 2004 and 2006, the room Pleyel was splendidly restored and finds its original Art deco's elegance. A real happiness of entering this prestigious place, a bigger happiness still to listen to the sublime music which is produced there.
Some magnificent concerts which I was lucky enough to attend:
· the symphony N 10 of Chostakovitch and the concerto for piano N 3 of Serguï Rachmaninov
· the concerto for violin of Sibélius. Beautiful and so splendidly sad. I know Finland a little and it feels like I'm back there when I listen to it.
· The symphony n°6, said poignant, of Piotr Tchaïkovski. How I like this symphony! Its first movement crossed by so many jolts and terrors, with the terrible explosion of the orchestra in its middle. And its last movement, which sinks into a heart-rending goodbye, real requiem, as a long sob.
· both concertos for piano of Chopin. A music so delicate, so fine and subtle, so soft and elegant as we long to merge there!
Too upset by listening to the Pathetic symphony, I was not able to remain for the continuation of the program and left at the time of the break. If you can, book a ticket for the room Pleyel during your stay. And, do not do as me, stay up to the end there ...
And now Paris allows me to live a new adventure, certainly the most beautiful one, meeting you!
It is a little bit accidentally that I began to rent my Parisian apartment of the 14th district. And I continued because of the pleasure it gave me ...
The pleasure to meet people coming from the whole world, from different cultures and languages. The pleasure to offer you a welcome which delights you, to give you the enjoyment to be in Paris. The pleasure to read your pleasant words in the guestbook (ah, my moved readings of the guestbook, I do not grow tired of it ...).
One of the most attractive comments which was sent to me after the departure of guests : "we already liked Paris, now we love Bertrand"! Isn't it a magnificent reward? Which is worth one thousand times my efforts to prepare your flat as best I can.
A link to all my visitors: at the time of their departure, they all have a small particular spark in their eyes, a little bit sad to leave the city light, so happy to have (re) discovered a city where all qualifies of ... supernatural. Paris is a wonderful city. We do not leave it as we came.
Thank you Paris. Paris, I love you.