1965 – Enchantée? Oui.

3 minute read

My French hosts had set me adrift in Paris at the age of fourteen. I was resourceful, thank goodness, and relieved that I wouldn’t have to hang out with the family, but part of me wondered about the manners of hosts who invited people to stay and then ignored them.

I began to explore the city by myself. My mother had given me her pre-war guide to Paris, and not much had changed. But on the Champs Elysées I did stop to ask a gendarme the way. I wasn’t really lost. I just wanted to speak to this typical policeman, dressed in his short cape and smart peaked hat, his képi. He had a moustache, too, luckily. I needed the locals to be Continue reading

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1965 – Enchantée? Non.

3 minute read

“What do you miss most about London?” they asked me, when I went to live in Chicago in 1979.

“Paris,” I said. In answer to the blank stares, I explained. “If you travel 300 miles south of here, you’re still in Illinois. 300 miles from London, and you’re in Paris.”

I was probably making the mileage up, but they got it.

 

I first traveled to the French capital when I was 15, to stay with the de Beaumonts, an elegant Parisian family with a sixteen-year-old son, known to us only as friends of friends. The idea was that he and I would converse, using the other one’s language, in order to improve my French and his English. And of course, there was always the chance of romance, Continue reading