Monday, November 16, 2015

PARIS ON MY MIND



Vignettes of France in the South

By Doc Lawrence

“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”
                  -Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


Marquis de Lafayette in LaGrange
The statue in downtown LaGrange, the lovely West Georgia city, is one of many tributes to the French leader who was instrumental in helping George Washington’s army win the Revolutionary War. Marquis de Lafayette was a hero to early Americans and drew crowds like today’s rock stars as he traveled Georgia and new country. Milledgeville, another showcase Georgia city, marks the spot where America’s first huge outdoor barbecue was held, honoring Lafayette, a special guest.

Last Saturday on public radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” host Garrison Keillor opened with remarks acknowledging Paris as a city that appreciated the joys of everyday living, gentle moments like dining with friends, the arts and music, a lifestyle he said that made them vulnerable to evil. Then, Mr. Keillor asked the audience in Cleveland, Ohio to stand as the band played the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” I rose from my living room chair as well, a special moment to think about all that is French in my little world.

Rodin's "The Shade"
On June 3, 1962, 106 Atlanta arts patrons died in an airplane crash at Orly Airport in Paris while on a museum-sponsored trip. At the time, it was the worst single plane aviation disaster in history. The French government donated a Rodin sculpture "The Shade" to the museum in memory of the victims of the crash. Today, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States and one of the most-visited art museums in the world.

Established in 1804 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Père Lachaise in Paris contains the remains of thousands of celebrated artists, writers and musicians, including Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Frederic Chopin and Oscar Wilde. But the cemetery's most visited grave belongs to American rock legend Jim Morrison, a Florida native, who died in Paris in 1971. On any given day, hordes of tourists surround his tombstone.
The Maid of Orleans

The stunning gilded statue of Joan of Arc remains one of my favorite memories of New Orleans and the French Quarter. Millions have seen and photographed it. Not far from the Maid of Orleans is the Cabildo, the Louisiana State Museum where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. One of the most prominent exhibits is the death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte, who, many say, planned to escape from prison exile to live out his days in leisure as a French Quarter resident.

The antidote to sadness and loss can often be found in the Parisian lifestyle. Laissez-faire and joie de vivre suggest that freedom and happiness represent a preferred state of mind. My crystal glass is waiting to be filled. Nothing soothes the soul quite like great French wine. My choice is Moulin-A-Vent from Burgundy. The first sip is warming, infused with optimism.








3 comments:

  1. Nice information about our "French connections."

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  2. What a lovely tribute.

    ReplyDelete