Travel to Paris with Lynda Marron
Last Chance in Paris by Lynda Marron
Oh to be in Paris any time of year, but when you have a great novel to take you there when you can’t go for real, even better! Come on…it’s your Last Chance…
I was twenty when I read A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel and decided I had to see Paris, immédiatement. I signed myself up as an au pair and spent that summer discovering, and falling in love with, Paris.
I adored everything about the place. Those gothic flying buttresses of Notre Dame, straight out of my school history book, gave me butterflies. Coming from higgledy-piggledy Cork, I couldn’t get over the order of Haussman’s boulevards, and the art deco metro stations seemed like something invented for the movies. The Louvre overwhelmed me.
It was the Musée D’Orsay, and especially the Renoir collection, that stole my heart. Those paintings, that had seemed twee and old-fashioned on the pages of a calendar, suddenly came alive for me. It felt like magic, the way they captured the most colourful and joyful moments of life.
Little did I know it would be twenty-five years before I would make it back to Paris, but when I did, the magic was still there. Paris still smelled of good coffee, fresh bread and browned butter. The metro still made the same clack-clack racket and the passengers still wore immaculate navy jackets and smart foulards.
Waiters didn’t call me mademoiselle anymore, but I liked the ring of Bonjour Madame as they offered me a seat. If there’s one thing to know about Paris, it is that there is no age limit on enjoying it. Paris is a kaleidoscope and has a face to suit every age, every budget, and every taste.
I carried a Moleskine notebook in my handbag that weekend and wrote down where we went and what we ate and who we met. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with those notes but I had a strange certainty that they would come to something.
It was a random conversation with an American tourist in Notre Dame cathedral that sparked an idea for something more than a holiday memoir.
‘It’s like something from a novel,’ I said, as I walked hand-in-hand with my husband down the banks of the Seine.
‘Then write it,’ he said and, eventually, I did.
If I’m asked which part of Paris inspired me most, I think I have to say it was the Art. Just seeing so many examples of humans doing their utmost to express something about life. I felt that there might be an opportunity there for me, that I might, in a small way, have something to say, and that I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try.
For any bookish soul visiting Paris, Shakespeare and Company is an obvious first stop. This bookshop is the descendant of the original Shakespeare and Company, whose owner, Sylvia Beech, was the only person in the world brave enough to publish James Joyce’s Ulysses. This was the same woman who entertained F. Scott Fitzgerald and bankrolled Ernest Hemingway. Later,in the sixties, the new shop hosted the Beat Generation, and countless writers, readers and booklovers. And of course, this was where, in the movie Before Sunset, Jesse (Ethan hawke) finally found Celine (Julie Delpy), his one true love.
Otherwise, your favourite part of Paris will be the corner you discover for yourself.
BookTrail Boarding Pass: Last Chance in Paris
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