• Spring has sprung, travel season has begun in earnest, and I am doing more of my private walking tours. A highlight this past month has been to host a newlywed couple with a unique and wonderful story: they were high-school sweethearts, then life took them separate ways, and some thirty years later they reunited and got married.
They were the loveliest of people, and the tour was made even more special by a friend of theirs, who got in touch with me to secretly arrange for me to buy them a gift of goodies (Champagne was involved) on her behalf during the tour. It was so fun and heartwarming to plot this for them, print out the friend’s note, surprise them with the gift, and take pictures.
• For my monthly museum challenge, I went to the Musée de la vie romantique, where entrance is free to see the permanent collection. My favorite thing to do is stand by the windows upstairs, look out at the courtyard and the trees, and pretend I live in this gorgeous hôtel particulier. (This museum is part of my which you can download for free!)
We also went with our kids to see Électromécanomaniaque at Halle Saint-Pierre, an exhibition of Gilbert Peyre’s work: this French artist builds mecanical and pneumatic installations from junkyard finds. It is a unique blend of poetic and batty, and children are positively mesmerized. The exhibition is on until April 23; go if you can !
• Also : I’m about to launch a podcast! It’s in French and it’s called Change ma vie : Outils pour l’esprit (“Change my life: Tools for the mind”). It will be about our inner lives, the power of thoughts, and how to feel really well. I have studied these subjects with increasing passion over the past years, and what I’ve learned has changed my life so much I wanted to share with others. The podcast will launch on April 27, and if you’re looking to add more French to your life, what better way? Sign up for the newsletter to be notified when it’s up; you’ll receive a little welcome bonus as well.
• On heavy rotation lately is Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan’s Take It, It’s Yours, an album of pop covers of punk standards.
• After taking Teela’s excellent Bounce Lettering online course, I graduated to her Fantastic Flourishes course. If you are, like me, a fan of hand-lettering and bullet journaling, I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.
• My friend Lindsey Tramuta is about to publish an important book called The New Paris, and if you pre-order before April 18, she will send you an exclusive and beautiful print you can frame and hang somewhere over your desk. All details here.
• As my poem of the month, I memorized À M. V. H., a poem written by Alfred de Musset (a romantic poet, incidentally) for his friend Victor Hugo; the title means “À monsieur Victor Hugo”. It’s a poem about old friends and wisdom — my humble translation below — and it’s interesting to think that Musset talks with an old man’s frame of mind, even though he was just forty when he published it. My son loves that it talks about candy.
To Mr Victor Hugo
Alfred de Musset
In this world, we must love many things
To know, in the end, what one loves best,
Candy, the Ocean, gambling, the azure of the skies,
Women, horses, laurels and roses.
We must trample barely bloomed flowers;
We must cry a lot, say a lot of farewells
Then the heart perceives that it has become old,
And the effect that goes away reveals to us the causes.
Of these fleeting possessions, only half tasted,
The best that remains is an old friend:
We quarrel, we avoid each other. Chance brings us back together.
We come close, we smile, the hand touches the hand,
And we remember that we used to walk together,
That the soul is immortal, and yesterday is tomorrow.