A November Bonjour - Cara Black's occasional newsletter
Bonjour Everyone, Just back from a wonderful October spent in Paris -
the light, the leaves turning colors - red, yellow and ochre, the
fallen chestnuts crackling underfoot on the cobbles, autumn mushrooms
in the market,
the crispness in the air and a Paris ripe with exhibitions. I only made
it to a few; the d'Orsay museum, the Azzedine Alaiia’s haute couture at
the Modern Art Museum at Palais Chaillot, but there were tons to chose
Last month started with my broken toe - courtesy of my skirmish with a
revolving door at Penn Station in NYC while running to catch a plane.
Not pretty, and with two days to leave for Paris, the foot doc loaded
me up with antibiotics and a ‘boot’ to keep my toe immobile. The boot
was black, still not exactly trés chic, but I could hobble onto the
plane, and worry about climbing the Metro stairs later.
I had parts in a pilot for a tele travel channel to shoot, the Killer
Trip to Paris tour to guide and research to do for the next Aimée
Investigation. Zut, but it made me slow down and smell the Seine, and
if worse came to worse, putting my foot up at a cafe on
the Left Bank watching the leaves turn, nurse an espresso or three, how
bad could that be on the cafe terasse with patisserie to chose from and
overlooking Jardins Luxembourg?
We shot the pilot, with an incredible tight and efficient French crew,
in two days: highlights were shooting scenes of the 14th century
Philippe August wall remaining in an underground parking lot in Saint
Germain, visiting the Cluny with the curator who took us under the
museum in the old Roman baths, a conversation at Le Procope the oldest
cafe in Paris, the chocolate factory of Patrick Roget out in Sceaux -
yes, we even got to sample his to-die-for chocolate wares!
We delved into the quarries under the Hospital Cochin, walked up the
hilly market street rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter and a make-up
session for me, by a pro make-up artist, on rue Charlot in the Marais -
totally cool and I felt like a Parisienne with all the new macquillage
tips I learned. The two producers are hoping to sell our pilot to the
travel channel à la secret Paris with shots of Aimée Leduc and scenes
from my books. The actress, hired to play Aimée was blonde, but apart
from that she was brilliant, thin and looked very Aimée in tight pants.
More on the pilot’s progress in the future.
Then fourteen Americans including Laura, our winner of the Killer Trip
to Paris sweepstakes, joined me in Paris for our tour. We, the
wonderful Laura, Sharon - Hèléne, Mona, Jean, Sharyn, Sharon, Pat,
Sharon 'Leduc', Bonnie and Pat, Cheri, Carole, Roy, Steve and Alan
‘did’ Paris Aimée style; visiting the real Duluc Detective agency on
rue du Louvre, where I got the inspiration for Aimée’s agency, with
Madame Baret the owner. She’s lovely and spent time showing us Duluc
Detective - her Cocteau drawings on the wall and even shared how she
hoped her sons would take over the agency. We walked around the 14th
arrondissement in Montparnasse by Matisse's, Giacometti's and
Modigliani's old ateliers, sampled thick 'chocolat chaud' in the Marais
and geared up for the Night treasure hunt at the Louvre.
Two of our Sharons - we had four - were true fans wore red high tops in
honor of Aimée Leduc.
The Louvre treasure hunt took me by surprise - could this museum really
have four floors and wings of the Egyptian collection - could Napoleon
have looted that much from Egypt with his armies?
Mais oui, and we tramped up and down looking for clues among the
mummies, Sarcophogi, and passing masterpieces along the way.
Resto hightlights: le Recamier in the 7éme which only serves souffles,
l’Epi Dupin on rue Dupin in the 6éme with a seven course tasting menu,
forget the food at the Cafe Marly at the Louvre but do enjoy the
eye-candy of GQ waiters and a terrasse overlooking the Louvre’s pyramid.
Trips outside Paris: The Killer Trip tour visited the chateau at Vaux
le Vicomte with gardens by Le Notre (Le Vau, the same architect also
built Versailles for Louis. But Louis, jealous of Vaux le Vicomte, had
Fouquet, his treasury minister and the owner, sent to the Bastille).
For years I've wanted to visit George Sand’s old country home in
Nohant, deep in the Berry region of la France profonde as they say, a
countryside with rolling green hills, waterways.
It took 48 hours by coach on muddy roads in her day. For us, three and
a half hours from Paris. If you can - do explore George Sand’s books
and life - she was a revolutionary woman for her time and ours: she
smoked cigars, took lovers, wrote under a man’s name to become
published and pay for her chateau where she raised her children, kept a
vegetable garden, installed Chopin upstairs to make his life tranquil
and balanced while waiting for his piano, sent by Pleyel, that took
eight days to arrive from Paris. Established an artists salon with
Balzac, Lizst, Alexander Dumas, Delacroix who loved painted her garden
George Sand's great-grandaughter donated the chateau and lands to the
State and you can visit! We spent the night in a moulin, a water-mill
off a country road and in the morning heard shots - yes, it’s hunting
season in France and the forests are alive with wild boar and men in
fluorescent vests carrying rifles and baskets of wine and food to
nourish their expedition. Not a recommended time to jog or hike in the
forests, as Sylvia, who writes the delightful blog, and my companion in
George Sand country, www.findingnoon.com, described in her entry about
her adventure there. Yes, I found a sword in a dilapidated castle and
we hiked over the moat and visited the last working mill in central
France - amazing and set in lush green land. We also visited the town
where Jacques Tati filmed ‘Jour de Fete’ - Tati was my father’s
favorite actor and film maker and raised me on his films - somehow I
sensed my Dad was watching from somewhere and smiling. We hung out in
the town’s only bar-cafe where we met the locals, the Berrichon folk
are notorious for being superstitious and believers of witchcraft, who
told us about the ‘magnetiseurs’ or healers, by the laying of hands,
who are famous in the Berry region - we were even given the card of a
Here's Emilie, la chat who I cat-sat again on the Canal St. Martin.
This month on November 13th the Alliance Française of SF, along with
BiRite our cool gourmet foodie purveyor, are sponsoring French Night at
the Mission Library (my local library down the hill from me) at 6PM. If
you’re in SF, please come by for cheese, crime and my talk on Paris.
PS Murder Below Montparnasse made the Strand Magazine Best Books List
of 2013 so I celebrated the news on a Paris rooftop!
In the works: the great folks at SOHO are setting up a book tour for
MURDER IN PIGALLE that publishes on March 4, 2014 - I can’t believe it
but yes, Aimée hits the red-light section of Paris in her 14th
investigation. Stay tuned for the book tour (soon to be posted on
Facebook and wwww.carablack.com)and please check in to let me know if
your bookstore, local Alliance Française or library would like me to
visit. Maybe we can make that happen. Also some surprises to come with
MURDER IN PIGALLE.
à la prochaine,
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