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 from.

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 many times.


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 'healer'.

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. http://missionbranchblog.blogspot.com
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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