Paris, je t’aime by Deb Jenny

And I do love Paris. Well, at least I think I do. I’ve only been there once, briefly. So I’m not sure if I’m in love with Paris, or in love with the idea of Paris. The Paris from books and films. The Paris I know intimately through others’ far more romantic experiences in that magical City of Lights.

This summer, the movie that has claimed my imagination is Paris, je t’aime. It’s not just one film, but 20 short films, set in various arrondissements throughout the City of Love. And in these shorts, renowned directors attempt (with but a few minutes at their disposal) to persuade their viewers to feel love in all of its forms: romantic love, familial love, and really, an overall love of humanity. And it does so successfully, pulling you in and encouraging you to laugh and cry and experience such a range of intense emotions all in a fleeting two hours that it’s almost disappointing when it ends. This despite some subtitles (I know not everyone can stand them; this movie has some English and some French)! I can’t imagine anyone can watch the simple story of the American postal deliverer touring Paris without finding yourself wiping tears from your eyes, albeit a bit sheepishly.

I suppose when a film achieves this goal, it’s nothing short of a miracle. So much has to go right for a film to succeed: the director, the actors, the story line and scripting, pacing, videography, editing. Think of the many films that started out with high hopes only to fizzle out, forgotten at best, ridiculed at worst (anybody remember Water World?!).

Of course this magical transformation can occur with books as well. I’ve enjoyed a few wonderful time/place metamorphoses this summer, with books that have–for me, at least–attained that holy grail that every writer aspires to: leaving the reader satisfied yet feeling a little disappointed with loss, because he or she so enjoyed being engrossed in an un-put-downable novel.

With the lyrical writing of Deb Kristy’s (or is she Legacy Kristy now?) Catching Genius, I partook in a leisurely respite on the Gulf Coast of Florida this summer, having never left home, all the while working through years of familial angst (not mine!). And with the fun and well-written Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him by the talented Danielle Ganek, I plunged into a fledgling career in the quirky New York art world, managing a few jet-setting trips abroad while I was there. I feel very lucky when I hit upon a novel that affects me in this way. It’s like figuring out the perfect recipe or having a flawless day. It leaves you with a sense of joy for joy’s sake, having invested nothing more than your time and a little bit of cash. What a great deal that is!

So my romanticized Paris may be just that. Romanticized. That’s okay, though. After all, what I know of many things I only know through the lens of the director or the author. I’ll never know the true England of the Bronte sisters, or the France of Javert and Jean Valjean. I’ll never know the brutal Uganda of The Last King of Scotland (if you haven’t seen that, rent it–Forest Whitaker is amazing), or the Japan of Memoirs of a Geisha. But through the magic of books and film I have been so successfully transported that for a short period of time I almost felt as if I was there. What a marvelous way to travel to another place or world, without ever going anywhere at all.

And since I can’t take that dream trip to Paris this summer, I might just have to find a theater still showing Paris, je t’aime, and escape there for a few hours yet again before the summer is over.

27 Replies to “Paris, je t’aime by Deb Jenny”

  1. Paris! Hi, Deb Jenny! I love this site.

    I wear a silver Eiffel Tower around my neck as a reminder that my husband promised me a trip to Paris for a certain milestone birthday that rhymes with sporty. Je reve!


  2. Paris is on my “To-Go-To” list. I’ve lived in Spain and never quite made the trip north because there were so many wonderful places to visit on the Iberian peninsula, but I will get there! But for this year, I’ll check out the movie.


  3. I was in Paris twice in the 80s and it rivals only NYC on my list of romantic cities. Movies absolutely color my fantasies of places I’ve never been. I did a whole Upper East Side trip based solely on the romantic notions I’d absorbed from Woody Allen movies. I’ll likely take my inspiration for this decade’s trip to Paris from movies too — they capture the essence of a place. Thank you for the film recommendation.

  4. I saw both Paris Je t’aime and Last King of Scotland at the Toronto International Film Festival last Sept. LOVED them both. You’ve got good movie taste–and by good, I mean similar to mine πŸ™‚

  5. Jenny, wonderful post. I’ve always wanted to visit Paris. My only view of it is through the movies and television. There are so many places I want to see, but through good movies and excellent books, sometimes I can imagine I have. πŸ™‚

  6. Hi Jenny, love the grog! OK, I’m going to be the wet blanket here. The last time I went to Paris was in the 80’s with my older sister, who was the victim of a hit-and-run grab-ass in the Metro station! Hardly romantic! Maybe I need to see the movie to restore my memories of Paris. (Of course, we also got “flashed” in Frankfurt on the same trip – maybe it’s us!)

  7. Thanks for the posts, everyone! Would’ve written back sooner but my middle daughter had her wisdom teeth out DVD so that’s taken up a bit of the day. Poor girl, she’s not a happy camper ;-(.
    Kim, I think your Eiffel Tower pendant is very romantic. And you, my dear, most definitely deserve a trip to Paris. Kid-free, that is!
    Judi–I say let’s do a PSU trip to France, Spain and Italy. Between the two of us our language will be serviceable!
    Eileen–if you go, count me in πŸ˜‰ . We’ll leave Bob back to tend to the site he he…
    Lisa–that’s a fabulous idea to plan a trip that way–you really get to know a certain sector of the city, rather than that sort of checklist tourism that people tend to do when they have a short time to devote to a city.
    Maureen–have you seen Hairspray? I just LOVED it (and I am not usually wild about current movie musicals). Just checking your movie temperature! And Last King of Scotland–wow–he was amazing, wasn’t he? He WAS Idi Amin in that movie.
    And thanks, Jill, for the post. Often movies and books are only way we get to see all sorts of strange and exotic lands, aren’t they?

  8. LOL–Carol, I *must* have been you guys πŸ˜‰ . I mean, NOTHING bad happens in a big city, right?!
    When we were in Paris I loved trying to guess which men were meeting their mistresses while we sat at cafes. You could always tell, the older “gentleman” with the stylish, svelte and sexy younger woman. The men usually pulled up in fabulous sports cars.
    There is one short film in the movie that I found so touching, about a couple in Paris who had been married for a long time and he is about to leave her for another woman. There is a line that I thought was so lovely: As soon as he began to act like a man in love, he became a man in love (it may have been more eloquently narrated than that). I just liked that idea, because really, it’s true. When you think about marriage and how it can become old and stale, but yet if the couple applies the rules from their courtship days into an old and weary marriage, you might be able to recreate some of that vibrancy..Or is that a crazy thought?

  9. I loved Paris on my tiny brief weekend there and then again later on the mad drive through for an hour on the way to somewhere else. Maybe it is all the magic from books and movies that we equate to that city or anywhere else and not really the true location, but I’ll take that! πŸ™‚

  10. I am CLEARLY the only poor soul who hasn’t been to Paris! I don’t suppose anyone has a charming little flat there I can stay at?

    And I’m so glad I got you down to my bit of Florida in some way. If you make it here in person I won’t subject you to any family angst at all.

  11. Oh Jenny, you’ve made me itch to travel!
    Kristy, you’re not the only one who hasn’t been–I’ve been to France but didn’t make it to Paris.

  12. Don’t fret, Kristy, I haven’t made it to Paris either. But early in July, my sister divided her vacation between England and Paris. As the plane took off from Charles De Gaulle airport, she opened CATCHING GENIUS and read it to The End just before the Newark landing. Of course she *loved* the book, yet the real point is that your words — at least — have been in Paris!

  13. You know, I think I would want to go to Paris for the sole fact of french fries.

    Are there beaches in Paris?

    I’m geographically stifled here, which made me laugh to say that, because Stifle rhymes with Eiffel, as in tower…

    Don’t mind me; I’m coming off of an American Idol tour concert high!

  14. I’m such a good mother, my son went to Paris for his high school graduation present but I’ve never even been out of the country. Not even Canada or Mexico.

    Someday! I’d like to sit in a cafe, drinking coffee and writing, just like Hemmingway. (The sitting, not the writing!) πŸ™‚ One of my favorite books, A Moveable Feast.

    And with that, I have to get going to my day job.

  15. Hmmm…perhaps a “Deb” tour of France is in order?! Wouldn’t that be nice?
    Manic Mom–how was the Idol tour? We’re taking the kids to that in September!
    And Lynn–for a minute I thought you a friend (named Lynn) who actually lives in Paris, so I got confused! My Paris friend is actually moving to LA–can you imagine trading in the elegant sophistication of Paris for the LA life? Tres differente, n’est-ce pas?

  16. Oui.
    Paris is one of my favorite cities, my husband and I spent ten amazing days there before we were married. Right before we were married, in fact: He proposed to me on top of the Eiffel Tower. (yes, WAYYYYY before Tom Cruise…)

    Funny though, it must be a popular spot to pop the question. When Tom dropped down on one knee, the people around us stopped for about one second (I think to assure themselves that he wasn’t having a heart attack) and then went right about their business of sightseeing. An everyday occurrence, I guess.

    Or maybe Parisians are like New Yorkers in that they never look…

  17. I love Paris, too! I think it’s the most beautiful city that I’ve ever been to. The only thing I don’t like are the anal shopkeepers (which is probably why the shops are all so beautiful). But, great post, Jenny. That movie was on my list and is playing at our new Sundance theater. Looking forward to reading more of you! Gail

  18. How romantic, being proposed to atop the Tour Effel! See, you do have your very own romantic Parisian history.
    And we weren’t there long enough to do any shopping so I missed out on the anal shopkeepers LOL. Next time…

  19. Jenny Dalinkkk. I was in Paris long enough to eat a GLORIOUS hot dog in the rail station- now I’m talking about a frank that lived forever in my memory and not just because i was starving after crossing the english channel on a boat or anything like that- really. It was impaled into the best hunk of baguette I’ve ever layed a tooth on. Then I went to some cafe somewhere and just soaked in the Frenchness. Oooh la la. Then I caught another train to London. Maybe two hours in Paris. In our local art theater they are playing
    LA VIE EN ROSE the story of Edith Piaf the waiflike singer who would sing that song back in the thirties and forties. Talk about a kleenex box movie! I also went to see Hairspray with nine women of the Macpherson clan in Sante Fe-weird huh? It was fabulous. The eighty year old set –three of them– just ate it up. We all loved it. You know me and movies, they are so close to my heart I would love to own a theater! Next up, Becoming Jane. Since I read all the books when I was young, I’m up for some historical heartthrobbing.
    If the Deb’s go, I’ll chaperone! I’ll play the old bag English Chaperone, Cheers, Suz

  20. Please, Suz, you didn’t eat a mere hot dog, you ate a chien chaude πŸ˜‰ . Gourmet train food, honey!
    I hear La Vie En Rose is great too. Must wait for it to arrive in Hooterville LOL. Hairspray–so much fun. must go back this week with recuperation wisdom teeth daughter to get her mind off the pain for a few hours…
    What’s Becoming Jane about?

  21. I’ve been to Paris twice and was not thrilled, like I’m not in any big city. Former New Yorker I prefer the country and loved the French countryside, and the beach communities.

    I have a long story about being stuck in the Ritz, trying to get a cab to a flight leaving any minute while outside the streets were blocked off by a movie production company. Finally got to the airport on time, but never even got in the movie though I was filmed pitching a fit.

    Guess there’s worse places to be stuck in than the Ritz in Paris!

    Love your grog, Jenny and your fellow debs. Guess there is life at the end of the tunnel!

    Cheers, Pet.

  22. I would definitely choose to be stuck at the Ritz than at the scary flat in which we stayed while in Paris. In a sketchy section of the Marais with lots of peeling paint, exposed wires and a sense of lurking danger around every corner at night (my vivid imagination let loose: lead poisoning danger?, bug infestations?,would the place burn down in our sleep? how many times would we be broken into?)…Although I guess that can add to the adventure, eh?
    Thanks, Pet!

  23. Great post, Jenny! I haven’t been to Paris yet, but I’ll be sure to watch the movie. One of my favorite movies, Love Actually, has multiple stories threaded through it. I’m sure the movies are completely different, but I like the different stories.

  24. Jenny, they did an amazing job on Love Actually. Every time I watch it, I see something new. My next book will be a WF with multiple stories–I think 3 protags. I hope I do half as well as the movie.

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