Au revoir, Paris!

For the past week, I've been in Prague. I left Paris with a very heavy heart, mainly because I felt like I was just getting to know the city. I'll admit it: the first two weeks were mainly wasted. I was really homesick, I've never exactly been in a big city, and most of the time I just wanted to stay in my room and cuddle up with Netflix. The last week was a rush of trying to see everything I could, and I'm happy to say I think I gave myself a fitting farewell to Paris. There was a lot I missed, but it'll be there the next time I go, so I wasn't too heartbroken over it.

I won't delve into every little thing that happened -- I'll mainly stick to the film-related ones and some others like the monuments. My 8-hour flight to Paris was pretty brutal. I had a hard time sleeping and with just two hours to go, I decided to pull out my laptop and watch Neptune's Daughter to pep me up while I ate my breakfast. (By the way, plane food is the worst. I didn't appreciate the dirty looks the flight attendant gave me when I barely touched my lunch, either. Give me real food, man, and I would eat it!) Anyway, on the third day, we went to Giverny, where Claude Monet's house and extensive garden is located. Luckily, our bus went by the Arc de Triomphe, so I didn't have to hunt it down.

That last photo was the view from my apartment's balcony. I chose a homestay, so I stayed with a wonderful Frenchwoman who couldn't have been a better fit for me. She helped me look for cinemas that showed old American films, which was a wide array. One of the things I most appreciate about Paris is its film culture. All through schooling, kids are taught about cinema and learn how to make their own films. They go to cinemas and see special screenings, and they grow up learning to enjoy film. There are so, so many cinemas, and they all cater to different tastes. Many show the original versions of films with French subtitles, which my host loved because she said she wanted to hear what the actors actually sound like and what the filmmaker intended.

I found one cinema that I just loved. It's La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin, in the fifth arrondissement. It has only two screenings rooms: Marilyn Hall, decked out all in red, and Audrey Hall, decked out in blue. It was cozy and I found the perfect seat that blocked the subtitles so my eyes didn't keep looking at them instead of the images. I caught La Filmo during a Joseph Mankiewicz retrospective, which actually seemed to be touring through Paris. I saw All About Eve and The Barefoot Contessa back-to-back, and then the next week I saw The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The Barefoot Contessa was playing a lot actually, something that surprised me since it's not that well-regarded in the U.S. I asked my professor and he said the French critics really liked it so it has a bit of a better reputation there. The last week I was in Paris, La Filmo was playing nothing but I Was a Male War Bride in Marilyn Hall, but I sadly didn't make it.

Another cinema I visited was the Forum des Images, located in the busy Forum des Halles, a large shopping complex. I wasn't impressed by the Forum's schedule, so I didn't see anything there, but I was able to look around the lobby area. It was very modern, with some pink lighting and pink paint on the walls. There was a 3D TV showing different film clips and demonstrating how the 3D enhanced it. It caught my eye because it was playing North by Northwest. My Cary senses were tingling. After the mall, I got lost and wound up at a shop that sold movie posters and photos. The prices were outrageous, though.

My cinema class took two field trips, both of them fantastic. First, we went to La Cinémathèque Française, a place that started in the 1920's as somewhere for cinephiles to go and geek out over movies. It's now a museum with a theater and a great gift shop that largely sells books. The museum mainly focused on early cinema, but there was a temporary exhibit upstairs that looked at the continuity person, also known as the script girl. It was really interesting, and they had a section on Love in the Afternoon that I was obsessed with.

We weren't able to see a film there, although they had a big John Huston retrospective happening that clashed with my schedule. The best part of the trip, however, was when I was standing at a small section devoted to Charlie Chaplin. The museum has screens up everywhere that play scenes from various films connected to the exhibit they're near, and for Chaplin, they had the famous scene in Modern Times where he gets caught in the factory's gears. A group of schoolchildren were brought over to watch the clip, and many of them knew who Chaplin was. They watched the scene with so much joy, I honestly teared up. The universality of cinema will never fail to astound me.

A costume from A Trip to the Moon.

I accidentally cut off the caption for this photo, which is Ingrid Bergman and Anthony Perkins during Goodbye Again.

Our second field trip was to Le Louxor, a former movie palace that was built in 1921. It fell into disrepair, and just a few years ago, the community asked the city to step in and repair it. They kept the original facade and restored the main screening room, while also adding two smaller screening rooms. In addition to that, there's a lounge on the second floor and a bar/terrace area on the third floor, which offers a cool view that includes Sacre Coeur. We saw Woody Allen's newest film, Cafe Society, in one of the smaller rooms, but we were able to explore the main room first. It was glorious. (Side note: my professor says that Woody Allen is huge in France; people go out and see his films as soon as they're released. He's much more popular than Jerry Lewis, who is liked there but not to the fanatical proportions you'd expect. Cafe Society hasn't even been released in the U.S. yet -- France seems to have got him first.)

Other things I got to see:

Notre Dame! The outside, at least.

We took a three-day trip to Madrid, but I honestly wasn't that thrilled. The heat was awful and I wound up with really bad blisters. I stayed at the hostel a lot.

The flight back to Paris was about two hours, and surprisingly the airline played some entertainment. Interestingly, they played short, silent things that everyone could understand since they didn't provide a way to hear what was going on. Some scenes from Mr. Bean were followed by The Pink Panther.

By far, my favorite part about Paris was the Eiffel Tower. It's inexplicable. I just loved it so much.

I made a trip to the Louvre, the Tuileries garden, and Place de la Concorde one day. I missed getting on the ferris wheel and I was too late to see any exhibits in the Louvre. I also didn't have time to see inside the Musée d'Orsay, but I got a photo of it at least.

I just wanted to come here because it's where Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron dance in the ballet finale of An American in Paris.
Right now, there's an artist who is trying to make the pyramid at the Louvre "disappear" by covering it in photos of what's behind it. It's really not that convincing, but it's cool.

On my last full day in France, I visited Versailles. It was so busy, the ticket lines were ridiculous, and the people inside the palace kept pushing me. The gardens were gorgeous, though it'd take you two full days to see everything.

And that's it! Paris wasn't everything I had dreamed it would be, but I'm so happy I went and finally experienced it. I can't wait to go back.

With love,


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