petite anglaise

March 21, 2006


Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 4:17 pm

The signs were unmistakable. A feeling of buoyancy, of lightness, a renewed spring in my step. That familiar sensation of seeing the city through a filter, bathed in a flattering, glowing light.

Last weekend, I fell head over heels in love.

It hit me first on Friday, when I stepped out of the métro at Odéon. Shivering in the cold as I waited for a friend to arrive for our cinema date, I took in the animated bustle around the monument everyone chooses for a rendez-vous point. Girls waiting breathlessly for a special boy to arrive, smiling shyly when he appeared. Groups of students arguing over which film to see. Mobile phones pressed to every available ear. A buzz, an excitement, which I had long forgotten, but which reminded me of my early days in Paris, of Mr Frog and I when we shared a tiny maid’s room near the Sorbonne, went out in St Germain almost every night.

Saturday, stepping out of an apartment building in the rue des Envierges, I decided to take a detour through the backstreets of Belleville, where it is so easy to imagine the village it once was, with its cobbled streets and few remaining villas with walled gardens. The sky was periwinkle blue, the birds were singing, and I felt my spirits lifting; overwhelmingly glad to be alive.

Later, leaving Le Flore, the taste of a sinful, thick hot chocolate lingering on my lips, I took a stroll along the banks of the Seine, on a whim. A vague, half-formed plan to buy a book, was casually shrugged off in favour of letting my feet lead the way. My boots took me across the Pont Neuf, where I half-smiled at the sight of the couples gathered in its alcoves; bemused to note that seeing them caused me no pain.

Sunday, pleasantly exhausted after a long evening which began with a bar in the rue Montorgeuil, continued with a restaurant, and ended with a pendaison de cremaillère where I met some fascinating people and talked until the small hours, I struck out for a friend’s house near the Park Monceau, a bunch of delicate pink tulips in one hand, a warm baguette under my arm (and flour on my coat, because I haven’t mastered quite how one can do all those things and yet remain immaculate).

Monday morning, despite grey skies and light drizzle, a distracted glance from my kitchen window as I cupped my bowl of steaming café au lait fell on the deep, buttery yellow of the crocuses I had the foresight to plant in December.

Last weekend, Paris opened her arms to me and I fell into them, gladly. Gratefully.

I had forgotten how much it is possible to love this city.



  1. There will be ups and downs in the healing process and I am so glad for you that you’ve had your first up. It’s a good sign. Spring flowers are such a help!

    Comment by Passante — March 21, 2006 @ 4:25 pm

  2. Exactly. It’s only Paris I know that, as a capital city, has the power to do that. London is fantastic and exciting, but it’s only Paris that has that a romance so ingrained in its soul that it can make you love it totally, despite its faults.

    It’s the only place I’d up sticks and move for.

    Comment by David in London — March 21, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  3. thanks petite – this was such a lovely post.

    Comment by murray — March 21, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

  4. It sounds like a nice weekend. And just think, it could have been even nicer if you’d ended up in Le 41 on Saturday night (you lightweight!)

    Comment by Mancunian lass — March 21, 2006 @ 4:45 pm

  5. Lightweight? Moi? Who left first?

    Unless you weren’t really going home, and in fact slunk off to the 41 without me?

    Comment by petite — March 21, 2006 @ 4:50 pm

  6. you’re such a pleasure to read….

    side note, i could not imagine you moving to brittany!! you just seem so ‘parisienne’ to me…and i am sure to a lot of other readers!!!

    bon courage pour la suite!

    Comment by anne — March 21, 2006 @ 5:05 pm

  7. You make me very much want to finally be able to visit Paris. It’s been on my list for over 2 decades now, but I’ve yet to leave the US, sadly, even for vacation. Someday I will, but for now, I’ll just have to carry wonderful descriptions like this with me through my workaday…..

    Comment by Gruntled — March 21, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

  8. “I love Paris in the Springtime……..”

    what a jolly weekend, ma fille!

    Comment by Rose — March 21, 2006 @ 5:16 pm

  9. Yes! Where else is there to be in Spring? And how can you not believe! ;-)

    Comment by fjl — March 21, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

  10. Wooo hooo. Yay. Hip Hip. Spring in Paris. Oooh I feel all moist

    Comment by meredic — March 21, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

  11. moist? not on my website!

    Comment by petite — March 21, 2006 @ 5:33 pm

  12. Reminds me of my last time there, I can’t wait to experience it again. I’m a 30 something Aussie girl moving to live in Paris on Thursday actually. You mentioned a potential get together for bloggers soon, I need to start blogging beyond LJ ASAP so I can come along! Or are others welcome? :)

    Comment by kea — March 21, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

  13. Know of any respectably paid finance jobs going, Petite?? :)

    Comment by David in London — March 21, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

  14. Not by London standards, but then the cost of living is a lot lower…

    Comment by petite — March 21, 2006 @ 5:53 pm

  15. Just had a look on your tracker site, and some lucky people have been referred here with the search words “spanked nappies” and “petite boys”. Ha ha!! You couldn’t make it up.. Is there something you aren’t sharing with us Petite??

    Comment by David in London — March 21, 2006 @ 6:00 pm

  16. Sometimes I wonder why I left France, Paris especially… I only lived in Paris for a year (studying) before coming to England (prior to that I used to live about 50km from Paris), but when I read blogs like yours, I wonder even more… Don’t worry, I never mastered the art of carrying a baguette without getting flour all over me! You would probably beat me, I’m so out of practice! Now I’m trying to learn how to make flapjacks the true English way (too crispy the first time, too greasy the second – third time lucky?). Today I would rather learn how to hold a baguette properly, and I very much long to be in Paris this spring… But if I did live in Paris again, I couldn’t enjoy my reasonably sized house in Oxfordshire, my big garden and what seems to be a huge vegetable plot at the back, and I wouldn’t be able to eat my own vegetables come summer… What do you miss about England, when you do (apart from typically English sweets)? Maybe your answer would help me miss France less today… Appreciating what’s around you is a true gift. It’s not easy, but we should all try to do it more often!

    Comment by Lotus Flower — March 21, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

  17. Pleased to hear that Paris has regained its sparkle in your eyes….. and I can’t help feeling that these positive vibrations you are beginning to send out auger well for how your life will take off this year.

    Comment by fella — March 21, 2006 @ 6:12 pm

  18. Apparently today is the official first day of Spring.

    Yeehah! Glad to hear you’re on the up again.

    If I could send a tenner towards your new home then I would, Just cos I enjoy reading your Blog.

    Comment by Theblonde — March 21, 2006 @ 6:20 pm

  19. Yay, you’re in love again!

    Comment by dongurigal — March 21, 2006 @ 6:38 pm

  20. Now you’ve done it, petite… you’ve made me long for Paris all over again. I’ll have to visit some Paris webcams for a “fix”.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — March 21, 2006 @ 6:42 pm

  21. I’ve been reading your journal now for a while, so I thought it rude to continue lurking, although I shall most likely return to that status after this emergence…

    However, I just wanted to applaud you on your beautiful descriptions of Paris and your life, of being brutally honest, and expressing human emotions without resorting to common cliches. I enjoy reading through your entries, present and past, and I love the glimpses of Parisian culture that you give us. I am planning to go to France for a year when I get my Masters, and teach English through a program I have access to. I’ve got three years yet, but I’m eager for that time to come, and you make the time pass so much sweeter.

    Comment by Emma (in America) — March 21, 2006 @ 6:52 pm

  22. beautiful flowers! my tulips are finally coming up, though they have yet to poke their flowery heads up. hooray for spring!

    Comment by Lynn — March 21, 2006 @ 6:52 pm

  23. Resilience is woven deeply into the fabric of Petite. Throw her an obstacle, and she grows stronger!

    Lovely to read you are seeing the beauty around you again…

    Comment by Kiora — March 21, 2006 @ 7:17 pm

  24. Bah! Ten years of French classes, all for naught! Would someone tell me what “pendaison de cremaillère” means?

    Comment by LJ — March 21, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

  25. Essentially it is a housewarming party LJ. :)

    Comment by Kiora — March 21, 2006 @ 7:45 pm

  26. Wow………I think I just fell in love with the city even more…….

    Bravo Petite :)

    Comment by Kasey — March 21, 2006 @ 8:59 pm

  27. Why would you even try to avoid flour from your baguette spreading all over your clothes ? This is part of the fun of being a parisien!

    (To think some of your past posts hinted at being fed up with the city… vive le printemps!)

    Comment by ontario frog — March 21, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

  28. Nice to hear the spring back in your step and the smile on your face. lovely!

    Comment by stash — March 21, 2006 @ 10:20 pm

  29. I should cut out that post and put it up on my fridge with my kids poems, paintings, etc. I have lived here for over 17 years and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say I love it here. I too remember what it was like to live at St. Michel, and hang out in cafés,etc. all night long and go to the movies, etc. Now, with work, kids, dinner, Picard, the kitty litter, the wash, work (did I mention that already?), I have no time to appreciate Paris. My son is even lucky enough to have a great view of the Eiffel Tower, but sadly, I’m beyond that…Paris has yet to rework its magic on this the-glass-is-half-empty American in Paris…

    Comment by magillicuddy — March 21, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

  30. I know this feeling. Sometimes I am wondering if I am not dulling right now. If I am I hope Spring opens up my love for Paris again soon!

    Comment by stinkerbell — March 21, 2006 @ 10:48 pm

  31. Hey Petite,

    I would like to understand what drives so many Americans to Paris. Is it gratitude for having bought the weapons used against the English during the Indpendence War at a discount? Is it drug addiction like Jim Morrisson? Or is it some kind of difficulty in accepting reality? The French hate you but you still smile and think that Paris is a great city, your husband leaves you and you still think that Paris is lovely, what a load of BS. If you are in Paris, probably it is because you are trapped, or you have been squeezed by a mortgage or you have no money to move somewhere else, but your stories about how wonderful is living in this city of losers are just laughable.

    Believe me, you may have plenty of problems, but avoiding contact with reality is not going to help you. Contrasts your opinions and wake up!

    Comment by Uranus — March 21, 2006 @ 10:58 pm

  32. Sometimes it takes a shake-up to see the loveliness that’s been in front of us all along.

    It’s a formidable task to appreciate the here-and-now when we’re only human to begin with, but the return to beauty and joy that you speak of so well is a moment to cherish. It gets sweeter every time.

    Thanks for reminding us to keep our eyes and our hearts open.

    Comment by Lou — March 21, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

  33. I love reading about your adventures in Paris. It makes me want to take a vacation there so bad! Instead, I’m stuck in Maine, USA. It isn’t even spring here yet. Beautiful flowers you have there, by the way! I want some…

    Comment by Sarah-Jean — March 21, 2006 @ 11:44 pm

  34. Another long time lurker here…thank you, thank you, thank you, for that description of Paris. I want to clip it and carry it around with me.

    And, though I never said anything before, ex-lover (as evinced by his profile on “Expatica DATE!”) is not all THAT. You, however, are lovely.

    Comment by Liosliath — March 22, 2006 @ 1:10 am

  35. Oh Petite, you’re almost making me feel homesick!

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — March 22, 2006 @ 2:00 am

  36. Sigh. Having only spent a year in Paris you have summoned up everything I loved about (briefly) being a part of it. Heartache is all too common a maladie in a city synonymous with love. But you are forever surrounded by the antidote!

    Drink it in!

    Comment by holly — March 22, 2006 @ 6:23 am

  37. I had forgotten how much it is possible to love this city.

    Well, there is probably no other city, really, except New York and Paris.

    In nostalgia and envy,


    Comment by Loxias — March 22, 2006 @ 7:21 am

  38. Sometimes it’s easy to not notice the beauty around us in everyday life, when we stop and take the time to actually look around it can be breathtaking. For me spring always brings that little ray of hope and cheers me up.

    Glad to hear you are feeling a little better.

    Comment by lydia — March 22, 2006 @ 7:44 am

  39. Uranus (what an appropriate pseudo) – if you took the time to read, you would see that :

    a) He wasn’t my husband;
    b) I’m not American;
    c) I’m not trapped, I chose to live here long before I shacked up with a Frenchman;
    d) I never wanted to live anywhere else, but Paris lost its sheen a little when I had a child and didn’t have time to appreciate it.

    Beginning to understand yet?

    Comment by petite — March 22, 2006 @ 8:35 am

  40. So pleased to see the sun is shining (even if only metaphorically) in your part of the world, petite. Lovely post.

    P.S. Uranus. up yours.

    Comment by Kerry — March 22, 2006 @ 9:09 am

  41. Petite: You actually responded to “Uranus!Disappointing considering the source and when he/she is so blantly obvious in trying to jump in there and pick up on your blog readership for more hits on “its” own blog. A total crock …

    Comment by Beth — March 22, 2006 @ 9:14 am

  42. It was such a pleasure to read this post, it made me glow!

    I experienced something very similar when, last week, I took a four day weekend and decided to stay in Paris rather than race off somewhere else. It was so exciting to wander the streets, enjoy the bustle of the cafés, watch the people and love loving it again and to remember that it always is this wonderful – it just sometimes takes pushing everything else to the back and letting your surroundings come to the fore in order to remember to appreciate them.

    Once that’s done, you’ve put the magic back in your days!

    Comment by redlady — March 22, 2006 @ 9:25 am

  43. I love your description of an early spring weekend in Paris. And there’s nothing like yellow spring flowers to get you out of the winter slump and make you look forward to warmer days

    Comment by thefrenchpage — March 22, 2006 @ 11:05 am

  44. Yes!!!And I could not agree more with redlady, at least where Paris and most of France is concerned. Oh, the (comparatively) total drabness of German cities… HELP!

    Comment by Angie — March 22, 2006 @ 11:39 am

  45. Ohhh, you write so beautifully about Paris! It makes me long to be there. I’ve been worried about you recently and it’s good to hear that Paris is comforting you, all we can do is concentrate on the detail.

    Comment by Laura — March 22, 2006 @ 12:08 pm

  46. Luckily Paris has a big heart, after hearing about your romantic weekend, I feel all of us will be in LOVE!! Great post!

    Comment by Tongue in Cheek — March 22, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

  47. Petite,

    I love your post…beautiful. I have noticed your posts have life again since a certain someone has departed…just observing not connecting the two. My husband is a stat hound and looks at everyones stats. He never reads my own blog but he tells me how many people visit and from where. Go figure. He told me last night as he was reading your blog (addicted as well)that your stats have not grown since last July. I said that is strange since I think that is when you began seeing “lover”. Maybe, we don’t realize things that are wrong in our life until afterwards. But, it is reflected in our life. When I read your posts from then until now you seemed so alone and bitter even if your were in love. Now, you seem happy and ready to embrace your life again.

    You seem like Spring.

    I clicked on your book link and was a little taken a back by what I found. Such a beautiful post with an ugly link…I am sure it was a joke?

    Keep looking at the beauty in life and remember it is what we make it.

    Happy Spring, Petite!!!

    Comment by Pumpkin Pie — March 22, 2006 @ 12:35 pm

  48. I want a studio-flat in Paris [or hackney]

    Comment by andre — March 22, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  49. pumpkin pie – the book is because I saw “Capote” on Saturday.

    Comment by petite — March 22, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  50. You’ve removed Uranus’ link. Good job- using an ill-informed and frankly insulting post for the purpose of self promotion suggests a poisonous little man who doesn’t deserve to have his site linked. I bet he is going round all of the Paris-based empat blogs and coming up with something equally insulting.. Go Petite!!!

    Comment by David in London — March 22, 2006 @ 12:50 pm

  51. Was ‘Capote’ good? Thinking of going to see it, the extracts played at the BAFTAs were quite gripping…

    Comment by redlady — March 22, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

  52. Okay, time to stop lurking. What a pleasant post! I TOLD you that you could find Paris lovely again, especially in the springtime. I knew exactly what you were going say from the first sentence. Glad I wasn’t wrong. I could so visual your walking just anywhere your feet took you. Been there, done that. Numerous times. Would be fun to be able to do it again.

    I had already formulated a mental reply to Uranus by the time I got to yours. You said everything exactly as I would have done. Great response.

    I didn’t understand David’s comment about taking off that link. I just went there for fun, and it worked. What a pathetic site. He (it is a HE)is precisely the kind of person I avoided at all costs when I lived there. Or come across anywhere else in the world I run into them.

    Enjoy your sun. It’s gloomy this first week of spring down here in the south.

    Comment by azurienne — March 22, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

  53. Capote is good. Lots of food for thought for me, being as it is about writing about real events in a fictional style.

    Comment by petite — March 22, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

  54. hmmm… this type of pro-Paris post is a good indication winter’s over. We may love it now, but I’m still not forgiving the grey drippy ice-cold clothes she wore only a couple of weeks ago.

    If you like In Cold Blood you should read The Executioner’s Song, by Norman Mailer. Mailer’s style is closer to yours I think, though it’s been such a long time since I read that book.

    Comment by nardac — March 22, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  55. One or two weeks ago, there was a gripping article in Télérama (a french weelly newspaper) about Truman Capote, written by Emmanuel Carrère. Carrère is the author of “L’adversaire”, a book about Jean-Claude Romand, a man who has made himself out to be a doctor for many years before killing all his relatives when he couldn’t no longer lie to them. Carrère was fascinated by the non fictional novel of Truman Capote. He explained that, for many years, he couldn’t write his own “non fictional novel” about the Romand case. Until he understood that Truman Capote had tricked somewhat in his book “In cold blood”. Capote simply omitted to make room for himself in his novel !
    Only to say that I’ve had quite the same types of feelings reading Carrère article or your posts.

    N.B. “Capote is good” sounds a bit weird to French ears. A bit like “J’aime Condom” to British ears…

    Comment by coutho — March 22, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

  56. Capote…I will have to tell my husband we need to go see it. Most likely we will have to wait for it to come on video because of the babies.

    Good to hear it was the movie. I loved the post and the book link just kinda threw me.

    I am very happy you are back though…I was beginning to worry (not that a complete stranger worrying about you matters much). But, I was.

    Comment by Pumpkin Pie — March 22, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  57. “I didn’t understand David’s comment about taking off that link”

    I’m confused. It looks like it’s been removed to me. Or is there something wrong with my browser?? Wasn’t it between the first and the last paragraph pre-removal??

    Comment by David in London — March 22, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

  58. If it hasn’t been removed, then.. er… Go Petite anyway!!!

    Comment by David in London — March 22, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  59. *sigh* visited london with hubbie this weekend…now that’s a city! I’d never really visited it before; totally wowed by Southwark. We spent the weekend comparing it to Paris and Paris came a definite second…mind you, we’ve never really visited Paris yet, even though hubs is French. Hmmm, maybe we need another lovey-dovey weekend away without the kids?….? And then…next stop, New York (well, can’t hurt to daydream, right?)
    Good to hear you cheerful Petite ;)

    Comment by Lucy-Jane(um, in Rennes) — March 22, 2006 @ 5:25 pm

  60. Hello from Toronto! I’m just getting a chance to comment on your lovely post. There’s nothing like Paris to make you feel alive and appreciate life’s infinite possibilities. Congratulations for emerging from what must have been a dismal period. My husband and I are just rebounding from a BIG career disappointment for him, and we’ve just booked Paris, just because it makes us happy to be alive there. It’s our therapy.
    Here’s to hope and new beginnings!

    Comment by elaine — March 22, 2006 @ 5:35 pm

  61. What a lovely post Petite!

    I spent 5 great days in Paris in September (I was there for a wedding). The highlight was a hot sunny day wandering round with my mother as she showed me all her old haunts – she lived in Paris for a few years in the late fifties. We even went back to where she used to work. Truly magical. I was recently uploading some of the photos from that day to Flickr and it all came back me.

    I definitely left a bit of my heart in Paris.

    Comment by Hazy — March 22, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

  62. No Fair,

    I want to be in Paris it’s ruddy freezing here.


    Comment by Laura — March 22, 2006 @ 8:15 pm

  63. It’s so funny, because I had the exact same feeling last weekend! Living in Paris as well since about 6 month. I have always loved the city but last weekend there was definately something special in the air..

    Comment by Frida — March 22, 2006 @ 9:22 pm

  64. Beautiful entry. :) Although I’ve never been to Paris, I have that wonderful “oooh, it’s spring!” feeling that sounds so similar to your entry one weekend every year, and reminds me why I love living where I do!

    Comment by Melissa — March 22, 2006 @ 9:48 pm

  65. Amen, Petite. It is all those things that draw me to Paris. It was my home for a few years, and now it’s my home away from home. Thank you for a beautiful post.

    Comment by Kat — March 22, 2006 @ 11:01 pm

  66. OK, OK, OK, I wasn’t in Paris last weekend, I cannot certify that the weather was good, that there was something in the air. I am one of those who choose not to be in France for as many weekends as possible and last weekend was one of those happy moments.

    But Petite, don’t take it personal, sorry I just read your postings quickly and made some wrong conclusion. I am happy that you, who stayed in Paris, had a good weekend too.

    (P.S. Herein, the fundamental difference between a French and a non French, I wrote to apologise!)

    Comment by Uranus — March 23, 2006 @ 1:44 am

  67. Wow, your post reminded me of the last time I was in Paris. My marriage was essentially over, yet Paris worked such a charm on us both that we had a GREAT week together–we suspended the divorce talks and enjoyed the romance of your beautiful city. It allowed us to have one great last fling (which was all the marriage had going for it anyway) to put in the memory books!

    Comment by Small Town Diva — March 23, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

  68. See. Paris never changes. It’s just the way you look at it.

    Comment by claire — March 24, 2006 @ 8:23 am

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