I was hoping to go to Paris this week. I need some clothes, and a little shot of sophistication in my life. And I still need to make up for the lousy trip I had in April, when what was supposed to be a lovely treat to myself before getting hitched turned out to be pretty much a dud.
It seemed like everything was off that time – the weather was cool and rainy one minute, broiling sun the next. My clothes weren’t right, and that can make all the difference: I felt like a pluc (read “hick”) who doesn’t get to the big city too often, which at this point is pretty much true. I was stressed about finding some kind of wrap to wear over the dress I was getting married in and spent way too much time being indecisive in stores. I was supposed to get a facial and then couldn’t find the address, ending up buying a tube of facial mask at Monoprix instead. Randomly chose a movie so bad I had to walk out after forty minutes. Got up and left a Chinese restaurant because they never bothered to serve me. And made the mistake of booking a cheap charmless hovel of a room – since I’d be out having a ball most of the time, what difference did it make, right? I think sleeping on a park bench would have been better.
The only really good thing about the trip was I realized how much my French had improved. And it made me appreciate the calm and quiet of the countryside. But I know that the next trip could be completely different – I know it’s possible for things to line up perfectly.
But this isn’t the week for it, what with visitors and booking and rehearsing. I had to make do with a trip to Perigueux the other day, which was actually a big deal for me because I’ve never driven that far (over an hour) by myself in France.
In America I’m used to driving huge distances alone. But having recently learned to drive a manual car, and basically having nowhere I need to go around here, solo adventure is unusual. Perigueux is a pretty town in the Dordogne with some decent shops and cafes. It’s got a little more of a southern feel and even has a big movie theatre. A good place to wander around for about three or four hours.
The drive was easy and uneventful. I managed to maneuver into an underground parking garage which sounds pathetically simple but again, changing gears and reading French signs is new to me. But typically my timing was off. If I’d have checked the calendar or the newspaper I would’ve noticed that the big summer sales were starting the next day. So most of the stores were closed in preparation.
I decided to see a film. “Sagan” was playing and I was curious about this film bio of Francoise Sagan. Partly because I remembered reading “Bonjour Tristesse” as a teenager and thinking it was incredibly French and glamorous. But the main reason I wanted to see it was for the period details: fifties, sixties and seventies cars, clothes and home furnishings. If I couldn’t keep up with the dialogue there’d be plenty to look at. And aren’t most films about writers kind of similar? There’s usually a person sitting at a typewriter occasionally, either typing furiously or staring into the distance with a blank look on their face, a tumbler of brown alcohol nearby. The rest of the time is filled in with scenes of the writer fighting with their family & friends.
“Sagan” was no different. Even in French I could tell that the movie was pretty bad. But Sylvie Testud and her haircuts were adorable. And that white 70’s cowboy shirt she was wearing in one of the typewriter scenes? That alone was worth the price of admission. It wasn’t exactly a trip to Paris but for the moment it’ll do.