Montmorillon is a magical medieval town in the middle of France that has been called “The City of Writing and Book Professions” because of its history as the center of paper-making and book binding. It is also where my dear, dear friend Suzanne, and her family, have made a second home. Her place on the town square is charming. The village has a typewriting museum and probably more Harry Potter-like bookshops per capita than any other town in France. There is a huge expat Brit community, a lovely, quirky tea salon run by a former Playboy bunny, welcoming locals and fantastic views all around.
I’m still writing (really I am) in between —visits to Fontainebleau & Barbizon with homies Mary and the lovely Nora — escargot with buddy Sebastian in Montmartre — introducing friends to friends over good food (finally a tender steak in Paris) — celebrating the 70th birthday of childhood friend Llynn Luke (who’s still partying like it’s 1969) — attending a Mendelssohn & Bruckner performance by the National Orchestra of France with friends in a stunningly beautiful concert hall (we shook hands with the conductor — of the NOF— at a bar —after the concert) — and to top off a 2nd & 3rd week of adventures that keep me smiling — a Chocolate Festival with over 100 vendors including a chocolate fashion exhibit (it took half an hour to find an exit and almost got scary in a Willy Wonka kind of way.)
Paris – Fall 2019 – I’ve returned to days of wine and roses, cobblestone streets, mashing with the masses on the Metro and the 67 steps up to my favorite apartment in Le Marais. I’ve bonded with a new set of writing friends who have roots in Australia, India, Qatar, Ireland, Iceland, England, Germany, New York and California. We gathered for a soirée at an illustrious bookstore and enjoyed literary talks in the Paris homes of successful, prolific writers John Baxter and Mary Duncan, who had stories to tell and wisdom to dispense. Daily surprises continue. On my way home from Woody Allen’s latest movie (at a cozy 30-seat cinema), tents and a fire-breather magically appeared where none existed 2 hours before. And walking to my favorite Sunday market, I was serenaded by an invisible harpist who filled the air with angelic melodies for street after street until I turned a corner and there he was.
Tripped down the coast to Monterey and Carmel-By-Sea, with a stop at Pebble Beach Golf Course**** Spent a morning in Golden Gate Park followed by a lovely afternoon with two delightfully erudite Frenchmen, Cyril and Louis, touring museums and dining on the ocean — saw coyotes and whales — ferried to Sausalito for lunch and a visit to Mill Valley.
Here in my favorite city on this side of The Pond to do some fact-checking for my book. Ate some great pasta in North Beach then for (pleasurable) penance walked back to my hotel up a half mile of steep streets and watched the sunset from on high in a classic penthouse bar. Visited Haight-Ashbury’s Jimi Hendrix head shop — and remembered seeing him live in concert in Detroit in the 60s. Crossed the Golden Gate and stopped in Sausalito’s No Name Bar to soak up some memories from my younger days there in the 70s, before walking among the redwoods in Muir Woods. Enjoyed a most wonderful vegetarian- Micheline-chef-prepared-dinner (the chef came to our table to pour a 40 year-old balsamic vinegar on our ice cream -lol) at Greens restaurant in San Francisco’s beautiful Marina district with Paris American Academy buddies Lauren and Linda. Perfect weather.
A Few Things I’ll Miss (until we meet again)… Old & New Paris Friends — The Seine — Walking — Sounds of Cascading Fountains (big & small) — Street Scenes — Classic Cinema — Horns & Sirens — Night Lights — Diversity— Hidden Wonders — The Cornucopia of Creativity — Everywhere, reminders that no matter how crazy the world might seem, the earth still spins on its axis and life goes on!
Spain — I spent an afternoon just south of France’s border in Donostia (what the Basque locals call their town) a.k.a. San Sebastian, Spain. The beaches are more Mediterranean and the sand-art more personal, the tapas more eclectic, the commercial offerings more open-minded and the architecture more spirited — like flamenco. But I’m still partial to France.
Vacances in France –After a week of classes with some pretty impressive literary and creative speakers…and a final soirée, I decided to wind down by taking the train to Biarritz, France, near the border with Spain, in Basque country. There are hills, palm trees, ocean breezes and roaring waves. If you need a momentary break from Paris it might as well be here — just saying.