Letters from France – Endings and beginnings

Dear Mum,

At the writing workshop last week in Paris, we had a discussion about endings and beginnings. In case you’ve forgotten, my Young Adult manuscript is a mother / daughter dual coming-of-age story set in Paris. The mother is newly separated, the daughter is on the cusp of adulthood, and each of them is leaving something behind to begin the next phase of their lives.

Read more

My last night in Paris felt like an ending of something very special.

I decided to go to a performance of baroque classical and sacred music at a local church. On my walk there, I paused at the end of my lane and looked back at my open window. The window through which I watched my Parisian neighbourhood in all its glorious mundanity. For the first time since I arrived, I felt at home.

View from a Paris laneway towards a building with an open window

Waiting in line to enter the Eglise St-Paul Saint-Louis, I was reminded of the high tolerance of the French to a queue. While US tourists behind me complained loudly, the French just chatted amongst themselves. I have learned to follow their lead.

At weekend markets, I always head for the stall with the longest queue because I know the produce will be good. When it’s my turn at the counter, I know I can take all the time I like to ask questions and make my selection because I have earned the right. I am a different person in France Mum.

The musical performance was entertaining: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played at high speed.

The lead violinist took every opportunity to steal the limelight and work his colleagues to the bone. The result was a case of catch up that didn’t always quite get there. I was concerned for the young cellist who discreetly stretched and twirled his left hand during every brief respite from playing.

But the audience loved it – the return of live performance in France is as welcome as it is in Australia – and the church setting with its towering marble columns, chandeliers and ornate sculptures was almost as baroque as the music.

Afterwards I wandered out into the Rue de Rivoli – it was still bustling at 10pm – and made my way to the bar across the road from my apartment building.

The Royal Turenne is my local.

A flute of champagne sitting on an outdoor table with the insignia RT written on it

On my first night in Paris – could it only have been a week ago? – I foolishly ordered a ‘piscine’ of champagne at this bar. Piscine means swimming pool and I thought I deserved one after a 24 hour flight. I wanted to bathe in that goddamn stuff. What I wasn’t expecting was a vase full of champagne with ice cubes floating in it. Quelle horreur!

This time I didn’t make the same mistake.

I sipped my average-sized coupe of Taittinger and revelled in the late evening dusk of Paris in summer. Above me, suspended between two buildings, was a rising crescent moon. It glowed brighter as the sky deepened to a darker shade of blue.

A crescent moon shines against a deep blue sky between two buildings.

Endings and beginnings mama. We know all about that. This phase of my journey is coming to a close. Tomorrow holds the promise of the unknown. I can hardly wait.