Experiencing the Champs Élysées Film Festival

Anyone who knows me knows that film and cinema are my life. I’ve been a film buff all my life and horror is my specialty. I mean, Dracula is my all-time favorite novel.. So you could say death and murder entertain me quite a lot.

Anyway, I’ve always fantasized about attending a famous film festival and last weekend I finally made that dream come true. Granted, it wasn’t SXSW or Cannes – which I walked down the red carpet of two yeas ago (in off season)! – but it was still unbelievable in my mind. I was about to attend a Parisian film festival on the CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES and see none other than “The Exorcist.” Yeah, I saw “The Exorcist” at a Parisian film festival. You might be confused like, “What? I thought she said film festival.. Doesn’t that mean NEW films?” Well no, this festival’s theme this year was the history of American and French cinema. So, basically they played numerous famous films from our histories.

Walking up to the theater, there was a line all the way to the street. Everyone was waiting on a red carpet under a lit up arch to walk under. I felt so awesome walking down that carpet and through the arch for my film. Like a movie star, man.

And get this, I’d never seen “The Exorcist.” Me, of all people, had never seen the film that set the precedent for modern supernatural horror. But after seeing it, I can see why it is so famous. Even decades later, I was entirely creeped out by everything I saw. 70’s special effects aside, I was blown away. Every aspect of it was horrific. Two thumbs up, seriously.

 So there you have it, my first famous film festival experience.. The Champs Élysées Film Festival.

Edith Piaf, Long Lost Professors and Living the French Life

It has occurred to me that I should probably update all of you on what I’ve been up to the past few days – and it’s been a lot. First, let’s start off with the most recent French film I went to (alone again, because that’s my new favorite thing) – “La Tête Haute/Standing Tall.” Centering around a troubled young boy just trying to find his way in the world. He’s abusive and temperamental and a disaster to be around but by the end he’s grown into himself. Full of anger, hatred, compassion, love and a happy ending, it was as uplifting as it was upsetting. Oh, how I love these French cinema experiences that I keep all to myself. Next, I spent my Saturday afternoon exploring the Edith Piaf exhibition. I’ve loved her for years; that dark, smoky voice and soothing lyrics – I’m a sucker for French classics. Immediately upon entrance I was handed an audio guide full of about 50 Edith songs to listen to while walking through the exhibit. With movie clips, vintage mementos and even a live karaoke box inside, I became lost within history. The exhibit even had one of her little black dresses (her signature look) hanging from above in one of the sections. I learned so much about her and her tragic life and I have a newfound respect for the glorious French singer. For those of you not familiar, here is one of her most famous songs, La Vie En Rose:

         Then, I spent all day Sunday running around in a real princess dress at another castle – Vaux-le-Vicomte – but that’s going into a separate post because it was so special to me and deserves more attention than a mention. Then, yesterday two things happened. One, I received my new custom made leather journal cover for my personal journal I’ve been keeping throughout my time here in Paris! I was so delighted when I saw the package sitting in my family’s flat that I literally squealed! It’s so beautiful and personal and everything I wanted. Thank you so much, Megan’s Mark for this wonderful work of art!     And then two, I met up with one of my French professors from university! She and her hilarious other half are in Paris for the week for the beginning of her last study abroad that she’s leading. This wonderful lady is one of the three main reasons I was able to go to France the first time two (!!) years ago and then decided to come back long term. She led my study abroad group back then and it’s only fitting that we met back up at a cafe for drinks while I’m living here.    Finally, last night I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Paris just lounging along the Canal Saint-Martin having a picnic.       Honestly I couldn’t ask for a more perfect life to live, I thank God every day for my abundant blessings. I’m in awe at every moment of every day of this beautiful life I get to live because of Him.

Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse/My Golden Years

Today I did something I’ve never done before: I saw a film at the theater all by myself.

For weeks now ever since I saw the trailer for Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse/My Golden Years, I’ve been dying to see it. But to my dismay, every time I wanted to go, everyone was busy. So, I was left with a choice: don’t go OR go alone. I chose go alone. And maaaaan, am I glad I did.

This film was the first French film I’ve seen since living in Paris, which is very disappointing, I know. But it is.

I caught an early showing and walked into the cinema. It was so early that sadly the concession stand wasn’t even open; I was soooo looking forward to some salty popcorn and a refreshing Orangina but never mind. These things happen; you move on.. Without your pop and popcorn.. Humph..

Anyway, I purchased my ticket at the deserted kiosk and walked my lone self up to the ticket tearer guy and then headed to my film. Already proud of my decision, I pushed through the big doors with a grand smile expecting to enter an empty room.. But to my delight, there were at least five other Parisians there to view the film with me! All on their own, I might add.. Not a single person was accompanied by another. Maybe there’s something to be said for people who go to movies super early in the morning by themselves.. But never mind that!

So, the movie started and already I was overjoyed. As I sat in the theater, happily engaged in the film, I realized that this is definitely going to be an insanely French film – asides, melancholy music and lot of “openness” (if you get what I mean).

Anyway, this film (which I researched beforehand so as to be especially prepared for my first French film viewing in Paris) is the prequel to Arnaud Desplechin’s 1996 “Comment Je Me Suis Disputé (Ma Vie Sexuelle)/My Sex Life…Or How I Got Into An Argument.” Now I’ve never seen the former but that didn’t detract from my experience with the latter in any sense. It tells the tale of a boy’s childhood through three memories and delves into how those experiences affected who he is as an adult.

He gets into trouble and falls in love.

He explores the world and breaks his own heart.

Full of raw emotion and organic love, the story is brought to life through talented newcomers Quentin Dolmaire and Lou Roy-Lecollinet. Seriously these two are wonderful. I truly felt the love of Paul and Esther, yet understood their betrayal and yearned for them to be together throughout the whole thing.

It doesn’t hurt that Quentin is pretty easy on the eyes..

But seriously, they had me watching their every move for the full two hours.

Throughout the whole of the film, I found myself growing more and more attached to Paul and then it hit me why – he’s me. Well, in one sense; he’s a wanderer. He aches to know the world and just wants to see the sun rise over a new horizon. I was proud and altogether distraught every time Paul left Esther and his familiarity, even when she begged him to stay – because I feel his yearning to go. I grew closer and closer to him.. Until the end.

I won’t spoil it for anyone, but the ending was so entirely saddening that I was left in disarray. In the end I realized I’m not Paul, that the only love that dictates my life is that of my family. I will never be Paul, can never be Paul.

I left the theater in a different kind of happiness than when I went in.. Filled with happiness of a story I was able to witness, whether it be finished or not.

This tragic French love story was definitely the best pick I could have made for my first solo theater experience.

Now, everyone go see it.

A Day of Adventures

So, today was all about stepping outside of my comfort zone.. Although, I don’t really have a comfort zone, I kind of just love to explore. I mean look at what I’m doing now – a few months ago I decided I wanted to somehow come back to France and now I’m here living in Paris for goodness sake. Yeah, I kind of just do anything and everything. But that’s not the point!

The point is that today I did new things and explored. I mean, I’ve been in Paris for like four days now, it’s about time that I get out and do things. So I basically did it all. Let’s start at the beginning..

Today was my first day walking A to school by myself. Only been here a few days and I didn’t even get lost. It probably does help though that I had an 8 year old there to help me if I took a wrong turn – EVEN THOUGH I DIDN’T. We didn’t even get lost once. Boom. And then I had to walk ALL THE WAY BACK ON MY OWN. And guess what.. I still didn’t get lost! Go me. So yeah, anyway, I walked A to and from school all alone and it was great. I waited there for him at the school after he went in and I watched him play in front.. Until he saw me creeping and came over to the fence and said, “Megan, it’s good. You can go now.” I basically felt like a rejected parent. If I knew what a rejected parent felt like. But I don’t.

After all the school shenanigans, I made crêpes! But not just any crêpes. No, no. I made chocolate breakfast crêpes that were basically better than I ever could have imagined them to be in the mere three hours I’d had to look forward to them. Even the kiddos said they were delicious! Okay.. Maybe they just said, “Mmm, these are very good,” but I’m paraphrasing and in my mind I heard, “Delicious!” And that’s that.Crêpes

Next, the kiddos wanted to go to the cinema so we did. On the Champs Elysées. Like yeah. The freaking Champs Elysées is where we saw a movie. Planes 2. It was pretty good.. I think. The best part was the fact that both S and A cuddled me during it and it just really made me feel like this next year will be wonderful.

AND THEN MACAROONS. OH MY GOODNESS THE MACAROONS. We went to Ladurée and got macaroons. I hadn’t had one in over a year. MMMMMMACAROONS.Macaroons

Then tonight, I decided to skip out on dinner with the family because I wanted to explore. Found out that there are multiple Dior, Chanel, Michael Kors, Gucci and Tom Ford stores within a ten minute radius of my apartment. Excuse me but where is it that I’m living?! ..Oh wait, that’s right. PARIS. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it but that’s fine by me. My exploring led me to places I hadn’t been before (isn’t that the point?) and all the while, my Mom is on the phone with me sharing in the experience, apparently freaking out over my lack of concern about where I am and where I’m going. All I knew on this hunt was that I wanted quiche, orangina and wine. Took me an hour of walking because most shops were already closed but I found all three! And even got some free chocolate truffles from a nice store owner when I went in to buy some wine. He was quite nice if I do say so myself.Food

All in all, quite a lovely day in Paris.