Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Place: Paris

Hi all, how was the weekend? After a kind of rough week, I was ready for a little escape. Mr. H. took me on a date to finally see Midnight in Paris--which was sweet of him, because he's not a big Woody Allen fan, and Paris doesn't hold the same charms for him as it does for me.

He couldn't have come up with a better scheme--unless he actually packed me a bag and met me after work with two round trip tickets to the city itself. An English major who minored in art and can't get enough of Paris, I was utterly delighted by the film.

Of all my happy places, Paris is probably the happiest. Admittedly, just as protagonist Gil Pender's vision of The City of Light in the 20s is blurred by nostalgia, my own picture of my favorite city is tempered by distance and the fact that when I'm there, it's for a limited time. I don't have to deal with reality or paperwork or the famous French bureaucracy.

One of the criticisms leveled against the movie is that it over-romanticizes the city, and takes away all of its rough edges--the same was said about Amelie about 10 years ago, and I've heard a similar scoffing about my rose-colored view of Paris from a French ex-boyfriend who hated the place (can you imagine?).

But I think those critics (and my ex-boyfriend) are missing the point. A film like Midnight in Paris should be devoured like a box of macarons--sweet and airy confections, not to be taken too seriously. A fleeting moment of pleasure. We can eat our vegetables later.

We all need our "happy places" where we can escape either for a few weeks or just for a few moments as we wander the streets in our mind's eye.

The soul needs a vacation from the mundane and the difficult from time to time. The happy place--whether it's a Jane Austen novel, a Matisse painting, or a romanticized post-card perfect Paris--provides this escape.

Photos from Heidi Diaz

What's your happy place?


  1. Wonderful post - so evocative - and love "We can eat our vegetables later. " - what a perfect analogy!! I saw the film this weekend with my husband too!! It was charming! My only (minor) complaint was that it was a tad predictable, but as you say, it wasn't meant to be so serious. What a lovely escape to one of my favorite cities as well! I am long overdue for a visit!

  2. I prefer to think of my happy place wherever I may be.
    I have a travel journal which has tons of lovely quotes and it reminds me that a journey can begin at home. I do love Paris....

  3. Before I went to Paris everyone told me I would hate it& not to get caught up in the American romanticized version....but I've been several times and I simply love Paris.

  4. Jeanne- I think I need to see that movie on a big screen before the summer ends! I've traded jewelry for tickets with the owners of a local theater so I have no excuse not to, and to treat a friend to the movie while I'm at it.

    My happy place - An island on Lake George in New York's Adirondack Mountains. Stress melts away...


  5. ...also becoming very fond of anything Oregon! And it's happy when I'm hanging with my sister there.


  6. I'm so happy you got to see the movie! It is still on my list, but today I'm taking the boys to see Harry Potter!!

    I love to be by the water or in my yard, relaxing!!!
    xo Elizabeth

  7. It's one of my favorite happy places. i can so down so quickly there and take it all in. the beach is a close second though!
    Trying to get to the movie soon too!

  8. I love Paris too, it's such a beautiful city - one of the best places to walk around aimlessly in my opinion!

    I have two happy places, because I'm greedy like that....Biot a tiny village on the Cote d'Azur where my family is from, and St Mawes, another tiny village in Cornwall. Both are just stunning places....

  9. I agree - some things just need to stay a little romanticized in our minds! I find that a lot of Europeans aren't nearly so caught up in all of that - I think it's more of an American thing. My happiest place is sitting on a beach along the Oregon coast (my home state). It's not just the incredible sunsets but also the sound of the crashing waves...totally serene!



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