Mars in pictures

Paris

As March {Mars in French} is coming to an end, here is a little roundup of the month that was in Instagram pictures. (You can find me over at @Ritournelleblog )

The main event in Paris, the one had everyone abuzz, was the arrival of spring. The city had been through a tough time at the beginning of the year, and this new season felt like a fresh start with a newfound optimism. Capturing Paris basked in sunshine from one of my favorite viewpoints, the terrace of the Printemps, was particularly uplifting.

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Going to work with the Vélib was almost therapeutic in a way. I forced myself to get up extra early in the morning so I could finish my day when it was still light outside, seeing how this affected my mood so positively. Every day I feel lucky to come across these beautiful monuments: the Eiffel Tower, the Alexandre III bridge, place de la Concorde, the Louvre, the banks of the Seine… It never gets old.

Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, our Iron Lady celebrated her 126th birthday today! Joyeux anniversaire to her.

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Culture-wise, I witnessed the magic of Swan Lake for the first time (twice). The Paris Opera Ballet production, choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev, is a masterpiece and particularly moving. I was lucky to see two stunning ballerinas in the dual role of Odette / Odile, Ludmila Pagliero and Héloïse Bourdon, and one of my favorite dancers in the company, Laura Hecquet, was promoted to the top rank of Etoile in this part last week.

I also visited the exhibition on Roman art in the XVIIth century at the Petit Palais. Not the most mind-blowing show but it’s always a pleasure to chill in the delightful garden of the museum. In a completely other genre, I saw the exhibition on David Bowie at the Philharmonie over the weekend: quite cleverly done and you’ll love it if you’re a fan.

Lastly, I wrote my first blog post in months and explained why Versailles is so dear to my heart as a tribute to my late father.

Now fingers crossed spring is here to stay, and wishing you a great April!

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Versailles

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I went to Versailles on a Sunday. The rain was drizzling and the air was cold. Few people had ventured to the castle, much less the gardens. I was standing alone in the deserted park. The place was drenched in melancholy and it dawned on me that my surroundings had rarely reflected my state of mind so closely.

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My first time at Versailles, it was just my father and me. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed by the castle and don’t remember much apart from the Hall of Mirrors. To my impatient 12-year-old self, it was just an endless succession of room after old room. What I do remember vividly however was how enthralled my father looked.

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My father was a living history book. I was impressed by his knowledge and as we went back to Versailles together 10 years later, our visit was made so much livelier by all the anecdotes he told me and my mother. I had grown fond of the place myself –Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette and Stefan Zweig’s biography of the queen probably helped. It was a beautiful day, one where we explored the whole estate and on which I’ve looked back on through photos many times.

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As the years went by, Versailles became a regular meeting place for us between Normandy, where my parents lived, and Paris. We even made a day trip there when I worked in New York City and returned to France for the summer. It was a place where looked forward to seeing each other. We could forget about our daily lives and enjoy each other’s company among the things we loved: beautiful surroundings, art, history and good food. There are memories that make me smile, like the three of us running through the whole crowded castle to make it in time for lunch at Angelina’s before joining a guided tour. And then my mother and I kindly making fun of my father for looking like a kid in a candy store as our guide walked us through the kings’ private rooms.

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The last time I spoke of Versailles to my father, sadness took over for a minute. I thought he was regretting not being able to go there anymore and quickly changed the subject. He passed away from cancer several days later.

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I returned to Versailles with my mother a week after the funeral. It was one of these summer nights with fireworks throughout the gardens. The lit-up castle looked otherworldly and the golden gate stood like an entrance to another world.

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On my last visit to Versailles, I remembered how friends told me my father would always live in my mind and in my heart. As I walked through the exquisite design exhibition he would have loved, I couldn’t help but think of what objects he would have preferred and what jokes we would have told each other. I realized I was lucky to have this beautiful place close to home where I could remember our time together and promised myself to return on his birthday.

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