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April 2006

My newsletters have been replaced by my blog postings. There are archives of old newsletters. Thanks for reading!

Bonjour from Paris - April 2006
Beginning of year 2 in Paris

Dear friends, family, travelers - all readers:
Gratitude is how I start this issue today, gratitude that my goddaughter Kristin Hall recuperates now at home in Hendersonville, N.C. from a pre-Easter auto accident. Kristin, an award-winning songwriter, short story writer, and straight-A student at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, was in a car crash going home for Easter break. Hospitalized for 9 days, she is now home. We never know what turns life will give us so let’s seize the day…

Jim and I are planning for year 2: obtaining our Paris residency papers, still studying French, this time with Isabel our private French tutor. So let us know when you plan to cross the big pond and experience this city and country. Paris celebrates the welcome warm weather with flowers in bloom and many outdoor festivals. We again enjoyed the recent Paris Marathon with more than 32,000 runners including a Texas contingent.

The Gallo-roman city of Bourges, with its many half-timbered buildings, beckoned us April 22-23. Paris friends Dawn and David Fall spend time there for his work with Boeing so we took a train-two-hour ride-to Bourges, gateway to the Loire Valley and all those grand chateaus. Highlights included a long nature walk around Les Marais de Bourges-water meadows with rivers, canals, and country restaurants. Urban dwellers tend gardens and fish at Les Marais. We dined on the best scallops and mushrooms in sauce we have had in France at Le Caraqui-Venise au Coeur des marais (in the heart of the marais). Tea lovers, we discovered a great tea room on La promenade des ramparts, a shaded path along a Gallo-roman wall dating to the 4th century. And let’s not forget La Cathedral St.-Etienne, a UNESCO World Heritage Monument since 1992, the widest gothic cathedral in France, full of stained glass windows and gargoyles. Look for more about Bourges from me but for now check out www.bourges-tourisme.com. (Keep reading, there's more after the photos...)

In March we ventured out to the little Normandy town of Louviers for lunch at the home of Susan Herrmann Loomis, author of the memoir/cookbook “On Rue Tatin” as well as “Cooking on Rue Tatin” and many other books. It was a great day in her half-timbered home with a huge studio kitchen. Watch for more on this in a story I am writing for the St. Petersburg Times. Susan taught in Paris this month for On Rue Tatin in Paris, a cooking/shopping/Paris experience in the kitchen studio of Patricia Wells, cookbook author and International Herald Tribune restaurant critic/food writer. Her many books include “The Paris Cookbook,” “Food Lover’s Guide to France” and “Simply French.” Susan’s students from Texas, Michigan, and New York were told at sign-up that Wells wouldn’t be in the studio. So we went to take photos at the Paris studio on April 14, Good Friday to many of you, and in walked Patricia Wells herself! Check out Susan Loomis’ site at www.onruetatin.com.

We celebrated our first anniversary in France, April 1st, in the Tuscan hill-town of Siena, Italy. Days before, we traveled to the tiny, remote village of Vitorchiano, Italy, for a multi-genre writing workshop with Cecilia Woloch, director of the Paris Poetry Workshop and a writing faculty member at the Idyllwild summer program in California. Jeffrey Greene, poet and director of the WICE Paris Writers Workshop visited for a session. Vitorchiano is less than two hours north of Rome and home to Linda Lappin, a graduate of Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd) and author of the historical novel “The Etruscan.” Linda directs the Centro Pokkoli writing center in Vitorchiano. The Kenyon Review holds workshops there. We stayed at the Hotel Piccola Opera on the slopes of the Cimini Hills, owned by the Vatican. Daytrips included Orvieto, a great Umbrian city and an afternoon talk at the villa of historical writer Mary Jane Cryan. Visit www.lindalappin.net, www.pokkoli.com, www.theetruscan.com, www.ceciliawoloch.com for more information on these writers/teachers. The grand finale to Italy was an eye-candy train trip home via Florence, Milan, the Italian Alps including Torino (home of the 2006 Winter Olympics) and the French Alps.

Award winning writer Jennifer Dick taught a most beneficial generative writing workshop at WICE this winter, ending just before Easter. WICE used to stand for something like Women’s International Continuing Education but now it is simply WICE and serves women and men, Americans as well as many other nationalities. We heard David Sedaris read again, this time from his best-seller “Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim” at the Village Voice bookstore. Adrienne Rich reads at the Village Voice on July 18. In other news, we happened upon Mariah Carey coming out of her Paris hotel one Saturday morning, not too many paparazzi so we got a close look at the rock star. Friends of ours saw Brad, Angelina and children at the carousel near the Eiffel Tower, many paparazzi. A great Star Wars exhibit continues here in Paris, and Jim took a class titled History in the Making: Aspects of Islam at WICE, which included a visit to the Paris Mosque and fabulous couscous lunch in the Mosque’s smoke-free restaurant.

Amsterdam and the Anne Frank museum, Provence for the Lavender, a visit to Germany to see my brother Chris and family and Normandy in August to meet Jim’s daughter Michelle and son-in-law John are on the agenda. My web designer suggests I may want to turn this into a blog…. I am thinking...

It’s a great life and the student/union demonstrations come and go. We haven’t witnessed any violence. Oh, and I am off to the American Embassy residence on May 4 for an American Women’s Group luncheon, featuring Chef Excoffier’s three-course lunch and a presentation by Mireille Guiliano, CEO of Veuve Clicquot and author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” This will be the third time I have heard Guiliano speak, maybe it will prove the charm.

Here’s to a great spring and summer,

Pamela and Jim

Copyright (c) 2005-7 Pamela Griner Leavy, unless otherwise noted. Pgl_paris@yahoo.com
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