As chaos (strikes, gilets jaunes, black blocs) is looming on the Parisian horizon, I am peacefully writing my Thursday blog post for you, with the help of my beloved Chopin Nocturnes in the background…
Connaissez-vous la différence entre romantique (avec un “r” minuscule) et Romantique (avec un “r” majuscule)?
romantique, avec un “r” minuscule, is the most commonly used version. You may describe a man as romantic if he is sensitive, offers you flowers, takes you to your favorite restaurant, holds the door for you, acts in a delicate and thoughtful manner around you.
Not everyone is aware of the difference with Romantique (avec un “r” majuscule) though. Alors voici une partie de la très bonne et complète définition du site cnrt.fr: Mouvement intellectuel, littéraire, artistique qui visait à renouveler les formes de pensée et d’expression en rejetant les règles classiques et le rationalisme, en prônant la nature, le culte du moi, la sensibilité, l’imagination, le rêve, la mélancolie, la spiritualité, en réhabilitant le goût contemporain, la couleur locale, la vérité historique. More here.
I happen to love both therefore this blog post will talk about both, in my own new Parisian context.
Let us begin with romantique, avec un “r” minuscule
I am very pleased to announce I have officially had my very first authentic Parisian experience! What I mean by this is that, I had my first that’s-it-I-feel-like-a-parisienne moment, on Thanksgiving day. As we skillfully walked around les belles rues de notre quartier parisien que nous connaissons maintenant par coeur, allant de boutique en boutique et de marché en marché to purchase all our precious Thanksgiving ingredients for our very first dinner party, for a moment I felt like I belonged here, pour la première fois, and I found that très romantique. Surtout en automne, qui est ma saison préférée, précisément parce qu’elle me semble si romantique.
Bien sûr, le sublime candlelit concert donné à la basilique Sainte Clotilde dans le très chic 7ème arrondissement de Paris, added to this romantic vibe.
We were freezing, and our butts hurt like crazy after 15 minutes of sitting on horrible hard tiny little wooden chairs, but Mozart & Gounod bringing pure bliss to our ears & the view of this marvelous basilica decorated with thousands of candles, definitely made up for it!
Ma maman also came to visit me to celebrate her birthday and, you know me, I had prepared quite the non-stop program for her, including lunch at one of my favorite vegan restaurants near the Jardin du Luxembourg, où l’adorable owner (kissing my mom on the photo below) not only got the whole restaurant to sing “Happy Birthday dear Marie-France!” but also offered us both dessert as his birthday present! How sweet is that??? Whether you are vegan or not, I highly recommend Michael’s restaurant next time you are in Paris: World Food Barn.
Ça aussi c’est romantique un bisou, n’est-ce pas?
The older I get, the more I like to buy “experience” presents as opposed to stuff. So to celebrate my mother’s birthday in Paris this last weekend, I took her to this play: Cyrano au théâtre le funambule in the 18th arrondissement à Paris. Have you ever read Cyrano de Bergerac? A brilliant, stunning, et très romantique French classic written by Edmond Rostand in 1897. I know the story par coeur of course, but it never ever gets old. I laughed, I cried my eyes out, and watched the 3 outstanding female actors in total awe. I actually want to go back maintenant and join une école de théâtre!
Et maintenant, le Romantisme, avec un “r” majuscule
Avant de commencer, let me reiterate the definition already shared above: Mouvement intellectuel, littéraire, artistique qui visait à renouveler les formes de pensée et d’expression en rejetant les règles classiques et le rationalisme, en prônant la nature, le culte du moi, la sensibilité, l’imagination, le rêve, la mélancolie, la spiritualité, en réhabilitant le goût contemporain, la couleur locale, la vérité historique. More here.
In fact, one of my top three men is part of le mouvement Romantisme: Alfred de Musset, and just for fun, here’s a famous quote from him, let’s see if vous comprenez cette citation:
“Aimer est le grand point, qu’importe la maîtresse?
Qu’importe le flacon, pourvu qu’on ait l’ivresse?”
This is a perfect quote for broken hearts, une citation parfaite pour les coeurs brisés. So if that is your case or if you know someone who could do with a little help right now, feel free to pass it on and don’t forget to quote my beloved Alfred. Make sure you understand it first by indicating your result in the comment section.
Qui sont les grands représentants du courant Romantique en France? Ce courant à la fois littéraire, musicale, et politique? Peut-être vous les connaissez aussi?
Victor Hugo (this one I’m pretty confident you know!)
Alfred de Musset
These last two, I had already talked about in a previous blog post so feel free to go back to it, and if you haven’t already seen the movie called Les enfants du siècle, you simply must watch it. It describes the Romantique period, lifestyle, and the destructive passionate burning love story between two 19th century French literature super stars: George Sand & Alfred de Musset. Just how ridiculously hot is the actor dressed as Alfred de Musset?!! The hair, the shirts, the colors, the frills, the fabrics, the textures, aaaaaah everything! I can’t take it j’adoooooore!!! Admire the trailer (en français) and see for yourself.
You may this super famous painting by him:
Cette peinture s’appelle La liberté guidant le peuple. Most people think it describes the 1789 révolution française but it doesn’t. Elle décrit la révolution de 1830, aussi appelée la révolution de juillet ou les trois glorieuses because it took place on July 27th, 28th, and 29th 1830.
And just for fun, I found this the other day, clin d’oeil parfait en ce 5 décembre 2019, début des grèves à Paris et des manifestations des gilets jaunes.
Laquelle préférez-vous? Oh la joie des grèves… yikes.
Et bien sûr une autre grande personnalité du Romantisme est…
And many, many, many more!
I took my mother to a conference about George Sand in my favorite cinéma parisien MK2. Pourquoi mon préféré? Parce qu’il met la culture en avant dans le tout Paris (12 MK2 cinémas à Paris) grâce à des événements et des conférences sur l’art, l’histoire, la littérature, le cinéma, et… la philosophie, which I religiously attend every Monday! The lecturer Charles Pépin is one of our national philosopher stars (only in France does such a thing exist oh France I love you!) and such a talented teacher… and he’s cute ha!
But I digress… aaaaah cute nerdy men with big sexy brains… of course I digress!
Ok back to George Sand. If you’ve never heard of her, well its’ time to fix this. Of course, watching the movie recommended above will be a great intro. She was une vraie force de la nature! Une vraie féministe! Not just talking about it, but living it, inspiring us all. She decided and created her life, and let me tell you, in the 19th century, it wasn’t exactly the norm, quite the opposite. She was highly educated thanks to her grandmother who brought her up, elle s’est séparée de son affreux mari (le divorce n’était pas encore légal), elle s’habillait avec des vêtements masculins to be free to go wherever she wanted to (the only unaccompanied women wandering around being prostitutes), she openly had plenty of lovers, men & women, one of them being the stormy Chopin who she took care of for ten years and God only knows if you & I would be able to enjoy some of his most beautiful pieces without her help, and of course as you’ve probably already noticed, she changed her original name Aurore Dupin to George Sand parce qu’elle voulait être considéré comme un vrai écrivain à part entière et non stigmatisée comme une femme écrivain.
Some despised her, such as Charles Baudelaire who wrote this about her: “Elle est bête, elle est lourde, elle est bavarde; elle a dans les idées morales la même profondeur de jugement et la même délicatesse de sentiment que les concierges et les filles entretenues. Ce qu’elle a dit de sa mère. Ce qu’elle dit de la poésie. Son amour pour les ouvriers. Que quelques hommes aient pu s’amouracher de cette latrine, c’est bien la preuve de l’abaissement des hommes de ce siècle.”
Some adored her, such as Victor Hugo who wrote this after she had just died: “Je pleure une morte, et je salue une immortelle. Je l’ai aimée, je l’ai admirée, je l’ai vénérée ; aujourd’hui dans l’auguste sérénité de la mort, je la contemple. Je la félicite parce que ce qu’elle a fait est grand et je la remercie parce que ce qu’elle a fait est bon. Je me souviens d’un jour où je lui ai écrit : « Je vous remercie d’être une si grande âme ». Est-ce que nous l’avons perdue ? Non. Ces hautes figures disparaissent, mais ne s’évanouissent pas. Loin de là ; on pourrait presque dire qu’elles se réalisent. En devenant invisibles sous une forme, elles deviennent visibles sous l’autre. Transfiguration sublime. La forme humaine est une occultation. Elle masque le vrai visage divin qui est l’idée. George Sand était une idée ; elle est hors de la chair, la voilà libre ; elle est morte, la voilà vivante.”
Back to the lecture about George Sand my mother and I attended.
It was given by Des Mots et Des Arts who organize beautiful events & classes about, comme son nom l’indique, la littérature et l’art. Needless to say, I am now on their newsletter! One more amazing thing on my overwhelming Paris-to-do-list ha!
I could keep going because I’ve done & explored so much in those past weeks, mais je dois m’arrêter bientôt pour que ce blog post ne se transforme pas en livre… samedi dernier, une amie et moi sommes allées à la mairie du 9ème arrondissement pour assister à un spectacle Romantique (avec un “r” majuscule) qui mettait en scène l’histoire d’amour du grand Victor Hugo et de sa maîtresse Juliette Drouet, une histoire d’amour qui a duré 50 ans, et qui ne s’est achevée qu’avec la mort de Juliette en 1883. Pour nous conter ce récit, il y avait sur scène:
1 projecteur (to share paintings and pictures of the 2 lovers, where they lived in Paris, etc.)
Quelle belle idée!
For about 30 years, Victor Hugo had both his wife and his mistress by his side, living with him. This makes me feel so bad for these women but, like I explained above, we didn’t get much of a say back in the 19th century, so I guess they also felt incredibly fortunate to share the life of such a man!
Vous connaissez bien sûr Victor Hugo for his most famous books such as Les misérables ou Notre-Dame de Paris, mais saviez-vous qu’il avait été un grand homme politique? Et oui, c’était le temps où la politique et la culture allaient hand in hand! No comment.
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