Jean's Take

A blog about words, women, & whimsy

Category: Top Ten

Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts if you go to Paris for New Year’s

Bon Jour,

I went to Paris for New Year’s!  It had been over thirty years and a lot of Frequent Flyer Miles since that visit and I was eager to re-see it. 

  1. Don’t go for New Year’s; it’s crowded with foreigners!
  2. Don’t go far from your hotel on New Year’s Eve if you don’t have set plans for getting back.  You won’t be able to get a cab and the Metro is unpredictable.  You are forewarned.
  3. Don’t dress like a tourist!  Do the ‘when in Rome thing’—dress like the French—blend instead of stand out.  I guarantee that you’ll be treated better and enjoy yourself more.
  4. Do get tickets in advance to places you definitely want to visit.  I had tickets to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in advance. There was even a line for ticket holders at The Orsay—but shorter, and at the Louvre, we went in a back door.
  5. Don’t stand in long lines long!  I know, it’s hard to leave knowing you haven’t seen the Mona Lisa, but, you’ll live.   There is so much to see in this beautiful city that you should not waste a moment on such mundane things as standing in line. Instead, go to the Rodin Museum or one of the many others—you are in the ‘city of art’; go sit by the Seine and watch the smoke from the stacks of little tug boats fold back as they go under the low bridges–Hemingway did.  AND EAT—when in Paris, you eat.

6. Do make dinner reservations for nine pm.  This is the time to eat inParis.  I know what you’re thinking, but it will be worth it.  By that time they are fully staffed and ready for you.  If it helps, be glad you are not inSpain where it is at least ten before anyone will want you. Almost any café or bistro will do but this is also where your hotel  concierge comes in handy.  Remember, FOOD is what the French do well and they take pride in it.

7.  Do hang out in the Montmartre.  It’ll be crowded but you can still find your own space.  For example, sit on the steps of the Basilica Sacre Coeur and think about where you are, stop by Renoir’s home, and wander around the artists at work in the square and wonder if another Van Gogh, Renoir, or Degas is waiting for you to spot them.

8.  Do hang out at Le Père Lachaise.  Just about anyone who was anyone in France is buried there.  Get a map and begin your search for them. (I put an app in my I-Pad.)  Here’s a starter list:  The tragic lovers Abelard and Héloïse share a canopied tomb, Frederic Chopin is buried with a small urn of Polish soil and a red rose on top, Edith Piaf, Balzac, Bizet, Colette, Corot, Daumier, Max Ernst, Pissarro, Proust, Rossini, Seurat, Stravinsky, Gertrude Stein, Oscar Wilde, and even Jim Morrison—a treasure trove of immortals to whom you may pay your respects.

9.  Don’t take a Dinner Cruise unless you have planned for transportation afterward.  We took one with Bateaux Parisienne.  The sights were lovely and the food was good enough but it was somewhat ruined when there was no transportation at the Quay when we disembarked and the boat people were just interested in getting home themselves.  Plan ahead.

10.  Do spend lots of time with the Eiffel Tower. It is soooo French and simply magical, especially at night when it’s lit up.  In fact, if you stand near it, close your eyes, sing a little of Cole Porter’s “I Love Paris”, and click you heels 3 times, well, who knows what it might bring.  I wish I had thought of that when I was there–let me know.

Bon Voyage.

(In my next blog, I’m going to tell you my menu for New Year’s Eve.  A French eating experience.  Look for it.)






compiled by Jean Kelchner and Lucy Severini, written by Jean

With or without the popcorn, our Top Picks will entertain, inspire, and bring you pleasure, plus, you won’t have to scratch your head wondering what happened.

1.  The King’s Speech – Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter and directed by Tom Hooper.

O k-k-k-kay, we know that there are no surprises here because this is on everyone’s list—even the Queen of England’s, since Colin Firth plays her father, King George VI with dignity.  The film deals with the King’s stutter—most people feared he was dysfunctional at the time—and his relationship with his speech therapist, played by Geoffrey Rush.  They are outstanding.  Oh, and Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Margaret Rose, are seen playing princess-like in happy little family scenes.

2.  City Island – starring Andy Garcia and Julianne Margulies and directed by Raymond de Filetta

The Rizzo family lives on City Island, a real island off the mainland of the Bronx that most people don’t know exists—we didn’t.  They appear to be an ordinary blue collar family but when Vince, the father, a prison guard played by Andy Garcia, decides to secretly take acting lessons, they become anything but ordinary.

3.  Shutter Island – starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley, and directed by Martin Scorcese.

This is a psychological nail-biter. DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshal who investigates the disappearance of a woman from a locked room in an insane asylum on an island near Boston.  Soon he begins to doubt his own sanity, and so do we.

4.  Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – starring Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf, and directed by Oliver Stone.

Twenty-three years ago, Michael Douglas turned himself into Gordon Gekko in Wall Street I.  He’s back.  He’s just out of prison and disgraced.  But a Douglas/ Gekko, with more maturity and softer edges, has only gotten better.  This film is smart and classy, and we think Douglas and the film should have gotten some recognition during award season.

5. Mao’s Last Dancer – starring Chi Cao, directed by Bruce Beresford

Based on the autobiography of Li Cunxin, at one time, a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet, this is an inspirational movie—the kind people clap for when it’s over.  Li Cunxin was eleven when he was taken from his poor Chinese village to study ballet in Beijing.  In 1979, he fell in love with an American dancer and defected to the United States.  Not the popular thing to do.  It is a beautiful movie with lots of red—we love RED (the color).

6.  The Millenium Trilogy – starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was adapted from best selling novels written by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson who died of a heart attack, never knowing what an international hit his work would be.  (Jean, being a writer, finds that very sad.)

We like the first one best, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. In fact, Lucy suggested we only recommend the first one because it stands on its own, but she finally agreed that Lisbeth Salander deserves a bigger stage; besides, I really liked the last one where Lisbeth nails her crazy half-brother’s feet to the floor.  Hint:  See these before the American versions come out with Daniel Craig.  It should be great fun to compare.

7.  RED –  is an acronym for “Retired Extremely Dangerous”, and it stars some old favorites–Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman.  Mary Louise Parker plays Willis’ love interest.  Directed by Robert Schwenke.

They were once a team, now out of the business, but when someone tries to kill their leader, played by Willis, the big guns come out.  It’s lots of fun!!!

8.  The Fighter – Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams, directed by David O. Russell.

This is a boxing movie based on the early career of a welter-weight from the Boston area named “Irish” Micky Ward.  I hate boxing movies, except for “the Rockys” but agree with Lucy that this film holds three of the best performances of the year—Amy Adams, who plays Micky’s girlfriend; Melissa Leo, who plays Micky’s mother; and Christian Bale, who plays Micky’s half-brother.  Bale’s performance is not just good, it’s great!!!

9.  Winter’s Bone – starring Jennifer Lawrence, ShelleyWaggoner, Garret Dillahunt and John Hawkes, directed by Debra Granik.

This is a little film that played mostly in Art Houses.  Jennifer Lawrence plays, Ree, a poor mountain girl whose mother is sick in the head and whose father has disappeared.  She goes in search of him in order to keep her family together, but mountain business that used to be moonshine is now crystal meth and mountain folk don’t even like kinfolk poking around.  This film pulls us in where the winter filled Ozarks are stark and cold—to the bone.

10.  True Grit – starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfield, Josh Brolin, and directed by the Coen Brothers.

Every movie list should include a Western and this one is pretty good.  (It’s a remake of the John Wayne one who played the character Rooster Cogburn in two films.)  Even though we both like Bridges, I didn’t like him in this film.  He was too dirty and too drunk and too dull.  Lucy, on the other hand, thought he made the role his own and did a good job with it.  Maybe I would have liked him better if he’d had a little hitch in his step.  We agree that Matt Damon seemed out of place galloping around on a horse, and that Hailee Steinfield wowed playing the fourteen  year old, Mattie.  She’s ‘fodder’ for an Award.

These are our picks.  Check them out and let us know what you think. . . . . . .

In the meantime . . . See you at the movies!!!


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