Thursday, 22 November 2007

22/11 It's Leah Garcia Time - Further Adventures In Paris

Well, another day another Musee and this time I had company.

I daresay there are a few of you who have been around long enough to remember Australian born Leah Chambers who worked for “Stoll Moss” (as it was back then) for a couple of lengthy periods in the late nineties. She finally returned home to Australia for good in 1999. No doubt Leah is best remembered for her Adam Garcia obsession during the days of “Saturday Night Fever”. Now, I knew Leah was planning a London trip for November, so I thought “sods law” she’s bound to be in London the week I am in Paris. So I emailed her a couple of weeks ago to check her plans to discover, by an amazing coincidence, that she had decided against a London trip and was heading for Paris instead. The same week as me! So Thursday morning found me in the queue for the Musee D’Orsay with no less than Leah herself along with her friend and colleague Michelle.

For those of you who are interested Leah is now Melbourne based and has a successful career in television where she is preparing to work on her third Olympics amongst other projects. Despite her Tv success, Leah’s time working for Stoll Moss means that her heart is very much in musical theatre. In fact on her last London visit she was considering giving up TV to come and work in London as an usherette just to be part of the West End again. Well, I tried hard to convince her that she was earning a good living which would enable her to visit London and New york on a semi regular basis and enjoy the best of what theatre can offer, So that’s what she did and indeed will be off to Broadway in a few weeks. Just to keep her hand in she was recently employed (by another former Stoll Mosser Amanda Mannion) in box office for theatres in Melbourne. She manages a few hours most weeks and has enjoyed being part of the successful revival of “The Phantom of The Opera” starring Anthony Warlow, and also current blockbuster “Priscilla Queen Of The Desert” – rumoured to be on it’s way to London next year.

Anyway, we had a truly lovely day starting at the Musee D’Orsay home to the Louvres collection dating between 1870 and 1920. This covers the impressionists and a whole lot more. The converted railway station provides the perfect setting for these masterpieces and it can almost seem like a transcendental experience. Three hours sped by as we walked through Monet’s poppy field, felt the cold of Van Gogh’s starry night and trembled at the gates of hell – courtesy of Auguste Rodin. If you only ever go to one gallery or museum on a Paris visit then make it the Musee D’Orsay. It’s one of my favourite places and I know I will visit again.

A long lunch (yes, at Joe Allen’s) followed where we laughed a lot and Leah and Michelle related a particularly peculiar Parisian incident. Leah was standing at her hotel window (in her own words) praying to the gods for the safe return of her missing mobile phone charger – picture Eva Peron a la balcony scene wearing winceyette pajamas. Anyway there she stands and what should she see but a naked man at the window of the opposite apartment. She swiftly drew the curtains closed saying “Mich’ you gotta see this!” At this point Leah and Michelle were both peeping through the curtains. I’m not sure how long they peeped for but they assured me that the gentleman was kind of “busy” for a while. Ooh la la!

So our lunch progressed with much hilarity before we bid our au revoirs having shared a great day in this most beautiful of cities. I was absolutely exhausted and other than a ninety minute sojourn into Les Halles for a few more Christmas presents I collapsed in my hotel room. I had done three days solid walking not to mention three rather tasty glasses of the Joe Allen maison rouge! I finally came around again at 8pm and headed to the UCG cinema in Les Halles for my last cinematic experience. I must admit that proximity was a deciding factor when I chose the latest Gus Van Sant movie “Paranoid Park”. It’s a devastating and compelling portrait of a young skateboarder and the aftermath of his involvement in the accidental death of a security guard. It didn’t lose my attention for a second. However even this, largely serious, movie was not without a touch of hilarity. At various points the main character would enjoy a contemplative moment of silence as he thought of his inner torment.. It was during one of these (it has to be said rather short) pauses that a young French woman exclaimed at the top of her voice that the film had stopped. This caused much laughter, and embarrassment for the silly girl. I suspect it’s a situation that really appeals to the French sense of humour as most of the audience was still giggling for the next ten minutes.

So aside from my Woody Allen experience I enjoyed some very different and very enjoyable motion pictures. I enjoyed Joe Allens crème brulee again and found that Monet makes the world go round, as do Degas, Cezanne, Renoir, Sisley…..I swear as my suitcase languishes at the end of the carriage as I write that it’s twice the weight it was on the way. Could it be my nice new coat perhaps? Could it be the DVDs I have purchased? More likely – but then again they are pretty light. No I think it might be the four bottles of French red wine that are the cause of the problem!


No comments: