Friday, January 20, 2006
Today I am going to the Marais--one of my very favorites. A very old and aristocratic neighborhood in Paris, now a hip, edgy conclave of the gay community and the trendy shoppers. Formerly, no less than seven kings lived here, the last being Henri II. He died during a freak jousting accident and his wife, Catherine de Medicis, was so desolate she tore down the royal mansion and moved out of the neib. I love these people! The other story I like about the Marais is that of the Grande Dame of the Marais, Madame de Sevigne, who lived at the Hotel Carnvalet (now housing the City of Paris Museum). Seems our Madame de Sevigne was quit a mover and shaker, knowing and entertaing all the best people of her times and described them in detail in her remembrance, Lettres. I understand it's witty, acerbic and keen. (I gotta find a good translation; I can't get through the French.) She ran with only the best thinkers. Anyway, her Lettres did not fade into obscurity once she died. One hundred years later, the revolutionarary hotheads, the well-read among them anyway, did not forget her association with the royals. They dug her cold, skinny corpse up, beheaded her and paraded her skull around Paris. These people take nothing lightly. The Marais has what I think is the prettiest square in the world: Place des Vosges. Aw, geez now that that's out there, I won't hear the end of it. BTW, Place des Vosges is the former site fo the royal mansion of Henri II and Catherine de Medicis.