Writer Charli James, who has recently set up home in Paris, testifies to the fact you can lead a rich and happy life in the French capital even if you can’t communicate with the locals in their own lingo. Here’s how.
I barely speak French but I didn’t let this stop me from moving to Paris. And I do know I’m far from alone.Now I’m not advocating remaining French illiterate, especially if you plan to live here long term, and I am working hard to improve my own French, but soon after moving here, I realized you don’t actually have to speak the language very well to have a full life in Paris.Now this may sound implausible, but I promise there are a truckload of people doing this in Paris. [ . . . ]
When traveling, it is always so very wonderful when your innkeepers become your friends. This was the case in both Paris and Uzes for us.
In Paris, we stayed in the 15th, a short walk from Georges Brassens Park. Our host Gildas is a brilliant photographer (he would modestly say “non”) and world-traveler (recent trips to Iran, India.) In the evenings, after walking miles across Paris, it was tres groovy to sit with Gildas at the table and talk bout all sorts of things – France, the USA, Macron et Trump, Paris metro tips, climate change, music, films, photography, life. We were instant friends and hope to keep in touch via Facebook.
In Uzes, we stayed with Yannick, her son Jean-Phillipe, along with their three dogs: Juan, Tataeille, and Merika. Last evening, Yannick shared a delicious bottle of vin de St. Joseph with us and we talked and laughed for a few hours. Using the modest French I remember from my lessons at St. Peter School, I somehow communicated to our friends that prior to climate change, the lobsters in Maine grew to the size of a Shetland ponies (I exaggerated a bit.) They said, “Mon Dieu” and I said “Oui!”
This morning, there is a cool breeze in the air.
I often forget whether or not I visited a famous monument, but I never forget the people I share laughter with.
It was so cool to run into this gypsy jazz quartet performing at Place aux Herbes, in Uzès last July. In this video recorded from my iPhone, the Uzès guys (never caught their name so let’s call them The Uzèsniacs ) are masterfully strumming “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” in that beautiful jazz manouche style.
Apologies -my cell battery sadly dies in the middle of a great guitar solo. Mert!
“I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” is an American jazz standard attributed to the Tin Pan Alley team of Jimmy McHugh (music) and Dorothy Fields (lyrics) in 1928. Fats Waller and Una Mae Carlisle recorded my favorite version of the song, and there are jazz scholars who maintain that it was actually Waller who wrote the song and sold it to McHugh and Fields for $500. Mert, encore!
The song “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” is also famously featured in the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby (1938) with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. The Uzèsniacs probably learned the song from this wonderful 1936 version from Django Reinhardt et le Quintette du Hot Club de France ( listen below)