Music I heard in my head in France

I sail my memories of home

This should be no surprise: I often hear music in my head. This is some of the music I heard in my head in France. Now there are LOTS of songs about Paris and France generally.
An American in Paris by George Gershwin. I mean, how could I not?
My Father– Judy Collins. One of the relatively few songs written by Judy. Here are the first (and also penultimate) and last verses.
My father always promised usThat we would live in FranceWe’d go boating on the SeineAnd I would learn to dance
I sail my memories of homeLike boats across the SeineAnd watch the Paris sunAs it sets in my father’s eyes again
Here are two songs by Joni Mitchell:
April in Paris. Many versions of the song, written in the early 1930s, exist. But the Count Basie version from the mid-1950s, specifically the Pop Goes the Weasal take, is stuck in my ear.
I Love Paris. Lots of versions of this classic exist. It’s the iteration by Les Negresses Vertes from the 1990 album Red Hot + Blue: A Tribute To Cole Porter. That collection “created massive media attention for AIDS relief and became the first release in a 15-album series. “
Quiche Lorraine – the B52s. I ate quiche Lorraine in a restaurant in Paris. My wife wanted me to tell her how this song went, but I can’t do B52s sufficiently.
A ringer
Kiss Me (Official Paris Version) – Sixpence None The Richer. I was not familiar with this before. My friend Steve Bissette posted it on Facebook WHILE I WAS IN FRANCE. So I MUST include it.
La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf. I heard this in Paris! Also, a posting about Piaf is the last one in that display we saw in Roissy.
Genius In France – Weird Al. The Roissy display ends with Piaf. The placard before was Albert Schweitzer, whose death in 1965 I remember, but I didn’t know who he was until he passed. He’s the antithesis of the narrative in the Yankovic song.
Finally, the national anthem.
All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
The 1812 Overture by Tschaikovsky

Films on a plane


Flying from JFK to CDG took seven hours, and the return trip took eight. I guess we’re going to be watching some films on a plane. These are in the order I watched them, which also involved viewing a few television programs.

A Man Called Otto (2022). I saw this trailer in the movie theater more than once but was wary of seeing it. Otto was a remake of a 2015 Swedish film, A Man Called Ove, which my wife had seen in the cinema, but I had not.

The trailer made it appear that Otto was a grumpy old man won over by the spunky Latina and her cute kids. Meh.

The actual film was much more substantial, with a backstory that reminded some of the emotion tied to the first ten minutes of the animated movie Up. Tom Hanks plays Otto, and his son Truman as Otto in flashbacks with Sonya (Rachel Keller).

Marisol (Mariana Treviño) is a stronger character than I believed she’d be. This article compares the film with some major spoilers. The last line: “The unique traits in Otto’s interpretation of this story make it clear that this is no shameless carbon copy of what’s worked in the past.”

A Man Called Otto is recommended.


I managed to miss Crazy Rich Asians when it came out in 2018. In many ways, it is a basic rom-com with Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) going with her boyfriend  Nick Young (Henry Golding) to his best friend’s wedding back in Singapore.

When they went out, Nick avoided telling Rachel that 1) his family was insanely wealthy and 2) he was expected to take over the family business. Rachel meets Nick’s disapproving mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), and others in Nick’s sometimes vicious circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.

Mostly, I liked it, even when the jokes were broad. But I was unconvinced by the tidy ending.  I was excited that a film with a different geography and demographic existed.


I had heard about Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, the 2021–2022 Emmy-winning series about the actor traveling across the country “to discover the secrets and delights of the country’s regional cuisines.”

The episode I saw was about Venice. It was interesting because it showed how eclectic and wide-ranging the foods of the region were, in large part because of the wide-ranging immigration in the port city, both ancient and recent. Very interesting.

On the return flight, I decided to watch First Cow (2019), which I had seen teased in the cinema. But it was too dark. I don’t mean the story was too dark, though a skeleton was found early on. The visual contrast on my screen made it difficult to see, so I abandoned it.

French animation

I watched an hour-long television program in French with English subtitles. The title translates to The great history of animation cinema in France. It was fascinating.

The French were early in the animated pictured movie. Émile Reynaud and Émile Cohl were pioneers in the field. But the work of Walt Disney and others left France behind.

The industry started to turn around somewhat with the success Kirikou et la sorcière (Kirikou and the Sorceress), 1998; Les Triplettes de Belleville (The Triplets of Belleville), 2003; and Persepolis,2007. Still, the French felt they were playing on an uneven playing field when they spent $8 million on a movie, but Disney et al. could spend $80 million.

I had always wanted to see The Triplets of Belleville, which did play in the cinema in Albany in 2003 or 2004, but I had missed it.


I needed to see Persepolis, Oscar-nominated as the best-animated film. The graphic novel I’ve owned for years.

“In 1970s Iran, Marjane ‘Marji’ Satrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family of a long dream being fulfilled of the hated Shah’s defeat in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. However, as Marji grows up, she witnesses firsthand how the new Iran, now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, has become a repressive tyranny.”

It is a compelling autobiography. The animation is somewhat rudimentary but effective.

With less than an hour before landing, I watched an episode of Friends in French, the one with Elle Macpherson; the dubbed voices made it enjoyable.

Roissy en France

Notre histoire en couleurs

May 20: I may have said we were returning to Paris, but we were actually going to Roissy en France.

We eat breakfast at the B&B. There was a giant jukebox in the dining area with dozens of 45s. We talked to a couple from the wedding. The dancing didn’t start until 1 a.m.!

We saw Father Thomas, who was also staying at the locale. My wife drove from Tredion back to Auray, which took about an hour. We returned the rental car and stopped at the cafe we visited three days ago.

Our travel documents suggested we might take a TERTRAIN from Auray to Redon, leave at 13:05, and arrive at 14:30. Because they were doing track work, we took a bus. It was rather uncomfortable, as I couldn’t put my feet under the seat in front of me.

The TGVTRAIN from Redon to PARIS MONTPARNASSE was nice, but it took a while, from 14:50 to 18:07.

I should have used the loo on the train. The bathroom at the train station cost 50 Euro cents, but it didn’t work! Finally, we went to another level and spent another Euro in a locale with an attendant.

We still needed to get to our hotel in Roissy en France, near the airport. My wife decided we’d take a taxi. With the stop-and-go traffic, it took at least an hour, which made it a pricey choice.

After we dropped off our stuff, we went to eat. We opted against the dining choices at the hotel. Wandering into town, we found a Chinese/Thai restaurant with one of the broadest menus I’ve ever seen.

Our last day in France

After breakfast, we wandered into the charming town. We came across a series of about 40 placards describing France’s history. They were from the book  Notre histoire en couleurs, OUR STORY IN COLORS, by Xavier Mauduit.

“This book is a walk through time, a stroll through yesterday’s world where everything is suddenly in color. A unique experience for all generations!

“Let’s find our poets and our novelists, Baudelaire, Hugo, Proust or even Colette, without forgetting all the anonymous people, students, workers, peasants. Let’s walk the streets of our cities and the roads of our countryside.” This was an unexpected joy.

My wife got a hotel employee to get us to the airport. We were delivered to the right terminal, 2, but the wrong section. Fortunately, Charles De Gaulle Airport has a train system like the AirTrain to JFK.

Unlike the chaos at Delta at JFK, getting the boarding pass at Air France was simple and uncrowded. After checking through various checkpoints, we got to our gate quickly. We got some excellent airport food, which is not an oxymoron.

Our eight-hour flight – leaving at 19:30 Paris time and arriving at 21:45 NYC time, was mainly uneventful. However, I was surprised how far back the guy in front of me could push back his seat, further than anyone around him.

We deboarded the plane. I was trying my new Mobile Passport Control app, which I couldn’t send until I determined what terminal we were at. I don’t know if it helped or not. We got through two Customs checkpoints far faster than the debacle we experienced in 1999 after returning from Barbados.

One of the folks from my church choir had agreed to pick us up. Now the terminal at JFK WAS a zoo, but we found each other. Carol and I rode home in about 3.5 hours. Our daughter had waited up until 2 a.m. for us, which was very sweet.

Deborah and Cyrille get married!

a chateau

May 19:  Deborah and Cyrille are getting married today! After my wife and I eat breakfast, we check out of our second hotel on this trip. We drive from Auray to Erdeven and park in the lot of Cyrille’s company.

Walking to the town hall and church, the fact that we had been there before was helpful to other guests. We were told to be there at 10 a.m. for the 10:30 civil ceremony. Unsurprisingly, given how late she must have gone to bed and the congestion around her apartment, she was about ten minutes late.

The ceremony, officiated by a woman wearing a tricolor sash, was all in French, but I got the gist.

Then we walked a short distance to the church. And by short, I’ve walked farther from a parking space to a supermarket.

The service was in French and English and laid out in a 40-page booklet—the marriage celebration, followed by readings, including Psalm 67 and John 15:9-12. I discovered a typo in the version I had seen on May 8, which I noted to Deborah, but I doubt anyone else noticed. Then more blessings of the marriage, the prayers, and the peace.

Rendered redundant

Then a German couple, my wife and I got up and went to the rear of the church to bring up the Holy Communion elements. They weren’t there. In retrospect, I think the priests brought them forward beforehand because the church service started late. As the German woman put it, “We are unemployed.”

One of Deborah’s surprises for Cyrille was getting a gospel group from Rennes to sing. They performed Amazing Grace at the beginning, Let Us Break Bread before communion, Down To The River To Pray before the distribution of the elements, and Oh, Happy Day at the end, with one of the priests dancing in the aisles.


After the service, two Breton sonneurs – traditional music players – led us in a procession through the village. There was a reception where I engaged in wonderful conversations, including with Deborah’s two adult children and their significant others. 

We were all directed to a castle, le Château de Trédion, about 45 minutes away. My wife and I realized we had time to check into the nearby B&B where we stayed that night.

We returned at 16:30 and listened to Jérémy Simon and his accordion/keyboards/horn jazz trio. They were surprisingly good.

There were cocktails at 18:00 while photos were taken. Dinner was supposed to be at 20:00, though it was late; I wasn’t terribly hungry with all the hors d’oeuvres. We had a magician that came from table to table doing card tricks or something involving fire; we got the tamer offering, involving the fake card shuffle, which Mark Evanier subsequently linked to here.


Dancing “til dawn” was supposed to start at 22:00; not even close. Speechifying was still going on at 22:45, including by the groom’s 87-year-old father, in French and translated by a woman from Ireland I had met.

. Later, we learned the dancing didn’t begin until one in the morning. We had to go. Specifically, my wife, who was driving, had to depart before she got too tired to move. We said our goodbyes to  Deborah’s kids; the folks at our table, including Ruth and Vernita, whom I had met in the 1970s; and finally, the bride and groom.

However, we did stay for the address by Deborah’s friend Igor in English and translated by Deborah’s son. It was very accurate. I will say cryptically that we would not have come if Deborah hadn’t asked.

We would miss the wedding cake and the next day’s crepes event because we needed to return to Paris to take a plane home.  Our time was too short. Still, it was worth the effort.

We went to the B&B and crashed.

Paris to Auray to Erdeven


May 17: After breakfast, we pack and taxi to the PARIS MONTPARNASSE station to take the 9:55 train from Paris to Auray in the country’s Brittany (western) section. We could have walked to the subway and then traveled that way, but my wife chose to spend the money on the easier path.

It was actually two different trains. From Paris to Rennes was lovely, with assigned seats on the TGV TRAIN, Internet connectivity, and room to store our items.

But we had just ten minutes to catch our connection to Auray on a different platform. The TER TRAIN was overly full, and while I had gotten on, my wife, ever polite, was waiting for someone to move in so she could get on board and was almost left behind.

We were standing with our luggage for a time before a couple of people let the old couple sit down. This was appreciated, but my seat was right across from the bathroom, which extended into the train car. So my 35-pound suitcase sat on my lap.

We arrive at the Auray train station at about 1 pm. Deborah met my wife, although they had spoken on Facebook. We meet Cyrille; he seems like a very nice guy.


We have a brief conversation about the rental car. I had written to Deborah the week before about the rental car she secured with my wife’s driver’s license and my credit card. She had briefly forgotten this detail since she’d done it around February 1. Then they had to meet other travelers.

We get something to eat at a local cafe and then go to the nearby Europcar place only a half block away. The car is a Peugeot; it has automatic transmission, but it takes my wife about ten minutes to suss out its operation.

Then we needed to figure out where our next hotel was. Initially, we can’t figure out the GPS and try a paper map. Ultimately, we get the GPS to work, though we don’t know how. The hotel is only a short distance away, but the GPS directs us to a path we can’t use because of road construction. The paper map then did the trick.

We relax and have dinner there.

May 18: My wife drove the 20 minutes/16 km to Erdeven. We were there to participate in the rehearsal for Deborah and Cyrille’s wedding. On April 25, she asked me to read scripture, Song of Songs, a/k/a Song of Solomon 2:10-13; 8:6-7. The book is so sexy that it only shows up in the church liturgy once every three years. “Set me as a seal upon thine heart” and “Many waters cannot quench love” are anthems our choir has sung. I agreed to this.

Plan B

Then on April 29, she wrote: “Yesterday I met with the Catholic priest…about placement at the wedding, and he told me that, in fact, we need FOUR people to bring the offerings to the altar: bread, wine, water AND two candle holders with candles.” So I instead switched to doing this with my wife. It’s like jazz; it’s all good.

But there wasn’t anything we needed to DO at the rehearsal except watch. Watson, the dog, accompanied by Deborah’s kids, will be the ring bearer.

Still, we got to attend the rehearsal luncheon and meet some new folks, a couple from Tennessee who are summering in Cyprus.

We return to our hotel for two hours before Deborah picks us up. She has planned an elaborate dinner on boats. Still, the meal prep is far behind schedule because of the significant festival that makes her getting to her apartment difficult.

Ultimately, we haul two bags each for four boats. One bag had chicken, beans, and potatoes; the other had plates, napkins, silverware, wine, and water.

Four people volunteered to operate the boats; they even had captain’s hats. I was NOT one of them. Deborah was trying to replicate a previous event she had experienced.  Unfortunately, it was far cooler and the water rougher.

Moreover, the tide was such that one boat got stuck in the mud. Ours almost did the same. Fortunately, Father Thomas was an experienced boatman in his youth and got us out. Igor, Ruth, my wife, and I were very grateful.

Deborah drove us back to our hotel after 11 pm/23:00.  She’s getting married in the morning…

Added in response to a question about the Church of St Peter St Paul via Google Translate: “Dating from 1755, the bell tower, all in granite, consists of a square tower surmounted by an octagonal part ending in a lantern. The aisles came to widen the nave from 1832, giving it its current appearance. On the gable of the south is leaned a cross whose granite base bears the date of 1851.” Thanks, Deborah!

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