Today is the last day of summer. Autumn officially begins at 10:44 pm Paris time or 5:44 pm EST. Fall is not normally my favorite time of year as I tend to flourish in sunny spring and along with blossoming romance. Nevertheless, the goldy days of autumn do have other advantages and this year was to be different, for many reasons, though one in particular which should make be more enthused about encroaching season. As the foliage begins to change palettes, I will also be turning over a new leaf.
Those familiar with my blog or book might be wondering, “hmmm, why hasn’t La Tigresse talked about her latest conquests?” Some of you have possibly picked up the little hints I’ve left here and there about the whereabouts of my heart. This year I was not looking for summer romance. My heart was already caught up in a turbulent tornado, one that had sparked at the end of last year and had prevented me from getting into what had become my annual romantic mischief. Maybe that was its chief objective? No, the whole affair is certainly supposed to teach me some valuable lessons. The first one is commonly known though an incredibly hard one to acknowledge: we can’t change others, we can only change ourselves. If someone doesn’t want to do something, there is no point in waiting, attempting different tactics, getting upset, refusing defeat…
So instead of letting myself be buried under a pile of leaves, I’m officially turning over a new leaf with this shift into autumn. I prefer to be a deciduous tree, with renewing leaves, rather than a stubborn coniferous, with its prickly seemingly unchanging needles. And with that in mind I sought out a little inspiration for my new position in northwest of Paris.
French forest do not ablaze with vibrant color in September as do northern North American ones. However, some do go a goldy-yellow starting now through November with red creeping over the crawling vines clinging to many of the city’s walls. Of the best places in Paris in enjoy lovely fall strolls, I would have to choose Luxembourg Park, Place des Vosges or the Promenade Plantée. Though, today I thought I didn’t have enough energy to venture very far from Montmartre and there had to be some nice spots in the vicinity.
Doing some pre-outing research online, I stumbled across the song Les Feuilles Mortes, immortalized by countless French chanteurs (sung here by Yves Montand), yet its depressing lyrics weren’t really a good remedy for my melancholic spirit. Instead I next came upon Les Feuilles d’Automne by French mid-20th century composer Didier Barbelivien, which was oddly perfect, here are the first two verses:
Les feuilles d’automne The autumn leafs
Tombent dans mon dos Falling on my shoulders
Kensington Garden Kensington Garden
Ou parc Monceau Or Parc Monceau
Les feuilles d’automne de ma vie The autumn leaves of my life
Ne tombent jamais dans l’oubli Never fall into oblivion
Les feuilles d’automne The autumn leaves
Comme les photos Like photos
Ont jauni d’elles- mêmes Have also yellowed
Sur mon piano On my piano
Les feuilles d’automne d’Angleterre The autumn leaves of England
Sont les fleurs que je préfère Are the flowers that I prefer
In addition to the Parc Monceau, the song goes on to refer to Parc des Batignolles as well (read the full lyrics here), so I thought I would go check them out, making a call in at the Montmartre Cemetery (pictured above) which was en-route, I recalled from autumns past that its large chestnut trees lit up its peaceful laneways. I donned my bright red fall jacket and set out on my little mission.
Entering the imposing gates of the cemetery, I was almost tempted to tag along on a tour that was about to start, although I gravitated to the right and found the first of many colorful trees shading the serene final resting place of Edgar Degas, Francois Truffaut, Dalida and Emile Zola (well, that’s what was intended before he was moved to the Pantheon). More a place for lonely hearts rather than happy ones, it was suitable for today, the trees were not completely painted, but they should be the perfect siena gold in a few weeks.
I then meandered through the 17th arrondissement to the Parc des Batignolles. A hidden gem of this rather sleepy district, the park and its surroundings are the most exciting part of the dix-septième. I even passed a bobo brocante outdoor market, zigzagging through the stalls for the entrance to the park. It was here that I found the nicest variety of foliage on my little mission, with some rusty oranges and various hues of yellow. This park was more uplifting and fitting for the mature lovers or hearts on the mend (I’ll have to come back soon).
My final stop, the Parc Monceau, did not disappoint. One of the most regal parks in the Paris, built for the pleasures of the newly established aristocrats of the 8th arrondissement in the 18th/19th centuries, it is still much loved by the residents of the northwest. Its leaves were just on the verge of the first shades of autumn, though more lively color was coming from the spirit of its visitors: cheerful children, picnicking groups of friends and lounging lovers.
The energy managed to bolster my spirits a little. See, autumn does not have to be a sad decline into the cool depths of winter, it is, after all, the moment of letting go of the dead past to make way for a new future… why can’t it official start now?… and moreover it’s just autumn in the northern hemisphere… spring is beginning in the south, perhaps my next stroll with be a bit further?