A vast university

The Louvre at night, August 2005

“The whole of Paris is a vast university of Art, Literature and Music… it is worth anyone’s while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in everything.” 
James Thurber

People who love Paris and didn’t love school might not agree with Thurber, but I connected with his description immediately.  Or in the words of Joni Mitchell, “…in Paris, I felt unfettered and alive.” The idea of dallying there for years sounds very appealing to me, not least for the chance to practice speaking and hearing one of the world’s most beautiful languages.

I heard a lot of bad press about Paris before I finally went there in 2005, but none of the negative stories turned out to be true.  For me, it was one of the most enchanting places I’d ever been.  And besides all the things Thurber lists, there’s the FOOD…

Where do you dream of being able to “dally for years?”

One year ago today:

A place once visited


  1. I have never been to Paris, but from what photographs, movies and TV it seems to be a beautiful country, with a romantic language, just one of the languages I would like to be able to speak. I’ve been to Italy, loved it there. Loving people, delicious food, pastries and wine, not to mention the fresh fruit. Ireland is another place I have had the pleasure to visit. They are a fun loving people, and have the most quaint family friendly pubs. That being said I would have to say that I would prefer to “daily for years.” Where ever my children and grandchildren reside. Home is where the heart is :o)….

    • Patricia, I agree totally that home is hard to beat. Having said that, I’d love to go to Ireland someday, and hope to make it back to Italy. And Paris, and other daydreams…

  2. Ann

    I’m humming I love Paris in the springtime….

    • Yes, I do that often myself. Matt learned that song from his voice teacher in CA, and during the months he had to practice it, I got my fill of it. But it does tend to get stuck in the mental jukebox, especially when thinking of Paris.

  3. Julia,
    Inviting you to my blog. I’ve posted a Father’s Day Tribute. Just in case you are not a follower, go to http://www.amlifcar41.wordpress.com
    A Happy Father’s Day to those who are among your loved ones.

    • Alan, thanks for the link to your blog — I really enjoyed reading about your father. I do follow your blog but can seldom get to my blog reader lately and I miss a lot of great posts. I laughed when I read your memories about the drive-in; our parents did just the opposite – the kids piled in the back of the station wagon (all wearing pajamas) and Daddy popped up a huge batch of popcorn in our skillet and put it in a brown grocery bag – then when we got to the drive in we would eat popcorn and then go to sleep while Mom and Dad watched Doris Day and Rock Hudson. So it sounds as if your folks gave you the best seats for watching the movies – what fun!

  4. Hello , Julia. Lovely photo. I’ve not been to Paris but I would too.

    • Merry, I hope you can make it there someday. I think it’s a very beautiful city.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, I think of places like Hawaii, Monaco, Paris,and then closer to home… our beautiful United States. When Bill retires we hope to put our “tin condo” on the road. Dinah Shore sang in a commercial many, many years ago, “See the USA in your Chevrolet.” I digress! 🙂
    That really is Raynard’s signature phrase!

    • Sheila, Raynard must feel like a real trend-setter when he reads all of us citing him when we say “I digress.” But I was digressing long before I knew what to call it! 😀 I think it used to be called “scatterbrained” when I would go off on tangents. It drives Jeff crazy how I keep changing my own subject. 😀 I do remember that commercial but I didn’t realize it was Dinah Shore. “Take a break today, see the USA, and see it in your Chevrolet!” I hope you will bring your tin condo our way! We aren’t too terribly far.

      • Sheila

        Julia, I could easily “daydream” as a little girl. I guess that would be diagnosed as ADD today. Isn’t everything diagnosed? 🙂 I better get my map and push pins, if they still make them! That would be a great stop….and fun! 🙂

        • Sheila, I’ve often thought that about myself. When I was in second grade my kindly (old) teacher kept telling my mother I needed to have my hearing checked because she couldn’t understand why I did not always respond when she called on me (of course I was just zoned out in a book or other daydream). My mother knew me well enough to know that was the problem, but she eventually did get my hearing checked and it was above average 😀 – no surprise to her. I have been called a “space cadet” more than once, but I’m glad I lived before everything was being diagnosed – I would probably have had several!! 😀 Re the map and the push pins, I always wanted to do that – one color for where I’d been, one for where I’d been more than once, one for where I wanted to go, and one for where I’d been and REALLY, REALLY wanted to go again!

  6. Bon nuit mon ami! I couldn’t agree more. Paris was one of those places that actually lived up to my dreamy expectations. I only wish we could have stayed longer. I remember stepping off the elevator onto the viewing deck of Eiffel and gasped. “WOW, we’re really here!” It was how I imagine little kids feel the first time they arrive at Disneyland. The only city better than Paris is Paris at night. If I could dally for years, I too would choose Paris. I have a whole series recorded (for those dark winter months), called ‘Paris Next Stop’. A Francaphone Journalist from Canada travels via subway through Paris and reports what to see and do at each stop. She translates all to english, so anyone can enjoy the program. From Bistro’s to galleries to bookstores to coffee shops to gardens, you get a personal tour. It awesome!

    • Sounds like a series I would like. If I ever had the chance to spend a month or more in Paris I would have to do some serious math to figure out how many croissants I could eat each day based on how many miles I would need to walk. Maybe it’s my imagination but I have never tasted a croissant anywhere that was as good as the ones there. I would be tempted to spend all my time sipping tea and eating croissants. Good thing there are so many sublime strolls there to lure me away from the table. It is such a beautiful city and so walkable. Someday I hope to visit in the spring which is so legendary.

  7. Spring in Paris would be glorious. I bought a water colour painting in Paris. It’s a view of the city and Eiffel in the spring. I got a photo with the artist too. We weren’t there in the spring but I loved the colours so much more than the fall views he had also painted. Silly me, I wish I’d bought more art while we were there. Beautiful, one of a kind originals from unknown artists at such good prices. I guess I’ll have to go back 😉 I sometimes have croissants at my Aunty Kathleen’s hen party (once a month lunch and gab session), they are sinful but so yummy. Of course they taste better in Parish, oh la la….everything does.

    • If I ever get back to Paris I might need to take an extra bag to bring back more stuff next time. Of course mostly what I bring back is photos, which have the advantage (especially now that it’s all digital) of taking up very little room. But I’d love to browse those stalls along the Seine and know that I could pick up a few treasures to bring home. Plus prowl the Monoprix on the left bank and pick up all sorts of packaged snacks. Even the instant soup tasted better there – could be my imagination but that’s good enough for me!

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