Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Falling for Paris

"In an old house in Paris, covered in vines
Lived 12 little girls in two straight lines . . ."
~ From Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

I remember sitting in the last seat in the middle row of the classroom, and I remember waiting excitedly for the teacher to read us a few pages of Madeline. I imagine we were in first or second grade, although I remember Sr. Marguerite reading the book to us.  On that point, though, I know my memory is faulty because Marguerite taught fifth grade, and she was not the type to read such books (or any books, for that matter) to us.

As you may recall, the Madeline books are the stories of Madeline, a little French girl who lives in a boarding school in Paris with 11 other girls.  More than anything, I remember the book's cover (above) and a number of illustrations within, and while I remember the first two lines of the book, I recall very little of the stories.

At any rate, I think that the Madeline books were my introduction to France and Paris as I don't remember hearing about them before then.  Since I don't remember too much of the stories, I'm sure the illustrations fascinated me more than anything.  The Eiffel Tower. The tree-lined boulevard.  The Arc d'Triomphe.  I'm pretty sure I stared at the cover photo and dreamed about climbing the tower.

We went to the tower when we were in Paris 10 years ago, and I don't remember the setting around it being like the one on the Madeline cover.  We did climb to the second level of the tower, and the view was phenomenal.  I have to say that when I was a child I most likely thought that climbing the tower would be fun, but I can attest to the fact that hiking up 675 steps and then back down 675 steps is neither easy nor fun to a 40-something, asthmatic, out-of-shape adult. When we go there this year, I'll be climbing the metal behemoth via  an elevator.

I'm also going to look for that tree-lined boulevard.  Hopefully I'll see two straight lines of 12 little girls.

Next time:  The Next Big Thing

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