NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments! and often have guest bloggers.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Marcelle Dube . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Paris and Other Pleasures - A Pretty Good Year So Far

My trip to Paris was spectacular and, if I remember correctly, I promised to tell you all about it. If I didn’t, just brace yourself because I’ve hardly had any other subject of conversation since!


I flew into Frankfurt where The Husband came in to meet me, and we spent one night in Landsthul (where he is stationed) before taking the ICE train to Paris. It’s a high speed train, doing the trip from Saarbrucken in just barely over three hours, but there’s not much sense of ultra high speed.


Paris is everything you’d expect it to be – crowded and fancy and plain and modern and belle époque and… well, you get the idea. There’s no one word to describe Paris but magical. It’s hard to believe that people go to school and get jobs and work every day and cook dinner and shop for mundanities and walk their dogs in such a magical place, but they do. Although we tend to have an idealized view of it, Paris is a city, a living organism like any other city. It’s just prettier.


We stayed at the Cercle National des Armees – the French military officers’ club – and a treat it was. Beautiful, with lots of marble and gilt and red carpets and two floors of dining/party rooms… almost every night there was some sort of ‘do’ there, with men in fancy uniforms and women in long dresses – and lots of soldiers carrying great big guns! The elevators were tiny, about half the size of a card table – two adults and two rolling suitcases would not fit in one! Made for some fun ‘getting close’ moments, though.


We took the Metro everywhere, and although you can get almost everywhere using the Metro, it can involve changing trains several times. You can generally depend on using at least three staircases per train change. Parisians may be flatlanders, but they have the souls and legs of mountain goats!


We spent a day at the Louvre and only saw a part of it. We spent a long day at Versailles, and a few hours extra in the town itself when we got lost. We saw Napoleon’s tomb and the war museums at Les Invalides. The Husband opted for WWI and WWII – I chose Napoleonic, and was startled to find that they had Napoleon’s horse there! Apparently when he died the Emperor had him stuffed, and he’s been hanging around ever since. Now he’s a little shabby and moth-eaten, but for something almost 200 years old, he looks pretty good.


We spent a day at Notre Dame, going from the archaeological crypt beneath, where there are paving stones from pre-Roman Paris, to the top of the cathedral towers. At least, The Husband did. The tower tour involves over 1,000 steps up and down, and I don’t do steps well. I found a little sidewalk café, had a café au lait and a pain au chocolate and acted like I belonged there.


We did tour the cathedral itself together. Our plan had been to reaffirm our vows to each other in the church, but the building was so crowded you could hardly breathe. I do mean, elbow to elbow, and if you stopped walking, your heels were instantly trod upon. Finally we found a tiny space behind a huge pillar and squeezed in there, where we said what was important to us. Not at all the way we had planned it, but still a moment I will always treasure.


We walked in the Tuilleries Gardens and spent an evening on the Eiffel Tower, watching the sky turn red with the sunset, then blue with the dusk and then seeing the lights coming on all over the city and finally the ‘sparkle’ lights on the tower itself. We toured the Arc de Triomphe and, when we came down, were fortunate enough to watch some unfamiliar official lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There were all kinds of military brass around, and politicians, and the Army band, and photographers… don’t know who the official was, or what was said, but it was wonderful pageantry!


We walked the Champs Elysees and photographed the Egyptian obelisk that is called Cleopatra’s Needle and, because it was cold, dashed into the closest place for coffee. The closest place was the fabled Hotel du Crillon – luxurious and simply smells of money. Their coffee shop is a tastefully appointed sitting room with marble and brocade and perfectly trained waiters. The coffee was delicious, too.


Also, in the spirit of public service I must say that in all my recent travels in Europe I have yet to find a king-sized bed. Their version is two twins shoved together. It’s fairly comfortable for sleeping, but be warned that if you find yourself and your beloved attempting some of the more exuberant joys of marriage, the beds can separate and give you a nasty surprise which instantly ruins the mood. Just a word of warning….


When our magical trip was over, we returned to Landsthul and I spent a few more days in Germany while we tried to see some of the things we missed at Christmas because of the record snows. That was enjoyable, too, but it wasn’t Paris. On the other hand, I was with The Husband, and that alone makes it magic.


So does this have anything to do with writing? I hope. First of all, remember my last post, where I postulated that EVERYTHING has to do with writing. I took pictures like a fiend – some 4,000, I think; thank goodness electrons are cheap! I made acres of notes and there were times my brain seemed flooded with ideas. For example, I saw a youngish (30ish?) couple arguing fiercely in the middle of a huge boulevard as the traffic whizzed around them. (Crossing the streets in Paris is a completely different discipline from here!) Why were they fighting so intensely, and in the middle of a busy street no less? I can think of several storylines right off the top of my head.


Versailles Palace – a veritable hotbed of potential stories, both ancient and modern. Same with Notre Dame, and the archaeological crypt beneath positively vibrated with ideas. Everywhere you look there is the potential for a story.


But – you want to know the real truth? Even though I heartily recommend the trip, you don’t have to go to Paris to find the potential for a story. That lurks all around you, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Paris is probably more fun, though!


Now, I have babbled on much too long, but I have one more nugget of news. Just a couple of days ago my editor gave me the welcome news that Carina wants my new book – a traditional gothic now called DARK SUN, though that is subject to change. This is my third sale to Carina.


Yes, as my title said, it’s been a pretty good year so far.


Next time I promise to write more about writing and less about traveling. Maybe.


Janis Patterson

13 comments:

Wynter Daniels said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip! I went as a child and still remember some highlights, like Notre Dame and of course, the Eiffel Tower. I hope you got lots of great pictures and many story ideas.

MaureenAMiller said...

Congratulations on the new novel, Janis!

What a wonderful trip. Thank you so much for letting us live vicariously. :) I think I would have been floored to see Napoleon's horse is still around!

Anne Marie Becker said...

Paris is on my bucket list. Though I've been lucky to go to many countries, I haven't made it to France yet. Thanks for the preview! :)

Though you don't have to go anywhere to generate fabulous story ideas, I think traveling has the wonderful side-effect of recharging the brain. I find my mind open to new possibilities when I get "out of my box." Sometimes a trip to the local coffee shop does that. Sometimes I convince my husband it's time for some time at the beach. (I know, I have to do some arm-twisting on that last one. LOL)

Congrats on the new contract!!

Janis Patterson said...

Thanks to all of you for commenting - yes, it was a wonderful trip.

Wynter, I did get lots of pictures (me, about 4,000, The Husband maybe twice that) and so many ideas... (so many ideas, so little time...)

Maureen, I was floored to see the horse. Sort of see the horse. He's in the back of the Napoleonic area in a narrow hallway - another 10 feet and he'd be in the men's restroom! - and the lights were burnt out. No one could get them on. My pictures are dark, but he's there, all right. At least the dim light is kind to the ravages left by the moth's tooth...

Anne Marie, just go! Paris is a place everyone should visit at least once - and the great frustration is that you can't see everything. We were there 6 days, went constantly and our 'to see' list is still longer than our 'seen' list. I have a friend who lived there for a year because of her job and she complains because she didn't get to see all she wanted!

Thanks for y'all's kind words about the new book - I am so very excited!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Janis, what a wonderful trip report! Congratulations on managing to find a private moment for you and your husband in Notre Dame, and congratulations on your latest sale to Carina.

Toni Anderson said...

We took the kids last year when we were living in Brittany. It was brilliant. So glad you found a moment in Notre Dame. If we'd have been there the kids would have been spinning madly :) No romance but lots of love.

Kathy Ivan said...

Congratulations on the latest sale! What great news.

I'm glad the trip was a wonderful experience, and getting to share the city of Paris with the one you love . . . what could be better than that?

But, we are glad your back safe and sound. :-)

Elise Warner said...

Paris-time in a wonderful city and inspiring moments. My husband and I went to see Napoleon's Tomb and somehow I got locked in a bethroom stall. I received instructions in beacoup languages on how to get the door open. Never saw the horse.

Janis Patterson said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Marcelle.

Toni, I didn't know you had lived in Brittany! You must post something about it. I've always wanted to go there. And - I think love is romance; romance is just a little fancier.

Paris is wonderful, Kathy. You must go someday, if you haven't already been. Thanks for the congratulations.

Elise, I'm not even going to ask how you got caught in a toilet stall - I can just see it showing up as a scene in a book, though... As for Napoleon's horse, he isn't in the Les Invalides building proper. Just behind it is the Musee des Armies (or something like that) - it's a huge museum with many, many different areas. Napoleon's horse is there. The Musee and the Invalides (part of which still functions as an old soldiers' nursing home) are on the same campus and only a short walk apart.

Rita said...

OMG! Memories! Separating beds in Madrid. Giggling like crazy in tiny elevators when they was an elevator. Falling asleep on the batobus on the Seine.
Glad you had a wonderful time.

Janis Patterson said...

Thanks, Rita - sounds like you had a pretty good time yourself!

Shirley Wells said...

What a fantastic trip you had and thanks so much for sharing. I loved every word and I'm amazed to know that Napoleon's horse is still around. I guess we'll all be looking a bit shabby and moth-eaten if we're around in 200 years. :)

Congrats on DARK SUN!

Clare London said...

What a marvellous trip you had! I've visited Paris a couple of times and have always been impressed by how beautiful - and big! - the city is. And you're so right, that everywhere we go has impact on our writing and ideas.

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