|Karen's image from her blog, but also a happy memory! |
This week I had the pleasure of having lunch with my long time friend and co founder of Paris in July, Karen. Some of you may remember Karen at BookBath. While Karen's online presence changed directions a few years ago, she has stayed very engaged with our annual Paris in July event. Karen agreed to join this year, through this interview. I had fun posing the questions, I hope you enjoy our conversation.
T: 10 years ago you and I dreamed up Paris in July, do you remember why?
K: I remember we were both quite involved in our blogs then – we were loving the sense of community and connection we were having in that sphere and I think we wanted to try out adding our own burst of creativity and engagement!
T: in fact, Karen was a more experience blogger, and I was seeking her help to learn blogging. I'm so pleased we got together around our love of Paris. And Karen was very right in recalling our desire for that sense of community, which we did find here.
T: have you read any books based in Paris, or written by a french author, or about French things since the start of the Pandemic? and if so, what?
K: I have actually felt like a little bit of a traitor to the Parisian cause over the past 18 months or so as I have been fixated so much more on Italy – a country I love and can’t wait to visit for the first time – due to my 8 year old daughter’s obsession with this country because her name originates from there!
However, Instagram is still a huge source of Paris love for me. Accounts such as @aparisianmoment and @prettylilttleparis are places of escape and dreaming for me. I have also watched the French drama The Bureau The Bureau | Drama | SBS On Demand and have been completed taken in by it – I hope there is going to be another season!
T: have you watched any French series on netflix in the past few years?
K: I’m planning to watch The Parisian Agency – drooling over luxe property that I will never be able to afford is a fun pastime! The Parisian Agency: Exclusive Properties | Netflix Official Site
T: When were you last in the real Paris and what memories have you shared with your daughter about that trip? and why?
K: I’ve only been lucky enough to travel to Paris once (so far!) and I have the most special memories of my 3 precious days there. I was there in 2009 with my partner and my parents as part of a whirlwind trip we were doing to introduce my parents to the joys of overseas travel! I still remember driving into the city from the airport and just feeling complete awe and joy seeing the architecture, history and people appear before my eyes. It was love at first sight! My daughter is fascinated with other countries and cultures and loves hearing our travel stories. She is most impressed that we have had dinner in the Eiffel Tower
T: Coco Chanel once said "The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud..". What does this mean to you? and why did Coco say this?
K: Oh I love this quote! To me this quote is all about living and speaking your truth and joy – whatever that might be! I feel it is about being true to yourself and to (try) and not be afraid of sharing that truth with the wider world and those close to you. I think it is pure Coco Chanel if you think about the trailblazing path she took in terms of her career and life…
T: Georges Benjamin Clemenceau was a French politician, journalist, and physician. He served as Prime Minister of France during the First World War. He was one of the main architects of the 'Treaty of Versailles' at the 'Paris Peace Conference' after the First World War. Clemenceau adopted a very harsh stance against the vanquished Germany, and was able to force Germany for large sums for reparations. He is quoted as saying Liberty is the right to discipline ourselves in order not to be disciplined by others.
Knowing that you enjoy reading about contemporary politics, I was wondering what you think of this quote.
K: Wow! We are heading into some serious territory here!! I haven’t actually heard that quote from Clemenceau before but it is quite interesting reading it in the context of his known attitudes towards Germany after WW1 – he obviously didn’t feel that Germany had the right to liberty in that context! I feel that, unfortunately, there would be a lot of modern day politicians and parties who would agree with this quote – it feels to me as though it goes to the heart of a lot of the isolationist, self-involved, small minded politics that dominates most of the western world at the moment. The sense that we will do whatever we want – we will judge our actions and decisions and no outside force will be allowed to question that.
T: I know you love Monet - did you know he said this - “the more I live, the more I regret how little i know” ― Claude monet.... what does this say to you?
K: Another quote that I hadn’t heard of before – you are finding some great ones! It feels very “Monet” to me – a man who kept looking for more in terms of his work and his art – I don’t think he was ever going to be satisfied! I can kind of relate though – as I’m getting older I just keep finding more and more areas I would love to spend time learning about and engaging with but the realities of everyday life can get in the way!
T: Monet also said this - “It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” any thoughts on this?
K: I love this!! To me it speaks to the need for self-reflection in order to be able to grow and flourish. I’m a true social worker when it comes to constant self-reflection! Although – I do think we need to be able to balance this introspection with “just” living at times too…
T: did you read any French books when you were little? or did you read French stories to your daughter? which ones?
K: I honestly can’t remember reading any French books at all when I was little but Pia has had so many that she has loved and that we have read over and over again. Some adored favourites are:
Kiki & Coco in Paris | Thames & Hudson Australia & New Zealand (thamesandhudson.com.au)
A Walk in Paris - Books - Welcome to Walker Books Australia
ARMADILLO IN PARIS, AN | Brumby Sunstate
Pom Pom, Where are You? by Natalie Jane Prior (9780670075768) | Boomerang Books
T: there appear to me, two types of participants in Paris in July, those romantics who dream of Paris and all it might offer, and then there's those who know the real Paris. Which are you? and tell me a little more about what Paris means....
K: I am the complete romantic when it comes to Paris! I obviously haven’t lived there or engaged with the city in any lengthy, real way so it is a city and culture that mainly lives in my imagination and my heart. Paris represents beauty and creativity to me – things that I don’t always prioritise in my day-to-day, suburban Australian life – but which I would dearly love to!
Thank you so much for the chat Karen, I love your answers and to see that Paris still draws you in. I hope we get back there one day soon..