“Impressions de France” – by Debbie Ambrous

b14Mid-afternoon on a beautiful June day, we were seated on a boat ready to glide down the Seine, craning our necks for the best views of some of the most beautiful architecture in the world.b4  We never took the boat rides in Paris previously, choosing to spend more time in museums and gardens instead.  Expectation was higher with this delightful excursion delayed until a later day.  I will admit that I was influenced by the film shown in Epcot at Disney World in Orlando.  Have you seen the wonderful show “Impressions de France” on the 200-degree screen in the Palais du Cinema?

Once the audience is seated in front of the velvet curtains with ornate trimmings, a French lady in costume addresses the group with a few words in her language and presents the movie.  The curtain slides open to show a waterway in the countryside with deep woods on each side.  The music is gently flowing, and the movement is peaceful, promising the beauty that lies ahead.  Those settled into seats are rewarded with magnificent scenes of France, from Provence to Brittany, and stirring music to accompany every emotion on the screen.  The music alone is grand.  (Ask for a list of the music at the desk outside the theater.)

b9b2Paris is the outstanding finale, just as in our trip to France.  A romantic, young couple is shown standing on a boat for a ride at night with powerful beams of light playing across the ancient buildings and bridges of Paris.  Happiness and glorious hopes for tomorrow wrap the audience into the scene as the music surges.  The young lady with long black hair, wearing a white dress leans close to the handsome young man laughing the laughter of love.  Every time I see her in the movie I think she looks so much like a friend who worked with me many years ago.  She had the same dark hair, dimples in her flawless skin and a deep laugh of contentment.  Maybe I will tell you someday about the Mary Kay makeup party where I was seated next to her.  “Debbie, the eyeliner is too thick.  You really can’t wear that color.  No, not that one either.”  b6 No looking at the mirror on the afternoon of our boat excursion to check my messy makeup; forgetting my image, I enjoyed the ripples of the waves of the river with the bright blue flag flapping in the breeze and announcing our excitement.

It seemed that only sunny days would shine for my friend Patricia, the sweet lady with the beautiful face and happy disposition.  Then, tragically, her husband died in a plane crash.

When the embracing lovers on the Parisian boat at Epcot pass under the bridge into the darkness, I always think of my friend.  I hope she is happy now with her full laugh, deep inside, like music to those around her – wherever she may be.

b16With all of this as a preamble, how could a tourist boat compare?  Where was the musical score with the orchestra soaring at just the right moment?  Floating under the bridges didn’t hold the same excitement.  Hundreds of balloons were not released into the air on cue with the soundtrack.

b7Why did I think these thoughts when Paris was all around me, literally to touch, feel and smell with its own theatrics and special effects?  Do you get caught up in the past instead of being in the present?  Hope I’m not alone.

I looked around at the group of strangers, some seemingly bored and others punching keys on their smart phones instead of observing their surroundings.  I looked down and saw hairy legs.  No, not mine!!  I wore purple leggings with boots to the knee and my flashy gold and silver jacket to celebrate Paris in style. A few of the fellow passengers were standing and staggering around – just like on the bus.  I thought maybe I should move up front and sit near the driver, just to alert him so he didn’t run into anything, like the bus driver.  Now that’s what I call really being in the moment!!

3 thoughts on ““Impressions de France” – by Debbie Ambrous

  1. Nice vignette Debbie! The next time, you’ll download the music score on your ipod to accompany your excursion!
    I love seeing all those river barges on the Seine in your final picture – I’ve always dreamed about living on a boat on the Seine; even entertained purchasing one once… back when I was young and single! It was a tiny two-man affair, basically big enough for two mini people who REALLY like eachothers company. My parents nearly had a heart attack at the idea – somehow, they just couldn’t see the romance in their twenty-something year old daughter walking along the river bank in the dark of night to get home to her miniature and highly vunerable river boat! SO that was the end of that!

    We’re looking forward to posting your ‘Beauties of Marseilles’ snippet on our blog this week. You had us all laughing out loud!

    Louise Taylor-Scott

    • Louise,
      I can see your parents’ concern about a young daughter alone in the dark on the riverside. I understand the romantic idea of living on a boat also. We knew a young couple who lived on a catamaran for a “short time” when we lived in Florida. You notice that it was a short time. They went back to real life in Kentucky when they tired of the notion. I also thought of renting a self-drive barge for holiday only, but after reading on that subject I thought we might fall into the canal and drown! I loved reading “Just Imagine: A New Life on an Old Boat” and “Sailing to Jessica”. Both are available on Amazon and Kindle. Great reads!
      I’m looking forward to seeing my little story on your website: http://www.iloveparis life.com You do such a great job that you can probably make even me look good! Thanks for your kind comments!

  2. You’re right Debbie, from a distance the tourist boat doesn’t seem to compare to the romantic ideal.

    But I so love the views from the river I don’t mind looking so like a tourist. When I’m on the boat, the boat itself is no longer the focus. I imagine the architects of those fine buildings scheming how impressive their work will appear to all who sail by. I wonder what they would think of these tourist boats?

    I’m stuck in the past!

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