"Leslie Lewis et Gérard Hagen" Bonjour de Paris 24 Juillet 2019
Bonjour de Paris ...
So we are back in Paris after a week in Italy. This trip was a birthday present for Leslie and she made the absolute most of it beginning with doing a ton of research on locations, accommodations and with things to do in the area. She decided that she wanted to see Lake Como and so we made the arrangements to make that happen. She was able to direct our activities based on all of the reading that she had done in preparation for the trip. Based on the amount of time that we have spent traveling to gigs, we became very good traveling companions a long time ago, but I think we are even better at vacationing together. To that end, we had a great time visiting that area of Italy. The weather was forecast to be rainy for most of the time that we were to be there. As it turned out there was only a little rain one afternoon and it was a welcome cool down from the afternoon sun. Beyond that, it rained hard once overnight. The rest of the time was sunny and a bit on the warm side. We stayed in a beautiful villa in Varenna enjoying a private terrace and a pool, both with unbelievable views of the lake. We used the pool every afternoon to cool down after spending the day visiting the charming villages that surround the lake. It was easy to get around the lake by ferry. We spent the most time in the villages of Bellagio and Menaggio. Pretty much everywhere we looked at any given time there was something charming, beautiful or even stunning to see. The food in Italy is by and large delicious. Even the one night when we decided to cook pasta dinner at the villa was great. We heard two concerts (an R&B band and a remake of "Birth Of The Cool") which were held in the village square on the steps of a church that was a few minutes walk from where we stayed. The R&B concert was very well done. It was a Zucchero Fornaciari tribute band (he no longer performs). Having lived in Europe for seven years now even we recognized some of his music. Lisa Hunt, an American singer now living in Australia, was the featured guest artist. She did a couple of Aretha tunes in a way that really captivated the audience. The "Birth Of The Cool" concert was another matter. I was very influenced by that recording in my college years and it is a classic. So it is incumbent when one tries to "update" that music that they do it with a clear understanding of what that music is! Sadly this was not the case and while I applaud the effort, I would have preferred that they had played the music as it was originally written. Both concerts were sponsored by the village of Varenna and were free to the public. Our travel which included planes, trains and taxis was thankfully uneventful. Often I have noticed that upon our return to Paris after being away for a week or more I have a tinge of excitement. I love to see the city, the cafes, the lights, the Seine, and to feel the energy of Paris.
Lake front in Varenna, Italy.
View from the terrace in "our" villa, Varenna, Italy.
Courtyard in Milan, Italy.
We enjoyed a great dinner at this restaurant in Milan. It was a good way to start our vacation.
View of Lake Como in Bellagio, Italy.
Nun plays with children in Menaggio, Italy.
Rock concert in front of a church in Varenna, Italy.
Sign indicating the home of Franz Liszt in Bellagio, Italy.
We have great news in that we received our Titres de Séjour (residency permits), so July of 2019 begins another four years of legal residence. With them comes Cartes de Séjour which are often necessary to pair with our passports when we travel to prove that we are legal residents of France. Since the previous ones expired last April and our temporary ones expired July 15th, as the time for our Italian vacation was nearing, we became a little concerned that we would not have valid credentials. As it happened they had the Cartes de Séjour ready on a Friday morning (three days before our flight), so off we went to the Prefecture to get them.
Beautiful garden in the front yard of a home in Menaggio, Italy.
Leslie enjoys a lakeside dinner in Varenna, Italy.
Entrance to a home in Bellagio, Italy.
Gerard enjoying the pool in the villa.
View to Lake Como Varenna, Italy.
View from the villa Varenna, Italy.
Stairway from the lake front to the village in Varenna, Italy.
Lakeside Varenna, Italy.
Sunset on Lake Como our last night in Varenna, Italy.
At the end of June we did a concert in the gardens of the U.S. Embassy in Paris. It was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first moon walk. We were a part of a ten piece R&B band comprised of American musicians living in Paris. We played mostly Motown music that was current roughly around the time frame of the Apollo 11 mission. There was an Army rock band there and a very cool re-creation of an astronaut doing a space walk which happened after dark. It was a good band and it was great fun to play that music.
Load in and set up for the concert at the U.S. Embassy, Paris.
Backstage looking toward the audience in the gardens of U.S. Embassy, Paris.
Another shot from backstage U.S. Embassy, Paris.
Three singers Leslie, Crystal & Keri, waiting to be guest artists with the U.S. Army Band which is on stage behind them. Dig the red, white and blue dresses!
This year we stayed home and watched the Bastille Day, 14th of July, celebration on TV. The main celebration in Paris is located around the Eiffel Tower. There is a symphony concert which lasts for several hours followed by the fireworks which begin after sunset. The fireworks are located on and around the tower and are timed to match a soundtrack. It is really an unbelievable show. https://youtu.be/i5n74Cz7GnA
We are having a quiet summer regarding work. It has been good for us to be at home more in order to do the things that get put off when we are too busy doing other work. Next month we are very happy to be making our annual trek to the lovely summer home of our friend Lois in La Baule, France. This year we have more time there than usual so we are looking forward to many great BBQ's, conversations over a glass of wine, afternoons at the beach or reading in the garden and Leslie's favorite... swimming in the Côte de Sauvage (savage coast). The Côte de Sauvage is like the beach areas north of San Francisco. I have to mention that I have been asked to do a few solo piano dates at the Hotel Lutetia in Paris next month. It will require that I take a train back and forth to Paris from La Baule which will interrupt my time with Lois and our other friends there. But it is a very good opportunity for me that I hope will lead to regular work there next year. In the fall, Leslie has some dates in Paris and will be on the road with Rhoda Scott. I am looking forward to more piano trio dates in Paris. We are very happy to have both been asked to do another jazz cruise next spring. This cruise will again be in the Mediterranean Sea but will go to different ports including Istanbul, Sardinia, Corsica, and Greece. I didn't think I would be saying this anytime soon, but it looks like we will be traveling back to Belarus later this year so there is much to look forward to... and to rest up for.
Promo poster for the up coming jazz cruise this spring.
For those of you in Paris or if you’re planning to visit in the remaining weeks of summer, here is our rather sparse July and August schedule.