April in Paris, by Rich Paschall
One April early in the 21st millennium, I actually was in Paris. I thought it would be exciting, even a bit romantic. I am not sure my travel companion saw it in the same light. Although he had never been out of the country before, he did not seem overly excited about the trip, much to my chagrin.
At the time I was working for a freight company that had acquired a nice collection of gifts for Christmas. Since they did not have something for everyone, they raffled off the gifts they had. The top prizes were the airline tickets. Of course I had hoped to win the Air France vouchers, but doubted it could be so with such a large group. There were other nice prizes and I would have been happy with any of them. When they called my name for the tickets, I thought it could not be true and it must have been for some other prize. I was delighted to receive the top prize.
There were not really many blackout dates, but you were not allowed to cash the vouchers long in advance. This allowed the summer flights to sell out before you had a chance to claim the date. Being afraid we wouldn’t find a suitable date if we waited too long, we decided on late April. We hoped for small crowds and good weather. We got one of the two.
Frommer’s Guide to Paris was an invaluable resource, not just for the hotel, but also for how to get around the city. We also found the best ways to visit the main tourist sites. With a little planning and a lot of luck, we were on our way. We learned how to get from Charles De Gaulle airport to our hotel in the St. Germain neighborhood. The location was ideal as the metro was nearby.
Our tiny room had a small balcony which looked out on the old Paris street. The room had a tiny refrigerator which allowed us to stash a few items to save on all the expensive restaurant meals. A small grocery store nearby was a welcome site for a few essentials.
The first night we made it in the rain to a small restaurant nearby. I spoke no French at the time and the people at the restaurant spoke no English. We were not certain what we ordered, but we started with French Onion soup which was nothing like the French Onion soup you get here. The broth was clear and the onions were fresh. It was great. I do not recall what beef dish I had; I do recall it was quite good.
In the few days we were there we saw the Eiffel Tower and actually went to the top of it. We also saw Notre Dame, St. Germain des Pres, Versailles, the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa, the Cathedral at Chartres and many wonderful local spots. Despite the cold and damp weather most of the time, it was April in Paris! What could be better?
In honor of this delightful little memory, I have our top 5 April songs. I wanted to give you 10 songs as always, but I could not think of that many.
5. The April Fools, Burt Bacharach, Hal David. The theme is from the movie of the same name. In the film, Jack Lemmon meets the married Catherine Deneuve and decides to run off with her to Paris. In this instrumental version, the pictures of Paris do not come up until 15 seconds in. As Neil Patrick Harris might say, “Wait for it.”
4. April Love, Pat Boone. This theme is from a movie that starred Pat Boone and Shirley Jones. The song was nominated for an Academy Award and was a big hit for Boone.
3. April Showers, Al Jolson. The old vaudevillian debuted this song in 1921 on Broadway. He recorded it a few times, including a recording for a film of his life story in 1946. Here he plays in Soldier Field, Chicago in 1949. The aging Jolson still delivers! He died the following year.
2. April Come She Will, Simon and Garfunkel. The song was recorded for the album Sounds of Silence in 1965 and released in 1966. Here it is performed in the historic Central Park concert.
1. April in Paris, Ella Fitzgerald. The Count Basie hit has been recorded by many. This early Ella Fitzgerald version helped to popularize the song.