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Best Paris movies, books and music of 2011

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Paris Pont Alexandre III
The view from the Pont Alexandre III in Paris is heartbreakingly beautiful. Photos by Theadora Brack.

By Theadora Brack in Paris—

According to my movie producer pal, George, the world boils down to two basic categories: the best and the worst. Anything in between isn’t worth talking about. Mediocrity is a crime, he often quips. As you can well imagine, his dinner parties in Paris are always quite lively, dramatic and informative.

So as a nod to my opinionated crony, I’ve decided to round out 2011 with a list of my favorite Paris-related music, movies and books. By George, this one is for you, Cheapos.

Without further adieu, here’s my Ab Fab, crème de la crème raves. Envelope, please!

Best Music Video
“Someone Like You” by Adele

Adele pont-ificates on Pont Alexandre III. Click to watch the video.

Shot in black and white by director Jake Nava, Adele’s “Someone Like You” video is an epic weepie. Both Adele and the Pont Alexandre III have never looked more gorgeous. Try watching this moody-bluesy breakup song without crying, singing along, and then hitting repeat. I’ve tried but no can do. In the video, your eye will spy the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Palais, Les Invalides and the Place de la Concorde.

Tip: Admire Adele’s trench coat in black with its sassy asymmetrical zipper? I do, too. The military-inspired garb was created for Moschino’s 2010 runway collection. Bittersweet, they’re no longer available. So what to do? In Montmartre, the Sympa bargain bin shops are now pushing funky trench coats for just €5. Rebounding just got easier (and cheaper!).

Charlie Winston dans le Metro. Click to watch the video.

Bonus tracks: I also enjoyed charming Charlie Winston’s terribly infectious “Like a Hobo” video, shot in the Abbesses Métro station. Hello, Charlie, goodbye heart!

Best Song
“I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” by Morrissey

Moving on to a more upbeat breakup song (at least musically!), “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” caught my ear earlier this year around St. Valentine’s Day. Penned by Morrissey and Boz Boorer, how did I miss this catchy tune when it was released back in 2009? Your bet is as good as mine. An ode to Oscar Wilde, it has not left my playlist, and probably never will. Yes, I’ve made myself plain. I’ve made myself very plain.

The Importance of Cleaning Earnest: Wilde's grave is closed for repairs.

Tip: And speaking of dashing Wilde, his grave at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise is temporarily indisposed. Shrouded in blue plastic, the memorial sculpture is undergoing a scrubbing because through the years, incurable romantics have gone wild romancing the stone with lipstick prints, and their chemicals have started to take a toll. Work will take place until spring 2012.

Still, there’s plenty to see here inside the cemetery gates. Visit Chopin, Modigliani and Proust, along with crooners like Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison.

Best Movie
“Midnight in Paris”

Yes, Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” film was a tad hokey pokey in places, but I fell gladly for it. But that’s how I roll down the cobblestones in Paris, in my new bobbed hairdo, inspired by Marion Cotillard’s flapper character in the flick. Fantasizing about time travel now makes my heart swell. Larger than life, Yves Heck as Cole Porter was simply divine. Why, why do I love Paris? (Because it sizzles anytime of the year.)

Take a spin on the Musee des Arts Forains bicycle carousel.

Bonus tracks: This year, I also enjoyed PBS’s “The Luminous Years” documentary and Nora Ephron’s “Julie and Julia” film from 2010. Both are worth a checkout.

Top Tip: You, too, can ride the amazing bicycle carousel featured in “Midnight in Paris.” Just reserve a tour of the Musée des Arts Forains (the museum of carnival art) by emailing: diane@pavillons-de-bercy.com. The entire museum is one of the most amazing, unsung sites in Paris.

This magical place is located near the Les Pavillons de Bercy at 53 avenue des Terroirs de France (12th arrondissement). Unlike most museums, they allow visitors to play with the items on display. No white gloves needed! If you plan to visit Paris in 2012, don’t miss it. Holy, moly—it’s bucket list-worthy.

Best Books

I have more than a slew of them up my sleeve. As one of the Paris Correspondents at EuroCheapo, I’m always on the hunt for research books about France. Here are my favorite reads from the year. Some are old and some are new. All were fabulous and of great, great use.

“A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition,” by Ernest Hemingway, Sean Hemingway and Patrick Hemingway (2010)

“Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife,” by Gioia Diliberto (2011)

“Paris: The Secret History,” by Andrew Hussey (2008)

“Paris: Journey into the City of Light,” by David Downie and Diane Johnson (2011)

“The Greater Journey: American in Paris,” by David G. McCullough (2011)

“Memoirs of the Court of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, Complete,” Historic Memoirs of Madam Campan (2010)

“What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution,” by Caroline Weber (2007)

Your movie, book and music picks?

Cheapos, do you have any music, film or book recommendations? Do share! Leave your recommendations in the comments box below. Happy Holidays!

Also in our guide: Heading to Paris anytime soon? Our editors have hunted down the city’s best affordable hotels, all centrally located and clean. We visit, inspect, photograph and choose the best. Read our reviews in our Paris guide. Bon voyage!

About the author

Theadora Brack

About the author: Theadora Brack is a writer working in Paris. Her fiction has appeared in more than 30 literary publications, including 3AM International, The Smoking Poet, Beloit Fiction Journal, Mid-American Review, and the Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal.

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