Saturday, 25 June 2011


“America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” - Gertrude Stein

A colleague left yesterday for a trip to France and it was his last day at work before his holiday. We talked about all sorts of things and I recommended a host of things to do and see in various places. Paris of course is a favourite… Many other friends and acquaintances are also leaving for trips overseas at about this time. It is a good time to escape to the summery northern hemisphere just as winter is setting in here. I felt a little envious as it looks like this winter we shall not be travelling very far at all.

Writing about France and Paris just now made me feel very nostalgic. We have been to France about a dozen times and enjoyed every single trip. We have stayed in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Arles, Toulon, Avignon, Nîmes, Strasbourg. Have driven through the Côte d’ Azur, Provence, Lorraine and Alsace, and of course the Île de France. French food and French music are just two of the wonderful things one can enjoy there (not to mention the art, history, culture, scenery, architecture…). We have many favourite French singers, most of them hailing from the wonderful years of the sixties. One of them is Enrico Macias.

Enrico Macias is a singer/composer who was born in Constantine, Algeria in 1938, to a Spanish father and a French mother. He migrated to France in 1961, during the Algerian war of independence. Shortly after arriving in Paris, he composed a song about leaving his country. The song “Adieu, Mon Pays” (Goodbye My Country) eventually became his first major hit, not only in France, but around the world . The lyrics describe the emotional difficulties experienced by those who have been forced to leave their homelands, families and friends.

Enrico Macias as a singer, composer and guitarist, together with his low-key charismatic personality and rich romantic vocal tone, crosses international boundaries. He is one of those singers one can listen to and connect with, and it is not even necessary to understand the language of the songs in order to fully appreciate the extraordinary feeling, power and emotion of Enrico Macias. Besides French, he has recorded in several other languages, including Italian, Spanish, Hebrew and English. In addition to his 40 plus years of artistic career, he has actively been working towards contributing to world peace and the protection of human rights.

Here is a great song of his, “Paris, you have taken me into your arms”.

Paris, tu m’as pris dans tes bras

J’ allais le long des rues
Comme un enfant perdu
J’ etais seul j’ avais froid
Toi Paris, tu m’ as pris dans tes bras.

Je ne la reverrai pas
La fille qui m’ a souri
Elle s’ est seulement retournée et voila
Mais dans ses yeux j’ ai compris
Que dans la ville de pierre
Ou l’ on se sent etranger
Il y a toujours du bonheur dans l’ air
Pour ceux qui veulent s’ aimer
Et le coeur de la ville
A battu sous mes pas
De Passy a Belleville
Toi Paris, tu m’ as pris dans tes bras

Le long des Champs Elysιes
Les lumieres qui viennent la
Quand j’ ai croise les terrasses des cafes
Elles m’ ont tendu leurs fauteuils
Saint-Germain m’ a dit bonjour
Rue Saint-Benoit, rue Dufour
J’ ai fait danser pendant toute la nuit
Les filles les plus jolies
Au petit matin bleme
Devant le dernier creme
J’ ai ferme mes yeux la
Toi Paris, tu m’ as pris dans tes bras

Sur les quais de l’ Ile Saint-Louis
Des pecheurs, des amoureux
Je les enviais mais la Seine m’ a dit
Viens donc t’ asseoir avec eux
Je le sais aujourd’ hui
Nous sommes deux amis
Merci du fond de moi
Toi Paris, je suis bien dans tes bras
Toi Paris, je suis bien dans tes bras
Toi Paris, je suis bien dans tes bras
Toi Paris, je suis bien dans tes bras.

And my translation:

Paris, you have taken me into your arms

I was walking through the streets
Like a lost child
I was alone and I was cold
But you, Paris, took me in your arms.

The girl who smiled at me –
I’ll not see her again;
She only turned around and smiled, and there it was:
In her eyes I understood
That in this city of stone,
Where one feels foreign,
There is always joy in the air
For those who want to love.

And the heart of the city,
Was beating under my feet
From Passy to Belleville,
You Paris, you ‘ve taken me into your arms

Along the Champs Elysées
In the lights that come shine;
When I crossed the terraces of cafes
They offered their seats.
Saint-Germain said hello to me
I danced all night
On Saint-Benoit St, on Dufour St
The prettiest girls
From early morning’s pale light
To the last gleam of evening,
Till I have closed my eyes,
You Paris, you taken me into your arms.

On the quays of the Saint-Louis Isle,
There are fishermen and there are lovers.
I envied them, but the River Seine said to me:
“Come and sit down with them and be part of it all”.
I know, Paris, that today
We are friends!
I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Paris, I feel so good in your embrace!


  1. Hello Nicholas V:
    A song such as this does, indeed, make one somewhat nostalgic for France, and Paris in particular. It is, after all, such a wonderfully romantic city whatever the time of year one visits and is, as you recommended to your colleague, full of such very good things to see.

    We do consider ourselves so very fortunate to live in Europe and readily identify with Gertrude Stein's words. With us England is our country and Budapest is our hometown!

  2. I loved the painting. I love Paris too.

  3. I lived in Paris for one year...

  4. I so looooooove that painting of Paris you have on your post..... It is so inviting and captures the atmosphere of the city so well....
    The song sounds lovely too, Makes me want to pack my bags and go there now!!!!!

  5. What a beautiful song! He has a warm and intense voice!
    It's a fitting tribute to a wonderful city.

  6. Video is here:

  7. And the original: