In Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down, his new memoir about the 18 months he spent working as a copywriter for a French ad agency, Rosecrans Baldwin makes many amusing observations about life in the City of Light. (I mention several of them in my review of the book, which appeared in yesterday's edition of Newsday.) One thing he notices is that every middle-class Parisian aspires to owning a country house, and he finds this urban dream echoed in movie ads underground:
Year-round in Paris, though especially during the summer, posters went up in the Métro for what I called the country-idyll picture. There was Le Coeur des Hommes 2; Trois Amis; Je Déteste les Enfants des Autres. Different films, but the posters were the same: French people in the countryside sitting at a table outdoors. Dipping their legs in a pool. Fishing the river Tarn from a chair. The light would be full of shadows, and nearby was a bottle of rosé, above was the sun—there would be a walnut cutting board and some cornichons. People outdoors laughing, eating, pursuing a kiss. The posters were everywhere, pervasive in all seasons. Down in the Métro, below the drumming rain and the city's dead-end jobs, its bureaucracy and shopping malls, these posters were a reminder that to lose touch with the rustic table was to lose, to some degree, one's French soul.