Walk and Invent Your Life (Portes Ouvertes)

I saw this yesterday and thought, yes!

Walk and invent your life.

As it happened, that’s exactly what I was out doing.

I mentioned to you that my last trip home threw up a whole bunch of questions. I’m feeling my way and trying to figure out (yet again) just what the heck I’m doing with this “one wild and precious life” (Mary Oliver shout-out!)

Nope, I don’t have the answers yet (whoa, that would have been lightning fast!), but what I did say was that I was committing to making my life in Paris count, that I’d try to hold onto my newly refreshed New York sense of self here in the City of Light.

Part of that is just keeping my eyes (and ears and heart) open and finding inspiration wherever it may exist.

This week I haven’t had to look far. I’ve literally stumbled right into inspiration. On Monday I saw Deborah Levy speak at Shakespeare & Co. One word: Amazing. I have a new writer crush.

Then yesterday I saw a documentary film made by someone I hadn’t seen in a very long time. On the way home, I saw a small group of 4 people looking down at green pamphlets and looking questioningly at a door. Then they went in.

On the spur of the moment, I followed.

Turns out it was a “portes ouvertes” in my neighborhood. This is always one of my favorite events, and even better when discovered serendipitously. 56 artists in the ‘hood were opening their doors to their studios and showcasing their work.

Studio opens onto private courtyard!

The portes ouvertes in Belleville (which I wrote about last year here) are much better known. It was great to discover an association of artists even closer to home.

This artist added his own colorful mark to the official “open doors” flyer. He says *he’s* open, too. Artiste ouvert!

As per usual, I was more interested in discovering some of these hidden spaces than in taking in most of the art.

(I’m just going to come clean: I feel stupid when I look at most contemporary art. I’m happy it exists, I love that artists are expressing themselves as they feel moved, but I tend not to get it.)

Having an awesome, unconventional space in Paris, though?

That I totally get (and covet).

Hidden behind an unassuming door on Rue des Orteaux. Several artists worked here and they set their courtyard as if for a family gathering. SO NICE!

Tonight I continued with inspiration week and heard The Rustle of the Stars. (That’s a band, not my poetic musing).

I’m not sure where I’m headed next, but I’m just going to keep taking one step at a time. Follow the footsteps. Take random turns. Walk and invent my life.

Belleville’s Portes Ouvertes happens THIS UPCOMING WEEKEND if you want to wander into fun discoveries, too. Friday May 11 through Monday May 14. More details here.

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12 Responses to “Walk and Invent Your Life (Portes Ouvertes)”


  1. 1 Shell Sherree Illustration May 10, 2012 at 1:54 am

    I love these kinds of serendipitous delights. No wonder to ‘flâner’ is such a treasured pastime in Paris. Enjoy every footstep…

  2. 3 52 Martinis (@52martinis) May 10, 2012 at 11:10 am

    nice post & love that artists’ courtyard space!!

  3. 5 Amy Kortuem May 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Walking helps me sort lots of things out. Good activity! And is there a lovelier word than “courtyard”? I think not… I want a courtyard. To write in. And play my harp in, so the sound floats over the gates and inspires people to peek in…

  4. 7 Kristin Bair O'Keeffe May 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing this story, Sion. Love it!

  5. 9 Buffy May 11, 2012 at 4:00 am

    It is wonderful you have a city like Paris to invent yourself or add to the life you have. I had to reinvent myself after I left my husband years ago, and I took my 2 sons along for the ride. Now I find myself planning for life after my career. I can retire earlier than most so it will be here before I know it. So, here is to reinventing ourselves or to adding on to the lives we have. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • 10 paris (im)perfect May 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      So true, Buffy. Thanks for your wise words! Reinventing ourselves often comes after a split. It’s nice to know we can also choose at any time to invent ourselves or add to our lives. How great that you can retire early! What another wonderful opportunity to reinvent yourself! Bon weekend!

  6. 11 parisbreakfast May 17, 2012 at 5:27 am

    Did you read Swimming Home yet? It was on BBC Book at Bedtime – how I came to know of Deborah Levy
    I’ve always wanted to attend those open doors for the same reason probably as you…perhaps soon I will.
    merci carolg

    • 12 paris (im)perfect May 17, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Hi Carol,

      You should definitely go to a portes ouvertes when you have the opportunity. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

      I haven’t yet read Swimming Home. I cracked it open and could tell that I was going to love it…and so I’m saving it. Sometimes I save good books like they’re treasures. I’m currently reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and I had done the same thing. I’ve had it for over a month and a half but couldn’t bare to start it yet because once I did it would soon be over. But then something happened this week and I said, ah-ha, NOW is the time to read Wild. And it is.


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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