Le Cœur de Paris. Le Cœur de la France.


My native land will always remain tucked in my heart. So when hardship strikes in France, I instinctively travel back.

Everyone across the world felt something when flames engulfed Notre Dame cathedral on Monday.

The reactions and concern were genuine, whether coming from officials or on my own phone through kind texts and e-mails.

One of the most visited monuments on earth, Notre Dame is so much more than a renowned Gothic cathedral for French people.

When I moved from my native Normandy to Paris to pursue my graduate studies, I spent many weekends alone. As my feet took me from north to south and from west to east, I fell head-first for Paris, including for its extraordinary architecture, with a weak spot for the bridges.

But when years later my husband and I got the unique opportunity to climb to the very top of Notre Dame, I admit that the cathedral took my breath away.

I also admit that I didn’t feel God watching over me that day but Victor Hugo and the characters that populate his infamous novel Notre Dame de Paris, translated into The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They elbowed me and whispered as I pushed my way up. Located in l’Île de la Cité, in the center of Paris, the cathedral is the heart of Paris in more ways that its location. That day, with my footsteps echoing on the narrow staircase, my own heart beat faster as voices surrounded me, telling of the extraordinary story of Paris and France.

Fastforward a decade, we took our young children for a tour of Notre Dame. Our four-year-old son loved the Disney movie and kept asking about Quasimodo. People smiled as he craned his neck toward the belfries, waiting for the hunchback to ring the bells.

Today the bells of Notre Dame are silent.

They will also be on Easter Day.

As the holiday is approaching I remember my very American Easter, less than four months after my arrival to California. This is when I discovered that a special bunny brought jelly beans, Peeps, and other treats to delighted American children.

In France, bells coming all the way from Rome dropped chocolate eggs in my parent’s garden.

Both traditions have their flaws. It’s hard to believe that bells can carry sweets all the way from Italy. But a bunny that lays eggs is quite a stretch too.

To give a twist to the bunny tradition, one of my very favorite California-based Picture Book authors brought a cat in the picture.

Here Comes the Easter Cat was published in 2014 but it’s still as fresh as it was when it landed in bookstores and libraries all over the country. What happens when a cat decides to take over the Easter Bunny’s job? Kids will adore the hilarious plot and brilliant illustrations and above all that the author makes them the narrators of the story. Funny, clever, with a heartwarming ending, this is a truly picture-perfect book for Easter.

Speaking of books, my agent started to submit my picture book manuscript a few days ago.

I wish to be a kid again and believe that a bunny or bells or even a cat will bring me good news soon.

Meanwhile, I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Easter celebration, regardless of the way you celebrate.


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