After the diplomatic love fest between Barack Obama and French President François Hollande last month, more proof of the US president’s affection for France has surfaced: a postcard that Obama sent while on vacation in Paris in 1988.
Quoted and shown online in a New York Times article on Obama’s past as a Chicago community organiser with ties to the “social justice wing” of the Catholic church, the postcard finds the then-27-year-old falling under the French capital’s spell.
“[…] I wander around Paris, the most beautiful, alluring, maddening city I’ve ever seen,” he writes to Cynthia Norris, the director of the Chicago Archdiocese’s black Catholics office at the time. “[O]ne is tempted to chuck the whole organising/political business and be a painter on the banks of the Siene [sic].”
At the end of the brief message (transcribed in its entirety below), Obama adds that his French skills aren’t quite up to snuff. “[…] I don’t know a word of French, I’m left speechless most of the time,” he writes.
The front of the postcard is a picture of the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame, one of the City of Light’s primary tourist attractions.
What exactly Obama found “maddening” in Paris remains, at least for now, an unsolved mystery; perhaps it was the French capital’s notorious coolness toward tourists.
Hope all goes well with you; I understand you left something in my mailbox, and I trust Shaila retrieved it.
Meanwhile, I wander around Paris, the most beautiful, alluring, maddening city I’ve ever seen; one is tempted to chuck the whole organising/political business and be a painter on the banks of the Seine.
You’ll be amused to know that since I don’t know a word of French, I’m left speechless most of the time.
Wish you a fruitful summer.
Date created : 2014-03-26