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Amelie’s Umbrella

It was sometime in 2002, and I was watching the movie Amélie for the first time. There was so much that I loved about this film. First, the artful camera work made the Paris streets, apartments, parks, and metro stations where it was set look irresistible and inspired my desire to travel like no film ever had before. Second, the traveling garden gnome inspired my traveling JennyCat. Third (and most important), was the whimsical main character, Amelie Poulain.

Amelie was kind, beautiful and curious — seemingly in love with the world. She was also painfully shy and her anxieties tugged at me, because I could relate so well. I felt very connected to her.  In some ways I felt we were already the same, and in others ways, I wanted to be like her.

But it was the rainy scene at Collignon’s produce market that gave me the most unexpected connection to the main character.

umbrella

I have that umbrella!

I stopped the video tape, hit rewind, and watched the scene over and over until I could pause it just right to get a closer look. Indeed, the umbrella she was holding looked just like the one with oddly shaped polka dots that I’d picked up a few years before. I have no idea where I bought it.

Amelie's umbrella

I’m not a fashionable person, so to think Amelie and I owned the same of anything seemed a pretty amazing coincidence, especially back in the days back before the internet made possible the obsessive pursuit of, well, just about anything. I took it as a sign that I would need to go to Paris one day soon.

And I did. Within months, I had two friends on board and we planned a trip in early 2003 to London and to Paris — my first self-guided trip abroad. And the umbrella came along, for pictures like this one at the market in Montmartre where they filmed that scene from the movie …

collignons-market

In the years since, the umbrella has broken over and over again. The seams keep ripping, and the fabric detaches from the metal frame. I’ve hand-sewn it all back together several times. I don’t actually use the umbrella very often anymore because I don’t want it to break again. I know that it’s purely sentimental, but I can’t bear the thought of throwing it away.

At long last, Amelie’s umbrella will get to travel again. I plan to bring it when I return to Paris next month.

amelie's umbrella

I’ll get to revisit the places that Amelie Poulain loved and find new inspiration, exploring the neighborhoods in more depth than I was able to do last time. And, again, Amelie’s umbrella will come along for the ride.

Comments

  1. “Collignon! Down the john!”

  2. Kifer, what was that quote about Monsieur Quincompoix and a tea cozy for a hat?

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Hehe, it was Nino, actually! She was imagining him running off to Turkey, where “he met some Afghan raiders who too him to steal some Russian warheads. But their truck hit a mine in Tajikistan. He survived, took to the hills, and became a Mujaheddin. Amelie refuses to get upset for a guy who’ll eat borscht all his life in a hat like a tea cozy.”

  3. -hens forth-

  4. Neat story! This should be the real reason for art – to compel us to move out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves to do something different. I’m glad you found inspiration in this character and you’ve peeked my interested enough that I want to see the movie too! LOL! Very cute umbrella, by the way. :-)
    Michaela recently posted..Five Travel Personalities That Will Totally Ruin Any TripMy Profile

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Hi Michaela, yes, definitely check out Amelie, it’s been over ten years since I first watched it but it is still one of my favorite movies! And thanks, it is cute isn’t it, and such a fun burst of color and pattern on a grey and dreary, rainy day!

  5. What a great story – I’ve never seen the movie Amélie but I want to now! Love that you took photos with your polka-dotted umbrella at the market in Montmartre. Was it raining or did you just break out the umbrella for the photo?
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted..Photo Memories from the Grand CanyonMy Profile

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Hi Lisa, definitely check out Amelie, it’s a quirky but beautiful film. I’m sure you’ll love it! And yes, we broke out the umbrella just for the photos, as we will next month–though, we may get some April showers this trip, so I do hope my stitching is water-tight :)

  6. As you could probably tell from my story, I love Paris. And I love the movie Amelie. That you share an umbrella with the title character is such a beautiful thing. Have fun next month! I’m a little jealous.

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      I could tell :) And stories about Paris fit the theme so well, right? It’s such a beautiful and magical place, perhaps even more so in the rain. Thanks for including my story!

  7. Ma cherie,
    Bon chance en Paris… et… bon appetit!
    Avec amour,
    -Vie
    Vee recently posted..The Hidden Secret of Mexico: San Blas, NayaritMy Profile

  8. What a lovely tale of wanderlust. I’m so pleased you made it to gay Paris with your polka dotty friend! I love it when something inspires a visit, planning the journey in your mind is almost as fun as the experience of the place.
    Charli l Wanderlusters recently posted..There Are No Strangers HereMy Profile

  9. I love that you have kept this umbrella for so long and even go so far as to bring it to Paris with you. I know some scoff, but I really feel like Paris is one of those magical cities, and I think Amelie (and that umbrella) capture the city’s whimsy and beauty perfectly. I hope you have a blast on your upcoming trip and that we see that umbrella featured in a good many shots (though of course, I hope you have no real reason to use it… rain on vacations is always the worst!).
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Drifting About in DauinMy Profile

    • Cassie Kifer says:

      Thanks, Steph! Before I visited, I figured Paris was overrated and a little cheesy, but I do think it is worthy of the hype. And I hope we get sunny weather, but if not, I know there will be cafes and museums to pop into. Rain always seems easier to deal with on an urban trip than an outdoorsy or beach trip :)

  10. Interesting story. You are indeed a storyteller Cassie, and a good one.
    Lorenzo recently posted..A Sustainable Path: Agritourism In BelizeMy Profile

  11. This is a beautiful piece of writing! And so is that umbrella. Amelie is wonderful.
    NZ Muse recently posted..RTW budget: A six-month trip recapMy Profile

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  1. [...] There’s something about Paris that brings out travel weather stories I’m guessing. Cassie of Ever In Transit shares the story of how she found travel inspiration from a red, polka dot umbrella in the movie Amélie [...]

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