Rachael Coopes describes her Parisian experiences from her 20s as well as now, a woman in her 40s. This pic from Nôtre Dame in 2024, so precious now with the stained glass windows pre-fire.
Guest: Rachael Coopes
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Rachael Coopes is an author, an actress, a yoga expert, a presenter on beloved kids’ show Playschool and just an all-round lovely like-minded Francophile. Recently I have been reading her book Paris For Beginners and I absolutely love it! I’m not sure why, but every time I sat down to read it, I needed to pair the reading with a glass of wine! It felt like a celebration each time and a petit escape to France for me.
In her 20s Rach moved to France for a couple of years to study theatre. She describes her time in Paris back then as being on the precipice of the next phase of her life. It is often a stage for many of us where we’re about to be what I like to call “full-blown adults”. Then last year Rach returned to Paris after the world started to open up post-Covid. Her book gives us an insight into her world and the manner in which Paris has impacted her as a mini-adult in 2004 and then again in 2022. Her experiences resonated with me and brought to the fore my own memories of Paris as I was reading. I’ve often talked about feeling a homesickness for France even though I’ve never lived there. Rach has now finally put a word to that for me: hiraeth, which is a Welsh word which has no direct translation, but it describes a longing, homesickness, yearning and nostalgia for a place. That describes my relationship with France when I am in Australia perfectly!
Rach and I lamented the changes to Paris with globalisation taking hold in France as it does everywhere, but it was wonderful to share with her the things that we were thrilled to see stay the same. Whilst some of the older, authentic, quintessentially French parts of Paris now seem a bit more polished and sparklier, the joie de vivre experienced by visiting France or even chatting about it, remains. As Rachael says, somehow in Paris they manage to take what is ordinary and make it extraordinary… take the simple and turn it into something breathtaking.
Rachael grew up in Sydney with a childhood that couldn’t be further from a Parisian life, but she mentioned when she was aged 5 that she wanted to go to Paris one day. Her family couldn’t understand why. Perhaps some French lessons that took place at her pre-school may have influenced her. Whatever it was, something woke up in her and on her first trip she felt so connected to Paris and France. Reading Rachael’s book and chatting to her took me straight back and connected me to Paris again too.
Camille – Le Fil (album)