My husband and I honeymooned in Paris years ago. Loving wife that I am, when a significant birthday of his recently rolled around I surprised him with a return to the scene of the crime. What better way to commemorate this momentous occasion – AND do a little Hubert hunting on the side. So, armed with photographs of several Hubert etchings and a French dictionary to keep me out of trouble we set off for the city of lights, my husband intent on re-creating our honeymoon and me intent on searching for Hubert clues.
Paris was just as wonderful as I remembered. Perhaps even more so now that I was seeing it through Hubert’s eyes. My aim was to visit the various sites he etched, as if seeing them up close and personal would yield a clue. Each day we walked and climbed – La Tour Eiffel (347 steps climbed to first level), Le Palais de Justice, Montmartre – Le Square Saint-Pierre, Sacre-Coeur (225 steps climbed in lieu of funicular), La Place de la Concorde, L’Arc de Triomphe (238 steps climbed to the top), Sainte Chapelle, even a side trip to Giverny to the Hotel Baudy, once a favorite haunt of well known artists, as I searched for the elusive Hubert. I perused antique shops and galleries hoping to chance upon a Hubert etching in person. Yet, no Hubert.
Notre Dame was my last best hope, cathedral of choice for Hubert and the subject of many of his etchings including the original, the very one that started my chase. Several of these Notre Dame scenes pictured merchants in stands selling books and prints lined up along the Seine River. Maybe I would get lucky and find a Hubert waiting for me to be discovered amongst the stands. My husband, used to my obsessive-compulsiveness, rolled his eyes when he saw hundreds of stands lining the streets that bordered Notre Dame with thousands of prints for sale. I enacted a new policy of ‘no etching left behind’ and proceeded to examine every print in every stand and exasperate every merchant, one following me holding his hand to his head in obvious anguish as I riffled through hundreds of his prints, one by one. Again, no Hubert.
We saw a lot, ate a lot, laughed a lot but sad to say, all I got for my efforts were sore feet (thanks to my stubborn refusal to pack sneakers and risk looking like a tourist out of National Lampoon’s European Vacation). No, I didn’t find Hubert on this trip but I was imbued with a revelation. As Miley Cyrus sings, it’s not about how fast I get there, it’s really all about the climb….