Saturday, January 30, 2010


Recently, while sipping tea at my favorite corner cafe, I was approached by a tall, elegant woman with an engaging smile. "Madame, give me your hand and I will tell you your future."  I returned her smile, but declined her offer.  She talked for a few minutes more, trying to convince me of the foolishness of my actions, but then decided that her time would be better spent on other patrons. On her way out the door, however, she passed my table, stopped and said:  "There will be magic in your future."

I did not have long to wait. Just two days later, while walking on the nearby rue St. Paul,  I spied the Academie de Magie, which houses a  museum and a school of magic.  How could I have passed this way so many times before and never noticed this entryway?  Magic? It must  have been because  I readily paid the 12-euro ($17) admission charge -- pretty steep considering that the world-famous Louvre Museum costs only 9.50 euros.  

Located in a 16th-century building, the museum is the brainchild of George Proust, a magician and fervent collector of  all things magic. Proust acts as guide and his booming voice rises over the squeals of delighted children. On this day, it was the 6th birthday of la petite Jeanette, who was having a wonderful time with about a dozen of her friends. Her mother and grandmother, on the other hand, looked as if they would welcome the wave of a magic wand to calm their rambunctious charges. It brought to mind a long-ago birthday party in America that we had for our son and his friends at  a place called Chuck E. Cheese - an event that  happily is in the past and not in the future. (Click here for a classic video.)

The visit to the museum began with a magic show - rope tricks, card tricks and a disappearing act featuring la petite Jeanette.  Afterwards, little Jeanette, along with her friends and family, disappeared once again - this time to enjoy cake in an adjoining room.  The rest of us were free to roam the museum.  Its seven vaulted rooms are chock full of mysterious machines, magic wands, optical illusions, fun-house mirrors and historical items that once belonged to some of the world's great magicians.  More than 100 antique automates are displayed on shelves and in glass cases.  Simple in nature, but ingenious in their mechanics, each one comes to life at the push of a button, including a grandmotherly fortune teller who will predict your future for only one euro.  (Grand-mère said I will soon go on a wonderful trip that will bring me riches and happiness.)

So it seems that the palm reader led me to the Magic Museum, which led me to the grandmotherly fortune teller, who has put me on the road to happiness and great wealth. A pretty good investment of 12 euros, I would say.

Today, however, I discovered a small bakery/cafe called
La Baguette Magic, a clever jeu de mots. A baguette is a French bread so the name could be "The Magic Bread." But  baguette is also the French word for wand, giving us "The Magic Wand." 

Could this be the magic in my future? I was carrying too many grocery bags to stop at La Baguette Magic this morning, but I'm going back this afternoon to see if their hot chocolate can  take the chill out of this cold Parisian day. Now that would be magic!

To see more photos, click here.


                                                           A bientôt,

Musée de la Magie
Musée des Automates
11, rue St. Paul
75004 Paris 

Photos by Geraldine Calisti Kaylor



  1. Hahaaa! What a great post, Geraldine! Well-written and, dare I say, Magical!? So glad you have such a marvelous future ahead of you, but then, I could have told you that.

  2. Terrific blog. You simply must devote attention to shaping your wonderfully whimsical reflections,reports. and photos into a book. Travels with Geraldine (or whatever it's going to be called) makes places and the people who frequent them come alive. As they say, "It's almost as good as actually being there."


Thanks for your comments.