This house is blue in France.

There is a parallel San Francisco for the French – romantic and imaginary, it’s the San Francisco of the 1970’s.

French tourists come looking for it, with their kids, even in the Castro (where American families just don’t come). It exists in what the French call “le Far West”, where everyone is free.

In 1973, Maxime Leforestier had a big hit in France with the song San Francisco. It begins:

    It’s a blue house

    Perched on a hill.

The song continues: One throws away the key, everyone’s there, it swims in the fog, Tom plays the guitar and we roll on the grass. It’s a blue house, you go there on foot, the people who live there have thrown away the key, people with long hair, people of light, mad people.

M. Leforestier, in a recent interview:

Fuyant toute autorité, loin des préjugés dont ils se sentent victimes, des hippies, des homosexuels et des insoumis qui refusent de partir au Vietnam vivent ensemble en bonne intelligence, en toute liberté surtout.”

Fleeing all authority, far from the prejudices against them, the hippies, homosexuals, and the rebels who refused to take part in Vietnam live together happily and above all free.

“Tout le monde etait amoureux et libre”: Everyone was in love and free.

You can make a trip to this French version of San Francisco at youtube.

This house, la maison bleue, is the symbol of a lost world, un Age d’Or which never was. But that doesn’t make it any less real. Certainly, it’s a world as real as our imaginary Paris in the ’20s, its counterpart on the fictional map.

The Blue House is real – it’s at 3841 18th Street, but it’s even more solid in imagination.

Until recently it was green. The French magazine Nouvelle Observateur took it hard: Sacrilège: La maison bleue de Maxime Le Forestier est verte! According to the author it would be as if the Taj Mahal were painted cherry red.

But with the contribution of a French paint company and the participation of the French Consulate, the house is, once again, bleue.

If only we could bring up the lost times, conjure up lost youth, with a coat of paint!