Go Away With … Bruno Coulais


Courtesy Costa Communications

By Jae-Ha Kim
October 5, 2010

French composer Bruno Coulais is used to helping convey a film’s tone with his music. But for “Babies” — which focuses on four tiny, chubby and (for a while) bald stars — the 56-year-old Parisian, best known for the 2009 stop-motion film “Coraline,” had his work cut out for him. The documentary features no dialogue from its main stars, so Coulais’ compositions at times have to speak for the infants. “Babies” is now available on DVD.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Andalusia, Spain — the birthplace of flamenco. The people, the art and the music are as vibrant as flamenco music and dancing. You can see it in Picasso’s works too — he was from there. The Costa del Sol on the Mediterranean coast is beautiful, especially Marbella. There are great resorts and the food is amazing and grown locally.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. My favorite weekend getaway destination is Trouville-sur-Mer in Normandy. It’s the perfect place to practice my favorite sport — idleness! You can do all the water sports there — scuba, surf or sail. But for me, I prefer to lie on the beach. The beach is one of the best in France.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. Palais Jamai in Fes, Morocco is a palace out of “A Thousand and One Nights.” You almost expect to ride a flying carpet. It’s a five-star Sofitel hotel and a beautiful example of Moorish and Arabic architecture. The views over the medina and riads are breathtaking and a quiet getaway from the noise of the streets. La Colombe d’Or in the southern French village of Saint-Paul de Vence, France is where I go to recharge my creativity. The town has been an artist’s paradise for decades. Painters like Matisse and Renoir and writers like Cocteau and filmmakers Clouzot all came here. The hotel’s owners love art and it is everywhere in the hotel. New installations are put in periodically. This is a place where ideas are born and the soul is free. Casa del Mar in Santa Monica is where I stay when in California. What can I say? It’s right on the beach. It’s the California dream that we see in the movies come to life.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. Aida is a tiny restaurant in Paris where you feel like you have been whisked away to Japan. Da Mimmo is a place to see and be seen in Paris, but the Italian food is excellent. Les Vapeurs, the best table is on the terrace overlooking the fish market. If you want to see a celebrity, sit indoors. The seafood goes straight from the sea to the kitchen to your plate.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. My iPod and my Bose headphones to endure the nightmare of the flight. I’ll either listen to scores or read a book — I’m always reading something.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Paris, Naples, New York, Dublin and Barcelona.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. I do not do any research. I love to discover and to be surprised.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Japan, because I am in love with the food. Going to Aida in Paris is as close as I have been to Japan. I must go someday.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. My best vacation memory: Driving along the scenic California coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco. My wife and I did that this spring. The sea, the forests, the beaches, the mountains — it was the best of America. We fell in love with the town of Cambria. It has so much character. My worst: Cote d’Azur in August, which is too hot, too crowded, too noisy, too much!

© 2010 JAE-HA KIM


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