Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Down and Out in Paris

The Amelie Poulain single is everything I thought (not hoped) it would be.

I remember having a room this size in the Savoy in about 1978 but I shared that with mops and buckets until the cleaners discovered me and put me in the right place.

Melissa met me at the airport and we had a nice ride into the city as she told me about her life – which is much more exciting than mine.

She apparently has colossal fights with the local merchants and vendors and, as she now speaks French fluently, gives them the rounds of the kitchen in their own language. She is taking lessons from some very old Poilus to add some spice to her language.

Of course as a result of this there are places we must avoid and she has drawn a map of Montmartre with the hot spots noted. I have put these into my Google maps on my iPhone with some pins that will let me know when I am getting close.

Apparently Melissa has been banned from a couple of local bars – which I think is really impressive. I just cannot imagine what you would have to do to get banned from a bar - in Paris and await further graphic details.

Naturally there are bookshops, hairdressers, restaurants and other places which must be avoided. I mean – we all have these types of problems where we can no longer walk past shops right?

It is a bit of a tortuous process walking from one end of Montmartre to the other now but Melissa has a carefully planned route which gets her there after a fashion.

Of course the last domino is Monsieur Pamplemousse the Epicier. If she has a fight with him it cuts of the last escape route to Boulevarde Clichy and we will have to go over the Butte de Montmartre to escape – or use a helicopter.

I have told her that she must on no account buy her vegetables from M Pamplemousse – and must certainly never visit him after she has been to any bar in Paris.

I was absolutely determined that I was not going to struggle up Rue Lepic from the Blanche Metro station with my heavy bag so insisted (against Melissa’s advice) that we take a taxi.

The man in charge of the taxi rank berated us for standing at the end of the queue. We were apparently supposed to be in another place – but there was not really much point as this was where the queue was. The problem was that the entire queue was in the wrong place. I would have thought that was his fault because he is in charge of the queue – but he thought we were tourists and could be bullied.

At the end of this he picked up my bag, put in the taxi and asked for a tip. I’m sorry – I have no money at all – I just arrived from Zanzibar.

I have discovered that I now speak a bizarre mixture of French and German and could well start any sentence with Gruss Gott and finish it with Merci – with mangled words in between.

Anyway we got into the taxi and had a remarkably quick trip to Rue Lepic where we stopped dead behind a garbage truck and ten minutes later had advanced less than 20 metres. So we had to get out and walk up Rue Lepic.

My room clearly reflects Amelie Poulain in the more barren years of her life – when she was practicing to be a nun.

However, it has a (very small single) bed, a very small desk, a very small bathroom and 15 TV channels in French.

It also has an outlook (I hesitate to use the word view) over a very small courtyard which by the look of it is used as a practice range by Al Qaeda.

But I am entirely comfortable. Just before I left Vienna I re-read ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ so am familiar with the seamy side of life in Paris and will just go with the flow.

The Amelie Poulain cafĂ© is closed for renovations but next to the hotel there is a €2 store where a man from the mysterious east sells enormous piles of crap collected from the four corners of the globe (but I suspect mainly China).

Montmartre is much as I left it. We will probably go to Coquelicot for breakfast tomorrow and I will catch up with my old friends there who – as you can imagine -just can’t wait to see me and hang on every word as I tell them about my life.


  1. Ahh The French-German Mish-Mash, precisely why we were not allowed to study both languages...Gutenjour uncle P! I mean...Bontag! GOD DAMN IT!

  2. I am not doing this by choice my lad! Je suis/Ich bin Europeene - ces't une probleme parce que tous les Euros en parlent pas Anglais!

  3. I'm sure all will be well if you're wearing your beret and shrug your shoulders, eh?

    Dangerous events in White Street last Saturday. Black ute heading for Piper Street driven by drunken male side-swiped one car, crossed to other side and picked up one car and buckled all the wheels! Then, flipped airborne back across the street and landed upside down on another car. Finally at a halt, it promptly burst into flames! There are photos that I have yet to see. Ute wasn't stolen and driver has been picked up by police. What next? We await developments...

    And we missed all the drama as we were out of town visiting friends who live on Chatham Valley Road outside Oberon.

    Mind boggles about being barred from bans, sorry banned from bars.

    Best memory of Paris was visiting the Rodin Museum.


  4. Wow big action. That could never happen here - it is illegal to park on top of other cars in Vienna.

    Yes - I just love the Rodin museum.