….wild is the wind…creative free speech is the seed….
Day 1: Favorite Zone: Why…the 5th& 6th Arrondisement, Quartier Latin, of course! I know Rue de Buci, like the back of my hands! But no…I always ignore the Sor-zzzzz-bonne…and never make it inside the Musee d’orsay (either it’s a queue or wrong opening time!)
Day 2: Favorite Paris Hotel: Well, Hôtel de Nesle of course! Ca va Madame Renee! Bonne anniversaire, Nesle! Désolée, je suis un peu tard…..:) …Renee knows me from teenager till now, I’ve grow up with Nesle in Paris…..how werid, eh?
Day 3: Late night Club Bastille with 3 Blonde Scandinavian+Parisians. Woke up to Renee’s intercom screaming in french,”Cecilia! Translate!” Stumbled down 5 flights of stairs, an American voice begs,”Can I just PAY4Room?” Renee sees Fleur de Lys on my pyjamas & screams,” Royalist! GET out!” I joked,”NOT Royalist! I AM the republic of Shoppers!” Tourist is still on phone waiting…..lol.
Day 4: Please French ppl. can you stop having fighting-foreplay on the streets of Paris! I don’t care if you loved him, he loves your ex, your ex loves you but is with his ex who is now in love with your new friend who was his ex and you are not sure how you all feel about your exes & future exes! ARGH!!! L’amour fou!
Day 5: Went with a few people to see an old film Cyrano De Bergerac with Gerard Depardieu in one of the old Cinema on the backstreets of Notre Dame. No subtitle….that was hard work! It was all a Blur….something about him being so Ugly that there is no way Roxanne would be into him!
Day 6: Went out to Au Bon cous cous in the Rue Xavier. This place has been there for years and without fail everytime I am in Paris, I have my favorite dish there. When I go there I think of all the different people I’ve dined with here over the years. Sometimes I go there alone just to think about it….
Day 7: After an unsuccessful attempt at walking Pilou the agoraphobic German Sheppard today, I dumped him back with Renee@ the hotel and walked all the way to Le Bon Marche! Le Bon Marché, founded in 1852, has emerged as the city’s chicest department store. Nevermind that! I just like the cool chairs in the upstairs cafeteria…and the long walk without the dog was good! But for nibbles..its better to go next door to La Grande Épicerie.
Day 8: Another attempt to walk Pilou the agoraphobic German Sheppard, I tried to cross the river ! (gasp) and took him to the Tuileries Garden! Bad disastrous move! Too much open space! He was terrified and refused to move at all! So I had a coffee and fed him some….:P
Day 9: In a foul mood, randy couple from Room 2 spent all night doing the bump & grind! Fair enough, they can but Renee forgot to turn off the Intercom, all 5 Floors heard HER and trust me…What a Howler! So imagine, no one looked them in the eyes when we all took our hot chocolate & baguette for Breakfast! She asked me WTF? I told her. We all decided to go to Pere Lachaise together for the day….they bought a bottle of wine to share to er…”make amends”….Who the heck is this Morrison anyway? I preferred Oscar..Wilde!
Day 10: Went sketching in the Louvre in the evening because its free. Did the sketch of the Winged Victory of Samothrace …..like this..building near empty..at night on a weeknight is the only time when the Louvre is tolerable and not swamped with endless ruddy tourists going…”Where’s the Mona Lisa?” …who cares? haven’t seen it!
Day 11: The patisserie down the road is doing a deal: Gourmet Quiche or Baguette, a yummy cake & a drink for 5 Euros…all handmade yummy left bank teeny-weeny bakery stuff…..Oh God! I had to walk to Les Halles then way over to L’Opera just to exercise the amount of sugar & butter I had pumped myself with!
Day 12: Met a friend down the road, at Shakespeare & Company bookstore. Met the owner years ago! He used to let all sorts of backpacking kids stay at the bookshop if they work there during the day! He gave me the key to the writer’s room for the 1 day I stayed there before I caught a train to Oostend to meet my friend Marie-ange. How did eccentric George Whitman know I was going to write??? I was still in High school!!! I remembered he wanted us to make pancake, but then forgot about it by the time I went to the shop for the ice cream and back! hahahaha. Renee is the same generation & bohemian crowd as George in the left bank as him…but they met a whole different set of famous people, just different crowds, I guess?!?! LOL.
Day 13: Got sick of French food and really wanted some chinese food…thank goodness there’s always an authentic Cantonese place nearby…..backside of Shakespeare and co.! Love this photo by Yanidal’s blog!
Day 14: Finally made an effort to go toward Montmartre..found a cheap bistro and had some seafoods with friend. Saw the room gasp in shock & horror when an american asked for ketchup to go with his giant seafood fountain. My Italian-Hongkong-chinese friend ordered beef tartare and got all uppity when the kind waitor tried to tell her, she may not want this in english…hmm…I would have let her try to scoff down the raw steak! See..french waitors can be nice!
Day 15: My nearest shop used to be La Samaritaine across the road from Pont Neuf where I could get the scarf, the french bikini & the french lingerie all in one stop! Now that they decided the building is closed…I found a place backside of St.Michel that did a deal & went nuts on french knickers….how can you turn down a sale for 3-5 euros?
Day 16: Bumped into Madame Renee in front of her apartment near the hotel, she lived on the top floor and exercise very little apart from climbing the stairs up and down. Suddenly, she screeched, “Oh god, I forgot to turn off the stove, quick take my key & run up to switch it off, Cecilia cherie! ” I ran up to her flat. I was really surprised, first time I’ve seen it in 10yrs. It is the opposite of Hotel Nesle. It is all wooden floors, wall-wall & ceiling to floor bookshelves, white sofa-bed and a small minimal kitchen. It has that ordered “bookish-ness” of the Sorbonne. It is so different from what I imagined her gypsy days in Algeria would be. She thanked me and smiled when she waddled back up to her flat. I said to her,” Secretly, you are an intellectual.” She just laughed and said tomorrow we can sit down in the afternoon and she can tell me some of the stories at the hotel for my newspaper article. She said,” You are a journalist.” when I turned the corner onto Rue Dauphine.
Day 17: Hotel reception was super busy today so Renee made an arrangement to chat another day. Decided to go over to the Rodin Museum, got distracted, ended up in Sacre Coeur-side & had a glass of wine with the best friend of a Buddhist friend. Aurele who was a Jean-Paul Gaultier model. He told me Gaultier’s people appraised the “curvature” of his forearm for Gaultier’s spring runway. We discussed the impossibility of our dancer friend’s “neo-tantric-spiritual” relationship with a Québécois musician. They don’t speak the same french! Of course we cannot end a 5hrs “wine” chat without exchanging the details of the “endless insanity of his last disastrous relationship with his ex-girlfriend” because one should always end a meeting with a “crimes de passionnel” (acquited, of course)! lol. He is so funny. French Buddhist are crazy people!
Day 18: ”I did a terrible thing today! I agreed to one of those really horribly “tacky” kiss on a balcony with the Eiffel tower in the background by a big French Bay window tourist photo! YUCK! I blame him for ruining my artistic headspace…he was annoying” (Rodin Museum, Paris)
A decade ago, I wrote this in my diary while I was visiting Paris with the bf from law school. Needless to say….I ended it…because I was in love with Art ….<3
Day 19: Finally had afternoon coffee with Renee about the hotel! She had some Japanese film crew over to do a documentary about the place. She has a basement full of JUNK left by those “Hippies Horrible” ( her words!) who used to hang out & mess up her beautiful “chambre” (NO Smoking!) with their incense….”that Keith or Pete Moon the “Hippy”…and later a guy called “Jagger” with big lips going on about “Satisfaction”! lol….yes. it is because they are not french! She had loads of very famous French & Belgium stars at her place but I wouldn’t know them because I am not french!
Day 20-24: Attempted to walk Pilou the french dog in need of a shrink..again..it is still agoraphobic! Went pass the book seller along the Seine who sold me a poetry book when I was a teenager for 20Franc (it is now worth $125US but I can’t find it!)…it was a book of Poemes by Paul Geraldy “Toi et Moi”:
Went back via Rue de Buci from Jardin du Luxembourg, Pilou pee-ed on an outdoor menu. I thought I’d get yelled at..but no, everyone made Kissy-noises at Pilou! Workmen from the 2nd floor windows leaned out to make kissy noises…not at me…at Pilou! XX
Found some place that served teeny-weeny pasta with a fig sauce..and went to some Jazz club at Châtelet–Les Halles whose name I can never remember…it might even be called Chez Cecile or something (no idea !)..it was a really late night because after dinner we got there at about 1am. I had a glass of champagne and watched the tap-dancer do 2 sets and the Jazz band ….I think we got back to Renee’s by sunrise? I remembered walking across Pont Neuf…trying to remember the words to that stupid Coffee commercial with some chick strutting around singing,” Non, rien de rien, non je ne regrette rien…” and being very silly, indeed!
Slept till late, woke up…had a savory crepe and a chocolate one and a big cup of cafe au lait! I looked at the art books in the Tachshen bookshop at the market in a daze. We decided to go for a long walk to the Chav-el Tower (now that they put all that bling-bling on it) just for the walk. Half way back, I gave up and we caught a cab. Back in Moliere’s room, a few people had brought in a subway musician to their room. We joined them and ended up drinking red wine and eating a few snails while the guy sang rude songs in french about his distaste for French politics starting with “Francois Mitterand est un putain, Sarko est…”! Any other hotel would have kicked him out, but Renee has an open-room policies so people put up with the noise and the parties or they moved elsewhere. Besides we were not too worried, one of the Brit guy was a Bobby back home, so in good Hotel Nesle style, it was just a very very bohemian evening with nearly everyone at the hotel dropping by. Busker stayed till 6am when he could catch the first Metro from Saint Michel!
I collapsed in the bath-tub at 4am ish, and made an arrangement to go with the Aussies to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen since it will be Sunday at some point! We managed to get there 1hr before the whole thing closed so we looked around a bit and went back to the Latin Quarter and decided to try to get an early night but ended up at the after hour upstairs place over a quick Mojito with fresh mints. This ended a little past 1am, which meant we all ended up being allowed into a club for free ( they charged 2 Americans 50 Euros ) and we ended up dancing to Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” to a packed club down the road.
By mid day next day, we decided to be healthy and caught the metro “Lou Lou” (name of the train) to Versaille, had a picnic in the sun and rolled around the lake a little. A few of the others went to Euro-disney, we said, “No way!” Picnic at Versaille was very Impressionists.
Day 25-26: Was lost in a whirlwind of melodrama of the french kind, mostly surrounding french male vanity. I can’t go into details. It is too ridiculous. All I can say is it ended with someone from the apartment next door screaming, “Will you all shut up in there so we can get some sleep!” and all 3 of us responding, “F8ck off, if you want silence go and check into the Hilton across the river!”….then after some more screaming on the next day, the following evening we all settled into drinking a Mojito in an after-hour cocktail place. I was so fed up with them, I spent most of my time sulking and reading books at the Tashchen store again. It is all so ridiculous. They are all so egotistical! Ah, L’egoiste, J’ai flâné pour vous? Non, Miel…non…
Day 27: It is strange how in the moments when you least expect it, something transcendental uplifts and take us all away from the mundane. I always found this whenever I go to visit Notre Dame Cathedral at night. I don’t believe in institutional religion but I do believe that having some faith keep our egos at bay!
Day 28: I think most of the PMS-ing in Paris (by guys, of course) ….centered around their inability to accept this: “Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard. It steels itself to attain the absolute and authority; it wants to transfigure the world before having exhausted it, to set it to rights before having understood it. Whatever it may say, our era is deserting this world. “Helen’s Exile” (1948) Camus.
Day 30: Last day in Paris, I’m rushing saying goodbye to everyone, trying to flag a taxi down at Rue Dauphine to take me to the Eurostar. It occurred to me as I stood in the queue: In order to communicate what I want to a musician, I had to close my eyes & hear…in order for a musician to understand what an artist see, he will have to turn off all sounds and look….when you are used to being able to pre-empt the world through hypersensuality in one senses….the brain gets a bit angry with you for shutting its best “feeler” down…:) Paris has always been a place where I can “be” ….in a different sense…so if you are bored in Paris, it is because you are probably deaf, dum, blind & without any tactile sense…