Sunday, May 4, 2008
Dirty Artists, Women of the Night, and A Really, Really Big Hill
I slept until noon today, which is completely unheard of in my world!
The plan of action was to immerse myself in my Parisian neighbourhood, which I think I did a fine job of.
The first couple of photos are my Villa! That is actually what it's called. It's a secluded little apartment complex tucked away off the street. I've also included photos of my elevator, which is ancient, and more than a little scary. Very, very tiny too. I know now why Europeans invented Ikea furniture, though I still don't know how you'd get a couch up here!
I sallied forth into the hood, in search of brunch, and had a quiche lorraine in a cafe around the corner where I met my first rude French waiter. My friend Lenni told me if you treat them like you're going to crush their balls, then you have them in the palm of your hand. I think that's good advice. Period. The coffee is really to die for here. I will never spend another penny on over-priced Starbucks crap, because that extra change can go into a bank account to bring me back here toute suite. The produce here is ridiculous too. Even the greens they throw on the side with your meal. It tastes like Jacques went to the back of the restaurant, where the tiny garden is of course hidden, and ripped the leafy greens from the ground with his own two hands. After assuring my evil waiter that he would NOT be getting a five euro tip, I set off again.
First I poked around in several incredible neighbourhood shops. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is the greatest retail experience I have ever had. Anyone who knows me, knows I take shopping VERY seriously, and there is literally nook after nook of the most gorgeous treasures. Among my favourites today were a dollhouse shop full of tiny furniture, a gourmet food shop that had the most exquisite looking chocolates that I have ever seen, two separate baby/kid lifestyle stores where the parents can buy very fun stuff for mommy and daddy too (Parisian parents are the biggest hipsters I've seen. Queen Street West has NOTHING on them!) A seriously adorable lingerie store (yes, I WILL be heading back there!), the most abundant and gorgeous flower depot your brain can imagine, a street market full of painters, a lovely stationary store, and the weirdest little shop near Cemetere Montmartre that sold antique odds and sods and bits of ephemera. Their specialty seemed to be amputated doll parts and ladies' powder tins from the turn of the century. Of course, I loved this.
I went to Sacre Coeur, and lit a candle at the foot of the shrine to the Virgin. It was Sunday after all, and I was very pleased that I didn't burn up on entry. It's been a very long time since I've been to church, and I wasn't sure what would happen. It was so peaceful and beautiful. Churches everywhere have a very distinct, very similar smell, which immediately chokes me up. I think it makes me nostalgic for the time when I was a little girl, and completely mesmerized with it all. I was so open, and so eager to believe...
I got entirely hustled by a street artist (despite warnings from every travel guide there is) who drew my portrait. He was incredibly charming, and full of flattery. Among my favourite lines were "You have the body of a Brazillian." (Imagine this in a French Accent) "Small perky tits, and a big, marvelleux ass." When my eyebrows shot to the back of my head, I think he thought I was insulted by the small tit remark (I was just shocked by the whole statement, and it takes a lot to shock me) so he went on to say "Don't worry, small tits are great. When you're older, they won't sag." As it turns out, he thought "Tits" was the proper English word for breasts. But still...
As you can see, the drawing looks NOTHING like me, but he did somehow manage to channel my mother as a young woman, which I really thought was amazing. He promised to draw me for free, (which was a crock, in case you didn't realize that) but I negotiated a decent price for his work, and the highly amusing experience. He said he would use the money to buy me wine, and would be my slave if I would return later to have a drink with him. I advised him to buy a sandwich and spend more time reflecting on Jesus.
I also saw a street performer, who was doing the human statue thing. He was dressed as either a saint, or perhaps the Virgin Mary, and would come alive in a very slow gesture of pious gratitude whenever an offering was made. I've decided that when I move to Paris, I will make my living as a still mime. It seemed to be quite lucrative.
I took a lot of photos at the Cemetere Montmartre. People find it difficult to understand my love of old cemeteries, and I'm not going to try to explain it. I just think they are unbelievably beautiful. I'll post those in a separate entry.
There is more of Montmartre to be had, so I will investigate further if I have time later this week, and it's the perfect place to pick up all of my petite souvenirs. I couldn't linger any longer. I had a date!
I journeyed (on the Metro, all by myself!) to Cour St-Emilion to meet Miss Lenni, and we went to the French answer to the big movie Multiplex. It was tres luxuriant; the chairs were unbelievably comfortable, and it was all very sophisticated. Not the shouting teenager, ringing cell phones escapade that you get in North America. We saw a very classic, very French type of film starring Robert Downey Jr. It's called Iron Man. I highly recommend it, if it ever comes to Canada.
After that, we had a lovely little supper at a cafe. I had a delicious salad piled high with all manner of seafood, and of course a glass of wine. Dogs are not only allowed, but also very welcome in Parisian restaurants, which I find hilarious. If I lived here, I would always have a date, and more often than not, he'd have four legs.
I then took the Metro back home (once again successfully), and I'm now planning my tomorrow. I think I will visit the sprawling antiques market at Porte de Clignacourt, and then perhaps check out the Champs Elysees, and the Arc Du Triumph.
But now, to bed. I will set my alarm tonight, because I don't want to waste a single moment with frivolous activities like sleeping. Yeesh.