Summertime is here and that means cruising around on pink Vespas, lazing in gardens and keeping your Dalmatian hydrated. It also means grass stains, 160° on metro line 4 and more Eiffel Tower key chains than normal.
What it doesn’t mean is palm trees, parasols and yachts. And that’s why I’m moving to Nice. Nice is nice. Nice is colourful. Nice is strolling around with a gelato and The Girl from Ipanema in your head. On the French/Italian border I’ll be able to croissant around town in the morning and play bocce ball in the afternoon. Bien! Bene! Buon…… wait, what?
Thanks, Paris, it’s been a slice. A slice of the creamiest quiche Lorraine with the perfect ratio of cheese and bacon. We’ve had good times, we’ve had bad times. But most importantly we’ve had times. Times I’ll never forget.
Now blog off.
This week I took myself to the cinema to see a Turkish film with French subtitles. Bit weird, yeah. But that’s not the weird part.
A flamboyant type with drawn on eyebrows burst into the tiny 42-seat salle mere minutes before the film was about to start and demanded that the early-comers shift seats to accommodate his party of five. Being France, this caused a tsunami of emotion and the entire audience started muttering soft profanities and passionately voicing their views on correct cinema etiquette and the state of modern society.
There were so many irate arms being flung in the air obscuring my view of the trailers that I decided to just join the debate instead. “If you wanted to ensure good seats for all your friends, you should have arrived 30 minutes in advance!” I added, elongating my last consonant for dramatic, French emphasis and throwing my arms up in disgust.
That’s when it happened. One by one, the Frenchies turned in their seats and nodded at me with a look of respect that said “Hey, let’s just forget that you killed Joan of Arc and have a much better rugby team.” So much so that a silver-haired retiree by the name of Michel moved one seat closer to me and vented his emotions.
And it was like that that I ended up on a date with a 75-year old. We talked about books, cheese and genocide. Then he wrote his number down on the back of a metro ticket.
Should I wait 3 days to call him?
I would imagine Paris is much like dating a high maintenance chick. Very pretty to look at but sometimes you just want to shout “STOP TALKING.”
The more irritating she gets, the less pretty she becomes.
Paris didn’t look so pretty in February. Real estate agents treated me like some sort of housing leper. I couldn’t buy simple cough sweets without being grilled for 10 minutes on my symptoms. I sat in my pyjamas for days on end eating Prince biscuits. I couldn’t even cry controllably to the Adele CD because the bitch upstairs drowns out everything with her screaming. I went to an Indian restaurant and they served the naan – get this – as a starter. That night I was made to listen to techno.
When the fun barometer dips below 100 and Paris turns ugly, just follow this simple fail-proof rejuvenation plan. Gather a couple of friends, head to Versailles and book a luxury suite at the Waldorf. Get massages, prance around in robes, drink posh cocktails, eat at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant, raid the mini-bar, watch a movie, sleep lots and order room service.
Step and repeat quarterly.
Waldorf Trianon Palace Hotel, 1 Boulevard de la Reine, Versailles
It’s Vomitimes day again. And what better place to celebrate it than the City of Lurrrve. The city where Passionate Displays of Affection unfold all around you (“MAIS ANTOINE! ARRETE! JE T’AIME!”). The city where he’ll love you a little. Then a lot. Then passionately. Then madly. Then not at all. Where else will you see straight men kissing each other hello in business meetings? Where else will you receive late night texts like this:
“Je n’ai pas envie que tu disparaisses. J’ai envie de passer plus de temps dans tes bras. Je vais encore rever de toi.” Ah… ze French, so romantique.
But when it comes to the ritual of kissing, there’s a bit of a grey area. Last summer I attended a picnic (one of several hundred) where I had to kiss 21 strangers hello. I spoke to 4 of them and then before leaving had to walk around a circle of grass stained bodies and “faire la bise” with all 21 of them again. And still make the last metro. Last week a male client greeted me with a firm handshake and then we parted with kisses. So when the electrician arrived the other day, I shook his hand but then sent him on his way with a firm “mwah! mwah!” on each cheek. He looked at me with a strange excitement in his eyes that was uncomfortable for both of us. Does the rule not apply to tradesmen?
I’ll leave you with the sultry Gainsbourg-and-Bardot-esque vocals of French duo, The Lovers.
An American chef once said, “A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.” I considered this at Christmas while ploughing through a free-range, grain-fed [privately educated] turkey and washing it down with half a box of Quality Street. After a week of stews and pies in London, I then got the train back to Camembert. Hello quiche! Hello magret de canard! Did you miss me?
A friend of mine spent the holidays in Marseille and wasn’t so food fortunate. She ate at this café. Check out the translations. Crunch-mister? Salted Softness? Districts of fresh butter? Sounds like the kind of thing Nigella would fix herself for breakfast. She wrote the name and number of a translator on a napkin and secured it to the menu with a hair clip.
I saw this bathtub at Printemps and almost lost my shit. I stood there glued to the spot, staring at it in silent awe. It was the single greatest thing I’d seen in at least half an hour. It can be yours this Christmas for 7,200€. You’d be crazy not to. But if your friends and family are mean and miserly, one of these other gifts might do.
A loving expletive made of chocolate. Jadis & Gourmande, 29€.
I have to walk past this poster of Jude everyday. Someone please buy it before I start pretending he’s real.
A pair of ballet pumps from an obscenely beautiful shoe shop. Repetto, 195€.
A manbag for your Fiat Nuova 500
John Galliano Vs Anna Wintour T-shirt. 35€.
Having had a French gym membership, I’m used to women prancing around naked, rubbing lotion into every inch of their bodies while chatting to me about their husbands. So it didn’t faze me last night when eight comediennes parodying 1970’s Parisian cabaret, put on a camp extravaganza of bare bottoms, bejewelled boobies, spectacular costumes and offbeat, funny as hell ‘Second City’ type sketches.
I was fazed, however, by two things. Is Simone Hérault, the voice of the SNCF, really answering the audience’s questions? And has my girl-date really just been dragged up on stage? Is she really about to take part in the entire show against her will, bare legs, feather head-dresses and all? Oh jeez, she is…
Check this out. And go see it for yourself. “La Sublime Revanche” @ Vingtième Théâtre, 20eme. Showing until Jan 22nd.