So, we had a classic time in Paris. By the time we were there less than a day, we knew we could live there given the opportunity. Since we got back I’ve been trying to work up the energy to blogalise it, but to be honest I just don’t the time or the inclination. Anyone reading this would be bored titless by the third day. So, I’ve decided instead to do a top ten of the things I liked most.
10. Destroy All Camcorders (deluxe edition).
Okay, I’ll admit to a small amount of misanthropy in my character. Generally, there aren’t many things I really dislike in this world, but tourists are one of them: they dawdle, they’re bulky, they gawp, they queue patiently for hours when they could be doing something worthwhile like drinking beer (I mean how good is the Mona Lisa anyway), they talk too loudly, and wherever they happen to be they act like they own the place. And they constantly take stupidly ill-conceived photos and videos. Constantly.
So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when M introduced me to a fun game to play in to tourist resorts. Destroy All Camcorders. It’s very simple. Whenever you spot someone taking a pointless video (for instance of their stationary mother standing in front of a stationary national monument), you adjust your trajectory for a close fly-past of said camera’s in-built microphone and, raising your broad Glaswegian voice, improvise as bizarre a conversation as you can muster, with the ultimate aim of confusing the hell out of the tourists when they finally watch it back.
I know, it’s horrible, but it’s fun. And who knows if we improvise well enough they might even give them something to laugh at. Besides their stationary mother.
9. Zidane Diorama
The area we were staying in on the Left Bank was riddle with comics and figurine shops (like Forbidden Planet, but much more so). Given that we were a street or so down from the Sorbonne, I wonder what this says about Parisian students. Anyhow, among the many weird and wonderful objets on display in the windows of these establishements, we spotted a lovingly constructed diorama of Zidane (heroically) butting Materazi (with blood flying from a mysterious head wound). We particularly enjoyed the poetic licence employed in replacing the ref that officiated in the final with Collina – who has been retire from international football for a while now! These people have no shame.
8. Supermodels cleaning up dog-poo
At the end of one particularly fine afternoon spent with friends we happened to be sitting drink beers en pression in a café that seemed to be staffed entirely by supermodels. And when a little Parisian dog left a little Parisian present on the pavement outside the establishment, it was obvious whose job it was to dispose of it. Quite a clash of expectations, that.
7. Paris, Je T’Aime – Good Fairy
We went to the cinema. We always try to go to the cinema when we’re abroad. This time we saw one new film in a multiplex on Boulevard St Germain, and one old film in one of the little arthouse cinemas on the Rue Des Ecoles behind our hotel. We recommend both. The new film – Paris, Je T’Aime – is a portmanteau movie that comprises something in the region of sixteen short films each of which is set in a different district of Paris. Some of the directors will be familiar to you, others may not, but pretty much all of them deliver poignant pieces. Memorable moments include the Coen brothers’ segment, featuring Steve Buscemi as a hapless American Tourist who falls foul of the locals on the Metro, Elijah Wood meeting a vampire in the Quartier Madelaine, and the mimes who fall in love at the Eiffel Tower.
At the other end of the spectrum the other movie we saw was a 1930’s Hollywood flick called The Good Fairy. An utterly charming wee movie starring Margaret Sullavan and Frank Morgan (who a few years later would play The Wizard Of Oz himself) about a young usherette in a Budapest cinema who tries to do good things for a random stranger at the same time as keeping out of the clutches of a rich old letch (who keeps remarking that she’s “Simply Marvellous!”). What was especially nice about seeing this in a cinema in Paris is that the theatre in question only showed old Hollywood films, and everyone present was there because they loved those movies.
For late night, post-pub snack food, even Morello’s chicken tikka kebab is given a serious run for its money by a freshly made crepe loaded with banana, nutella and Grand Marnier.
5. Blackpool Tower
From a distance the Eiffel Tower looks just like Blackpool Tower. Well it does to us anyway. Whenever it came into view (which in Paris is often) we duetted the Entry Of The Gladiator music in tribute.
Another cinema on the Left Bank. This is where they do Rocky Horror on Friday and Saturday nights. The weekend we were there, M guested with them. Utter hilariousness.
3. Picnic in the rain, the other side of Montmartre
M’s friends G, M and their pal B took us for a marvellous picnic in the Parc Andre Citroen. The park was designed and built to replace the old Citroen car plant, and is beautiful. The rain came on lightly while we were eating and I think our friends thought we were just being polite when we told them we found it refreshing after so many days of baking sunshine. Politeness went out of the window on the way back to the car when the heavens opened. Outdoor options in abeyance for the time being we were then treated to a Rocky Horror fan’s tour of Montmartre – where to go to find the right sequins, wigs, shoes, etc.
We also stopped to look at an interesting piece of street art that runs from the Rue Magenta down to the Gare Du Nord. It’s an arrangement of red lines that, viewed from the right spot, joins up to give the impression you’re looking at a two dimensional image that someone has drawn on. Uncanny.
2. Café culture
Breakfasting in the morning on fat cakes and coffee, working through notes on the Nov as I waited for M to return from the pool. Possibly even in the same establishments that Hemmingway and Wilde dossed around in. That was nice.
1. Our friends
The best thing about Paris was meeting new French friends and meeting up with old and new friends from other parts. It was great to spend time with the V’s and the S’s. Lovely to meet the M’s for the first time, as well as Mr C and Mr M.
M, giving up the chance of a shoe shopping expedition to hang out and drink beer, accientally got to sit in on the decision making of a prestigious literary award. Which was great fun.
All in all a marvellous trip.