With so many plans and places to tick off, I’m exhausted, I left the apartment late, kicking myself I had missed such a lovely sunny day and walked around aimlessly.
Had a coffee at Petit fer a Cheval, my favourite bar in Paris and then just wandered, when I came across rue Volta, I remembered there was a half timbered house that claims, to also be, the oldest in Paris.
An Asian restaurant sits underneath and there was a huge line up to get in, food must be good. I weaved my way around the 4th and 3rd arrondissements, down tiny laneways and cobbled streets.
Popped into a great dress shop, La Fee Maraboutee, that is having a temporary closing down sale, due to upcoming renovations. I couldn’t resist buying a couple of items. The lady who works there was so patient with my French and made for a great shopping experience.
Meandering around the nooks, crannies and courtyards of Village St Paul, ducking in and out of the odd antique shop, I came across this cute antiques seller with a difference.
They sell all types of vintage, household, paraphernalia to do with sex. Not sure how my dinner guests would cope, clutching huge penises that were salt and pepper shakers they had on sale, I decided to leave them for some other lucky shopper.
Even although, Village St Paul was somewhere I wanted to explore, there was no set plan and I was having such a great day, doing nothing, just aimlessly wandering.
Somehow I found myself by the Seine, where the open spaces brought strong chilly winds but the buskers still managed to perform on the bridges and a newly wed couple braved the cold for their photos.
Crossing the bridge, I remembered I wanted to visit, the Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportation.
The light was fading as grey skies were forming, still aimlessly wandering but in the general direction of home, the rain started and it didn’t look like it was going to let up, what to do. I didn’t want to go home but I didn’t want to have to put up with the rain, umbrella or not.
The Pompidou Centre, sticking out like a sore thumb amongst the surrounding buildings sparked an idea.
Apart from the permanent collection, an Edvard Munch exhibition was on offer also, before I knew it, 5 hours had passed and it was nearly 9pm. closing time.
By the time I left the Pompidou Centre, I was starving and with my feet and back aching more so than after a 15 kilometre walk, a hearty meal was in order.
A warm welcome from the guys at Au Petit fer a Cheval and an offer to sit up at the bar, next to them, so we could chat, I tucked into a delicious meal and a couple of glasses of red wine.
Finishing with a coffee around 10.30pm they were surprised, I wasn’t staying on. Bouba pumped up the music and encouraged me to have a quick dance before sending me on my way and offering me to return later, so we can dance some more. Peut-etre, perhaps, I said as I bounced down the street feeling absolutely great.
Thinking a reasonably early night could do me good, I never seem to get to bed before 1am, most nights, later. Paris wakes up late and stays up late and as I slowly think I am becoming a Parisienne, I seem to have adopted this lifestyle also.
Stopping at my local shop over the road to buy some milk and say a quick hello to Adele, the store owner, who insists on never charging me full price for anything. He offers we should have a New Years drink. What here, in the tiny shop! Is he mad? Well maybe, we stood in the shop with a plastic glass each, he cracks open a half bottle of lovely champagne and fills up our glasses.
His weird and wonderful, late night customers, wish me a bonsoir as they enter, as if the Aussie standing in the corner like a permanent fixture, with a plastic glass of French Champagne, was a local.
Many Parisian establishments have a cellar, watching bar staff disappear down a tiny hole in the floor, I have always been intrigued what lays beneath. Tonight I found out.
On our second bottle of champagne, half bottles, mind you, 12am seemed to arrive from nowhere. Popping in for a bottle of milk and an early night in mind, was obviously not going to happen this night, at least.
Adele, warns me to not be frightened but he must close the shop and I must stay, finish our champange. He pressed a button and the steel shutter descended across the front of the shop, locking us inside. A small flash of fear rippled over my body, wondering if this was a smart idea. We can go downstairs he says.
A mixture of uncertainty and intrigue to what lies below, had me unsure what to do. His kind offer of the champagne may not be as innocent as it appeared. Watch your tete, my head, he says as I descend the tiny stairs through the trap door in the floor, backwards, ladder style.
Staying in Paris forever, is a pie in the sky dream but to be kept by force, is not quite what I had in mind.
He had been ignoring his constantly ringing phone but this time he answered and once again, comforted me, don’t be frightened.
He disappeared up the ladder and back into the shop. Leaving me in the cellar.
Stockholm Syndrome pops into my head, as I ask myself; what if he locks me in his cellar,
I scan the cellar, sharp knife, mirror, computer, cartons of merchandise, bottles of wine, food. At least I think, I have two sharp instruments to use if I need and there is food and wine.
A long minute or two passes before he returns with a friend. They play Berber music, it really is time to leave, this was nice but could get weird.
They are so nice, patient with my French, gently correcting me and offering to write it in my notepad, where I jot down, new words and phrases. They offer to crack open another bottle of champagne, I am torn, this is fun but slightly scary. Oh what the hell, what is the worse that could happen, I live in Paris for the rest of my life, just in a cellar, that is all.
When Adele pours my champagne but leaves it on the sink, date drug now pops into my head. I evaluate, ok – if for one moment, I feel slightly woozy, I live over the road, I must run up that ladder and get the hell out of there but how to operate the steel shutter. hmmm…
We take it in turns to select music on the computer, they teach me the phrase, it is your turn, we drink more champagne and I relax. They are nice people and are genuinely trying to make me feel welcome.
Amongst boxes of tomatoes and champagne, I think, they sense my slight fear.
Adele’s friend works at the American Hot Dog Stand on the corner of rue de la Verrerie and rue Vieille du Temple, which actually has a reputation for really good hotdogs. He had to leave, he had a 5am flight in the morning, it was now past 2am.
Good time for me to exit also but he insists I stay. So far nothing has happened, I don’t feel whoozy, I haven’t been handcuffed to the stairs, so I elect to stay a couple of songs longer.
More conversation brings more confidence with my French, then, something caught my eye.
What was that I ask him in French, I think I haven’t said it correctly. He shrugs his shoulders, I take it as miscommunication but I think he is avoiding the question.
It is normal in Paris, especially in the Marais he tells me, with his shoulders raised and a ‘what is the problem’ look on his face.
Brave and bold as can be, there he is again. I take my bag off the ground, for fear of taking him home with me but no, it is not one but two!
Perhaps he is right, there have been a few times, late at night or the early hours of the morning, I sit in my apartment, blogging and thought I saw something, movement and disregard the thought.
I am in Paris, not Australia where there always seems to be something scurrying around, a gecko, a spider, a possum but maybe I too have some Parisian friends living with me in my apartment.
The night had turned into the wee hours of the morning, our conversations had turned into learning more about our past and for me, so many bad unwanted memories were surfacing.
Memories of my ex-husband were much worse than the fear of being locked in a cellar in Paris with a carton of French champagne and a couple of mice.
It was time to go home.
Whether the day is planned, or aimlessly wandering around, Paris never disappoints me.