PIAF IS DEAD …
Several people reminded me of this fact over the last few days, that Piaf is dead. I guess I didn’t explain myself properly when mentioning we were going to see Edith Piaf tonight.
Sadly, this year is the 50th anniversary since she passed away.
Chicky Babe and I attended a wonderful tribute to Piaf but I am jumping ahead of myself.
In an effort to incorporate the mundane final chores of re-establishing myself with lost credit cards etc. and having a little Paris fun, I took Chicky Babe out to the 9th arrondissement.
Emerging from the metro at Opéra, you can’t help but be awe inspired with the opulence that is the Palais Garnier, the magnificent central opera house of Paris and the surrounding area.
Once upon a time ago, Samaratine was my choice for a free 360 degree view of Paris. Since it is about to become a luxury department store and apartment block, resting on the Seine, galleries Lafayette and Printemps is the place to visit now to fulfil these views for free.
Not quite as spectacular but you can see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Paris’ mistake; Montparnasse, the Pompidou Centre and many chimneys and buildings that make up Paris,
If you love Paris, you will love the free view on the roof tops of either Galleries Lafayette or the neighbouring Printemps.
After admiring the Christmas windows and taking in the views, we managed to escape without my new credit card taking any damage. Our only weakness was a small but delicious box of the best macarons in Paris. Conveniently located at the bottom of an escalator, the Pierre Hermé store was waiting to seduce us with his colourful, delicious delights.
We seem to be eating at very odd hours and today was no exception. Having to queue for 20 minutes didn’t help but finally we were welcomed and I use the term loosely, into the magnificent ancient bustling brasserie that is Bouillon Chartier.
With no airs nor graces we were directed to our communal table next to a French couple by the harried waiter, whose service resembled something straight out of a Fawlty Towers episode, with no time to study the menu he scribbled down our order on our table cloth and he was off!
The food and the service is not why people line up to eat in this establishment but the prices and the ambiance is what pulls the crowds.
Brothers Frédéric and Camille Chartier established the stunning Belle Epoque premises in 1896 to provide cheap and hearty food for the workers in the surrounding area.
What is now a historic monument, Bouillon Chartier’s magnificent interior sweeps you back to a bygone era. Brass luggage racks sit above, to provide space for coats and bags, the vast amount of small drawers lining the walls would have once held the napkins of frequent diners and the long mirrored walls reflect light and the bustling atmosphere.
Thankfully the service was quick because we had a rendezvous with the French Historian.
With perfect timing we arrived at his apartment at exactly the same time and trudged up the five flights of stairs, puffing and panting to be welcomed into his unique apartment.
Once a hotel for prostitutes and a place where stage coaches could rest their weary horses, we enjoyed the view of the Sacre Coeur from the French Historian’s rooftop apartment while sipping on some lovely, chilled sweet wine and caught up on our news. The time flew by and before we knew it we had to head off for our Piaf show.
The tiny Essaion Theatre tucked away in a narrow lane way near the Pompidou Centre barely holds the 40 theatre goers in the stone walled cellar.
Caroline Nin performed a remarkable one woman performance accompanied only by a cello and a piano as she belted out the songs of the Little Sparrow and painted a picture of her tragic life.
The small crowd went wild and understandably so, the tiny, intimate and unique theatre made the experience even more enjoyable.
What a lovely day we had, now armed with new credit cards and a camera, honoured to be invited into The French Historian’s home, a mediocre lunch at the vibrant Bouillon Chartier and a wonderful show, there was only one thing to do – hit my favourite bar for a nightcap or five!
We snuggled up under the heater on the terrace, observing the nightlife of the Marais and marvelled at our day.
I have my mojo back!