Samedi’s sandals had done the trick, but Dimanche demanded firmer footwear.
Team leader Linda, and I had decided on our itinerary, we knew where we were going and we knew how to get there, we were ready to go by 10.00.
A quick sleush with the uber shower, on with the dalmation dungarees, which by the way are white with black spots, not black with white gaps, and then the elevator down four floors.
I slipped off the step, opened the metal door and we were greeted by a warm summer Sunday.
Sunday is still Sunday in Paris. The supermarkets close their doors, the background noise of the city is muted and most of the shops are shut. The ambiance is different, lazy, lazy like a Dimanche morning….
Left over the roadworks and right onto Blvd. Edgar Quinet, where instead of fruit and veg there were artists. Real, live French artists who smoked, individualised their paint splattered jeans, and hung their canvases under white linen tents.
It was Marche Parisien de la Creation. Tous les dimanches, give or take a couple of acute accents. Every Sunday 120 art and crafty types set up shop, open their big sudoku puzzle books and settle down to sell their wares. As we sauntered between hand-touched photographs of India and naked torsos fashioned out of wire, my stomach started to rumble. Linda thought I was getting excited over the whole art-work thing, I hadn’t the heart to tell her it was because I had a hole in my belly where my breakfast should have been.
Metro 4 to Reaumur Sebastopol then the number 11 line to Arts et Metiers. We were gong to the Jewish quarter, The Marais. Principally to see an art exhibition at the Musee d’art et d’histoire de judaisme, but also to eat and wander in and out of some of the trendiest shops in Paris, which being Jewish were open on Sunday.
Buzzy bistros, sparkly boutiques, noisy cafes and Chez Hanna. La Coupole houses Napoleons hat, Chez Hanna houses every ravenous Semite in France. It’s located opposite a kosher bakery which had an endless stream of Orthodox Jews, American tourists, Japanese musicians and big burly blokes from the National Gendarmerie, why they even park their police cars in the alley in front of everyone. Our cops whack a blue light on the roof and pretend they’re chasing robbers, not so the National Gendarmerie, they blatently leave their engines running as they run in for a bag of freshly baked bagels and a bottle of Badouit.
As we watched the Gendarmerie’s skulduggery we filled out bellies. The Israeli waitress brought us potato pancakes, hummus, salad and Morrocan mint tea, Linda wondered whether I actually wanted to see the art of Milet, Manet, Monet and Hooch or whether I just wanted to eat myself into a stupor. ‘No’, I said, with my mouth full of meatball, ‘Bring it on.’
So we wandered slowly, after that lunch there was no other way of wandering, into the Musee. All the art work had been looted by the Nazis for Hitler and his henchmen, but slowly, over the years, many pictures and paintings have been retrieved and, where possible, returned to their rightful owners and France.
It was emotionally taxing so Linda suggested we raised out spirits by visiting Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the irony was not lost on me either. Two stops on the metro and there we were walking up some stone steps, a graveyard in tiers.
We were offered a map for a euro but arrogantly declined. By the time we had walked past catacombs, sepulchres and family temples I was dead on my feet. We had to ask countless people if we could look at their maps because we couldn’t find Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison or Colette. The cemetery is big, and by that I mean REALLY BIG, and by that I mean REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, BLOODY BIG. Tourists come from all corners of the globe to look at hunks of marble. There are guided talks, family outings, security women on mopeds and ghouls and boys. We were directed by a man with weeds in his hands to Chopin, whose grave is covered in flowers, to Sara Bernhart whose grave is not covered in flowers. ‘You know she was a necrophiliac?’ I said. ‘Her lovers were dead unlucky.’ I thought.
We climbed up to see Berlioz, across to see Oscar Wilde and back again to see Allan Kardec. A very famous medium. His monument was stacked with flowers and surrounded by a pile of his acolytes all of whom looked like they were trying to communicate with him. Linda and I scarpered. The wrong way. It was only when we heard the poop-poop of a ladyman on a moped that we agreed to be carralled to the exit. People popped out from behind gravestones to make sure they got outside the Pere Lachaise before the gates were locked. I wouldn’t like to spend one night in that place its just a bit too heavry with dead dudes for my liking.
We headed back to the flat, stopping off in an internet cafe to read up about Allen and then we had one last lemon presse before going to see ‘Wall.e’. The cinema was very Franche….big red bucket seats, terrific sound system and a full house. The french enjoyed laughing at the Yankees laughing at themselves. I loved the film, why animated robots should make me cry is beyond me, maybe it had something to do with Sara Bernhart or the Japanese meal I had stuffed down my face deux minutes before the movie….
One last hot chocolate later in ‘La Liberte’, where I tried out the monologe from ‘An Audience with JB..’ and my Sunday in Paris had ceased, it was like the dead parrot, no more.
I fell asleep reading and woke early enough to strip the bed, sloosh my body, walk to the metro, get on the train and make my very own way to Garde de Nord. I bought 2 small croissants and a newspaper and was determind to stay in my pre-booked seat.
A very large woman – with a nasty cough – spilled over into my seat. Her child attempted to squeeze onto her lap as she sucked her way through 7 chocolate fingers.. I stuck my left finger in my left ear and tried to read the paper whilst ignoring them. The angels of mercy had flown back in because they were moved. Relocation. Relocation. Relocation.
Mercifully I again had two seats to myself. By the time we left the platform my mouth was gaping open. I could hear myself snoring like Popeye. I slept right through France, right through the tunnel and dribbled awake in Ashford.
Bang on 10.38 we arrived into St. Pancras. I had two French sugar cubes, one for B and one for Nathan. Two tamarind pods for Jim and a bottle of very expensive perfume, ‘Absenthe’ from L’Artians Perfumery pour moi, not to mention a clutch of restaurant receipts for my accountant.
The tube from St. Pancras to Latimer Road was immediate, the walk into LBC swift, and before you could say ‘Sacre Coeur’ it was 1.o’clock and I was sitting in the studio giving it large for LBC 97.3.
Paris came and went but the memories linger on.