Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bouchercon Hiatus #6: Flaneur

 Paris bubbled a few weeks ago. Literally, pelting with rain frothing in the gutters. Grey, leaden skies and then the next day sun and baking heat.  But that didn't stop me assuming the role of flaneur,  a tony phrase for walking aimlessly. Flaneuring, one can argue, has a subconscious goal - to discover a new facet or unknown part of Paris. I'd never passed this corner in the Marais and looked up - but on this day I did and saw how the light hit the wall above on the ancient street name chiselled in the stone.
 Below Pigalle, once a thriving red-light district with cabarets, revues, and various heydays ie.1890's with Le Chat Noir, the Moulin Rouge (still serving shows for the tourists) it's now full of massage parlors, guitar stores and sex shops. I did find Chez Moune, still a peep show. Down the adjoining street, on one block of rue Fontaine at one time lived  Toulouse Lautrec on the second floor to be near his doctor, Edward Degas and Renoir. I walked back and forth on that block trying to imagine them visiting each other or meeting at the corner cafe. Which they did.
 Sundays Parisians insist are made for les flaneurs. We, les flaneurs, piled on the train, with several kids and baskets of food, to an hour northeast followed by a trek from the station along the river, culminating to a boat ride to Ile Verte. The green island - a little sliver in the Seine - without cars and little summer chalets about the size of postage stamps. Barbecued sardines, tiramisu, singing and there you can see what's left of the wine.
 Caught in a downpour one day I ran for shelter under an overhang which turned out to be the back entrance of the Drouot Auction house. A while ago I posted about the scandal of the Savoyards, the red collars, who've had the compriseur positions appraising all auction items and were discovered to be raking off the top. So the Savoyard mafia was gone this time but I wandered into the auction preview and Christian Dior's silver bathtub was up for bid.
This Monsieur will fix your electric razor. He's the only one in Paris who can do it, probably in all of France too since clients send him razors from Provence and Alsace to repair. His shop's behind Square Montholon. He's doctored electric razors for more than twenty years, knows everyone on the Rue and even the details of an old murder in a club next door.
Cara - Tuesday

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