#61 Paris on 1,000 words a day

In Paris on November 11, 2010 at 11:43 am

If you haven’t had a full day to yourself since there was an elected government; or if the bus ride to work is the closest you get to ‘me time’; or if you are reading this in a spare five minutes (ok three) between deadlines and school pick ups, then LOOK AWAY NOW.

And if your toddler won’t even let you go to the loo alone, or if you never do anything except other people’s washing and other people’s suppers and other people’s homework, or if you’ve been reading the same page of your book for the past six weeks, then my sincere apologies in advance.

You see, I’ve just had 84hours on my own. In Paris. Nearly four days with no one to cook for and no one’s washing to do. With an excellent book to finish (Stewart Lee), a note book, and a laptop. And with a whole city of good food and buzzing boulevards at my disposal. Jealous?

The idea was that while my husband used up his holiday allowance, I would stroll through the Marais and around the Ile St Louis, soaking up inspiration from a long line of literary flâneurs, and penning works of genius, or at least grammatical competence, in smoke filled cafes filled with rugged Gauls reading newspapers on sticks in their breaks between protests.

In reality, my trip was considerably more prosaic. I cleaned the flat, changed a light bulb, bought more toilet roll, fixed a squint picture, read the gas metre, proof-read a 240 page limited edition style magazine (for cash), watched a disappointing film set in Barcelona, and got soaked during four consecutive days of rain. And finished my book in one sitting.

Parisian cafes these days are, reluctantly, smoke free (if you can’t find your waiter, they are probably outside having a fag) and tea is currently the fashion (albeit a €5-a-pot fashion) with a new branch of Rose Bakery now open in the Haut Marais and a dramatic book-lined cafe fronting my new favourite shop, Merci.

The closest I came to living the rêve was lunch with a genuine philosopher, shopping for cheese, and failing to get an internet connection in my local cafe whose name (La Fée Vert) is a reference to its extensive absinthe list.

Strangely, it turns out that walking past the house where sculptress (and Rodin’s lover) Camille Claudel once lived, sitting on a terrasse outside east end versions of the bars frequented by Beckett and Sartre, contemplating all the dead writers up the road in Père Lachaise, or even hanging out in the same park as Jarvis Cocker, doesn’t automatically lead to unbridled creativity and works of genius. Who knew?

  1. I was told he lived in the 10th, not far from Gare du Nord, but after 18 months of living in the 20th (not as far away as it sounds) and keeping my eyes peeled, I never saw him…

  2. Which park does Jarvis hang out in? Butte Chamont?

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Ossoway, Jessica CT. Jessica CT said: #61 Paris on 1,000 words a day: http://wp.me/pF383-eB […]

    • There have been numerous sightings of him by friends in Jardin du Luxembourg, usually with his lad, but as I think he now spends most of his time in the UK rather than Paris, such sightings will no doubt be less frequent.

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