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Dead In Your Paris Tracks

I was stopped dead in my tracks. He had been stopped dead in his, too.

Let me explain. It’s become a (decadent) habit of mine on Saturday mornings while on route to the Parler Parlor French-English conversation group Paris’ finest bakeries. Located on rue Buci (number 6), there is always a queue for their beautiful breads and pâtisseries. The croissant is solid butter, flaky and crisp and every morsel melts in your mouth. (I dare you to find a better one.)

As I rounded the corner from rue de l’Ancienne Comédie, my thoughts were with one of our clients who had signed the “Acte de Vente” (Act of Sale) just the afternoon before on a lovely one-bedroom apartment on rue Mazarine, just near this same corner. I wondered if I would see him and his wife there that morning as I had been extolling the virtues of the Carton croissant during the signing!

Instead, first I noticed the florist on the corner that couldn’t be seen for the massive amount of Christmas trees they had on sale, all of which were wrapped tight in their netting, awaiting some happy new owners to release their branches. But, then just beyond, stacked high on a large board above a mountain of fresh shellfish at the Buci “poissonerie” was a dead wild boar (isn’t this an oxymoron?), his front legs straddled, his head stretched out forward looking rather peaceful, and a bit of blood and guts coming out of his nose. I wasn’t the only one taking pictures. Only in Paris, I thought.

Later that day, for lunch with friends in a café at Place du Marechal Juin in the 17th, it seemed serendipitous that “Civet de Sanglier” should be on the menu as a “plat du jour,” so of course, I ordered it. It was tasty, as I knew it would be.

After, a long walk along the “petite ceinture” on the edge of the city took us to the “Atelier Berthier” near Porte de Clichy that housed the sale of the opera costumes. Inside this large open barn were racks and racks of beautifully hand made costumes, each on a hanger covered with a heavy plastic protector, each row labeled for the name of the opera or the type of garments: “Carmen, Phantome, robes, tunics, collants…”

The fabrics were luscious and often very heavy. The construction was by hand and the details extraordinary. We tried on jackets and hats…made jokes about the glittering tights…tried to imagine ourselves wearing something so costume-partyish on the streets of Paris. I spotted the rack of black capes from “Phantome de l’Opéra,” uncovered it and slung it’s breadth of black “peau de soie” over my shoulders, pulled the collar up high to leave exposed only my eyes, dreamt of a mask and a stage and a spotlight…then went the flash of the camera of a journalist from France Presse and realized it wasn’t a dream at all.

It was just Paris.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
E-mail: [email protected]

P.S. Lots of stores are open late this time of year — and on Sunday, too. As Christmas nears, you can take advantage of these extended hours and in the evenings of the fantastic light shows. Don’t miss Galeries Lafayette’s near Eastern lighting design that coats the building in its entirety.


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