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Rat-a-Tat-a-Three-for-Three

Last week there were rumblings in an upper pantry in the kitchen.

I knew there was a moth problem — it comes and goes with the assortment of goodies in that particular cabinet and have become accustomed to whacking them with a fly swatter, removing any moth-infested packages, sealing up every cereal, nut or grain and hanging moth repellent gadgets all over the kitchen. It works for a while and then they come back.

But this time the sound was a bit bigger than a moth.

When daring to open the cabinet, thank goodness there were no furry creatures, but the signs of a mouse or rat were clear. That big bag of pistachios had been eaten into and only the shells were left. Little black turds were sprinkled in among the debris of the half-eaten food stuff and that sick feeling crept into my gut.

With plastic gloves on, in a sweat, nervous to have a run-in with the little fellow, every package came out and was disposed of, then every inch of the cabinet got a good cleaning. For at least a while, the varmint had moved on. Or so I thought.

Then, the rustlings reappeared. A loud tap on the cabinet sent him scurrying and sent me to Leroy Merlin for a trap. (“Le-Roi-Mare-Lan” is a “Home Depot” DIY store near the Centre Georges Pompidou that I recently heard called “Uncle Leroy’s” by someone who frequents it regularly like a drug addict getting a fix. They have everything.)

In the garden section were the traps. I opted for a little triangular black box with a hole in each side and poisonous delectables inside to attract and then kill the little thing. One of our Parler Parlor conversation group members claims he’s three for three by catching them within 24 hours just with a dollop of peanut butter and an old-fashioned trap. Fool proof, but I don’t want to be the one to release his little head! A gay friend living in the neighborhood suggested calling a ‘straight boy’ to do the dirty work, since the other neighbors in Le Marais might not be any tougher than me on this issue(!).

Meanwhile, the city hall is promoting its three days of cinema for 3€ each having begun just yesterday and continuing through tomorrow (August 19th, 20th and 21st) in all the theaters in the Capital. Considering my dilemma, it seemed apropos to go see Disney’s (and Pixar Studios) latest adventure, “Ratatouille,” to discover…les ponts de Paris, Chez Gusteau, la Tour Eiffel, les égouts de Paris, etc…and so we did.

If you haven’t already met the little chef Rémy, his brother Emile and the colony, or the chefs of Chez Gusteau, you must. Never has Paris looked more beautiful at the hands of master 3-D animators, nor as cleverly characterized. It instilled new sympathy for my little friend stealing
food from my kitchen.

Much has been written about the film thanks to its overwhelming success and praise from cinema-goers of every age. There is quite a lot of speculation over which chefs and restaurants inspired the writers as over six years, Brad Bird, the producer, sent teams to study the ways of great Paris kitchens, such as Taillevent, Guy Savoy and La Tour d’Argent. An article in the Times On Line claims they “drew on that venerable restaurant on the Seine for the physical model and part of the plot,” but the fountain out front indicates (in my opinion) that it must be none other than Place Gaillon and Gérard Depardieu’s restaurant, La Fontaine Gaillon…n’est-ce pas? I had a pretty disappointing meal there a while back!

It’s no surprise that the Paris council cinema division has started “Ratatouille tours” taking fans to Rémy’s haunts, such as the Seine Embankment, the sewers and the Aurouze pest-control shop in Les Halles (8 rue des Halles, http://www.aurouze.fr, 01.40.41.16.20). This ancient boutique featured in the film is famous for the stuffed rats hanging in its window, a sign of what humans do to poor unsuspecting rodents, just like I’m hoping to do to my little thief.

Aurouze has been killing rats for 135 years and in its window hang 21 dead rats, their necks crushed by steel traps, there since 1925. Rat infestation was one of several reasons the market was moved out to the Rungis in 1971, but there’s no reliable estimate for the number of rats in Paris. Mine is more likely a “petite souris” (mouse), or at least I hope so, but I may be calling Aurouze soon enough.

Leaving the cinema with a smile on my face, reliving the film in my mind and conjuring up new sympathy for my four-legged and furry roommate, and on route to a friend’s for dinner, just next door to his Ile Saint-Louis apartment was a large poster of Ratatouille in the Galerie Arludik (number 12-14, rue Saint-Louis en l’Ile, 01.43.26.19.22) where there is an exhibition and sale of original art from the Pixar Studios.

I looked around before entering the big double wooden doors, but the only rat I saw, although I’m sure the island has its fair share, was Rémy. Thank goodness.

Editor’s Note: Photo of hanging stuffed rats in Aurouze’s window is by Bloomberg.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Wednesday I’ll be writing from Marseille, where hopefully there is lots of sun and surf along with the rats. Reminder: Parler Parlor will be closed August 21 to 25 but you are free to meet on your own at no charge on Tuesday August 21st at La Pierre du Marais; Wednesday, August 22nd at Eurocentres and Saturday, August 25th at the café next to Lutèce Langues (Lucas) at the usual times! Visit http://www.ParlerParlor.com for more information.

P.P.S. For subscribers to French Property Insider, don’t miss the free conference all on Sunday, August 26th, “How to Save Money Transferring Dollars to Euros.” If you’re not a subscriber, but wish to partake in the call, scroll down for more information and how you can participate.

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