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Star Spotting in the Marais

6-5-13corner tables cafe charlotCorner tables at Café Charlot6-5-13the-artist-affiche6-5-13bricedenice6-5-13lesinfideles6-5-13jean-dujardin-with-the-best-actor-award-received-for-the-artist-at-the-84th-academy-awards-289014812Jean Dujardin with his Best Actor Oscar6-5-13cafecharlotburgerCafé Charlot burger6-5-13jardin-lamy-divorce

Living in Los Angeles, star-spotting was a regular occurrence, particularly the years we spent in Brentwood elbow-to-elbow with the likes of such ‘luminaries’ as O.J. Simpson (known among the locals as the “Brentwood Butcher” and whose murdered wife was the decorator of the apartment above ours); Joni Mitchell (who frequented a little restaurant in Sunset Plaza dining alone); Maria Schriver (who once almost ran me over in her silver Mercedes); George Carlin (who made a joke from a nearby table in a restaurant about our conversation with two young lawyers); Elizabeth Taylor (who sat near me at an AIDS fundraiser and who said, “Thank you!” to me after I called out to her, “Liz, you look gorgeous!”), etc., etc., etc., etc. There are enough stories to fill a book, and it was all a lot of fun.

But here in Paris, while there are star-spottings on rare occasions, they do happen in particular places. There would be more if I were more familiar with French luminaries. It’s likely they are there, but I don’t notice them…nor care anymore, really.

It may shock you that I’m oblivious to the world of French actors after living here for almost 20 years, but French films have never interested me much (I’ve openly admitted to this in earlier missives, so please don’t blast me for a general dislike of French films) and for some American egocentric reason, French stars just don’t seem as important to me as our own. (You can give me hell for this – I agree, it’s totally American ego-inflated).

Nonetheless, there are a few who have really gotten under my skin, particularly those who have crossed the line and become French actors playing roles in American films. The IMDB lists the top 100 French actors and actresses, among them a few I know I’d recognize and appreciate. I once saw Vincent Cassel at an art opening of JR (the artists is a celebrity in his own right, who I met at my daughter’s exhibition in New York). Jean Reno was at dinner next to us in a tiny restaurant in the middle of Provence one summer, and Julie Delpy had lunch at a café on rue de Bretagne while I was working on my laptop. Leslie Caron came to my apartment twice years ago when she was working on a Web site for her auberge on the Yonne (that was a special treat), but yesterday I had a particular thrill.

There I was having an omelet at Café Charlot, as is my habit on Sundays with the laptop for email catch-up, when this nice-looking 40-ish year-old man squeezes in past me to sit at the corner table — one I often take to be the observer and not be observed. He was wearing nothing special — cargo-style pants with lots of pockets and a little puff jacket, his beard of a couple days of growth and graying hair. Mostly I could see his profile, of course…but it was unmistakably “L’Artiste” — Jean Dujardin.

I did a double take and my whole body went limp. Leaving everything on my seat, I got up and walked over to one of the waiters and (in French) asked, “Is that really Jean Dujardin sitting next to me?” “Oui, je pense que oui,” he whispered.

Okay, that did it. Now I was a wreck. I’ve watched “Brice de Nice” at least a dozen times and laughed my buns off more each time. I’ve seen a bad film of his, too —  “Les Infidèles” (which he co-directed, co-wrote and co-produced) and of course, “The Artist” which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Dujardin, who was the first French actor ever to win for Best Actor. It was the first French film to ever win Best Picture, too.

And there he was, a few inches away eating a hamburger and fries all alone. My whole body tingled from the excitement, but trying to gain some composure, I spent a few moments trying to decide what could be said to him without being a blubbering fan (I’m so good at that) or bothering him or calling attention to him so that others would realize he was there. Without trying to look over at him too often, or snap a photo with my iPhone or Mac Airbook (which would have been way too obvious and obnoxious), I noticed that unlike the French who eat a burger with a fork and knife (I swear this is true), he was holding it in both hands and biting into it American style.

That was the clue…so I leaned over and said (in English), “Excuse me, but I just have to tell you that it’s great to see you eating the hamburger the CORRECT way — we don’t see it often!” To which, he laughed, gave me a smile and then continued to down it like there was no tomorrow.

That was the extent of our conversation, with the exception of his saying “Au revoir” when he left, which was not too long after.

Now, I wonder if perhaps he has moved into the neighborhood — if the rumors about separating from his wife, Alexandra Lamy, are true or not and if this spotting will contribute to that!

I’ll be keeping an eye out for him, that’s for sure…

A la prochaine…


Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC

(at Café Charlot)

Respond to Adrian


Last Minute Cancellation – take advantage of a 25% discount! We’ve just had a one month booking cancelled at the last minute at Le Bonaparte, so most of May is available. We are offering a discount of 25% off the usual rate for May so book now!

6-5-13eyesonnepalbyeslP.P.S. Nepal is a long way from Paris in both miles and culture, but for a glimpse of a world we don’t often see, don’t miss Erica Simone’s “Project: Eyes on Nepal” to see how the other half lives…in poverty, but happiness.


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