Le Marché Noir 13/11/2009Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
Tags: bootlegging, cafe d'albert, france, montmartre, paris
Cafe d’Albert is down the street on the corner of Ordener. Hours after landing I walked in, had difficulty getting the barrista to understand I wanted an espresso, and then drank two. The staff has since warmed up to my persistent presence with some members greeting me, “ça va” and one even agreeing to have a drink with me– all except the stuck up guy won’t acknowledge my existence because I’m not a blonde girl.
Prima-donnas aside, d’Albert would never be confused with your stereotypical Parisian cafe, all stiff shirts and linens. It’s down home, has its resident lost causes, and always has a sports game playing on the flatscreen. It’s comfortable, even if only one person there knows my name.
Dragging out my espresso last night, hoping the server would notice I needed change, a woman walked in. She started handing out stacks of what I thought were quarter page flyers so I hoped and prayed she would not approach me because I didn’t want to rudely dismiss her. Then I realized the two other patrons and the woman behind the counter were rifling through a colossal stack of bootlegged DVDs and hoped and prayed I would not be approached because I didn’t want anyone to mistake my refusal to sift as prudishness. And I wished I had my camera.
There was no pretending this was a big deal; DVDs were soon splayed out across the counter and the bootlegger was pushing a three for €5. Each disc came in a transparent plastic sleeve with a cassette-sized reproduction of the original cover. The barrista grabbed a bill from the register and selected a couple blockbusters. She also realized I was waiting on change so I was able to escape without any incidental interaction but it was worth waiting. It’s comforting to see such a casual illegal transaction on a quiet Thursday night.