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Pendaison de Crémaillére 23/04/2010

Posted by brendan in La Vie en Paris.
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Chez Eléonore

Last spring Eléonore was on the outer rim of Robin’s Beaux Arts associations. She invested a great deal of effort teaching me how to correctly pronounce macaroon without any success. A year later she hosted a pendaison de crémaillére at her new apartment, which I was not directly invited to but Damien figured it would be okay if I showed up.

It was an opportunity to travel into the wilds of southeastern Paris, a neighborhood which does not feature largely on many tourists maps. Nothing much to see, just a quiet residential area where the cafés close early and no one’s on the street. What you lose in nightlife you gain in apartments– Eléonore had a place to herself that rivaled the space I was sharing with two people.

My bottle of cheap wine was secreted in the kitchen never to emerge. This process of buying a bottle of wine still intimidates me, and I avoid the specialty shops because someone may try and help me. Even at an alimentation générale the quantity of vintages you can blow five bucks on is rather astonishing, but it also means you can’t just grab something off the dustiest shelf and be done. For all my troubles and the investment of five bucks I should at least have been observed arriving with a bottle of something, but I was too mortified and so far as anyone knows I just showed up to leech.

Not that anyone was making judgements. The living room was populated with little clusters of people all sitting on the floor having little conversations of great seriousness. Art students. They looked unkempt in a carefully calculated way to which American art students can only aspire. The clothes may be a little worn but never ratty. They may be hoping to score free snacks and booze but they’ll never line their pockets or chug their way through free drinks before being chucked out. People knew one another, people said hello, the friends I had arrived with suddenly were occupied so I grabbed a bottle of wine from in between an intense conversation and poured myself a plastic cup.

Chez Eléonore

Time trickled past. There was no breeching these circles of discussion. I leaned against the wall, occasionally checking in with those that brought me who had taken up residence on the floor. The fact that my French is pretty worthless certainly didn’t help matters but judging by a guy who showed up later and sat staring into space, it was more a matter of being an outsider. I didn’t go say hello to him, he didn’t come say hello to me.

I’m not even sure if I said much to Eléonore who noted my presence but did not seem disturbed by me being there. Clément remembered my name, even remembered that it’s not Brenda, but was quickly consumed by others. One stranger did eventually pull up a seat. He had studied Japanese and lived there for a couple years, so we talked about that, we talked about the States and France, we talked about squats. I asked if he knew of an associated called Jeudi Noir and he said his friend was in with them. His friend Antoine.

Antoine was so wasted he couldn’t even speak English. He kept asking me where the party was, what was I doing after I left, what were my roommates doing, was there a party at my house. Not in a condition to talk shop about squats and associations, but my group were gearing up to leave anyways.

I bid adieu to the guy who I had been talking to who earnestly said that if I ever needed anything I just had to ask. I bid adieu to Clément and to Eléonore, then Robin and Ana who were staying. Thomas and Damien were taking a different line so I caught the métro alone, then ran through Pigalle with a couple other passengers trying to catch the last 12 of the night.



1. Sab - 24/05/2010

Hi There, I’ve certainly been guilty of the ‘crap bottle of wine… gone!’ syndrome. I’ve even hammered home my stupidity by asking why we don’t open the one I brought, thinking that it would be appreciated that we were sampling my offering and not depleting their personal stocks, not realising that for a start offered bottles are generally good ones, to be kept and brought out on another occasion with a story of how it came into their possession to be told at the same time, and that, secondly, mine was so mind-numbingly inappropriate for a vaguely sophisticated soirée that the embarrassment of all present would have been palpable. Not easy being non-French…

blaark - 28/05/2010

I don’t know if you had much experience with wine prior to becoming a pseudo-Parisian. I could never stand the stuff until now, and so I feel especially clueless. Add to that cheap and I’m not sure why anyone invites me anywhere.

But I’m glad I’m not alone.

2. jo ellen - 29/05/2010

So going into the specialty shops and saying what do you reccomend in a red about 5 euro to go with tofu stir fry is not the easiest thing to do, but you would be surprised how eager to help the people are, and you would learn the vocab of wine…fruitée, acide, lourd, ect. Plu they usually have stuff on sale that is worth knowing about.
I think I’ll be there mid Sept. one week on my own, another with Stan. I’ll let you know, meanwhile donne-moi ton addresse, si te plais…
Love your blog-

3. blaark - 04/06/2010

You have to remember that even when I can speak the language fluently I shun interactive purchasing experiences. To my detriment, to be sure, and I should get over it. The fact that I have no understanding of wine makes it doubly difficult, which I should also get over.

Actually I should hang out with the aspiring sommelier I know. And her winery having parents.

September sounds exciting. Not sure if I’ll be back in the states then or not but you’ll be kept abreast of the situation. II envoie mon adresse par e-mail.

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