Bonjour! Today I am off to France to visit my Granny in a South-West town called Bayonne. I am so looking forward to catching up with my nan and my girls Steph and Johana... And then there's the food.
With a trip to France that falls on TuNesday it's pretty obvs that today I am going to be chatting about a French artist... I have put together une petite histoire based on my trip to the Edith Piaf Museum in Paris.
Un Conte Parisien
“OUI?” this is Mr Marchois voice blasting down the telephone. Thankfully my French skills allow me to take on this job. I am trying to book a viewing for the Edith Piaf museum, it is by appointment only and unfortunately my timing is such that the owner of this musée has pressing engagements that he needs to get to. He explains that he has no time to talk but I can pop over tomorrow and starts to read me out an apartment code.
“Hold on, let me get a pen” (Attendez, que je prenne un stylo)
No time, he reads me the code which I desperately try to translate and remember; a barrage of letters and numbers, the line goes dead.
The next day we head over to North-East Paris, Belle Ville; a less desirable part of the city and go in search of Edith’s old apartment, a small place that the Piaf super fan now owns and has opened to the public. Terrified of showing up early we wait outside for our allotted time, noting the Piaf lookalikes that stroll pass; two young ladies decked out in floppy hats could easily be mistaken for Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose, a strange sight.
We make our way through a couple of doors, punching in codes and finally find the elevator that takes us to the apartment. The illusion that we are in a normal Parisien apartment block is shattered the instant that the door swings open.
“Quand il me prend dans ses bras, ll me parle tout bas, Je vois la vie en rose…”
Mr Marchois is there to greet us, obviously unimpressed by what he sees; he straight away asks if we are Americans. We tell him we are English, to which he snorts, explaining that he doesn’t get many English visitors, but do take a look around and come and find him if we have any questions.
The apartment consists of two red painted small rooms, the rest of the apartment is cordoned off; this is where Mr Marchois resides. The rooms are crammed with Edith Piaf memorabilia; personal objects, framed gifts, letters, pictures and posters, there is even a cardboard cut-out of the singer that measures her real size- a mere 4 foot 10 inches.
We slowly make our way nervously around the first room, I try to get a picture of me stood next to the cut-out, when Mr Marchois appears suddenly and asks us whether we have seen the clear notices that photos are forbidden. Aha, spotted them. The almost illegible pencil notes resting on various objects did hold a whole host of interesting messages:
“Touching these objects leads to their destruction”
The Piaf body-doubles are in the next room, and Mr Marchois is enthusiastically answering a whole range of questions, there is an unsaid tug of war, between these two ladies on a Piaf pilgrimage and the super fan himself. We slip in and out of the rooms unobserved and trying to look like we are somewhat educated on the late singer’s story.
“Ah look its Marcel’s Boxing Gloves!” I cry out, followed by “I love this song”... Distinct humming is sounded.
After we have taken a look at all on offer, we continue to relook, uncertain of what to do next. Madame and mademoiselle Piaf are still fully engaged and they arrived twenty minutes before us. Sensing that we may be at a loss, Mr Marchois approaches us, asking if we have any questions… Hmmm, Questions, questions?? I ask how old Edith was when she lived here, a question which causes Mr Marchois to outwardly sigh and the two Piaf’s to turn and look. I was obviously expected to have known this information prior to this visit, making my liking of the little sparrow beyond amateur level.
To separate the true fans from the phonies, it was time to leave these guys to it. My visit to Edith’s apartment was a fantastic experience, the creepiness and animosity simply added to the adventure. After all Piaf herself wasn’t the most likeable of characters, so why should her number one fan be?