Oysters and ‘The Artist’ save the day


After yesterday’s debacle, I had to make the most of my return to Paris.  My intention was still to go to Brussels, as it is only an hour and twenty minute train ride direct to the city center.  However, the seven hour journey back from Berlin rendered me non-functional for the first half of the day, making it virtually impossible to catch an 11:25 train from Gare du Nord.  On to plan b…

I’ve been dying to go to the movies in Paris, even if in French, but preferably a subtitled version of some American blockbuster, just for the sheer hilarity of it all.  But I noticed that ‘The Artist’, the sensation of Cannes that earned its star Jean Dujardin Best Actor accolades, was opening and given that it’s a silent film, all the better.  That’s right, a silent film about a silent film star, shot in glorious black and white.  Sounds a bit old fashioned, right?  Guess again…

Though nearly 100% is silent save for the rousing score, a few foley sound effects, and a great tap dance number, this unique film managed to convey the rise, fall, and rise again of the film’s protagonist with a deep emotional impact that is rare in today’s cinema.  One minute I was laughing out loud, utterly charmed by lighter than air performances from the two romantic leads, and the next I was choking back tears at the poignant decline of the lovable yet proud hero, as well as the sweet, loyal relationship with his scruffy terrier sidekick (animal sidekicks – I will WEEP instantly!)  The movie doesn’t open stateside until late November but please, please, please see it when it does.  Nothing blows up, there is no CGI, I don’t think it will be projected in 3D, but it will restore your faith in good old fashioned storytelling and the simple transformative magic of the movies.

The only thing better than a satisfying film is a satisfying meal and today was the day I was diving into a tray of oysters.  Huiterie Regis was right around the corner from the movie theater, but it wasn’t open yet and I was starving (I was also in search of my first meal of the day) so it was back to my little friends on Rue de Buci.  A half dozen Gillardeaus, a glass of sancerre and you realize coming to Paris in October, a month spelled with an “r”, has special advantages.

I picked up a couple of of Lauderee macarons, salted caramel and Colombian chocolate, for the walk home, and the comeback was complete.  I could have ended the perfect day there, but I witnessed an act of kindness so astounding, from a Frenchwoman no less, that I had to pay it forward.  As I waited in line to pay for my two macarons (there is always a crazy line at Lauderee and now I know why – only one cashier) the check-out lady had charged someone 56 euros for their purchase, which was far, far less.  Don’t get me wrong, the place ain’t cheap, but 56 euros buys a lot of macarons.  Realizing her mistake, she reversed the charge, apologized profusely, re-rang the customers, then grabbed two more macarons from the case as an added act of contrition.  I have NEVER seen that in France, and it restored my faith in the national character, especially after a sly young couple queue jumped me in line for ‘The Artist’.  When it was finally my turn to pay, I gave her 4 euros for the 3.30 charge.  She gave me change back of 1.70, when it should have been only .70.  I gave her back the one euro, and after some initial confusion, a smile of relief came over her face.  For a brief moment, I was not the Rude American, but the rare honest customer.

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