Lou Pascalou where the heck are you?


I had read about the area of Canal Saint-Martin and Belleville in the east end of Paris and wanted to go there.

Paris - subway grandmother and child

Little scene on Le Metro on our way to east end of Paris.

Time to get away from mainstream Paris and see more of the working class / hipster Paris. We had a very good little guide and map book with us, Knopf Map Guides of Paris, and it recommended the Lou Pascalou bar as one favoured by the locals off the main strip. So, we took the Metro over there to find it.

Paris - subway Red Dead Redemption poster

What are you looking at punk? I should just blow your head off. More ads in Le Metro.

Paris - Le Metro Apple iPad ads

The iPad was launched in France while we were there. Apple bought a lot of space in Le Metro. Fun looking at French ads with Le Monde instead of the New York Times.

Paris - Hector Guimard metro art deco entrance

Look up the fascinating story of Hector Guimard, the architect who designed the famous art nouveau Metro entrances, most of which were torn down.

Now, I had never heard of this place before, and knew nothing about it other than the paragraph in the book, but all of a sudden it seemed important for me to find it. Does that ever happen to you? Something you hardly know about becomes an obsession?

Now unfortunately, we somehow got distracted and walked right past the little side street it was on. And to make matters worse, we missed the fact that the street we were walking on, Boulevard de Belleville, turns into Boulevard de Menilmontant (not to be confused with Rue de Menilmontant which crosses it) and the next thing we knew we were at the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Paris - Marlene - Lipstick

A little lunch improves everything!

We’d gone too far, and neither of us wanted to see Jim Morrison or Chopin’s grave. So we turned around. Walked back, still looking for Lou Pascalou. We’re getting hungry, tired and cranky.

Finally, we picked the next busy restaurant, La Mere Lachaise, sat down and ordered. A small comedy of errors. We got our drinks, but Marlene had ordered an appetizer and main course. After finishing the appetizer, she said she wasn’t really hungry. Well, the kitchen must have been psychic because they didn’t make the main course anyway. But of course, when it came time to call for l’addition, it was on the bill. Call over the waiter, and in real broken French try to explain. He calls over his waiter partner. Didn’t anybody bring this course to the lady? Lots of shrugging, conferring with the bartender, back to us. It seemed to be difficult to reverse the charges, but even French cash registers have the technology and it finally got settled.

Paris - La Mere Lachaise restaurant

The view from La Mere Lachaise. Away from the tourist hot spots, a more real Paris emerges.

In the meantime, I had a few minutes to study the map some more. Still looking for Lou Pascalou of course. And naturally, we were just a block from the corner where we had to turn in. Well, it was time to start our Paris tradition – the afternoon pastis.

Paris - Pastis at Lou Pascalou

Time for a little after dinner drink. Very civilized. BTW, the great French singer Edith Piaf was born somewhere in this neighbourhood.

We found it, and indeed it was a charming local hangout. Two pastis please! A note of caution about this lovely amber-coloured, licorice-flavoured digestif. It’s 45% alcohol – that’s more than the vodka, gin or scotch you might be drinking. So, be generous with the water.

Paris - east end street

Not one of Paris' famous "grand avenues".

A couple of sips, and we were feeling much better, thank you. But the day had gotten long, and neither of us had the energy to go over to Canal Saint-Martin. Never did see it, which in retrospect was a shame. Next time.

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