A Year in the Merde
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Based on Stephen Clarke's own experiences and with names changed to "avoid embarrassment, possible legal action, and to prevent the author's legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint Laurent suit," A Year in the Merde provides perfect entertainment for Francophiles and Francophobes alike.
and cascades of small, juicy-looking grapes that looked real and mud splashed, as though they’d actually been on a vine out in the fresh air at some point, as opposed to the polished clone grapes we see in English supermarkets. As I sat there slavering, one of the fruit-and-veg sellers leaned over the display and started dunking his hands into a mound of wild mushrooms, scooping up whole fistfuls of gnarled, chocolate brown cèpes that still had their muddy roots attached. It was almost erotic.
the wide boulevard. I headed toward the rue Oberkampf itself and soon came across a bright yellow shopfront marked “Immoland.” In the main window there were photos advertising apartments for sale, with the usual incomprehensible jargon—“triplex RdC s/cour,” “SdB + SdE.” And in a small section of window by the door, a list marked LOCATIONS. These were not, I knew, suggestions for outdoor filmmakers, but the agency’s apartments to rent. “Bonjour,” I said to the guy sitting behind a computer.
to take me to “the best store in Paris.” Why not, I thought, envisaging maybe a cut-price record shop with free beer and topless counter assistants. Turned out, though, to be a bloody secondhand bookshop. It was cute enough, housed in a timber-framed medieval building just opposite Notre Dame. Inside, it was pleasantly stuffy and smelled mustily of the books that thrust themselves at you from all angles. They covered most of the floor, climbed up the walls, and hung from the ceiling like dead,
either, but she didn’t need to. She glowered at me every time I entered or left the building and obviously thought that I personally wanted to go and bomb Iraq. Or maybe now that I was out of favor with Jean-Marie, she was simply letting her natural unfriendliness show through. She informed me through gritted gray teeth that I shouldn’t have taken a holiday without filling in a holiday form and that she wasn’t altogether sure I was entitled to a holiday anyway, having been with the company for
later,” Jean-Marie said. “Say, next month. Bon appétit.” “Bon appétit,” I replied, even though he’d just ruined mine. I took a tentative bite of my food and my appetite returned instantaneously. Now I understood—chèvre was goat’s cheese, not dead goat. Very good, too. Warm and creamy on the brittle toast. And the lettuce was sprinkled with crunchy walnuts and quite simply drenched in vinaigrette. A kind of warmth seeped into me with the salad dressing. Here I was, eating outside a street café