Unk invited my sister and me to the Foliere’s Begere for dinner and a show. He picked us up in a taxi and dressed in our finery, we rode across the city, now bathed in bright lights, for an evening of fun. My uncle who is known for his frugality, especially when it comes to his nieces, was particularly generous that evening treating us to a seven course dinner, a stylish show, and to top it off, a bottle of champagne. The evening ended on a high note.
The next day, Sis and I decided to explore the nearby neighborhood including Place Pigalle. Coming out of our hotel, one of the first things we noticed was the gentlemen’s club right across from us. Down the narrow block, apartment buildings and small hotels like ours were intermingled among these clubs. Throughout the day and far into the night, women, heavily made-up, scantily clad and wearing high-heeled shoes stood in the doorways of the clubs, – young, old, shapely, and shapeless, blonds, brunettes, and redheads. They called out to male passersby, trying to entice them to enter the clubs to fulfill their fantasies. Other tourists walked up and down the street. Some glanced curiously into the dark interiors, some stared straight ahead as they scurried past. Apartment dwellers hurried to their doors, punched in a code that allowed them to enter the buildings.
Short blocks and narrow sidewalks, fruit stands sandwiched between the buildings, gargantuan wooden doors, and streets filled with people impressed upon my memory. Sis and I found a bakery where we bought fresh baked baguettes, and a cafeteria where we planned to eat lunch. Strolling along Place Pigalle we passed the sex shops, the pharmacy specializing in sexual enhancing products for men, the Monoplex, a department store, shops where tourist could purchase souvenirs and the ubiquitous cafes where patrons sat at small tables to drink wine or beer and watch the never-ending stream of humanity. At the far end of Place Pigalle stood the famous Moulin Rouge. We explored the massive lobby, reading the advertisements and noting the upcoming shows. It was closed but would open in the evening.
We rode the bus up a steep hill to Montmartre where we gazed down at the city below. We visited the Sacre-Coeur Basilica and watched artists paint lovely scenes of the cityscape. I didn’t notice the sign that read “no photographs” until I’d snapped a photo. Finally we hiked back down to Place Pigalle.
Imagine our surprise when we bumped into our uncle strolling down Pigalle with a sheepish grin on his face. He said that he, like us, was just exploring the area. He said he had arranged for us to come to his hotel the next day where we would meet our cousin who had relocated to Paris and was now a “celebrity” there. Coincidentally we ran into him several times during our stay “exploring the area.” I think he spent more time exploring the area around our hotel than he did his.
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