The romance of Paris Festive

photo inspiration PFAt 171, Boulevard de Montparnasse, in front of the Café de la Closerie des Lilas, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris

The driver brought the car to a halt in front of the large café, and M glanced uneasily through the window. But the rain was falling heavily outside, streaming down the car making it impossible for the young woman to see anything between the drops, other than the flickering lights of the café.

“Are you sure we’re in the right place, Edouard?” she asked anxiously, as the driver was preparing the umbrella.

M remembered the description that she had been given of the Closerie des Lilas, in the famous district of Montparnasse in Paris: the shaded terrace, she had been told, was very pleasant from spring to autumn, surrounded by bowers bending under the weight of the flowering lilacs, their sweet, almost spicy, floral fragrances filling the air.

“Very sure, Madam”, confirmed Edouard with a reassuring smile. “Please don’t move, I’ll come and open the door for you”.

M could just make Edouard out as he circled round the car in the downpour. Then the door opened, and the young woman leaned on the driver’s strong shoulder to skip between puddles.

A wave of heat swept over her as she stepped inside the building. Her cheeks became red and her clothes felt like a damp and spongy straitjacket. She didn’t really know which was responsible: the wet outside, or the sweltering mugginess inside.

The draped curtains parted and a waiter greeted her politely.

“Welcome to Closerie des Lilas, Madam. May I take your coat?”

It was Tuesday. The café was packed. As far back as she could remember, M had never witnessed such iconoclastic mixture of chic bourgeois and penniless, artists and dancers, snobs and intellectuals, painters and writers.

M moved through the lobby packed with hatted people as her own clothes hobnobbed with the silk brocades, sable capes and fur collars of the Montparnos, the people from the Montparnasse district. She began feeling her way over the slippery mosaic floor to the centre of the room. Charcoal sketches on the walls spread out in every direction. Her reflection flickered from mirror to mirror, spreading over the leather, gold and wood panelling, stylized roses and Art Deco palms.

This place was in fact full of men and women that were the gossip of Paris society and hit all the headlines of the newspapers. M was well aware of having entered the lair of artists, the theatre for the thoughts of a complete era, the great epicentre of art and literature – all in the great tradition of the famous Bal Bullier dance hall.

In particular, she spotted Kiki, supposedly prim and proper, and Mistinguett, the Music-hall dancer, obscured by her jewels and furs, which made M wonder how she managed not to suffocate.

Eventually, her feet told her she had reached the square polished parquet dance floor. Here, couples were dislocating their limbs to the sound of the Charleston. She felt herself suddenly snatched in passing, and found herself dancing too. The man was young and blond, with a square jaw and a high, narrow forehead. He looked at her more with curiosity than interest. Which reassured her.

“Scott Fitzgerald”, the affable man introduced himself between two dance steps. “Is this your first time here?”

M nodded, already out of breath. She was about to return the question, when she thought that judging by his confidence and chatty tone he must be a regular. Suddenly there was a wail behind them. A blond with a boyish haircut stared at them with a black look.

“Zelda, my wife”, muttered the man, ill at ease.

“I want to go to the Café de la Rotonde, instructed the delectable woman, her two greedy hands darting to grab the man away from M. “Or perhaps to la Coupole ! There are far too many strumpets here!”

M took the opportunity to slip away, nonchalantly. She crossed the room again, and snatches of the voice of the blond faded behind her. In one corner the band played jazz and black bottom, but M only wanted one thing: to relax on the red moleskin banquettes and catch her breath. But she barely had time. No sooner had she dropped behind a table, but the man sitting to her right turned to her. As an introduction he asked her, point blank:

“Are you frightened of dying, Mademoiselle?”

“I beg your pardon?” Mstammered, looking up. “No I’m not… well of course just a little! But I’m still young thankfully…”

She had absolutely no idea where the man was going with the conversation.

“You see,” he said slowly, “love is the only thing that really makes me feel immortal. But seeing you there, so beautiful, next to me, I let myself to believe that death will never have a hold over me again.”

M looked at him with shy curiosity. He was handsome. His skin was golden, his hair and eyes black. And in particular the deep and dark look that completely enveloped her gave her the feeling that never again, would she be afraid of this person. They began to talk – about everything and anything. The man’s name was Ernest – Ernest Hemingway.

“Do you knowthe island ofKey West, dear M?” whispered the magnetic Ernest to her, his hand already touching the hollow of her arm, making her shiver. “I dream of being able to take you there.”

M blushed. But in between stammers of pleasure, her eyes caught sight of the clock. It was time, and she thought Edouard must be waiting for her outside. She got up in a hurry, promising to return; and promising herself even more.

Outside, the heavy rain had eased. No longer dancing on the ground, the pitter-patter of the small drops sounding to M’s ears like Ernest’s promises of love. And the halo of night was an enchanting blur: the city lights. In her eyes, Paris was the most beautiful city in the world.

Each product name pays tribute to Madame M’s romantic novels « PARIS FESTIVE ».
To discover the inspirations for the products in detail, click here.

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