I forget to mention the little things. I make long philosophical posts about the abstract Parisian life then leave my blog silent about daily routines and regular haunts. So my new goal is to write more frequently (yes!) and more directly. Today the topic to unravel is Chez Georges, my favorite!
A wine bar in the sixth, down an alley I have never seen by daylight, where French students kick around cigarettes in the puddles of light from the building, Chez Georges is old and amiable. Just skip down from the Odéon métro stop and you’ll tumble into 11 Rue de Canettes. Inside, a lone gray-haired barman takes orders and fills up 2euro glass after 2euro glass of rosé, rouge, and blanc. The walls are lined with paintings of facades, Paris streets, empty bars, green wine bottles. People crowd around wooden tables, line up on wooden benches and wooden chairs; a few older men break out chess sets; a rowdy group of 20-somethings tell animated stories and holler when new friends arrive and must faire un tour de la table, kissing everyone on their two cheeks before they grab a glass for themselves and sit to share the bottle.
Yet, if you step away from the first room there, turn back towards the door, you’ll see skinny stairs on your left descending down into the dark. The basement. Early in the evening, access down the stairs is free come-and-go. However, later in the evening, it gets so crowded that a grizzled man stands at the top and controls who he lets in. Otherwise, the tiny space would be too overwhelmed with sweaty students and stained, drained cups. If you manage to creak down the wooden stairs into the hot, dim cave, you’ll see cement, stones, benches, candles, and low tables. A narrow arch bridges two cramped pièces, one of which has a cellar-like bar where they sell 18euro bottles and blast a bad medley of American, Spanish, and French music (selections include the Can Can and Star Spangled Banner). And young people spin and tumble, dragging each other around, falling over themselves, and buying encore! more wine from the DJ (or is he a bartender?).
I couldn’t be happier there. We always sit around a table and chatter, chatter, chatter in French and English, sometimes passing around nuts (supplied by Pedro) and munching as we meet other young people who live and work/study in the city. One night, a French girl started talking to me, found out I was American, and immediately threw herself on me in a huge hug, screaming, “I LOVE AMERICAINS!!!!” She begged me to tell her about the United States, and there were dreams in her eyes when she told me she wants to live there one day. Seeing that look in her eyes, I tried to imagine my country as enticing, as exotic, beautiful, and I saw the long train tracks in Carrboro, the fences and honeysuckle, the Old Well and cherry trees. It’s funny how roots grow– I feel like I’m rooted here in Paris, at my little wine bar in the sixth, my feet feel welcome in Europe, but somehow I still equally cherish small-town North Carolina with its red dirt roads, muddy farms, and college towns.
I like these pieces of me, how they assemble and how, one day, they will all work out to create me.