Memories of Paris, Pigalle

Last month I found myself in Paris, France catsitting!

As I still had to work remotely, I balanced work and play nicely with the heatwave over Europe giving the experience a tropical twist!

I’ve been to Paris a few times, but there’s always something new to discover.

I was staying in a suburb called Montreuil, a tranquil cultural hub forty-five minutes away from the center. 

I always try to find the spooky haunts in a local area, and I was about to give up, when I happened across this weird little art piece. It reminded me of something you’d find in a town during Halloween. 

As I had missed the night bus from the station, I continued my walk home, guided by the powerful rays of light from the full moon. As I strolled across the neighbourhood past the rundown villas and haunted-looking houses, I almost got a shock when my eyes met with these gigantic weird wooden sculptures in an industrial park.

They loomed, bathing in the moonlight, and I thought how amazing what you can stumble across when you’re not looking too hard. 

Life-size totems aside, my favourite area in Paris is Pigalle which makes way for some cool nightly strolls and you can even see the Sacré Cœur depending on which street you walk up.

I ventured the dazzling neon-infused streets, sex shops and even caught a live show. There’s something magical about the alluring underbelly of a city. As a tourist, you can explore that, but as a local or a worker, it’s not that glamorous. This was very evident from the stripper/pole dancer who dragged herself across the stage, tired and keen to finish her last dance. She attempted to garner tips from me and encouraged a private dance but I politely declined, pointing at the man, his girlfriend and her sister who seemed more a gullible clientele. 

As she lay across the mirrored runway on her stomach, she pulled herself towards the sister, who clearly wasn’t interested and was the gooseberry of the trio. 

I tapped the back of the dancer’s calf and urged her to go for the couple because they were all over each other and appeared in need of more excitement to carry the night away. 

Just then, another dancer appeared on the stage and the music sounded. 

She was energetic, as she swept across the plaftorm in tiny shorts and a bralette. She performed a few simple maneuvers on the pole, before retiring to the wall where she wriggled and writhed, all eyes were on her. 

Now she was convincing, if she hated her job, I’d never have known. 

Her dance was liberating as she took the stage, she owned the pole, the runway and that wall. She didn’t approach anyone for a dance, yet later I saw her disappear through a beaded curtain into a booth presumably for a private dance.

The sex district seems alive in Pigalle, the shops although hugely commercialised still exist (unlike a dwindling Soho in London). 

You can experience the stores like an exhibition, and if you’re lucky, find a sale like I did in between the overly priced lingerie and sex toys. I was very happy walking out with my little black bag; a mysterious purchase in the city of Pigalle! 

The older establishments such as adult cinemas, VHS shops and massage parlors can be found sandwiched between the newer places. I much prefer those rundown, dated buildings. I ventured in the entrance of one of the older venues and was welcomed by the receptionist who was initially playing with his phone. He was a black guy, very friendly and seemed happy that someone had arrived at his palace. 

If I had time that evening I would’ve gone inside or at least used it as an opportunity to practice speaking French! 

The area of Pigalle is very multicultural, most of the workers minding the strip joints are from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Africa. They’re the gatekeepers standing outside waiting for punters patiently, they’ll let you take photos, they’ll ask where you’re from, in my case, all assumed I was Brazilian! They don’t care what you do as long as you don’t take pictures of them. And they don’t beg you to come in. If you’re interested, they might offer you a deal. I much preferred the laid-back take it or leave it approach.

I hope you enjoyed my little montage video and please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter here where you’ll find exclusive material which isn’t available on the blog.

Thanks everyone!

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