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Postcards from Paris


Contact Loulou de la Paumardiere

PAGE 2 OF 6 <<PREVIOUS

But nowhere have I been happier over the past several weeks than with my friends at La Paumardiere. Darling Paul Krugman and his scrumptious wife Robin were over for three days, shortly before Paul got his Nobel prize, adorable little Bernard Pivot, one of the few doughboys I’ve ever slept with and that was years ago but he’s the one who made me start writing, Lindsay and Samantha, Jacques Garcia who’s been decorating the guest house for us, but who is also a dear friend, delightful Sean Coombs, Claude Chirac, sir Paul McCartney and his daughter Stella, some good Mellons, some bad  Rothschilds (one of those can’t-get-out-of-it things),  Nicolas’ brother Andre Sarkozy and his girlfriend, but not at the same time as Nicolas because of friction, American Barry Sternlicht, who owns France, or at least Taittinger, the Hotel de Crillon and Baccarat and a laughing and bronzed and sort of repentant murderess Marina Petrella, a friend of Carla’s, who on Nicolas’ orders has now had to go back to being Miss Doom and Gloom http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/articleand I was thrilled to be able to surprise all my guests with those advance copies of Vanity Fair with Carla in her divine red Valentino gown on the roof of the Elysee palace and everyone squealed and jumped up and down and then even the women joined in and it was so funny because we were all acting like little children the first time they kill a cat.

The only somewhat negative note right now is this matter of Carla and this preposterous infatuation with her American. So I said “Carla, darling, summer is over, and we’re well into the fall, so please tell me you’re not thinking of letting a mere fling develop into something more permanent.

”And Carla just smiled that smile.

So I said “Darling, I beg you. I know you’re more demanding than this. I see him lurching across the courtyard from time to time and spot him at improbable places, once, you recall, at that Oscar party, once at a UNESCO human rights gala during which he sat on a sofa with his head thrown back, his mouth agape and snoring like a cement mixer into which someone had thrown a family of kudu skeletons, and again at the Peruvian embassy where I remember sitting in the balcony of  the recital hall with the ambassador and seeing your American slip out during some contralto’s performance to the buffet, where, I swear to God I am not making this up, he started stuffing his pockets with hors d’oeuvres. And you’re talking about leaving Nicolas permanently for that?”

And then she told me that he wants to take her to his home town, Cut and Shoot, Texas.

And I said “Carla, we need to talk now.”

And as Carla walked out my door and crossed the courtyard to the American’s house, she said mysteriously, “No, Loulou, we need to talk.”

Anyway, Vanity Fair was only part of the incredible media coverage Carla received for her CD Comme si de rien n’était (As If Nothing Happened). Le Nouvel Observateur magazine hailed it as “yawn-inspiring” and “trivial,” the Times of London trumpeted “there is no escaping Bruni's limited vocal talent,” but Nicolas appreciated Carla’s attempt at keeping up appearances during her interview with the famous Barbara Walters, whom I’d never heard of but who seemed very sweet when she did the interview here at my home in the rue de Varenne for US television so that audiences around the world could get to not know Carla any better than before,

Barbara asked Carla to show her one of the little blue spiral notebooks she’d brought along and that she writes her songs in and Carla showed some of the poets and artists who inspire her own writing, like Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, and she told Barbara that he told her he had spent a month writing that single, heart-breaking line “Why must life be so hard?” And then she showed Barbara some of her unrecorded material and Barabara read it aloud (with Carla’s permission) on camera:

Then Barbara asked Carla to take her guitar and sing Ta Tetine, her song for Sarko: a declaration of passion for the president, whom she calls her "orgy," and as some of the lyrics are quite risqué, it is perhaps fortunate that they are utterly untranslatable.

And the interview itself was Carla at her plainspoken best.

BW: Tell us about your husband. What kind of man is he? CBS: Well, you may know that all of the men that I have ever loved have had a feminine side, and Nicolas is no exception. It’s rare for a man in his position to talk about his feelings or to enjoy wearing long, over-the-elbow gloves and blue eye shadow and waltz around the room singing “Satan Sold Me a Taco,” or make me pretend to be Elizabeth Taylor and say Tell mamma. Tell mamma all, and give him his bottle. These things are very intimate, but Nicolas is unashamed to express himself in these ways.

BW: But surely he’s also tough.

CBS: Of course he’s tough, and ambitious – he wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t, as he puts it, “strangled some people to death with my bare hands,” but I think I am his absolute priority, along with his three sons and of course Brice, his personal trainer.

BW: Tell me, Madame Sarkozy, are you religious?”

CBS: Oh yes, very. I am Catholic, like my husband. Life raises questions I haven’t found the answers to. Why are we here? Why did God make Nicolas so talented and short and ugly that I feel like I’ve been kidnapped by an Oompa Loompa? Why didn’t my mother tell me who my real father was before I had actually slept with him? How do they get the toothpaste inside the tube? Do they lure the mother inside first, where she then lays her eggs? Is it all part of some great plan?

BW: Is it true that handicapped children are still not allowed in French schools even if a recent law pays lip service to their rights, which are still unenforced and unenforceable, ie no rights at all?

CBS: But they’re really not beautiful! Look, one of the many things my husband and I have in common is that our sons take priority over everything except our own pleasure and pursuit of power and adulation. So I know that Nicolas would never let his son Louis and I would never let my son Aurelien attend a school where they allow handicapped children inside. If we don’t have good reasons to exclude the handicapped in France, then why is the Eiffel Tower so tall and so pretty?

Anyway, once the important guests had left we received George Bush, John McCain, President Obama (Michelle Obama is our new BGF and we’ve already helped her rethink the Lincoln bedroom with ideas from La Paumardiere), and then the Pope.

We didn’t need anything else to make us love President Obama more than we already did (not that we would want a black man running anything more complicated than a broom in France, but Barack’s so wonderfully thin (can you imagine if he looked or spoke like Martin Luther King Jr?) that he’s like JFK and Sidney Poitier and Alfred E. Neuman all rolled into one), but when he chided his fellow Americans for not being more European and for not knowing how to say more than “Merci beaucoup” in French, we absolutely squealed! (http://www.youtube.com/watch)If Americans, said Barack, could express themselves in French the way we express ourselves in English—just look at official French government web sites like the one describing the chateau of Cheverny. “The castle that uses model to Hergé to draw Moulinsart, you will astonish by wealth, the density of his furniture and the authentic charm and  refined of his decoration. Today, the kennel shelters a meute of  70 English French dogs of which « the soup » remains a spectacle astonishing. {http://westernfrancetouristboard.com/loiredaytour2.htm)--well, America be her would place better.

A Frenchmen honoris causa, President Obama is, said Nicolas, “the fulfillment of our white Rousseauist fantasies of le bon sauvage or noble savage. Like Montaigne’s cannibals, he’s black, yet somehow civilized. We believe that he’s basically inferior, yet somehow endowed with a higher primitive wisdom, the way we believe that blind people can “see” things that other people cannot. And “Barack” even sounds a little like France’s favourite noble savage Chateaubriand’s tragic Mississippi native American: Chactas.”

Good old down-home Gallic primitivism explains why it is always such delicious fun for us to read about  cultivated French-speakers living among remote and repugnant but sexually hospitable savages--Rimbaud in Abyssinia, Gide in the Congo, Matzneff in the Philippines, Le Clezio in Panama, Julien Green in Oxford—and we got another dose of it when Nicolas freed French-educated hostage Ingrid Bettancourt from the Colombian jungle several weeks ago and there were parades and receptions and ceremonies for her because her rescue proved once again, Nicolas said, that France is always ready to come to the assistance of any attractive white French-speaking millionaire ambassador’s daughter who has been kidnapped by poor people espousing dangerous and repulsive political ideas such as sharing. Truly, said Nicolas, President Obama is one of us.

And Michelle Obama is also a Francophile, even though she campaigned against the teaching of Hard French, the kind with grammar and everything, at Princeton. Here’s an excerpt from an interview she gave to the Daily Princetonian student newspaper in November of 1984. “Non-Asian minority students are disadvantaged by the whole grammar and rules trip the French department is trying to shove down our throats. You can’t ever speak French if you’re always worrying about which conjugation to use and everything. My daddy, who was a Chicago city worker, didn’t know French, and are you calling him stupid? Is that what you’re saying? Well, did you ever think that maybe French is stupid:? In French, refrigerator, freezer, vagina and bowl are all masculine, while forks, erections, carrots and falling off a cliff are girls: that’s not just stupid; that’s nuts! Which is why the Princeton African-American Students League, meaning me,  is proposing New Conversational French, which is spoken the way the French speak English, by random mimetism, no grammar, no rules, just imitate the sounds you hear in movies. For example, you say to me “Comment allez-vous?” (That means “How are you?”)  And I pucker up my mouth like French people do and say Voulezvoustoulouselautrecmoutardedijon or something that at least sounds French and the context tells you that that means “Why I’m just fine, thanks, and you?” or “Nurse, could you give me a hand with these pancreaticoduodenectomial anastomoses?” or  “Our  talon tuck and jaw kits with 5/8 inch plain adaptors are located in aisle 4,” or “Mmm, snow cones! Yummy!” The wonderful thing about New Conversational French is that it can mean anything you want it to mean! Everything doesn’t have to be about rules 24/7 just because France says so. Asian kids would still have to take Hard French, for obvious reasons.”

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© 2008 Louise de la Paumardiere

 

 

 

 

About LOUISE DE LA PAUMARDIERE It would be difficult to imagine anyone more purely French or a better embodiment of France and French values than polyglamorous Louise de la Paumardiere. Loulou's paternal great grandfather Andre Le Troquer, unfairly removed from office as President of the French Senate in 1958 for having run a pedophile network, and her maternal grandfather General Paul Ausseresses, unfairly stripped of his rank and thrown out of the Legion d'Honneur because of his role as a torturer in the Franco-Algerian war, are but two of her many famous ancestors. Author of From Foreign to French: 100 Makeovers in Stories and Pictures (New York and London: PLB Books, 2006), multi-talented and multilingual Loulou de la Paumardiere first came to public attention when several of the high-profile Paris-based foreign women on whom she performed makeovers committed suicide. Her family operates the majority of the uniquely French institutions known as Centres d'aide par le travail, or CATS, factories in which handicapped French citizens are employed at less than minimum wage because, as Loulou puts it with her typical Cartesian clarity, "they are handicapped." Her ancestral home, Château de la Paumardiere in Boilly-sur-Gui, an hour from Paris in Normandy, has hosted every head of state since Louis XIV and was a favorite haunt of Lully the Sodomite. She continues that great tradition of French hospitality on weekends in Boilly and during the week at her luxurious mansion at 60, rue de Varenne in Paris.