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Postcards from Paris

Contact Loulou de la Paumardiere


The double doors on the other side of the War Room are closed. They lead to the Hall of Mirrors. I walk across the room in the dark and stop in my tracks when the moonlight reveals that the doorway is actually being guarded by two men sitting on folding chairs, both of the men are blind and they're wearing badges identifying them only as 42 and 49. And now they are speaking, one in Spanish, the other in French with a loopy British accent, and they're talking about labyrinths and mirrors and branches of trees that lead us ultimately to God and I can only think how inauspicious this is for meeting someone I am so hoping is not a lunatic.

In May of 2006, at Nicolas' request, Le Figaro airbrushed President Chirac out of a photo with a sleazy businessman acquaintance. (http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/charles_bremner )

On November 20, 2008, Le Figaro erased the ring (a grey and gold diamond ring worth €15,600 from Chaumet that Nicolas gave her for her birthday) worn by Rachida Dati because http://blogs.lexpress.fr/a-l-elysee/2008/11/exclusif-le-figaro-retouche-un.php Nicolas said it made him look bad. Paris Match last year lopped off Nicolas' love handles from a beach shot http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6959180.stm It's the sort of neo-reality that exists, in theory, only in a banana republic. Yet the world takes great care to pretend not to see this grown-up side of France, with its obligatory "rectal search" for anyone taken even briefly into custody by the French police, with its government-sponsored lies regularly and dangerously voted into law, i.e., "reality," with its Photoshopped, fairy-tale versions of "fact" permanently imposed as historical truth, even though these realities form the most significant thing you can know about our culture, along with, of course, Claude Fucking Monet. As my former neighbour Talleyrand put it, the nice thing about French laws is that you can rape them and they don't even scream. And that's why our image remains untarnished, and is, in fact, untarnishable, no matter whom we kill or how we do it. You'd think there would be a difference between the starry-eyed tourists with their vision of Paris as a Hollywood set, all poodles and accordions and beautiful women, and the foreign correspondents with their hard-boiled war correspondents' eyes, but there really isn't. Like children discovering that Santa Claus doesn't exist, foreigners must be so hurt by the discovery of a Parisian reality with its daily dose of police torture and judicial frame jobs that they can't bring themselves to believe that it's true. They prefer lying to toppling over into the unbearable reality of grown-up France.

What is fact (AKA Science, History, Non-Fiction), and what is fiction? Was Madame de Maintenon a woman of great merit, or wasn't she? Are our famous Parisian whores, such as the ones you see in the chapel of Saint Rita, the patron saint of lost causes, up in the Pigalle sex district, free to come and go, or are they part of a slave army controlled by half a dozen pimps who happen to be police commissioners and the ministers of the interior and of justice? What is passed off as history, as science or as non-fiction is often, at best, fiction and very often indeed a criminal set-up, or, as Saint-Simon so perfectly put it: a plain, filthy, stinking, bold-faced lie.

The guards open the doors for me without standing up and I walk into the Hall of Mirrors and in the middle of the long marble corridor, an exquisite table for two has been beautifully set with candles and a thick stiff white linen table cloth is covered by a white organdy table cloth, embroidered with pine cones and sleighs and everything is dark except for the candles but these are reflected a thousand times and moonlight from the gardens striates the long room.

And on the table next to my plate are two napkins, only one of them isn't a napkin but a parchment scroll. And I unroll it and see the words:

Why would a Texan have left me, a Frenchwoman, a message in Arabic? Well, I take a picture of it with my cell phone, and send it to my darling friend Abdullah, who is currently holding down a job as King of Jordan and who worships me and he says "Louise, my dear, it promises that the owner of the parchment will possess all things,"

And I say "Darling, what on earth does that mean?"

And H.M. says "Well, it's about as cryptic and idiotic a thing as I've ever heard," and then he added "Loulou, don't sign anything."

And as I wait for the American to finally show, I remember how Angus had once told me that where "the bookworms" say that Christ spent forty days and forty nights in "the wilderness," The Scots New Testament says he was in a vast, grassy, lochless, "heart-moanin' wasteland." And that makes me remember that Varenne actually means a barren wasteland, unfertile but rich in game, and that the spot on which my home stands today was not so very long ago a sprawling, heart-moaning desert fit only for wolves.

And the American still hasn't shown, but my eyes must have gotten used to the dark because now I see that the key has been right there on the table all along. And I take the beautiful strongbox out of my bag and I open it and inside there is indeed a book, and at the top of the cover is my name, Loulou de la Paumardiere, and then below it the title: 60, rue de Varenne.

And I look up and I see a figure, surely the American, moving in the mirrors, but I can't tell whether he's coming or going, and I call out "Monsieur?"

And I hear my own voice echo the answer from the dark at the end of the long room: "C'est moi."

© 2008 Louise de la Paumardiere

© 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.