Paris: Meet the Pusses at the Puces
By Theadora Brack
Lend me your whiskers and pointy ears.
Flying sky high on a lark, I knock. Grab a perch because I’ve got a feathered tale to tell. A great ball of yarn to re-wind, so to squeak! Ever since watching Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” movie at the age of nine on the family television set, I’ve been obsessed with France and les chats domestiques. There. Full fur confession.
Set in Paris, the cartoon flick was a life changer. Not only did I yearn to be the rhinestone-laden, Parisian glamour puss (a.k.a., “Duchess”), but I also fancied running away with her swashbuckling, orange tabby beau, the flamboyant prince of the boulevard, “Abraham de Lacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley—O’Malley, the alley cat.”
“Oh, c’est très jolie, monsieur Thomas!” I’d purr again and again at my reflection in the mirror, channeling my inner-Duchess.
And now, I see cats. I see cats in Paris. All the time! Where? Where? They’re everywhere! Heck, once, during a winter tempest, I rescued a teeny, tiny tortoiseshell cat found trembling on the wet cobblestones outside the Grand Hotel de Clermont, just a fur ball’s throw from where Édith Piaf made one of her legendary busking debuts in Pigalle. Kitty was coming home with me.
Anaïs Nin once wrote, “What I cannot love, I overlook,” but I’d push it a little further and say that what I do love, I can’t help but notice! Getting all reflective, “Bonjour, dame de chat!” is what I now say to my handheld mirror. With a decade-old Kitty still on my lap, and still meowiing in French, of course.
In celebration of the New Year, let’s spend it with a few glamour pusses at the Paris flea markets: Marché aux Puces de Vanves and Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.
As Thomas O’Malley the cat once crooned, “Everybody wants to be a cat because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at! Everybody’s picking up on that feline beat ’cause everything else is obsolete!”
I completely concur. Bonne Année!
Here are five of my favorite feline-related films. I’ve included romance, mystery, and horror. No spoilers here. Please pass the Fancy Feast. Lights! Camera! Action!
1. Une vie de chat (2010)
Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol
2. Chacun cherche son chat (1996)
Chacun cherche son chat (original title)
3. The Private Life of a Cat (1944)
Directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid
4. The Black Cat (1934)
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer with showstoppers Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff
5. Cat People (1942)
Directed by Jacques Tourneur, based on Val Lewton’s short story “The Bagheeta”