Le Commencement de la Fin

I know I’m late to the party. I had been waiting for the series to come out. Marked the day on my calendar and everything. I took time off so I could spend time binging it. Then I used that time to finally make appointments for the dermatologist, ophthalmologist, and dentist, and then I had to run around doing 100 other errands I had put off for too long because I was too busy. Suffice to say life got in the way of my plan to stop life, relax, and just enjoy a few hours sitting in front of a television. 

But I finally saw it (albeit broken up over three days). 

I don’t have a lot of trivia for the series. I feel like by this point there’s not much to be said about Paris that we didn’t learn from the other 3 seasons. Bon… donc, on y va.

Episode 1 – Charlotte

I never knew the French said ASAP. I always find it funny when they use English acronyms that you wouldn’t think would translate over and yet…

The only time I have ever seen a French airport that dead was when I flew in at 11pm. The worst time to be in CDG is when the American planes arrive at 10am (also leave at 10am). The lines are awful. I went to the bathroom, made myself decent (I don’t sleep on planes) and when I walked out, it was deserted. No line, flew right through customs. Pro tip if you ever land at that hour. 

This is such a silly thing but I miss price tags in the windows. I know it’s strange, but you get so used to seeing them and knowing without needing to go inside. I am a shopper who hates being bothered when shopping so I hate going into a store. Prices in windows are so much more convenient. 

Funny enough the street Charlotte Gainsbourg “lives” on is in Passy. It’s rue Vineuse. Christian Kinnersley and I would walk down it on our way home from Schwartz’s every Friday night. A little shortcut in place of walking down rue Benjamin Franklin. There was a restaurant there that I always wanted to eat at but never got the chance. I’m not sure if it’s the exact same building, but there is the coolest house in that spot with these huge windows that face the street. It’s not like her windows shown in the series (bordered in black) but it would be funny if the inside was the same building shown on the outside because I’ve always wondered what that house looked like. The windows are massive and obviously modern. The pharmacy is the one at the corner in Place Costa Rica, when you walk down to Passy metro. It was ‘my’ pharmacy. I just thought it was funny seeing “home” on tv. How many times have I walked down that street? Too many for sure. Every night, 10,000 steps, rain or shine, up that hill to Trocadéro because I wanted to be “loved” by Christian. It makes me sad in some ways, to see it, Christian and I were together for my year there so I hold a lot of memories from that area. Especially walking down Passy metro to the Seine from there, which we did every weekend. But I try to remind myself I lived in Paris for 4 years before Christian came into my life and shit all over it, and my memories of it. I was there long before I met him. Paris was mine, and it had nothing to do with him. He was just a tourist in more ways than one. My memories don’t need to be tainted. That’s a lot of baggage from seeing one street and a pharmacy huh?

It’s weird that Noémie and Mathias would be walking on Île Saint Louis towards the 12th (I lived on that street when I first moved to Paris. My front door faced the water and Hôtel de Ville). Theatre Châtelet is where the Caesar’s are held. Fouquet’s is on Champs Élysées. At best you’d walk straight down Rivoli to the Champs. If you were getting a taxi you’d face the 1st as that street is one way and goes in the opposite direction. 

Gratuitous nudity? That scene was odd. Maybe it made more sense to a French person. Noémie has always been a bit much but I hope they aren’t having her character go too far into the deep end. You know how they do the ‘will they, won’t they’ for so many seasons and then the characters finally end up together and they don’t know what to do with them so their storyline goes to shit? I don’t want that for Noémie. 

Episode 2 – Franck:

Do they shoot the show only in the winter? Camille is always in sweaters and Andreá in coats. I don’t know why that just stuck out to me. Like the show doesn’t exist in June-October.

That rude ass actor wearing the Parisian uniform. They say the French know fashion but the truth is everyone in Paris dresses the same. If you’re a guy under 35, and want to look French, that jacket, a pair of jeans (usually dark rinse), and white trainers are all you need. I’d say white tee underneath, but to be fair any solid will do. 

The RATP controllers are never that nice. They’re sadists with a power trip who love to humiliate and demean. They would never let you through because someone said “hey just let her go”.  

He’s at Balard metro I think. The sortie sign is showing Aquaboulevard. If you’ve never been to Aquaboulevard it’s an experience. I was forced to go one year. According to rich Parisian snobs it’s a chavy place for people from the Banlieue. It’s a giant indoor water park outside of the 15th. You would never think a place like that would exist in Paris (technically it’s not in Paris). It’s like once you step outside the periph it’s a different world. Check out the salon de Agriculture one year. You see the real France. Not the ‘Paris’ version of France. 

It’s custom to leave a note in your foyer/stairs to tell neighbors about any party you plan to throw. If you want to be a nice neighbor, invite them as well. 

The show gets lauded for not showing stereotypes of the French, but the Spanish girl is a cliche French stereotype. Most French will tell you Spanish girls (and Italian) are crazy. There’s this idea that they’re all nuts, wild, and party too much. I don’t know where it comes from, or why they think that, but I just remember French people always telling me to stay away from Spanish and Italian girls because they’re crazy. This one guy went on a tangent once about how he would never rent to them because they’re all insane. They also say the Spanish are lazy and late, and that’s like pot meet kettle since the French are always late. 

Lol I have a knit (one bought in Paris, and one bought 10 years ago in the US) that are the same as Herve’s, without the red trim. But it wasn’t H&M, it was Mango thank you very much. There is a difference. 

It’s so strange to me the way the French love Tony Parker. It’s just weird. Obviously the Spurs are my hometown basketball team so he was a kind of celebrity growing up. I had a friend who dated his brother for 6 years. Anyway every time a French person asked me where I was born I would tell them and they’d all say “TONY PARKER” in the French way (or Tex-ass, emphasis on the -as. They always stress the wrong vowels). They were almost as obsessed with him as San Antonio people are. I guess the French were just hyped to have a French on an American basketball team? Even though basketball isn’t a big deal in France.

Mathias was finally redeeming himself and then back to his old tricks. They are failing the Mathias/Noémie story arc. 

Episode 3 – José

Activia product placement is getting old. 

You’re not really a Parisian until you’ve been stuck in an elevator. At least once in your Paris life you will be. Get used to the idea if you’re claustrophobic. They’re lucky their elevator was so big. Most are barely 3×3. I believe I have a post on what to do if it ever happens somewhere in the archives. 

I like Sophia but Tiffany’s? From an American perspective Tiffany is the budget Harry Winston’s. But both are very white. Was Audrey Hepburn considered bold and spicy in France? Or are they also trying to go the way of Givenchy and become more urban? 

I actually teared up when José told the story of how he knocked. It was so sad. And so sweet. I’m a sucker for love. Especially that kind of unrequited, love will always win kind. *shrug*

I just realized Andreá was the inspiration for my haircut. It must have been some subconscious thing. I don’t like short hair on myself, my cheekbones are too high and my face too round, and I hated when she cut her’s earlier in the series, but in a fit of depression madness two months ago I chopped mine. Now I’m waiting for it to grow back 🙁 But her’s grew on me. I can’t remember what she looked like with it longer. And I love the way she always wears emerald green. It inspired me to buy a lot of that color this season. 

I missed Camille’s talks with her Mum. I’m glad they put that in. 

I feel like two characters, Sophia and Matthias redeemed themselves, but this season they’re going back to being unlikeable.

And where is Hachim??

Episode 4 – Sandrine:

Calissons are these almond shaped candies. I’m not sure they’re terrible for you, as they’re supposed to be made with pure fruit and almonds, but a whole box would make me sick. I wasn’t a fan. 

It’s sad that Gabriel and Andrea aren’t as close as they were in previous seasons. It feels like they’re pushing everybody away from each other, instead of towards each other, and I’m curious to see how they wrap this series. Unless that’s the plan they’re going to use to end it. 

Hiring season for nannies in Paris is actually a short period of time. You have the smart people who hire before school lets out, and then you have most people who expect to find one after their August vacations but before school starts in September. There are also a few who hire in January for nannies that didn’t work out in the Fall. But if you want to teach English/babysit/nanny expect to start looking in August. The French don’t cut short their July and August holidays for something as trivial as who will raise their kids.

You don’t have to look for a nanny (nounou) before conception, but you will want to expect to spend a period of time interviewing. Actually you’d be surprised by how little some parents care. For newborns it’s different because most French just hire an African lady to do that. There are also plenty of agencies. And there is a hierarchy when it comes to nannies. If you have an Anglo (American, Canadian, Aussie or Brit) you’re very wealthy because you can afford to pay their fee (usually 14-16€ an hour in 2020). From there it’s Filipino andAfrican. You’ll see Anglos picking up kids at the top schools or in the wealthiest neighborhoods in Paris. Where your nanny comes from definitely designates your class. 

Of course an Aupair is different. NEVER become an aupair, it’s slave labor. The French only pay 80-120-€ a week for one and the state usually reimburses them half the cost. That’s another indication of class. If a nanny is declared it’s because they’re getting a tax break. If she isn’t it’s probably because they make too much money and it’d be more expensive to declare. 

Having 3 different children by 3 different men is very strange for Paris society. For one thing divorce is rare. You hardly find a family who shares custody because you don’t find many divorced people. It’s also strange to find a single mother. I think I only met one during my 6 years there, and only two divorced families, and I must have met hundreds of families. I’m not saying it’s frowned upon, but I have a feeling that it’s judged just because it’s so rare. Parisians mate for life it seems. Perhaps that’s why the affair stereotype? They cheat instead of divorcing?

“Tell us about your pretend liberal bed head hairdo that cost 300€”. Lol. Well it is the quintessential Paris hairstyle. And as I mentioned in another post, French women do work hard to maintain their minimal beauty look.

I am so curious to know where Gabriel finds his canned whip cream. I never saw it in Paris. I had to learn how to make it by hand because I thought the French frowned upon such gauche American things like Miracle Whip. 

Noémi and Mathias’s apartment is crazy. I’ve been in a lot of French homes, a lot of Haussmannian apartments, and never have I seen anything like those floral curtains or those zebra pillows. Even the kooky artsy bobos don’t decorate like that. 

After Mathias leaves the bar and walks down that little street there’s a building with floor to ceiling windows behind him, I highly recommend seeing it in person one day. It’s insane. Like this weird metal shell over a glass building. It’s in the 1st or the 2nd… I can’t remember the street exactly but it is one of the strangest buildings in Paris. I took a photo of it the first time I saw it because it’s cool but very weird. Obviously it’s modern and sticks out like a sore thumb in that part of Paris, but it’s also just crazy looking. I don’t know who the architect was, but I’ve always been curious about the story behind it. 

So according to Andrea’s phone they filmed this when lockdowns started (3/15). 

Episode 5 – Sigourney:

I know it just started but I’m slightly disappointed they chose an American actress for this episode. It’s just not the same.

I never understood why they got rid of Autolibs. I never got the chance to use them but they were a good concept. Austin used to have something like that called Zipcars. But Smarts are so much better for Parisian streets. 

Camille’s English is too cute. I take it she wasn’t raised in Paris because all French parents want to completely obliterate their kid’s accent in English. It’s one reason the wealthier kids speak English with flawless American or English accents. It depends on where their nannies came from. 

A shot of the hated American Embassy. Blugh. Awful place, completely unhelpful. May you dear reader never have to visit it. It is truly the worst. Like the DMV except the DMV actually provides a service. The wankers at the American Embassy do fuck all except occupy expensive real estate. 

During my entire time in Paris I’m pretty sure the hotel Crillon was closed. I can’t remember why, a fire? Or was that the Ritz? Anyway it recently reopened and they finally took off that funny fake building picture thing that all of the posh buildings doing extensive renovations put up. I never actually saw it without that faux facade. 

I actually had to go back and read that in French. Andrea only pays her nounou 12€ an hour?!? I can’t stand people who do not know how to pay the people who raise their children. And that poor nanny was working until 3am. I guess she gets half a brownie point as most French people pay Filipinos a lot less. Being a Filipino in Paris is basically modern slavery. I wonder why there aren’t more liberal exposes on the ugly underbelly of how the French treat them.

I know this is mean because she’s taken the risk of going on a show in a language that is not her own, but Sigourney Weaver speaking in French is killing me. Her accent is so bad. It’s probably weird to say but I actually hate when Americans speak French. It sounds so ugly. But the French love it, they think it sounds cute, and I don’t get it. It’s like when French people with heavy accents tell me they hate the way they sound in English, but we like it. Linguistics is weird.

Lol his “great phone hack” was 0000? No one could ever guess my phone code. I used to use my door code as the passcode because it was automatic to me (from having to enter it everyday) and I never had to think about it (door codes are always set in a pattern so you just do the triangle or whatever numbers they used to form a shape so that you remember it more easily). Paris life hack. 

You can always tell it’s the 16th by the width of the streets and the fact that signs are posted on the gates. Plus only buildings in the 16th have a gate and then a sidewalk to the entrance. The rest of Paris doesn’t have that much space. 

It is so rare to see the police pull anyone over. I think I saw it once in 6 years. 

I’ve always wondered how someone so nice could be with Mathias, but I get it. You can’t help who you love. You can overlook a lot of things because you think you can bring the good out in them, you have brought the good out in them so you know it can exist, and you can handle them not being nice to you, because you know they’re good side too. When Christian Kinnersley and I ended I had to take a good hard look and begin to recognize and identify all of his flaws to understand how he could do what he did to me. But had that not happened I would have been like Noémi. You love who you love, and only you know why, and you don’t have to explain that to anyone. I can’t judge her for that. Mathias had shown he’s not entirely evil when it comes to her. She brings out the good in him, and as someone who has loved “a Mathias” you can rub off on them. They can be different around you. They can change or soften and pick up a few of your traits. Whether it’s real or not I don’t know. It’s probably just a bullshit romantic trope woman are brainwashed into believing #patriarchy 

For those who aren’t cinephiles and have no idea what that dance scene was about, there’s a movie called Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn. In it she does the famous “bohemian dance scene”. Sigourney Weaver’s scene was a play on that, right down to the costume. Although the plot of this episode has nothing to do with Funny Face so it doesn’t make a lot of sense. 

Le Bonne Paye is my favorite French board game. It’s like Monopoly (in that you collect and trade money), but you collect a lot of money and it’s pretty hard to lose it. It also doesn’t take very long to play. But the version they play is an old version. The one I played looks like a calendar. Plus they were using Francs so it was clearly pre 2002. 

I feel like that brasserie gets used a lot in French Netflix shows, maybe French shows in general. It’s located near Abbesses. 

I love the plot they used for this episode, and while age isn’t a big deal breaker in France, I find it a bit ironic that a French series suddenly went women’s rights. ‘Women’s rights’ in France is a joke. I don’t have enough time to explain it but let’s just say France is a very patriarchal, machismo society. 

In the final scene, on the bridge of Île Saint Louis, all the way to the left of the screen I lived behind that blue door. They must love shooting there. That’s also the street Noémie stripped naked in, in episode 1. 

Episode 6 – Jean

Wow Jean Reno got old. 

The final season and we don’t see Hicham until now? As an actor why would you want to miss out on the last season? I assume it was scheduling conflicts because it’s weird for someone to be MIA on such an important season. 

Le Carillon is the bar that was attacked by terrorists on Nov 14, 2015.

I could not figure out what grocery store Elise was shopping in. I’ve never seen that toilet paper brand. In Paris you have Franprix, Monoprix, G20, Carrefour, Casino and Auchan. There are also a few little health places that sell bio only like Bio c Bon and Naturalle. Back in the day you also had Dia. I’ve shopped in all of them, and none of them looked like whatever she was in. Unless they filmed it outside of Paris… 

I’m a sucker for people staying together or getting together or love in general, what can i say I’m a romantic, I want everyone to find love, and be happy and gushy and in love, so as much as I’ve come to not like Collette and her flakey character, I still get sad that Andrea’s sad. In the beginning they seemed right for each other and then the writer’s turned her character into something else. She was really crap this season. Everyone was crap this season. I hate when writers put the work in to get the audience to come around and then they drop the ball or get lazy. This season felt very lazy.   

Motherhood should never be discussed by men. End of. Your body, your choice, your decision. I am not someone who has wanted to be a parent. I acknowledge my selfishness and my desire to keep my time my own. I’ve worked with enough parents to know how much it changes your life, and this was in Paris where all women have help so it’s probably worse for women who don’t come from a nanny society like France (and who aren’t rich). The only people I saw at school pickup picking up their kids were the Americans. Every Parisienne has a nanny so their lives are infinitely easier compared to other women the world over who can’t put their kids in crèche at 6 months. That said I’m oddly enough very good with children. They love me for some reason, and I ended up wanting children with Christian Kinnersley. I don’t know what about our relationship changed my thinking but I was prepared mentally for that. I wanted to give him that. I wanted to be that for him. I was sad when our relationship ended because I had imagined a future that would never be realized. He always used to tell me I was too old to have his children, and wasn’t worthy of reproducing his “superior genes”. It was never gratitude. Yes, some men do actually recognize the sacrifice women make for them and are grateful to them for it. I used to feel so bad about myself because he’d tell me those things all of the time. Can you imagine? Being demeaned and abused in that way? Maybe it was for the best as his personality is such that he’d actually make a really awful father because of how critical and unforgiving he is. He’s a tyrant. He expects people to be perfect and will cut you out or verbally abuse you if you don’t live up to his ideal. I used to say love was unconditional and he used to say love was only ever conditional. That’s not how you raise children. I know, I’ve nurtured and taught many of them. Anyhow no one should ever judge or have an opinion on women. Ever. Especially how they choose to raise, or have, or whatever their children. Women, who already go through so much, deserve more respect than that. I despise Mommy shammers (and men who have the audacity to voice an opinion about a woman’s choice, how they raise their children, or how they have them). 

But leaving your kid unbeknownst in a crèche was insane.

Sophia and Gabriel are the same as Colette and Andréa for me. I was rooting for them, but now I just don’t care. 

How did they all fit in that elevator?

Well that’s the end. It’s easier to let go of something when you’re angry at it so I guess this season being a let down fulfilled that role. I loved the series, I loved the family unit they brought to each episode, and the warmth you could feel that they had for each other. I could identify with each of the character’s in some way, and I cared about them, that’s a testament to good writing. It’s a shame when anything ends. Bravo to France 2 for a brilliant series. It will be missed.