Fr Cn De Es Pt It

X - Monsieur Petitchoux

Painting by Jean-Marc Guéroux

They were almost neighbours. From her balconies, Elisa had an open view of Monsieur Petitchoux’s terrace.

Monsieur Petitchoux was a legend in Montmartre. He was the only person to have chosen a pink stretch limo as his sole means of transportation.

But it all became clearer when she entered Monsieur Petitchoux’s flat, accompanied by her Kurdish bodyguard.

He liked articulated mechanical devices, so a stretch limo didn’t scare him. His pet was a battery-operated dinosaur made of white iron. It roared and revved up louder and louder until its scales were caressed to calm it down.

Surrounded by two young men, Monsieur Petitchoux welcomed Elisa and her bodyguard warmly and offered them a whisky. He was about fifty-years-old and wore a black suit and a white shirt with violet patterns that contrasted with the relaxed outfits of the young men.

They took turns holding the dinosaur and petting its iron scales, before Monsieur Petitchoux offered Elisa a guided tour of his triplex. They found themselves on the terrace, which Elisa had only seen from the perspective of her own balcony. The terrace that had inspired so many diverse scenarios in her head about the owner. Perhaps she would see if reality proved stranger than fiction…

The reason for her courtesy visit was that Elisa had just come back from the United States. Upon her return, she had found an old bed base, a toilet bowl and diverse pieces of trash in front of the door of a studio that she rented for Dana, a young Slovak girl.

Gracefully accepting her request to have the junk removed, Monsieur Petitchoux told Elisa that he had lived in Montmartre for thirty years. On the day of his arrival, he had gone to the local café, Le Rendez-Vous des Amis (also a favourite of Elisa’s). Someone patted him on the shoulder and said: “How is this possible? You’ve come to Montmartre and you haven’t had a drink with us yet?” Monsieur Petitchoux responded by buying the next round.

Thirty years later, Elisa had almost the same experience. Today, the lovely waitress of the same bar was named Laetitia and she hadn’t even been born when the former patron had tapped Monsieur Petitchoux on the shoulder…

Monsieur Petitchoux guided Elisa through the floors of his triplex. She could compare it to the room of her brother, who loved to take apart the engine of his scooter and didn’t feel comfortable unless he was surrounded by the smell of grease and petrol.

Elisa imagined the dream home that one could make out of this triplex, with its 300° view of Paris, the Sacré Coeur in the background and the Eiffel Tower right in front…

She liked Monsieur Petitchoux’s eccentric ways and found his love for his little pet amusing.

Together, they went down to inspect the trash at the “basement level”, at the studio in the courtyard that, with its suspended bridges, made Elisa dream of Venice when she first fell in love with the place.

Monsieur Petitchoux and his young friend promised Elisa that they would clear out the space and exchanged business cards.

This morning, she had her breakfast on the balcony on the eastern side of her already sunny loft.

Not far from her on the roof terrace of the next building was Monsieur Petitchoux. He was basking in the sun in his sky blue pyjamas, while reading Le Monde and drinking a cup of coffee.

There was no doubt about it: her neighbour was becoming a part of her life.

On this morning, after reading the paper, Monsieur Petitchoux started blowing bubbles, real soap bubbles, that floated off his terrace to hover over the rooftops of Paris. Pure poetry… Elisa adored Monsieur Petitchoux.

Monsieur Petitchoux was HER neighbour (about twenty metres of air separated his terrace from her balcony) and was now under her spiritual protection.

Paris below was impossibly beautiful. And soap bubbles danced in the air…

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2-4, rue Androuet Paris - 75018