Thus far I have only traveled to Paris, though I would eventually like to see as much of the country as possible. I went to Paris in June of 2003 (maybe better known as the year where the summer was so hot, people were dying.) Ten fantastic days wandering the city, seeing museums, cafes, cemeteries, and taking in the sights.
One of my favourite spots was the jazz club Le Bilboquet, which at the time was located on the rue Saint-Benoît, just off of the Blvd St-Germain. (From what I understand, the club is no longer there, but I’m not sure whether it has moved or has closed permanently.) I can’t recall what music we heard that evening, but the look of the club made an impression. Small, dark, with a lot of red walls and dark wood. Smoking hadn’t yet been forbidden (that happened a few years later) and the air was hazy. We sat on the sidewalk outside and the windows had been thrown open, so we could see in and hear the music clearly. The staff were fantastic and friendly and the food was excellent.
As you can see from Google Earth, the sidewalk could hardly even hold a table, yet we sat at a four-top and felt quite comfortable. (The boarded up club is to the right.) I regret not taking more photos of the area when we were there.
I based the club ‘Le Chat Rouge’ in my novel WHEN THE CHIPS ARE DOWN on Le Bilboquet. It seemed the sort of place where gangsters might consort with prostitutes and thieves. (Not that I saw any… that I know of.) Tourists could rub elbows with locals, enjoying the music and the atmosphere. A perfect place for an unexpected encounter.