As I often lament, for all my obsessive printing out of entire fashion week schedules, “casual” walk-bys of the Ritz, the Georges V hotel, and strolls up and down the rue Saint Honoré (a celebrity-sighting hotspot for all the high-end shopping), I am really not very good at celebrity stalking.
Every fashion week, I study and print out the fashion week schedules, and wander around the outside of the École des beaux arts near Sciences Po or the Grand Hôtel near place de la Madeleine, hoping to spot, if not celebrities, than some really tall chic models. R and I compulsively check Pink is the New Blog to find out which celebrities might currently be wandering around Paris, and lurk around the nicest hotels and most expensive designer boutiques.
Last weekend it was Beyoncé, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy, here for the French premiere of the movie Dreamgirls. Last week it was Victoria Beckham, Katie Holmes and Anna Wintour, here for the haute couture shows.
For an International Studies major and admitted nerd, I am hyper-aware of Fashion Week. Errr, make that fashion. I refuse to buy Diet Coke in Paris because it’s too expensive (1 euro 30 for a bottle!), but I’ll gladly shell out eight euro for an imported last month’s American Vogue – and then buy the British and French issues as well.
My favorite thing to do on a Sunday evening is walk along the rue Saint Honoré, from the avenue de l’Opéra to the beginning of the embassies, not exactly window shopping (when am I ever going to be able to afford a John Galliano slip dress?), but window gazing. I hit up Chanel, Miu Miu, John Galliano, Dior and everything in between to soak up the window displays. During Fashion Week, I make the same rounds, but instead of checking out the mannequins, I’m peering beyond them to see if there’s anyone famous in the store.
During Fashion Week, instead of walking straight down avenue de l’Opéra and through the courtyard of the Louvre, I walk down rue de la Paix and through place Vendôme, home of the Ritz hotel – to absolutely fruitless results. So far, my celebrity log includes one moderately well-known French tv actress I’d never heard of, a random footballer from FC Barcelona, who I’d never heard of, and a mad paparazzi rush to stalk some American actress (I couldn’t see who) in Le Voltaire, a restaurant across the Seine from the Louvre.
Yesterday I finally began to understand where I was going wrong. Apparently my stalking efforts were entirely misplaced, because the first thing Zoé said when she got home last night was “I saw that guy with the big nose again.”
I was doing the kids’ dinner dishes and kind of laughed and asked what she was talking about, thinking something along the lines of “Haha, 12-year olds…”
“You know, that actor with the big nose – he’s French, he’s in a lot of movies?” This is where I finally paused in my dishes to look at her. “You mean Gérard Depardieu?”
Yes, she meant Gérard Depardieu – one of the few French actors who has mostly made the crossover to mainstream American pop culture. His one disadvantage is not being a gorgeous woman – if he happened to resemble Audrey Tatou or Juliette Binoche, he might be even more familiar.
Apparently, Gérard owns the restaurant right around the corner from my building, Le Petit Gaillon. Apparently he’s always wandering around right in my neighborhood, checking on his restaurant – the restaurant that is directly across from the boulangerie where I buy my bread every few days. Apparently, I am a terribly inobservant person. How many times might I have passed by him already, too focused on the taste of my still-warm baguette to look around me?
This is kind of ridiculously embarrassing. I really am the world’s most inefficient stalker, wasting my time patrolling rue Saint Honoré, place Vendôme and rue Georges V. Not to mention the fact that a Gérard Depardieu sighting would be a much grander coup than a sighting of Posh Spice or the like.
••• Pictures of Le Petit Gaillon to come, check back!