Love Song for the Homesick
Hotel Amour: bring me your worn leather jackets, tired model legs, subtle designer dark circles, and spiked loafers, your 50s shaved temples and side swoops, black bucket bags, and cheekbones. Welcome. Flow over my doorstep like autumn Paris rain, washing the cigarette butts from my sidewalk and the ash from my window stills. Come stay with me for the night, remain for the week.
Loiter in gentrifying South Pigalle, browsing the gourmet shops and little boutiques along Rue des Martyrs, pop into Le Sans Souci and drink a carafe of wine with cute chain-smoking hipster victims of Paris’ unemployment, get a tattoo at Tin-Tin Tatouages, pass by Amelie’s café, take a wander up the hill, browse the grave stones but don’t buy, and please save some tartare for me. That’s what I ate nearly everyday for lunch at Hotel Amour. You should take that walk with me.
It’s funny the places that begin to feel like home. My first night in Paris, I rolled up in a cab, exhausted from my east-to-west travel, layover in Istanbul, and three months of disorienting dusty desk work, to all the Cool Kids hanging out in the courtyard café and not a receptionist to be found. It was supposed to be just a one-night transit, a quick crash in a room with walls of erotic animal people and a clawfoot tub in the center of the teal-tiled room, like your older quasi-artist friend’s studio apartment, minus the hotplate. But I stayed. For awhile. Many different rooms and many meals later, mornings spent writing in the courtyard, the receptionist (oui, there is sometimes one) and I become friends and the waitresses decided it was okay to acknowledge me.
Even with the Pretty Parade marching through every evening, the place exuded a cozy comfort that’s hard to describe, like some sort of French fashion flophouse. All the rooms at Hotel Amour are designed differently: I went from mirrors and minators to a minimal suite with a leafy patio overlooking the courtyard restaurant, to a tiny little rose colored room made for a little girl in an Edward Gorey drawing, and ended up in the black and white swirls of a rebellious teenager bedroom alcove to a sleek modern loft. Clunked my luggage along the narrow shiny black staircase and hoped for continued vacancy.
They didn’t feel like hotel rooms, but rather the apartment of a friend’s friend, distant enough to be impersonal, but close enough to be human. No phone. No robe. The restaurant was packed with beautiful people every night, a variety of accents drifted up to my window with the smells of deliciously simple and fresh French food (the fig salad and poission du jour was consumed often). And there I was. I hung out in South Pigalle, treated the hotel’s restaurant and courtyard like my living room, the up-and-down streets like I had just moved there, long walks like it was something permanent I needed to get to know. When they finally couldn’t find an available room for me, they called me Eloise and said I’d have to come back soon to collect my mail.