France: Paris – searching for le bar Scarlett Johansson drank at

le rosebud paris

You’ll never likely feel you are ever the first visitor to Paris. It’s a city like one of the brothels impressionists like Lautrec, Degas or Manet painted. Where the penises and pussies, and arseholes and mouths, have long given away their exclusivity for a few Francs, or those naughty Euros. Now it’s bourgeois, common place, one of the most visited cities in the world. Though still holding a graceful charm. A place you’ll see those brand name dressed Americans visit in the movies alongside Woody Allen types trying to capture the Hemingway era and Australians asking which cheese will go well with wine without even specifying which colour.

Degas ballerina musée de Orsay paris

I love Paris. I wasn’t trying to be cool here. I’m no impressionist, or machoistic season ticket holder for the Pamplona bullfights, or even a New York director who made a film called Bananas in the year before I was born. I was just a man, in his forties, in Paris for two nights, recently divorced and recently engaged again, on the way from visiting my fiancee in Mexico, going to pick up my daughter from a high school exchange trip in Germany, by myself for two days.

And I just wanted to walk around.

At breakfast in the basement kitchen at my Airbnb in Pigalle – consisting of baguette, coffee, juice, and a few chocolate croissants – my lovely host mentioned that on a recent visit to a little cocktail bar called Le Rosebud – which I’m guessing means The Rosebud – she saw Scarlett Johansson having a drink. This followed an awkward conversation about the nazi occupation of Paris in the 1940s. I hate nazis but I love history. It’s a subject best left alone.

sacre cour paris

So like a pilgrimage to Sacré-Cœur, I set out to walk from Pigalle (I’m not totally Sure that’s the name of the area by the way, it’s not far from Montemarte though)  to Le Rosebud. This is a precursor to a walk I plan to do one day from Austria to Denmark to commemorate the Danish soldiers taken prisoner during the Second Schleswig War of 1864 with Denmark versing jolly old Prussia and the Austrian empire. Spoiler alert, Denmark lost leaving many Danish prisoners of war having to walk home from camps in Austria after their release some years later. It’s all in the Danish TV miniseries Denmark’s War which has nothing to do with France. Another good walking story is Patrick Leigh Fermor’s trilogy where he walked from Holland to Constantinople in the 1930s.

But enough stories of other stories of walking about. My Airbnb host described a very nice way to walk to end up at Le Rosebud. Well at least as far as the Seine which was around halfway there.

sacre coeur paris

I started not in Sacré-Cœur, as the above photo would suggest, which was in the opposite direction to Le Rosebud, but it is a pretty building so I am still putting photos of it here, even though I didn’t visit it until the next day, as I didn’t write about that day, which was also a nice walk, which included a visit to the Musee d’Orsay where I saw Degas’ pretty ballerina and millions of tourists taking photos of impressionist paintings for free as it was the first Sunday of the month, which I hadn’t realised but was glad that I saved the entry fee. I didn’t go inside the Sacré-Cœur because there were these massive lines and why the hell would you want to line up to go to church on a Sunday. No offence God.


Instead I headed down the narrow Parisian streets that seem cast by a species of spider, with webs striking out in different directions from central points, crossing each other then going along in their own merry way, and then somehow coming together again at another point for no apparent reason. Why the objection to straight lines? Was it a rejection of ancient Roman rule and their obsession with square grids. A homage to Vercingetorix, the great Gaulish chieftain for resisting, unsuccessfully, said Roman rule? I’m not sure, given the generally accepted principle that my youngest sister, now dead, told me that the quickest way between two points is a straight line, but there you go, maybe Parisians feel it is just not cool to do straight lines. Or maybe they had fifty different surveyors trying to connect 50 different points with straight lines at the same time and they just all met in the middle and decided that it was time for a gauloise blonde cigarette and a cognac. What’s that theory about an infinite amount of monkeys typing randomly on an infinite amount of typewriters eventually coming up, quite by random, with Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Perhaps an infinite amount of surveyors will eventually come up with Paris, and maybe they did.


I started out past the typical French bakeries, patisseries and fresh fruit and vegetable stalls. People were still lining up here and there for their Saturday morning breakfast baguettes, I think it was already heading towards 11am. Maybe they’d been out on the Friday night and were just getting up. I’d been in bed by 10pm, having flown in from Iceland the day before and getting horribly lost on my way from the airport to Pigalle because I trusted the woman at the information counter at Charles de Gaulle to give me accurate advice. I should have just gone with Google, but you know, you give humans a chance every now and again, and they disappoint you time and time again.

So back to Pigalle, though I may have entered a different area by now as I headed towards the Louvre and the Seine, I then entered several passages, which does sound a bit bawdy but I assure you not, including the Passage Jouffroy and Passage Verdeau which, are covered arcade areas which negate the need to navigate some of the streets and which contain a number of eclectic french style shops with old books, some of which look like they haven’t sold a book in the last century, and satanic occult parrots with hands.

satanic hand and parrot Paris25passage verdeau paris26166523_1473106696151346_1920697023707569880_n

Then down the Rue Vivienne, emerging to the most lovely Jardin du Palais Royal, where I had to sit and contemplate why short columns that don’t hold up anything are art, before heading on my way again.

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Then it was on past a bunch of locks which weren’t protecting any bicycles and over to see Notre-Dame – or perhaps it was a homage to that Italian film the Bicycle Thief, which I relate to as a Swiss woman I was travelling with years earlier had left me her bicycle when she went back to Switzerland and I left it outside my sister’s house in Carlton, Melbourne and some bastard stole it. I wish I had a lock to commemorate my missing bike as well. You can read more about my adventures with the owner of the bicycle in the Adventures of Kosio & Juanito (and Corinne).

notre dame paris

I remember seeing a sign for the Bastille at some point and I headed that way only to loose track and giving up as it didn’t seem to be on the way to Le Rosebud. I kind of wish I’d made more effort on the Bastille front having started my university career at Latrobe University at Bundoora Melbourne studying the French and Russian revolutions, it would have been satisfying to have made my way from the Bundoora lecture theatre to the real life place where the French Revolution began with he storming of the place to grab weapons, well, it didn’t exactly begin on that day but it was certainly towards the beginning of the Revolution. There’s much conjecture around the Revolution, I don’t have time to get involved with that just at the moment. Paris had little to do with the Russian Revolution apart from Latrobe University deciding they could be combined into one unit. And later Russian soldiers being exposed to French revolutionary thought when they defeated Napoleon and occupied Paris. I probably could have talked to my Airbnb host about that as I think they were a bit friendlier than the nazi bastards. I didn’t finish the subject when I was at Latrobe but I did go back to uni many years later at QUT in Queensland where I finally finished an actual degree, after starting 3 or 4 and one of my very last subjects was the French and Russian Revolutions.

But great events of European history would have to take a back step to the prospect of visiting a place Scarlett Johansson drank at.

I didn’t stay long at Notre-Dame just setting foot on its little island then doing a little twirly thing like the Degas ballerinas do, a pirouette? And then fluttering off again like a line of ballerinas in Swan Lake, which is pretty much the only ballet I can name off the top of my head.

Further along I entered the Jardin des Plantes, where I discovered, lots of flowers and a mob of wallabies munching on the lawn. Wallabies are small kangaroos – learn more on my Australian Animals Page.

kangaroos paris

Being Australia, I always just want to pounce on them and eat them whenever I see them, but there was this big fence, and, you know, hippies around who don’t think it’s proper to eat animals. You can make a nice ragu from the tail, I’ve heard but the few times I’ve tried to cook them they’ve tasted like liver, which sounds a bit like the start to a Jack the Ripper letter. I hate liver, my mum used to make this thing called ‘lamb’s fry and bacon’, I think it was liver, or maybe kidneys. I think Jack the Ripper was a sick fuck if he liked eating too much of that stuff. Which pretty much rules me out of a career as a 19th century east London serial killer.

flowers in paris

While I detest livers I do like flowers and the Jardin des Plantes has a lovely display, especially considering we were well into autumn now, including a few patches of veggies and herbs which I’m always fond of.

flowers paris  jardin de plantes paris22050046_1384207875041229_6479037189173354055_n

I noticed whilst there that on Google maps (I wasn’t taking any humans directions again after the woman from the airport) there was this Galerie de Paleotologie et d’Anatomie comaparee, which turned out to be a dinosaur and animal bones place, also in the Jardin des Plantes. This turned out to be a good old school museum just crammed with STUFF. I hate modern museums where they try and have themes and stories and shit. I just love lots of old STUFF shoved in stuffy old rooms. Seriously, it’s an idea that’s worked for centuries and if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Bunch of skeletons with labels in an old room – just fine by me.

palaeontology museum ParisPalaeontology museum paris

Getting back to my epic quest, the museum is also the home of the remains of Lucy, one of the first humanoids discovered by other humans, and the name of the movie Lucy which Scarlett Johnasson starred in, where she took this drug which gave her the ability to use such a huge percentage of her brain power, like 100%, that she transported herself back to actually meeting Lucy herself! My daughter says the whole concept of someone using so much of their brain they can do such things is a load of bullshit, and that we’re already using most of our brain. I know she’s smart and gets mostly ‘As’ at school and stuff, but don’t listen to her, I’m sure Scarlett Johnasson would not accept money to act in a movie that didn’t have a very sound scientific basis. I also have a theory of time travel where I come to the conclusion it is not possible which you can read here: the Zen Cleaning Robot (though you have to scroll a bit and it is on Tumblr which I haven’t used for about 30 years).

I had a best friend from high school who got into drugs  – well I did too to be fair but he was first and much more more enthusiastic than I in the end – and his brain just turned to mush and in the end and he was kind of f*cked in the head, and pretty dumb, with barely an ability to get off the couch in a hurry let alone go do some time travelling. So maybe it ain’t possible. We’re not friends anymore, he became a bit of a dick.

I think this Lucy might not be the ‘real’ Lucy, but perhaps a model of her. Maybe those random bones next to her were really her though. What’s real anyway? If we believe it, it’s real. In some ways. In others not.

lucy paris

At this stage my feet were very, very tired and the bar Scarlett Johnasson drank at the other day was still some way off. Le Rosebud did not even open until 6pm, which seemed odd as I thought Parisians liked to drink all day everyday, so I wasn’t in a hurry anyway. So I kept walking around.

I was thirsty, but hadn’t brought any water and earlier I did not want to pay the 3 euros or whatever they were charging for a bottle of water near the Louvre. I was now far enough now out of the main tourist areas to find a store where I could get the very same bottles of water for .50 Euro. So I bought two bottles of water! Scarlett Johnasson can probably afford 3 Euros for water, but not me.

I can’t remember now in which direction I walked, but it was in the vague direction of the bar. At some stage, to avoid looking like a desperate loser hanging outside the bar until it opened, I spent some time resting my legs at this park where this statue is, which I don’t know the name of, and which at this stage I can’t even bother to look up on Google maps.

statue paris

At around 5.45 I arrived at Le Rosebud, grateful the battery on my iPhone was still struggling by with less than 6% remaining, just long enough to guide me there. Still a little early, I walked around the area browsing the selection of sweets at the sweet shop before heading inside. I probably could have found another nice bar to have a drink at earlier, Hemingway would have been half drunk by 9.30 am, if he was awake, but I had insisted on holding out until I could go this this bar, where a famous Hollywood actress went once.

I waited until 6.16 and walking in I could see it was indeed a very nice place, worth the walk and the wait. Well lit, nice cosy tables and a sophisticated looking bartender in a while jacket, unlike Canberra, Australia where I lived at the time where they’d just be wearing a t-shirt. Though they still make very nice cocktails at bars in Canberra.

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I sat down and watched and listened to the patrons, and ordered a cocktail, and I can’t even remember what it was now, I vaguely recall asking for a mojito, but after being in Mexico where I could get a Mojito for $5 I feel I would have been to cheap to pay 10 Euros or something for one. Whatever it was, it flipping awesome! I was just happy to get a little tipsy after such a long walk. So, whatever the cocktail was it was worth every penny in the circumstances.

As I drank I contemplated how I really didn’t understand the appeal of paying to go to the gym, I mean the pain of exercise is fine when you’re going somewhere like a bar a really long way away where you can see things along the way, but to pay to be in a room where you do all this sweating, making love aside of course, which I wouldn’t pay for just for the record, without the prospect of a well constructed mojito at the end seems ludicrous.

cocktail paris

I drank and listened to a conversation of two Americans sitting next to me and kept glancing around to see if I could spot Scarlett Johnasson walking in looking all famous. Like I really actually thought just because she drank there a few days ago she would be back like some fancy Hollywood alcoholic who has to race into the bar as soon as it opens, or that she was even still in Paris. And no, there’s no amazing twist to this story, where she actually came in and sat next to me and I was too nervous to even talk to her (though I almost certainly would have been LOL), or that the American woman next to me actually was Scarlett Johansson and I didn’t even recognise her, though I do often confuse her with some other actress, so who knows.

Instead I hung around a while longer and, because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast,  apart from a chocolate croissant I took with me, I ordered a chilli con carne.

le rosebud menu paris

And that’s it.

This is the chilli con carne.

chilli con carne rosebud paris

It was pretty good for a chilli con carne, but I’ve spent a while in Mexico, and I’ve since married my Mexican fiancee, I realise the very concept of a chilli con carne is somewhat of an abomination, so even the best one is kind of not at all Mexican. And this one wasn’t the best, but on the other hand I did polish off a few bowls of some of the finest free olives, potato crisps and delectable French bread they had on offer. I think I recouped the cost of the cocktail at least.

I managed to finish the chilli con carne, though looking at the menu again, and if I wasn’t such a cheapskate, I probably would have gone for the steak or something like that. Not that I’m very good at chewing steak.

And after that, I just got up, had another quick look for Scarlett, then just walked all the way back to Pigalle, past the Louvre, mostly using my instincts as my phone’s battery had all but died, where, if my feet were hands, they probably would have murdered me so they wouldn’t to embark on such a ludicrous walk again.

louvre paris night

The next day, I ignored my feet and I walked all the way from Pigalle to the Sacré-Cœur, then to the Musee d’Orsay and then along the Seine and onto the Eiffel Tower and back. Which my feet really, really didn’t appreciate!

And that’s it.


If you want more Paris related stuff, check out the time I hitchhiked from Paris to London with Beth in the 1990s. Or if you like walking around like me check out my Rome in 31,415 Steps.

juanitos travel Sacré-Cœur Paris