A is for Amélie. Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain (The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain), or simply Amélie, is a 2001 romantic comedy film, starring Audrey Tautou. This is one of my favourite French films and has won many awards including two BAFTAs.
In this idiosyncratic film, Amélie, a young woman who grew up isolated from other children, is a waitress in The Café des 2 Moulins (The Two Windmills) in Montmartre. Amélie decides to devote her life to bringing happiness to others. The people who work in and frequent the café are as wide a variety of eccentrics as you could hope to meet anywhere.
Since the release of the film in 2001, the café has become something of a tourist destination, yet, when we went to visit, we had no difficulty finding a table and the service was prompt, friendly and welcoming. The 1950s décor has been preserved throughout and memorabilia of the film is displayed in the café, including a gnome on the bar who surveys the customers.
What better place to start your day with a coffee before exploring the delights that Montmartre has to offer? (More about Montmartre in “M”) The café is on Rue Lepic and takes its name from two nearby windmills: The Moulin Rouge and Moulin de la Galette.
And, last but not least, A is for apéritif (or as we affectionately call it, apéro), my favourite French custom, a pre dinner drink often served with snacks. The traditional apéritif in France is Pastis, an aniseed-flavoured alcohol that is served clear, with un carafe d’eau (carafe of water) and turns cloudy when water is added. Within hours of arriving in France we very quickly learned to appreciate the twilight (apprécier le crépuscule ) over a glass of our chosen apéritif of rosé wine (du vin rosé). After a long, albeit satisfying, day of walking around Paris, looking at the many delights the city had to offer, there was nothing more relaxing than sitting outside our chosen café with a glass and recounting the adventures of our day and planning the adventures of the next.