Bryce Corbett: The Paris You Won’t Read About in Guide Books
Paris by day is elegant and refined. But you don’t have to scratch too far beneath the picture postcard surface of the City of Light to discover there is a deliciously louche, borderline seedy side to the world’s most-touristed city.
How do I know? Because I have been living here eight years, because I have spent an inordinate amount of time and money in cafés and bars conducting “research,” and because the fruit of that labour – a new book called A Town Like Paris – has just been published.
At the heart of the book is a love story. My love story. I came to Paris from Australia as a swinging bachelor – a young man bent on adventure, determined to foist myself upon an unsuspecting French female population and, in the process, eat my fill of Hemingway’s fabled moveable feast.
Photo of Shay courtesy of Carla Coulson.
But the French mademoiselles turned out to be less than impressed with my down-home Aussie charm, and after fumbling about in the cross-cultural wilderness, the gods of fate took pity on me and thrust me into the path – and arms – of a fellow Antipodean.
That I came all the way to Paris from Australia to meet (and eventually fall in love with) a fellow Australian was remarkable enough. That she also happened to be the lead dancer at the Lido de Paris, the famed cabaret on the Champs Elysées, was simply icing on the gateau.
As well as offering up the obvious fringe benefits, dating a Paris showgirl meant gaining an entrée into a most extraordinary world. I glimpsed a side of Paris that very few visitors get to see – the fascinating, behind-the-scenes world of Paris cabaret. As a result, I have become somewhat of an aficionado of the Paris cabaret shows.
The Moulin Rouge entertains with its rambunctious take on French music-hall tradition, the Crazy Horse titillates with its risqué, yet sublime displays of the naked female form. But it is the Lido with which my loyalties – and affections – ultimately lie. And not only because it’s there that I get to watch my sweetheart perform her sequin-clad high-kicks every night.
For me, a night at the Lido is a step back to a classier age. An age in which tuxedos and cocktail gowns were de rigeur and nights spent sipping champagne before feather-infused display of over-the-top Parisian cabaret was considered the height of sophistication. In fact, I like the place so much, I made the lead dancer there my wife. Want a sneak peek? Check out this video.
About the Author
Bryce Corbett is the Australian-born author of A Town Like Paris. He has been living and working in Paris for more than eight years. He arrived in the City of Light following a two-year stint in London, where he worked as print journalist at The Times and as a television producer for Sky News. During his time in Paris, Bryce has written for a variety of newspapers and magazines – including The Australian, The Age, the Sun Herald, People, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Australian Gourmet Traveler – and worked as a TV producer for networks in Australia and the U.S. In his home town of Sydney, Bryce worked at the Daily Telegraph newspaper, most notably as its gossip columnist. He lives in Paris with his wife Shay.
For further information about A Town Like Paris, visit the author’s website.
From time to time, the Window Seat publishes articles and blog posts written by guest authors to give you a fresh perspective on the world of travel.