My Paris

(this blog is written in the third person, as are all Paris blogs)


Panam is colloquial for Paris. And no one sings better than Leo Ferré when he romances Paris in his song ‘Panam’.


He also sings the songs of French poet, Louis Aragon. Notably: ‘Elsa, Mon Amour Ma Jeunesse’ written for his beloved wife, Russian-born Elsa Triolet.

This gets us to ‘la jeune fille’. We all noticed a slight accent when she spoke French.

When asked where she was from she’d say: “Je suis lettone.”

“Ah, bretonne,” would come the reply.

No one knew much about Lettonie those days. The assumption was that she was from Brittany. Go figure.

As for the name: Ilze.

Comment? C’est quoi?


Ah, Elsa. Ah oui—Elsa, mon amour ma jeunesse!

So we all called her Elsa. She liked that, especially when we added ‘mon amour ma jeunesse.’

She didn’t tell anyone that back in… back in… uh… Flaketown…or… er… Scragsville or simply back in that place where there is no there (to cite Gertrude Stein) kids would tease young Ilze by calling her ‘Elsie the Borden Cow’. How weird. But that’s Flaketown for you. I prefer Paris. And so does she.


10 Responses to “PANAM…MAIS OUI MADAM”

  1. Rita writes:

    Ou est Scragsville?

    • Ilze Berzins writes:

      What is Rita doing with my Gavator? Do I have a twin? As for Scragsville: For once words fail me.

      • Henri writes:

        You have a twin? C’est formidable! So where is this unnameable Scragsville? Are we to be left clueless?

        • Ilze Berzins writes:

          Why dredge up bad memories?
          Scragsville was a long time ago. But you seem to be a sincere person and so I will tell you. Let this be our little secret.Scragsville/Flaketown is basically everywhere you see mean-spirited bullies. My bullies were Anglo-Canadians.

  2. Rita writes:

    Alors, Mignonne!
    You tell Henri but not me. As for les Anglais: I have a few sad stories too. When I left Chicoutimi to go to Montreal les Anglais had a whole bunch of Pepsi jokes about us.

  3. Claude writes:

    Yeah, that Pepsi slur is weird. I guess it comes from way back when Pepsi had a bigger bottle than Coke. Nous, les francais, had to be careful with money so we went for quantity.
    Nowadays we don’t hear that anymore. In fact, we turn a deaf ear on anything an anglais has to say.

  4. ilze berzins writes:

    Mon Dieu!
    What have I started? A political debate? I haven’t been back to Montreal for yonkers (donkey’s years).
    To paraphrase Gertrude Stein: Canada is my country;Paris is my hometown.

  5. phantom of the opera writes:

    I have been hovering around your wonderful site. Adding the chansons helps with the atmosphere. Talking of which next you will be transmitting onto your website the blue smoke of a genuine ‘Gauloise’. Having lived in Paris for too long to remember where a scragsville or flaketown. Do you want to elaborate? Though I do not know if I would like to expand my horizons beyond my favourite haunts in Paris.

  6. ilzeberzins writes:

    You do not want to have anything to do with Scragsville or Flaketown.
    Your own wonderful lair, high above the rabble of scrags and flakes, gives you a priviledged perch. Do not descend.

  7. Peter $chnore writes:

    Oddly l too was in Paris in 63, several times during days, as nights l spent on Eurail trains. Spoke French once, on Bastille day two military vehicles had crashed. Being Latvian smart l figured out what the Frenchman next me was saying. I replied “we” twice. Then l left fearing that he might want me to speak of Molliere.

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