Joanna Walsh

Posted on May 11, 2011 by Susie Hollands

Joanna Walsh (aka Badaude) is a writer and illustrator.

1. What initially inspired you to move here or visit?
The usual things that drive people to Paris – unhappy love affairs, a desire for self-reinvention. Oh yeah and French food, fashion, art, literature, comic books and the movies.

2. Earliest Paris memory?
Coming up the steps of Saint-Michel metro to find myself on a traffic island surrounded by sweating tourists, trottoir-to-trottoir traffic, fast-food stalls and tat shops. Could this really be Paris?

3. Best neighbourhood you’ve ever lived in?
Waking up opposite Notre Dame every morning while living at Shakespeare and Company bookshop.

4. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Paris?
Perfect roast chicken at L’Atelier Mâitre Albert on a perfect spring evening.

5. Sexiest moment you’ve had in Paris?
On the phone to the UK in the Place Saint Sulpice where there’s a webcam. It’s updated every 30 minutes then runs as a 30 second loop for the next half hour. He caught a glimpse of me on the webcam while he was phoning me. We saw the same bit of Paris at the same time and then he could, somewhat surreally, see me re-enacting ‘now’ for an extra half hour. A bit Amelie, just a little Caché, very Paris.

6. What do you hate most about living in Paris?
Like all big cities it makes my snot go grey.

7. Who’s your favourite Parisian — be they living or dead, real or fictional?
Too many…Real: Colette, Tardi, Daumier. Fictional: Bel Ami, Nana, Eugène de Rastignac, Julien Sorel.

8. Favourite cinema?
That little cinema next to the Sorbonne where they show Anglo and French classics. Is it called Le Champo?

9. Right bank or left bank? And why?
Isn’t it East v West now? So, East – on the left or right bank.

10. Favourite Caviste?
La Cave des Papilles, rue Daguerre.

11. Where do you go to escape the city?
The Parc des Buttes Chaumont. I never really want to escape the city so I prefer this cockney / titi artificial paradise.

12. Where are the best looking girls or boys in Paris and why?
Hanging around smoking outside any lycée.

13. Where do you get your news?
Le Parisien, Paris Vogue, The Gentlewoman Magazine, The Guardian, The Times fashion pages, all bought at Relay at Eurostar Paris Nord.

14. Favourite museum?
The Musée de L’Hôtel de Ville always has the best exhibitions. Well worth the 30 minute to an hour queue. And the usually empty Musée Gustav Moreau for its dusty atmosphere.

15. Favourite shop?
Monoprix and Le Bon Marché: nothing in between.

16. Who’s the most stylish Paris personality?
Adèle Blanc-Sec.

17. What is your favourite film that is set in Paris?
Nuits de la Pleine Lune, from Eric Rohmer’s Comedies et Proverbes series. A designer, who has moved to the suburbs to live with her boyfriend, is tempted to stray back by the city and its men. As Rohmer says, “If you have two lovers you lose your soul: if you have two homes, you lose your mind.”

18. What about Paris most inspires you?
The sharp white light on the sharp grey buildings on a winter’s day.

19. What makes someone a Parisian?
No one quite knows. That’s the continuing attraction.

20. What’s your favourite French word? (Swear words allowed!)
I love the way swearing is constructed completely differently in French. It took me a long time to get my head round it. I also love it when I come across a word that’s untranslatable into English – without using a longer phrase. Dépaysement is a good one, and I’m also keen on détournement – both of which I came to Paris to experience…