The most romantic places in Paris - Citimarks

The seducer

Parisian gentleman dancing with young lady
Juliette Greco and Miles Davis

French singer Juliette Gréco with American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis at the Pleyel Concert Hall in May 1949. © Jean-Philippe Charbonnier/Gamma-Rapho. Source: Birdsong217.


chapter 1

Scene One - Pleyel Concert Hall

The dilapidated Art Deco facade of Salle Pleyel Music, at first indistinct and echoing, becomes gradually louder […]. 

The auditorium. On the distant stage: a bass player, a drummer, and the pencil-thin figure of MILES DAVIS (23 years old). He wears a white shirt, black tie, and a shaprly tailored linen suit. His dazzling trumpet catches the light. 

Seats in the auditorium and scattered listeners; JULIETTE sitting a few rows from the front, her hands clasped around her left knee, listening intently. She is dressed simply but strikingly in black, with more mascara than before. […] While the music plays: close-up of Juliette staring past the camera. Music stops. […] 

DAVIS, to one of the musicians, jerking his head: Hey, who’s that girl over there? The one with the long black hair? […]

MUSICIAN: That one over there? What do you want with her?

DAVIS: What do you mean, what do I want with her? I want to get to know her. […]

MUSICIAN: She’s not for you, man. She came with Boris Vian and that crowd. She’s one of those “existentialists”…

DAVIS: I don’t care about all that shit. She is beautiful. I want to get to know her. (Quietly.) I ain’t never seen a woman look like that before.

Davis beckons to Juliette with his index finger. She walks slowly up to the stage and climbs the steps. They stand looking at each other, smiling warily.

DAVIS: You like the music?

JULIETTE (in French): If I like music? She looks closely at his trumpet, then runs her finger softly along the tubing. (Still in French) As you can see…

DAVIS, readjusting her stance: OK, so you don’t speak English, huh? That’s cool, we’ll improvise!… (Waves the trumpet.) You play?  You play an instrument?

JULIETTE purses her lips, mimes playing a trumpet: (in French) Show me…

DAVIS: Here, put your fingers here.

Close-up: Juliette presses the valves as Davis blows the trumpet. Beautiful, brazen sounds come out. Her face lights up; she laughs out loud.  

DAVIS, laughing: That’s not bad at all! (To musician, swaggering): Hey, man! I just played a duet with an existentialist! (To Juliette): You wanna go for a coffee? Café?

JULIETTE: Yes, but not here…. (Takes his hand silently and leads him off the stage.) Come…


DAVIS, turning around: You just keep working on those changes man!

Miles Davis and Juliette Greco

“I saw him in profile: an Egyptian god,” Gréco recalled, watching Davis from behind the scenes. “I had never seen such a handsome man and I haven’t seen a more handsome one since.” Source:


Miles Davis improvising the score of "Elevator to the Gallows"

In 1957, Davis recorded the music of Elevator to the Gallows, a French film noir directed by Louis Malle. Without any prior preparation, the score was improvised in the recording studio, overnight, while film sequences were projected in the background. © Gérard Landau – Ina via AFP. Source: RTS.

Miles Davis and Jeanne Moreau

Another French charmer, Jeanne Moreau, who starred in the Elevator to the Gallows, remembers: “They said (Miles) was in love with me. But, in truth, I didn’t even notice him. I was so in love with Louis Malle, you see.” Source: Jazzactuel.

chapter 2

Scene two - On the banks of the Seine

Close up: a pigeon pecking between the cobblestones. The pigeon flies off. […]

Legs and feet of JULIETTE and DAVIS – her sandals, his shiny leather boots walking along the Seine embankment, upstream of the Pont des Arts. Sound of walking feet […] JULIETTE and DAVIS in a tight embrace. […] A coal barge comes into shot. […]

JULIETTE glancing down: I don’t like men…but you… (looking at Miles.) With you, it’s different.

DAVIS: You don’t like men? Is that what you said? Well, I’ll tell you: in America, I ain’t a man (displays his fingers.) I am a nigger. (Juliette strokes his fingers). I am an entertainer (DAVIS flaps his hands, minstrel-style). An Uncle-Tom – you know what I mean? […]

DAVIS, looking almost shy, walkin on: There’s some kind of special smell here I ain’t smelled anywhere else. (Sniffs the air. Juliette looks amused and surprised.) It’s like coffee beans…and coconut and lime and rum all mixed together, and…like eau de cologne…Heh! This must be ‘April in Paris’… (singing) pap, pap, pap, pap, pap…

JULIETTE stops, pulls his arm and points at his face: the trumpet…how do you do it?

DAVIS mimes trumpet playing. JULIETTE stands on tiptoe and kisses him on the lips.   

the banks of the Seine in the night
chapter 3

Scene three - Café de Flore

(Narrator): …The quartier of Saint-Germain-des-Prés… […] The Café de Flore is now a temple – a temple whose high priests are called Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. […] And the name of this cult? EXISTENTIALISM! Frantic trumpet and cymbal. […]

SARTRE, BEAUVOIR, DAVIS and JULIETTE. A continual streem of words. The conversation goes on, almost too fast to be followed, above the sound of other customers, the waiters shouting orders, twirling trays, mopeds, car horns, police whistles, etc.  

JULIETTE follows the conversation but also looks around at the other tables and the life of the street. […]  

SARTRE talks with DAVIS in English. He speaks grammatically but with an atrocious accent. The cigarette is not far from his mouth.

SARTRE …because your music has a political resonance…

DAVIS: I just blow the trumpet, man. I blow the trumpet and the sounds come out and the cats digt it… Or they don’t dig it; it’s all the same to me […] it’s just music, man.

SARTRE: Yes, but it’s jazz music, which is an expression of freedom.

DAVIS leans back, forced smile: That’s a white man’s word -jazz. White men always want to put a label on everything. They’re just tunes, man. […]

The waiter arrives with the next bottle. 

SARTRE fills the glasses. To DAVIS suddenly: Why don’t you and Greco get married?

DAVIS looks at Juliette: Responsibility, man… I love her too much to make her unhappy.

BEAUVOIR to Juliette, smiling: (In French) he loves you way too much to make you unhappy.

JULIETTE kisses Davis on the cheek. They look at each other, Close up: both in profile. […]

The waiter comes to clean the table.

BEAUVOIR: Will you have dinner?

DAVIS looking at Juliette: No, we gonna find ourselves a bridge and look at the river, and then maybe we’ll jump in… Shit, I just came here to play music. I wasn’t expecting none of this. […]

couple dancing
couple dancing in front of Les Deux Magots café
"Singing in the Rennes" jazz players
swing dancers in front of Les Deux Magots café

Photos capturing a swing evening hosted by the café “Les Deux Magots” to celebrate the memory of Boris Vian, in February 2020. The French jazz band “Singing in the Rennes” set the square of Saint-Germain on fire.

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chapter 4

Scene four - La Louisiane Hotel

Hotel room. DAVIS in bed. Juliette sitting cross-legged on the bed, looking at him.


DAVIS: She’s called Irene. She’s a good girl. I care for her a lot. But she is… She is not like you. She doesn’t have your independence… She doesn’t have your style… I mean…

JULIETTE looking sad but not distraught; It is unclear how much of Davis’s talk she understands: Are you going to stay here (she points to the ground) in Paris… in France?

DAVIS: I dunno… I could get used to being treated like a human being… He’s right, Jean-Paul. Everybody likes my music, but that ain’t good. Anything I play, the audience cheers. It gets so I’m not even sure it’s me who’s playing… But if I go back to the States, I sure as hell ain’t gonna find another woman like you.

JULIETTE getting back into bed: You’ll come back one day. And you will send me all your records.

Mellow trumpet music. […]

couple sitting on a Parisian bridge
Eiffel Tour from the Seine at night
chapter 5

Scene five - Square Saint-Germain-des-Prés

JULIETTE and DAVIS. His arm around her shoulders -his tall body towards the camera, his face in profile, kissing Juliette. Her face, also in profile, her head tilted back, her body arched like a musical instrument (copy a pose from a Robert Doisneau photograph). The spire of the church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés appears in the background. The angle of the shot makes it look as though they stopped to kiss among the traffic while crossing the square. 

A car pulls up just behind them. Sound of a door banging.

JULIETTE quietly: Voilà… It’s always easier to leave than to stay.

DAVIS gets in the taxi. He turns round and stares through the rear window at Juliette (at the camera) with the look of a man being taken to jail. 

JULIETTE watches the taxi disappear in the traffic towards Rue Bonaparte. She stands still for a long moment, then turns around and looks over at the church spire…

Graham Robb,
Parisians, An adventure history of Paris, Picador, 2011.

A street in Montmartre at night

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