This week on the Earful Tower podcast, it’s my own Dad sharing the story of how he came to be working on a boat in Paris in the 1970s. It’s as much the story of how he got here (overland from Australia) as it is of Paris in the seventies. And it seems to have struck a chord.
I didn’t plan to make a blog post about this podcast episode. In a way, I recorded it just as much for me as I did for you guys. But the response was huge, truly enormous. It was the biggest day of downloads in the podcast’s history.
And I got so many comments and emails, asking for further info, for pictures, for maps.
So, I asked my Dad for more. And it’s all below. Look, that’s him below.
The podcast episode
If you haven’t listened to the show yet, it is embedded below. It’s the best way to get the full story.
You can also find it on Google podcasts, iTunes, and pretty much everywhere you get podcasts. Here’s Spotify. And remember, I do a new episode every single week, so be sure to follow along.
A summary of Dad’s story
Alright, I know lots of you guys think you aren’t podcast people. So here is a summary of Dad’s first Paris story.
In 1976, he left Australia and then travelled by road from Asia to London. He was a traveller, remember, not a tourist 😉
He stopped in Arles, in southern France, and slept the night in a park. There, his backpack was stolen, which seems to have been a major turning point in the journey. After filing a police report (pictured below), the Goddess of Fortune smiled upon him. He found himself in good company in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, and got an address for another kind soul in Paris.
Look, there’s the famous orange backpack below.
Fast forward to Paris, he arrived overwhelmed, feeling “like a boy from the bush” (I read his diary). He was invited to work on a péniche called La Salamandre for 10 francs an hour, a stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower. He stayed on Boulevard Exelmans, spent his days on the boat, and generally enjoyed life in Paris.
If you look closely at the postcard below, you can see the X marks the spot where the boat was moored. It’s right by the pedestrianized bridge the Passerelle Debilly on the north shore. (Note: This is actually a postcard he sent home to Australia at the time).
Eventually, Dad headed north to London where he met my Mum… and the rest is history. He even got the backpack back years later, empty, but in one piece.
As for the boat, who knows if it’s still around. Judging by the rust chipping stories from Dad, I don’t know how long it would have lasted. But I intend to explore the banks of the Seine to see if anything goes by the name “La Salamandre”… or if any look similar to the photos below. A new Paris mystery to solve… let’s see how I go.
OK that’s it for this week. Thanks, as always, to the Patreon members, without whom The Earful Tower wouldn’t exist. Join them here.
And here’s the episode again, in case you forgot to click play 🙂