Penguin have out new translations of Maigret stories. In A Maigret Christmas, I recommend the story Seven small crosses in a notebook. There’s a chase that finishes in the Orient Bar near Rue Damrémont… at Montmartre’s highest point, not far from The no man’s land of the suburbs.
France took Malta from the Knights of Malta in 1798. After Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile the island was put under siege by the British navy. In 1801, there were peace negotiations. Napoleon said frankly to the British ambassador… ‘Peace or war depends on Malta. It is vain to speak of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they are but trifles. For myself, I would put you in possession of the heights of Montmartre rather than of Malta’. (Peter Elliott, A naval history of Malta 1798-1975, 1980). Nevertheless, Napoleon gave up Malta to Britain in the end.
The photo shows a restaurant in Montmartre where Travelling Companion and I had lunch one January, a few years ago.
It’s true that Paris can be annoying. But when it is its own self, in places like this, nowhere can beat it. Britain stayed in Malta until the 1960s. If Napoleon had given Britain Montmartre in exchange for Malta, I don’t think the arrangement would have lasted long.