Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Chez Ali, on the far end of the rue des Trois Frerés  known officially here as Chez Ali, was the little grocery store chosen for the film Ameli of Montmartre. I painted it in 2000 after it had been spruced up, but, before the film came out. The corner grocery store open late at night was up and around the corner from my first sublet on rue Ravignon  and just down around the corner from rue Berth, my second  Montmartre residence. Ali had star quality. I included his three children, all girls, in the painting. Ali’s wife had coached me. Then, she wanted to be in it herself . I said “no room” but, out of courtesy, I put her in the window upstairs.  I put Ali at the door.  Ali regrets not having bought the painting. He told me six years later.
The girls are now grown jeunes filles and the man with the white beard is still walking with a slant. The dog, my Ruby, is reincarnated somewhere off a leash.
But the store, La Maison Collignon, is now world famous owing to the great inter-national success of the film. I saw it twice and loved it.  Many standard guide books  now include this street corner. The Japanese  love it as much as they adore as Luis Vuitton.

Ali did not let opportunity pass him by. Magazine and yellowing newspaper articles about him are taped to the side window. He sells post cards and posters of the film and has specialty items for tourists. He was so successful that he went and bought the Boulangerie on the rue Ravingnon. I thought a Morocain will never be able to make a good baguette. Wrong. He took a six month training course in baking. His baguette is great. The house speciality - pain aux olives! Ali's brother, Abdellah, now watches over the store and all the tourists that come to have a real taste of Montmartre.  For us, it's still, chez Ali,  the corner grocery store open late. 


  1. Is it possible to find a postcard with Ali's shop ? Do you intend to make another view of his shop ?

  2. This is such a warm painting as is the story behind it. Really lovely.



Ruby chez la princess from