It was 1964, Brigitte Bardot was at her most beautiful, 30 years old and a major film star and sex symbol and for Peter Jones, a 17 year old English school boy in Paris, meeting her was an unforgettable moment…
The highlight of my education was passing my 11+ which gained me a scholarship to the world’s oldest public school for boys; it was founded by Edward The Confessor almost 1000 years earlier.
I too became part of the school’s history as the first pupil to fail every one of the O-level exams he sat. Rather than admit defeat the school administrators created a special form for me “Transitus”, Latin for bridge or passing through.
Eventually I got there and aged 16, the headmaster took me to one side and said “ Mr Jones you are welcome to join the sixth form but past performance suggests you will be 26 years old when you leave, and I have no doubt that had Edward the Confessor still been around you would have been beheaded years ago”.
To save any further humiliation my parents removed me from school and sent me to Paris where I lived and worked for a year with my Uncle Riquet who was the assistant stationmaster at the Gare De L’Est. It was 1964….
It was a fantastic twelve months, I did everything from portering to selling tickets to cleaning trains. I was lucky enough to have several trips on The Orient Express starting at Gare De L’Est and running all the way through to Istanbul.
Uncle Riquet live in a ground floor flat with my Aunty Vivienne on the Boulevard Picpus in the 12eme arrondissement. He also had a flat on the 11th floor immediately under the penthouse. That was to be my home for those twelve months.
I was told that an actress lived in the penthouse though she was very rarely there. However, one morning I set off for work and as usual summoned the lift. Surprisingly it came down from above rather than working its way from below as it had every single time I’d pushed the button.
It was one of those old fashioned lifts with a metal sliding full length gate and just enough room for two. I slid it open stepped in and found myself face to face and just inches away from Brigitte Bardot, the actress in the penthouse.
She was then 30 years old and at the absolute peak of her beauty. She was also divorced and single. Sadly I was a very red-faced and flustered 17 year old who had zero experience of the female sex.
I blurted out the first thing that came to me which was “Going Down?” She gave me the most lascivious of looks, kissed her index finger and pressed it to my lips and with her insouciant, world famous coquettishness, stepped out as we reached the ground floor… and then she was gone.
I rode that lift twice a day every day for the rest of my stay, but I never saw her again…
Peter Jones is a photographer and freelance writer. He has lost count of the number of times he has visited France but has never forgotten that meeting Bridget Bardot in a lift in Paris.