Monday, 12 April 2010

One Can Always Do One More (Thoughts on Paris)


Eva-Jane and I had a fantastic time in Paris thanks very much for asking.

It was a new experience for us because we promised to not exhaust ourselves on sight-seeing and cultural adventures and rather to relax and hang out with our lovely relatives, Gina and Stephen and generally have a holiday, rather than a deep and profoundly moving learning experience. My usual and quite tedious military planning went out of the window, I had to console myself with a measly two maps and a rough plan written onto a single side of A4, almost unheard of for me, just incase we felt like sight-seeing...

This was the first time in a long time that I have had another couple/friends, whom I love very much, to hang out with and it was a real and genuine joy, it kinda' made the holiday for us as they were such delightful company. Don't get me wrong, Eva-Jane and I travelling as a mini-team can amuse ourselves endlessly, rather this actually...



...but it was grand to have some other folks around to share it all with, so Gina and Stephen, thank you and much love and respect to you both.

So instead of 9 hour days of walking from one bit of history to the next, we relaxed and enjoyed Paris' fine bars and brasseries with excellent company. The first night we hung out at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome for some ridiculous cocktails named after a Wu-Tang Clan side project, before buying Eva-Jane a €70 Bloody Mary at the legendary Bar Hemingway at the Paris Ritz.

I could get used to living this high life.

That same night we went to the Brasserie Lipp before having a nightcap at the also very famous Le Deux Magots. I came over all Sartre and Auschwitz became a verb, it was heavy, heavy stuff.

The next day we did some shopping and noted four key things:

  1. Paris is fucking expensive and things come with a Paris mark-up that is verging on the evil, add to this the Euro Zone/Sterling blues and you're in for a wallet bum-rape
  2. Parisians lack basic understanding of personal space and engage in serious barging at any given opportunity, they also stare a lot and by the end of the holiday Eva and I were kicking some serious Parisian ass
  3. They aren't as cool or as fashionable as they think they are
  4. Service in Parisian bars and restaurants is glacially slow, it was like living in slow-motion
That night we tried another great brasserie before I introduced the rest of the gang to the joys of Jenlain...it was a good day.

Day 3 brought the best steak-frites I have ever had in my entire life, I kid you not, if ever you're in Paris get ya' sen' down to Le Relais l'Entrecote, no bookings are taken and you have to wait for a bit but it is worth it. No menu as they just serve the best steak-frites on the planet, with a secret sauce, a great walnut salad and plenty of mustard.

Word up.

That day also bought the Catacombs of Paris, which is basically like being 20 metres beneath the surface in a disused quarry, surrounded by the skulls and bones of dead Parisians, for as far as the eye can see. It was intense, a feeling seemingly not shared by the army of American tourists that squealed their way through the dead, underground city and used their flash (forbidden), touched the remains of the dead (forbidden) and said the most inane things (forbidden by me, I could've added to the heaps of dead quite easily with some fresh bones...). Fuck 'em, bring on the next war, let them be at the front.


Our final day was a game of two very excellent halves, we crammed all our sight seeing into the day and literally saw everything, at a fair gallop but we took it all in (the measly two maps and one side of A4 notes came in very useful, always be prepared!). The evening however started well and got even better.

It started with yet more fine food, washed down with some Grimbergen, before adjourning once again to the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome for a quick cognac based cocktail that set my chest on fire and I then got to meet and shake hands with Patti Smith (for the record her hands are very soft and I did not embarrass myself or prostrate myself at her feet) and then to the legendary Harry's New York Bar, where the waiter told us that they sold no wine, only two beers but could make any cocktail that had ever existed.

What occurred next is a vague, delightful, sepia-tinged blur but if memory serves me well I had four Brandy Alexanders (the motto that night, after each round, was one can always do one more), deep, delightful, irreverent discussion and one of the best nights of my life. What a blast!

Unfortunately, the next day was home time and I could barely breath, stand or make my way effectively to the waiting Eurostar. Thanks to Eva-Jane's steady and caring guidance I made it to the train without vomiting and by the time we pulled into St. Pancras I was as right as nine-pence.

Like I said, one can always do one more.

What a wonderful adventure.

11 comments:

  1. chalk it up to my living in the dark right now, but next time y'all are going to paris remind me that i said i would share the absolute best seafood place in all of paris with all y'all. (unless of course, seafood isn't a favorite!) xoxoxox

    (i miss paris.*sigh*)

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  2. Did a couple of days in Paris in 2003 in order to see my final King Crimson concert (they didn't play the UK that tour). Paris is expensive and we had no cash, so we walked up and down the banks of the Seine. The Louvre was closed which pissed me off no end.

    Spent the first evening getting very drunk at one of the traditional Parisian pavement bars (completely with dungeonesque pissoire that the Missus had to negotiate half-cut - no pissing on your feet, dear). It was also the year when Paris sweltered and many people died. In Paris, there's no such thing as air-conditioning and I thought I was going to die of dehydration in the night, scrabbling around in my underpants trying to find Euro coins to feed the fizzy pop machine in the lobby. They also don't believe in cold milk - warm milk on your cornflakes...I nearly retched, I nearly did...

    €70 for a drink? You really are the bourgeoisie!!!

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  3. I'm mostly jealous. Though I prefer narcotics to booze as my system can handle them better (e.g. I have been known to pass out after a pint and a half) and they will always be cheaper than €70!

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  4. I'm almost jealous too. Except the personal space thing really bothers me, and I like a people who don't take themselves so seriously.

    You know there is a Relais d'Entrecote on Marylebone Lane (just around the corner from le Cordon Bleu). Same drill - no bookings, no menu, same dressing on the salad. I'd be interested in knowing if it lives up to it's cousine's reputation.

    I'm bringing you to Argentine though. Then I'm going to ask where you've had the best steak ever!

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  5. 'Sounds fantastic.

    I love Paris, though I haven't been there since my A-Levels. John Major was still PM, just to give you an idea. I do remember it was mentally expensive, though I'm not sure if more than London.

    "So instead of 9 hour days of walking from one bit of history to the next, we relaxed and enjoyed Paris' fine bars and brasseries"
    Totally agree. I personally disagree with exhausting tour-de-force holidays. I'd rather stroll around, look at buildings and shops and hop from bar to bar or pub or whatever.

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  6. savannah:

    Please do tell, sure we'll be back one day and be good to know any insider tips!

    Darren:

    As always Darren, a great tale, you certainly can tell 'em and yes, I am a right bourgeoisie.

    Highlander:

    Eva siad it was the best Bloody Mary she ever tasted so well worth it I reckon but yes, you can buy a lot of drugs for €70...

    Ellie:

    That fact re: Relais d'Entrecote on Marylebone Lane has just made Eva and I's day, we'll be off their soon for steak-frites.

    claude:

    This holiday was an exception, I usually plan it to death and get every pound of flesh, not this time and had a grand time.

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  7. What a wonderful time indeed Dan! Sounds great and glad so much fun was had

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  8. Sounds like a brilliant and atmospheric time, even the overload moments. So good I had to read it twice.

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  9. Sara:

    Indeed and congrats on all the love and positivity you are experiencing right now, I'm very happy for you. Peace. xxxx

    Rashbre:

    Apologies then for the length but I had a lot to fit in...

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  10. Daniel, you join exhaulted company in making France sound awfully appealing. The company in question being Catherine Sanderson (currently half way through her second book), a work colleague who has a house in the Dordogne (visited last summer), and Ferranti (business trip to Grenoble some 20 years back) - the less said about the other business trip, the better.

    I've never spent more than 3 days consecutively in that country, but I think maybe it's time to make up for lost time. Now if I can just persuade Mrs of Arabia that not everything French conforms to the steroetypical English view, we'll be away.

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  11. Well, Paris is very different from France, you'll get a more brusque but cosmopolitan vide there but the French countryside and communities are so polite and delightful.

    Depends what you want really.

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