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The Contemplations, Rants & Reminiscences of DavidB327

Something Sensational To Read On The Train

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A Happy Anniversary
Body Painting1
Our anniversary trip to Paris was a great success, and we had a wonderful time.

Logistically it was more convenient to travel by Eurostar rather than go by aeroplane, which indeed is what we did. Actually it’s quite a pleasant way to travel: the seats are quite comfortable with a reasonable amount of legroom, and the food is a lot better than the usual airline muck. It was also quite fitting that we started our anniversary trip with a glass of champagne.

The hotel that we stayed at is De Crillon, which is situated on the Place de la Concorde. It’s quite an imposing building, and the interior fittings and furnishing are equally as impressive. Whilst we were checking in we confirmed our reservation at Les Ambassadeurs for the following night. The floor manager must have been a bit worried that I would walk in there wearing my leather jacket because he pointed out that there was a dress code for the restaurant, and that it was necessary to wear a tie. Well I had brought a suit with me, but not a tie. All my shirts have mandarin collars, and it would look rather odd to wear a tie with such a shirt. Anyway this seemed to satisfy the floor manager, but I must admit that I would have been extremely annoyed had this not been the case. Les Ambassadeurs is a world famous restaurant, and I had surmised that it would be somewhat more formal than the more upmarket restaurants that we’ve been to in London and Italy. So no problem in accepting that there is a dress code, but I do expect to be permitted to express at least some level of individuality. Well it was not a problem, but I dare say that The Ritz may have been another story.

On the first evening we decided to have a walk along the river Seine, which was just across the Place de la Concorde. The view from the Pont de la Concorde at night is quite impressive, with the Eiffel Tower lit up in the distance, and the river buses appearing from under the bridge (I’ve lived either by or near rivers / canals (in Liverpool, Birmingham, Durham, Delft and London) for much of my life, and I do find being by water very soothing, particularly at night). However it was quite cold that night, so we didn’t stay there for too long.

During the day on Thursday we did some ‘window’ shopping in the designer shops along Rue du Fauberg St Honore. I saw a particularly nice leather jacket in Tods, but unfortunately it came with a price tag to match – maybe I’ll get it next time. After we’d been walking for a while I was feeling pretty tired and had to sit down for a few minutes rest on a bench. This is a reminder of how out of condition I have become since I started working from home 2½ years ago. I really do need to get more exercise. Anyway we continued walking and eventually ended up at the Champs Elysées, by the Arc de Triomphe. Not surprisingly it was ‘touristy’ and as busy as Oxford Street.

The meal at Les Ambassadeurs was beautiful. I was dismayed at first, because the a la carte menu did not include anything vegetarian, even though when we booked it had been confirmed that they would be able to provide a vegetarian meal. It would seem that somehow or other ‘vegetarian’ had been interpreted as including fish, which from my perspective is incorrect. However when the chef was consulted it turned out that there were vegetarian options on the tasting menu, so panic averted.

We each had a glass of Taittinger Brut champagne as an aperitif, which is always a pleasant start to a meal. The food was quite wonderful, definitely vegetarian, and (as we were eating from the tasting menu) included several mini courses. The Burgundy chosen by SG was just right. After the meal we each had a glass of aged tawny port as a digestif. There was a quizzical look from the waiter when the port was requested; SG explained to me that this was probably because in France port is drunk as an aperitif. Personally I love the stuff, and could drink it at any point.

I was also impressed that the maitre’d took care to ensure that the lighting was good enough for me. Quite often that’s not the case, and I have to ask for extra candles, even though I always mention my disability when booking.

Friday did not start off too well. After the breakfast had been brought to our room, I managed to fall over the chair I was intending to sit down on. As the chair went backwards I followed it, and banged my head on the floor. I also managed to stub the big toe on my right foot. At first I thought it was my pride that was hurt more than anything else, but I did have a cut in between my eyes and a large bump. Still after I had washed off the blood it didn’t look too bad.

During the day we went to the Musee d’Orsay, which has paintings by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, and currently has a Cézanne exhibition. I couldn’t see the paintings too well, but SG took care to describe them to me as we were going along, so it did help me to gain some level of appreciation. Not so for those that were kept in darkened galleries (mainly watercolours) – all I could make out of these were the frames.

My foot began to ache quite badly on the walk back to the hotel, and whilst we were walking over the Pont de la Concorde I had to stop for a couple of minutes. By this point SG was quite worried that I might have broken my foot, and so was I. Nevertheless after we had been back at the hotel for a while, and I’d had a chance to rest it did not seem so bad. Consequently I decided that any trip to see a doctor could wait until we returned to London.

In the evening we had a meal in L’Obelisque, which is also in the hotel but not quite so formal. We had been toying with the idea of going to a jazz club afterwards, and had discovered that there were a few reasonably close by. However I was not too keen on the idea by then, following my accident, so we had a drink in the hotel bar, where the pianist was playing quite enthusiastic jazzy interpretations of old favourites to a small but appreciative audience. That was quite a pleasant end to the trip.

On both Thursday and Friday when we returned to the hotel we had a drink in the Bar d’Hiver before returning to our room. During the day there’s live music provided by a harpist. I really enjoyed listening to this. Although many of the tunes were well known pop songs, there were occasional classical pieces, one of which was an interpretation of Pachelbel’s Canon. It seemed ideal in that setting.

So basically a short trip, but a very enjoyable one. I would certainly love to return to Paris, but hopefully next time include a concert or two. Mina Agossi would be brilliant.