Today started with a hiccup. The sky was grey and there was a definite chill on the air. But that wasn’t it.
We went down for breakfast and were quickly supplied with tea and coffee. We waited for the rest. And waited. Then waited some more. At last I went to the reception and enquired whether they were going to give us anything to eat. The clerk thought I was complaining there wasn’t enough to eat and launched into explanations. No, I persisted, we haven’t had anything to eat.
Finally I got through and they hurried to put things right. I think each thought the other had served us when no one had. Having them off-balance, I thought this would be a good moment to remind them that they hadn’t supplied enough towels and that we had already reported this. More apologies and two sets of clean towels. (We gave up on the dead light bulb and solved the problem by moving the other bulbs around.)
We thought to take the tourist bus from the Gare de l’Est to L’Opéra and change to the “historique” tour here. Usually the bus remains some time at a stop as people get on and off, buy tickets, etc so we went to the nearby cafe. The bus arrived but no one wanted to get on or off so we ran out of the cafe in time to see the bus disappearing down the road!
So we ended up walking to L’Opéra. I enjoyed this. Once there, we caught the “historique” and off we went. I don’t know whether it was the crush of the people, being tired from the excitement of the day before or what, but I began feeling stressed. All I wanted was to get off the bus. I told myself this was silly and that I didn’t want to interrupt Tigger who was filming away with her camera clamped to the rail. Tigger kept asking if I was OK and I kept saying yes and telling myself to stop being stupid. In the end, I had to take a break. We got off the bus and found a quiet cafe where we had hot drinks.
We regained the bus and went round all the famous tourist spots – Champs Elysées, Arc de Tromphe, Notre Dame, Place de la Concorde, La Tour Eiffel, Les Invalides. Though feeling better after a break, I was still not “dans mon assiette”, so we got out at the Invalides and looked for a cafe. We found one. It was very busy and it was now the lunch hour so we decided to have lunch.
After lunch I was feeling a lot better. We joined the “promenade” bus and I enjoyed this. Instead of visiting the crowded tourist spots, it took us slowly around some of the prettier parts, including the river near the Gare de Lyon.
We left this bus at what Tigger refers to as “Juliet’s 18-30 Club”. For Paris buffs, this is the Place de la Bastille, whose famous monument celebrates Juillet 1830.
The tours convinced me that Paris is a beautiful city. Beautiful buildings are everywhere and even the Art Nouveau railings and lamps of the “bouches de Métro” add to the charm. The monuments… well, the monuments are so enormous and so over the top in their romantic complexity and shiny gilding that they possess an outrageous beauty.
From the Place de la République, we went on one of our wanders. We walked, we goggled and gawped, we looked around shops, we bought some tea in a shop with the improbable name of Betjeman and Barton. We had a drink in an off-beat cafe called Chez Jenny, with lamp shades in the shape of snail shells. (This is not the restaurant of the same name but the little bistro beside it.)
We decided to return to the hotel for a rest and a cup of tea before dinner. But first we had to get there from wherever we were. At this point a tourist bus hove in view. It was the “ligne jaune” which stops at the Gare de l’Est, near our hotel. As our tickets were still valid, and although it was a roundabout way to go, we jumped aboard.
We reached our hotel and had a cup of Betjeman and Barton (good, even very good, but perhaps not worth €9) and I wrote up the day’s events.
Now we are thinking about dinner. Where to, tonight?
Instead of heading for the bright lights, we walked up the rue des Vinaigriers, where our hotel is situated, into the sidestreets. First there was a tapas bar and then a small and bare Chinese restaurant. Neither of these appealed so we continued. On a corner was another tapas bar but the menu contained little to content a vegetarian. We turned the corner into another quiet street and part way along came upon a small eaterie called Santa Sed. Colourful handpainted signage declared this to be a Chilean restaurant.
The short menu contained one vegetarian item, something called Pascualina. We decided to give it a try. The aforementioned dish turned out to be a sort of vegetable pie whose main ingredient was spinach. It was served with a tomato salad and – nice touch – a bottle of green tabasco sauce. As this was France, we were also served a basket of bread. This led to another of Tigger’s culinary inventions.
Tigger had previously invented pepper sandwiches (bread with butter and pepper) and omelets spread with mustard. Today it was tabasco sauce on French bread. Don’t knock it until you have tried it. We have taken to carrying a pepper mill with us so as always to have tasty pepper to hand and it looks as if we shall now have to add tabasco sauce to our essential accoutrements when we travel.
To finish we had a tasty but very sweet crepe. I have no idea what Chilean name it rejoices in or even whether it has one.
We returned to find the hotel door locked at this ungodly hour of 10:15 but the clerk was on hand to let us in.There is a full complement of towels, Betjeman’s and Barton’s tea, if we need it, and all’s right with the world.
Bonne nuit, Paris!