Our feet know the way.
For thirty years we have made this pilgrimage. The hair is grayer (or bluer.) The waists are a little thicker. The hotels have changed — though not for the last ten years.
Our Paris is not everyone’s but it is deeply familiar and soulful — like coming home to a place where we recognize every cobblestone and weathered chimney and ripple of moonlight on water (even if after all these years we only get the gist of what people are saying.)
With occasional forays farther afield, our Paris usually begins and ends within a few blocks of the 6th arrondissement. Our hotel. Our restaurants. Our bridge.
We got in this morning. The direct flight from Indy is amazing but it leaves at 6:18 pm which makes it hard to fall asleep right away, even in a flat bed seat.
So we showed up tired. I got more sleep in the taxi to the hotel than I did on the plane — the worst traffic I have seen in Paris except when it snows. Took us over two hours from CDG.
Staying at our favorite-ever hotel, Relais St. Germain. Not in our favorite room though. I let the Citi Prestige people make the reservation, a mistake I won’t repeat, especially since they are altering their 4th night anywhere free policy. People abused it (imagine that!), staying in $7000/night suites and expecting Citibank to pick up the 4th night. Which it did, but soon that benefit will come with all kinds of restrictions, maybe making the card not such a hot deal.
At any rate, they got us in a room we don’t love as much as some others.
But we still love it. And the 4th night is free.
We were greeted like the family we feel we are and got into our room after hanging out with Chip and Chop, the lovebirds (really) in the lounge for only 15 minutes.
After a sandwich we crashed and slept until nearly 5 pm. Way to beat the jet lag, she said, wide awake and blogging at 1 am.
Those are the best naps, though — the post-trans oceanic flight, clock turned upside down, sleep jumps you from behind and knocks you out naps.
Got up, got out of bed, got dressed, and practiced doing sketch notes for a while. I am not an artist but I have a project, so practice, practice, practice.
At about 7 pm we let our feet decide where to have dinner. The warm evening air took the edge off the air conditioned chill as we stepped outside. Warm, fragrant spring air. Air is often fragrant in Paris and so often not in a good way, but spring blossoms made this evening a joy.
Walked up the street toward the Odéon Theatre. The streets were packed, and not just with tourists. We strolled through clouds of incomprehensible, rapidly spoken French and pungent cigarette smoke.
One of our favorite restaurants is La Mediteranee, a seafood place that has soft peach colored light in the winter that welcomes you and makes you beautiful. In the summer the walls fold out and though they have sidewalk seating, even their indoor seating is outdoors.
They had one table for two left so it was clearly meant to be ours.
We settled into fresh radishes with butter and sea salt, maybe my favorite thing about the place. Not really, but they are so crisp and mild, the butter so sweet, and the sea salt so salty and crunchy that I wonder why I don’t eat these every day.
I had carpaccio of sea bass with nuggets of buckwheat, dollops of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of mint. Buttered toast.
It was followed by perfect sole meurniere with pommes purée. In other words, butter with golden, pan-roasted fish and butter with potatoes. Really great butter. It was stunningly simple and delicious. Also, rich.
Jerry had roast octopus with grilled avocado and corn purée that was yummy — and I don’t love octopus. Then he had brill with pea pods (“greedy peas” on the English menu they gave us.)
For dessert I had fraises de bois with fleur de lait ice cream. Again, simple and perfect. Jer had a sweeter variation — a deconstructed strawberry vacharin. All good.
Rich, bitter cafe (et cafe decafeine pour moi) and we were back out on the street.
An essential part of the first night routine, we headed down to the Pont des Arts. Couples have found a way to padlock their love to the bridge, despite the plexiglass designed to prevent it. It was oddly comforting. We took the obligatory sunset bridge selfie, and, lights beginning to twinkle in windows, we headed home in the scented dusk.