The dirty brick with the equally dirty windows looked down on the dingy street with cars parked both sides, so close together none could escape without the French “bumper shuffle”. Our close knit bunch of five couples were on the second day of our exploration of what is probably the most beautiful city in Europe. Our visit co-incided with Halloween (or All Hallows) which is celebrated widely in France. Our bordello (hotel come knocking shop) not only fed and provided us with a place to sleep, it also transpired that it was hosting a whole troupe of street entertainers who – with their gaudy face paint and over the top costumes, made a lively & noisy scene at the hotel.
After breakfast we went our separate ways in small groups. Our group, 3 couples, decided to go across town to visit the famous Eiffel Tower first and then make up our mind from there, where to go next. Jan, having successfully negotiated the Metro like a mother duck we decided that we would stop at a café for coffee (or a bier or two!) where Jan introduced Pat to the delights of ‘café & cognac’ to warm them up at the disgustingly decadent time of 11 am.
The queues for going up the Eiffel Tower were enormous so we only looked with strained necks up at the iron matrix and then made our way across the Pont Neuf to explore the other side of the river. Eventually, when we found another Metro station and we made our way to the St Michel area where we wandered through little cobbled lanes full of interesting shops and cafes. We finally decided to eat in one of these and once we were seated we realised that the walls was full of amusing but risqué pictures. Following a leisurely lunch Jean & Eric decided to go off for a bit more exploring, but Pat & Mick, Jan & I decided to take a slow meander back towards the area of the hotel. Just round the corner from the hotel there was a small café/bar where we were able to sit and enjoy yet another ‘bier’ and watch the world go by.
We had arranged to all meet back later at the hotel before heading out for dinner. Rosina had telephoned a restaurant, recommended by the food critic of the Telegraph newspaper, and booked a table for us. So we all headed off to eat. The restaurant was large and our table was out under a series of arches next to the pavement, but with large patio heaters to keep us warm. The waiters were great trying to keep us amused with their antics. One of our group was a little disgruntled because he had wanted to eat on one of the Batteaux Mouche and see a magic show, but some of us chivvying him along he finally began to enjoy the evening. He did ask for ‘crepes’ as a dessert, but was told their policy was that an order for crepes needed to be for at least two people. So the stygian black mood crept back into his normally affable face. They did however agree to do it for him, and when it arrived Micky said in a very loud voice “you’ve been conned there, they’ve given you pancakes!”. We all burst out with laughter and the conversation drifted on to other subjects.
Our meal over, we wandered back to the area of our hotel and near the station found a bar open, that the girls judged to be a better place than the seedy little bar round the corner from the hotel. I think we had caught them just about to close but they did make us welcome and served us willingly until about 10.30pm when we caught the vibes that they wanted to go home. So we made our way back to the hotel for our last night in Paris.