Monday, 5 September 2011

Le monsieur croque

With the teen urchins off to the Black Mountains for a four day hike as part of their DofE Silver, The Cat's mother and I took the opportunity to grab a few days away. We both really needed it being more than a little bit frazzled over the summer - frustrated that commitments had prevented us from getting a proper break giving us the rest and relaxation we needed.

As we only had a few days it didn't seem sensible to be flying off into the sunset, so instead we took the train to Paris, managing to secure a room in the George V hotel. So what to say about Paris in the balmy, sunny late summer days? I've been there dozens of times, for both work and pleasure, and love going there...the Cat's Mother has been there less, but was very excited about a few days in Paris.

An interesting coincidence for us was that we were there at the same time as Cameron's cohorts and Sarkozy's servants were in conference with the Libyans, planning for a non-Gadaffi future. It did feel a bit like the colonial conferences of the past with the imperialists just carving up their share of the booty. The nearest we came to it was that our hotel filled with men who may well have traveled from Saudi Arabia or there abouts.

The Cat's Mother was adamant she didn't want to ascend the Eiffel Tower (in case it fell over or blew down!), so we stayed nearer the ground. Under it in fact, as we descended to the catacombs where some six million Parisians are piled up. That's quite a few isn't it? Anyway, the kingdom of the dead is the strangest of places to enter, and hear about its creation due to (literally) overflowing cemeteries which would mean decaying bodies appearing in people's cellars, and an atmosphere bad enough to curdle milk in an hour. Cheerful place eh?! But the bones are beautifully laid out. Obviously death was on our mind as we discovered that we were staying just a short chase by the papparazzi from where Diana Spencer died.

We did art...a lot of it really - suffice to say the French don't really do modern art, but the Musee D'Orsay is just absolutely spectacular and just the perfect size. The Louvre was great too....but really just too big for its own good. And anyway, who wants to stand in a gigantic crowd to see some dappy woman smiling from the canvas? But we loved it anyway.

Our culinary experience included a restaurant that was so hip it hurt, and patrons who clearly loved themselves. Fortunately the waitresses wore the shortest skirts imaginable, and the food wasn't half bad. Even if one dish came complete with rubber band that they didn't know from it had emanated. We went in one brasserie, sat down ready to order when the waitress came over and demanded to know how we wanted our meal cooked. It took a moment to realise all they served was steak frites. And delicious it was wonder that evening we saw a queue for it snaking down the road. I'm not going to mention staggering down the Champs Elyssee after a couple of very fine Martinis...that would be just too embarrassing.

And that was it really. All very, very nice. Apart from when we ascended from the catacombs, I acquired a stiff back pain which lingered for most of the day until it suddenly turned nasty in the Louvre gift shop and spread to my chest as well...I got very hot and sweaty and began to pass out. Thoughts of my brother's heart attacks added to the panic, but eventually it passed, I recovered, and after a good massage that evening I was as fit as a fiddle.

A good wave off

Should this boat have stopped here?

That's me!

We may have had a wine or two

Smiling woman, and another with a picture of her child

The only queue in Paris, and the man in front had the same sandals as me

Alas poor Jeanne Pierre

Of course we went shopping

That car really would go in the river...designed and built in Britain

Notre Dame

Flowers in our hotel...more than in all of the Netherlands

Going underground