Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Ooh la la

We're just back from four days in Paris -- what fun. A had fallen off his bike (trying to carry two rucksacks and then braking one-handed: if your one hand is on the front brake, you might just as well cut out the middle bit and hurl yourself over the handlebars...) so manoeuvring (what a pig to spell) the pushchair around was fun. Luckily I'd already just about mastered it, having traversed London solo. Going down the escalators isn't too bad, but going up requires a deep breath and a will of steel. The three Londoners who grabbed the bottom of the pushchair to help me up and down starcases were all black, intriguingly; including one teenager in a hoodie. Just goes to show there's no point whatsoever in making assumptions about people based on generalisations.

Paris was a little frustrating, through no real fault of its own. I made the mistake of letting A look up the weather forecast, which showed four blazing suns and promised daily temperatures of 24-25 degrees. Left to myself, I'd have taken my usual layers, but bamboozled by the confidence of this prediction, I packed linen trousers and flimsy tops and deck shoes. It was cold and rainy. What is the point of forecasts? And golly, I do *hate* to be uncomfortable because of wearing the wrong thing. The up side was that the worst weather was the most spectacular: an amazing thunderstorm that left us trapped in the Orangerie. Monet's Nympheas was spectacular, though I think it'd be worth seeing them in natural light (we got there too late for that).

The other mistake was not taking a guide book: I just plain forgot. My old Paupers' Paris was revised rather charmlessly in 1997 but by now is almost completely out of date: the only place we found that was still going was Polidor, at 41 rue Monsieur-le-Prince, 6e. They still do a Monday to Friday three-course menu at 12 Euro: unbleivable. We went on a Saturday, when it was still pretty economical, and not bad at all: carpaccio of beef, a very fine white lentil soup, slightly stodgy boeuf bourgignon and - actually, the other main course I can't remember. Hmm. The best meal, recommended in the Time Out guide, was a place called Le Petit Marche whose address I'll add later, where the daily menu was 14E for two courses plus 7E for a third, and really stunning stuff: a salad of green beans and parmesan with a delectable dressing, very rare beef with a wonderful teriyaki-style sauce and the most luscious mashed potato you can imagine, then caramel ice cream drizzled with chocolate. Yum and double yum. But we really need a good guide book: the Time Out one is oddly uninspiring, and the Rough Guide always seems to be out of date when we go (the current edition is 2005). And WHY, since the Mini Rough Guide is available on Amazon, does no branch of Smith's at Waterloo sell the thing? Hasn't it occurred to anyone that next to the Eurostar platfrom might be -- duh! -- a good place to sell Paris guidebooks?

Typing the subject header reminded me that it's a common exclamation of A's six-year-old: heaven knows where he picked it up from, but it's most endearing. He last uttered it while wearing a golden crown and a long strand of pearls twined flapper-style around his chest, plus a pink tutu. There are no petty gender distinctions in this household: tutus all round, for them as wants 'em.

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