17 September 2010
'Off. Day. Paris.'Paris. Day off.
Rearrange these words to form the delightful concept of your choice: Off. Day. Paris. I love this city and when here for only a brief period, I tend to fall into habitual rituals. I had a bit of a lie-in before heading down to cafÃ© Les Deux Magots on Boulevard Saint Germain. (This translates as 'kings' by the way - as in €˜Magi€™ - rather than being a comment on the freshness of the cuisine). There are three famous traditional brasseries right here, the other two being Brasserie Lipp, and CafÃ© de Flore which is probably the best known, having been the haunt of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, back in the day. They are a little touristy now, certainly with prices to reflect their notoriety, but they remain great places to hang out and have a late breakfast with the paper.
One croque madame and a Herald Tribune later, and I was ready to face the world. My next port of call was a fantastically out-there shop a few blocks away, name of Deyrolle. It's a taxidermist€™s shop, stocking a vast range of creatures great and small, displayed in a wonderfully evocative series of glass cabinets, or in the case of the larger exhibits, just stood out on the floor. The place is surprisingly un-creepy or weird, it's all very matter-of-fact, setting out its merchandise like any other store, but there are wonders to behold if you poke around a little. You can pick up small butterflies for as little as ‚¬5, but a buffalo or the rather attractive miniature zebra will set you back ten grand or more. It€™s a truly amazing place.
From here it's a short walk to the Musee D€™Orsay, which is amongst my favourite art museums on the planet, converted from a vast glass-fronted railway station. They have a world-class modern art collection and some other curiosities that I always enjoy, including a sectional model of the Paris Opera that I could look at for hours.
I had a date with Frances in the evening and took her to La Mediterranee, a restaurant styled by Jean Cocteau and still well able to serve up a decent round of top nosebag. After dining we walked down the hill to find coffees and an outrageous ice cream event at CafÃ© de Flore. There€™s really nothing wrong with a day like today.