My first visit, maybe 15 years back was largely exploratory? Then, on a very limited budget I could only afford a b&b right on the outer ring of the city, that meant I had to watch my time coz got to get on the last Metro back (staying somewhere in d’Orleans?). I don’t remember very well now what I did but I do recall navigating the Metro like a pro. I do remember though that I was turned away by one of the oldest brasserie in town..I think it was because I was in sneakers. I recall doing a lot of research on where to go and what to eat…. and i walked up to the door with great expectations, excitedly asking the maitre d’ for a table, tired out from the whole day of traipsing around..to be told it was full, I could see through the door and noticed only 1 table was taken! Well..shocked and then despondent, I walked away, very angry with with them and then with myself..my companion had to calm me down.
The next visit was about 10 years back..a bunch of us from our company went on a whirlwind Europe stops, visiting various trade shows and holidaying along the way..those were good years, that trip was all about food and shopping and having all the fun we want. There were dramas a plenty, so many of us on such a long trip through Europe..stress caused tempers to flare and so on. Somethings can only happen once in a lifetime and this was probably one of them…if we had known, guess we would have been more patient with each other 😦
So, this brings me to the 3rd visit to Paris..because it was only a 2 day-long stopover, we had our plans pretty much mapped out, 1st stop to buy me some knives, next, go to one of their famed wine shops with also serve food, then get down to Notre Dame, finally chill out at Hotel Coste…not forgetting..the Crazy Horse 🙂
Paris is as beautiful as ever, I’ve always been mesmerized by their buildings, so old, still standing so beautifully lighted up by night..i’m told they can’t built them like they used to anymore..just too expensive.
And guess what…the people used to be so dour and not so friendly but this time round…it’s like everyone i met can’t wait to crack a joke on me?! (When I came home after, Chris, our French spinning instructor was asking me so how’s France..I told him..couldn’t be better, so changed and he said there you go, he told them to behave!) Well…the French were just fabulous..the people…along with their LaGuioles and their Chanels..
We had a long late afternoon cocktails at LeGrand Filles et Fils (one of the top 10 bars)…so there we were, downing their house champagne, quietly observing..and then, much later, with hunger pangs biting I asked for some snacks. The menu being all in French was quite challenging..so I told my companion, there is this snack that reads 6, 12…..it reads “huit”…what’s that?? The lady told us it was “small food”..eyebrows raised I told her if it was not cheese (which i just had for lunch)..i’m alright..excitedly she rushed out of the counter to show me the “huit” lady..and hey..they are talking oysters!
They said i was super lucky, the oyster lady only comes up to Paris once a year and today is the day..she came from Provence i think. Anyway i was amazed, this lady was so simple and so proper, going round asking to set up stalls outside of each restaurant to do her thing! i noticed that whilst i was hanging out there, she was just quietly reading her book in one corner until an order comes in and then she’d quickly bustle round to get it ready. Whilst this was happening..there was this guy, Zac, at the bar counter..speaking in French but with not quite the right accent. Finally he could not stand it anymore coz obviously he heard us conversing in English and yet looking like Orientals..he had to ask if we were from the US of A! Anyway, this young guy, who was so well coiffed, he put me to shame..and so we asked him if he was in the fashion biz..that he is..he also works for his aunt and he also keeps an apartment Paris and he is from USA!
So we told him we are South East Asians and has he been there? For a moment, he was stumped and then he quickly recalled that he was there sometime back with his aunt..some island..something about sex shows, ping pong balls and live birds flying out..and he was telling us, his aunt and him were busy talking and then at very few moments…they went “omg..omg”
Then we asked him, since you Americans are so fond of labels and lists…so if we have a limited time in Paris..what should we do? And here is his list..and he had to rush…hope we meet each other tomorrow at the Hotel Coste….and he said famously “Tomorrow is just a day away!!”…I like that!
He also confirmed that if we have to choose a cabaret act to watch it should be the Crazy Horse! Not bad, 2 out of 4 already on our list of to do.
We did not get to meet him again but we did go to the Hotel Costes..which was an experience on its on..i’ve been listening to Hotel Coste since time immemorial..i read that it was super chic, people get turned away, repeat customers are snubbed…so with a little bit of trepidation, we caught a cab there (after Crazy Horse). It was a Friday night so getting through the doors might be a bit of a problem 😦 So, when we got out of the cab, we were thinking..oh hell, just act like its biz as usual and just sail through…
Well..it was all i imagined it to be..the sensual thumping of chill out sounds, full bar and crowd…we stood around, a little lost but enjoying the whole atmosphere, can’t even get close to a bar or drink…just soaking it in and then, suddenly, a man with and angry tone asked..”what do you want?” …we were shocked, we thought oh no..found out as impostors…confused, we uttered ” we just want a drink??”, then he said why don’t you say so and waved us into a private bar! Oh..nice..
So I read somewhere that the Hotel Coste is staffed with a genetically perfect bunch of people..my conclusion..i can’t quite disagree with that. So there i was sitting in the private bar staring surreptitiously at the service staff..and then oooppss.they caught my stare and smiled..sigh..how embarrassing..
Thereafter at ISPO we were talking to one of our Principals..Zanier from Austria. We heard from Zac (the Amercian in Paris), the most beautiful cities in the world would be Paris, all of Austria and San Francisco..so, we asked Markus of Zanier/Austria..so what do you think, Vienna vs Paris..he said even as an Austrian, he has to admit that Paris is probably the most beautiful city in the world! So there you go…