Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nightlife in Paris

Sometimes Life seems so absurd and then rays of hope shine through the darkened skies.

Yesterday my faith in humanity was restored when I heard the news that the opening weekend box office gross for Paris Hilton's new movie was a whopping $28,000.

Another good sign was that there were only 111 screens who chose to show this tripe. Believe me, the word tripe seems appropriate to describe the infantile plot line of The Hottie and the Nottie. Here's a link to the trailer for that movie should anyone wish to waste a few minutes of their life watching a promotion for a movie that I think has the inside track to next year's Razzie awards.

To think that Paris Hilton actually went to the Sundance Film Festival to try and drum up interest for that waste of time and celluloid.

I hope this signals the end to Paris Hilton's film career and possibly the end of the media's obsession with her and whatever she does.

I was appalled when I was at a supermarket in France last September and saw a magazine at the checkout stand bearing Paris Hilton and Britney Spears on the cover.

I was horrified. It is bad enough that I am constantly assaulted by their imagery in the United States, I could not understand why the French would be interested in those intellectually challenged floozies. Does France not have their own celebrities with love lives they can follow?

Speaking of France, I shall now take this time to finish detailing my last full day in Paris. It was Friday, September 7th and we left the chateau at Chantilly in time to make our train back to Gare du Nord. We stood outside on the platform waiting for our train to come and had to stand far away from the tracks when the high speed trains passed the station by without stopping. The force of the wind current was powerful and would have knocked small children over by its blast.

Once arriving back at Gare du Nord it had a carnival atmosphere. There was a live band playing and people gathered around to enjoy the music. That night marked the opening match of the Rugby World Cup being hosted by the country of France and at Stade de France in Saint Denis and France would be playing against Argentina.

You could feel the excitement of the crowd in anticipation of the sporting event due to commence in a few hours time.

After taking another train we made it our hotel and rested a bit before changing for dinner.

We had such a wonderful lunch that we did not need a fine gourmet dinner. Instead Scott decided once again to try and find an Italian restaurant in Paris. I think he really just wanted to prove that our friend Jacques was wrong.

There was one Italian restaurant on the left bank whose marquis we could read clearly across the Seine. I thought we could at least walk there and check out their menu before deciding whether or not to eat there.

A funny thing happened on our way there. Scott noticed a narrow alleyway and wanted to "check it out."

Two days earlier on our walking tour of Paris, Yita Hillyard had shown us streets with narrow alleyways such as this one.



The alleyway that we walked down was not guarded by a door, but it was quite narrow. We found ourselves in a hidden community just one block off from the banks of the Seine river and rows of bars and restaurants.

Several restaurant owners were at the front of their stores and barking for customers. One woman accosted us in French and then quickly changed to English. She showed her shish-ka-bobs and made an offer to buy our wine if we ate dinner there. It was a tempting offer, but we were not in the mood for Greek food.

Many of the restaurants had large portable signs displaying their menus for people strolling by to read their specials. It was ethnic food heaven for there were restaurants representing food from every continent. We even saw a Mexican restaurant, but I could not bring myself to even consider going there. Possibly if I lived in Europe for months on end and longed for something reminding me of home, I might eat at a Mexican restaurant in Paris. However, I can eat Mexican food anytime I want to in California and I simply saw no need to torture myself with trying something that might be a Frenchified version of Mexican food. So we walked on past that store without even looking at their menu.

We settled on an Italian restaurant with outdoor seating. It was a beautiful warm summer evening and the nightlife was just starting to gather.

The restaurant owner directed customers to the tables he wanted them seated at. I think there was an attempt at window dressing for I saw him shoo four people away from some tables near the street and seat them instead further inside the restaurant.

After seeing that happen, I felt honored that he had seated us right next to the sidewalk near the menu. It made me feel like we were his chosen marquee couple.

Here is a picture I took from my vantage point. You can see the roaming flower vendor as well as a rugby bar that was across the way.

"Le Bourbon" was the restaurant directly across from us. Since my husband and I have allergies to a great number of shellfish, we avoided restaurants specializing in seafood. Look at the building behind the restaurant and you can see faces over the center of the windows. I loved seeing decorative artistic touches at every turn in France.


Scott took this picture looking further down the street from where we were sitting. You can see that there was a Tunisian restaurant.

The food at our restaurant was unremarkable, but the evening was fun. We enjoyed the nonstop people-watching and we knew when France made their first goal by the blowing of horns by rugby fans out their window above the bar. Later when we did not hear any subsequent celebrating from the above-the-bar denizens, we assumed that things might not be going well for the French national team.

After we finished our dinner we joined the crowds milling about the area and turned a corner and saw this:


At first I was a bit disoriented and thought "Notre Dame?" Then I realized that it was Saint Severin, a church we had seen on our walking tour from the outside. Here is that same church in the light of day.


Here's a view of one of its gargoyles up close.


It was amazing that a street that can look this placid and serene by day...


can have such a different feel by night.



Those might not be the same exact buildings or streets, but it is in the same neighborhood. As we started venturing back to the Isle de la Cité we passed a restaurant right on the main drag that had tables on the sidewalk. There were so many people it was difficult to move. I remember bumping into someone and feeling terrible because they were trying to enjoy having a nice peaceful dinner like I had just had, except they did not discover that only one or two blocks away was the vibrant oasis they had been looking for. Instead they were sitting outside as passersby wound up stepping on their feet unwittingly due to the crowded conditions.

We then walked to Ile Saint Louis in order to try the famous ice cream by Berthillon. Fortunately there was not a long line of customers. The flavors were different than I expected and tried something I knew that I would probably never see as a Ben and Jerry's flavor. I tried the rose flavored glace. It tasted like a sorbet to me and it had a nice, light, fragrant flavor. I think Scott chose caramel.

Afterwards we went back to our hotel room to start packing for the next morning when we would leave to pick up our lease vehicle and start a new adventure.

We turned on the television set and caught the last part of the rugby game. My suspicions were confirmed as we found that Argentina was in the lead. It is interesting to watch a game in which you do not understand the rules and have it be in a language you barely know.

However, rugby is fun to watch even if you do not understand what is transpiring. It is a brutal, full contact sport with no real time outs and no padding.

I had such a nice time that evening, being in the heart of Paris and one that I shall remember for years to come.

Linda
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