So here I am in Paris, France, after my second splendid Air Berlin flight of the month. For one who dislikes flying (and especially airports) so much, I have to say this was almost fun. Taxi to Tegel (12 euros), swift check-in, no hassle – just an agreeable bodysearch -- at the no-queues security block, delightful flight of 1h30, luggage in 5 minutes at Orly, and a delightful very black taxi driver (with a broader accent in French than mine!) who zoomed me to the Café Chineur, Paris 14eme – for a measly 23 euros – in spite of a busy motorway. Four hours from door to door.
I am not a tourist in Paris. Just a visitor. I don’t have to go out frantically looking at things, because I’ve seen them all before, as recently as 12 months ago. I just live my ordinary life here, writing, reading and particularly – since this is France – eating.
So, Day One, I curled up amongst the stacks of music and books at the Paris equivalent of the Operetta Research Centre, Berlin, with this little machine, and whilst Christophe devoted himself to composing the last of the music for his new show (which goes into rehearsal any day now!), I wi-fied happily away at all the work I hadn’t been able to do on the ship.
Come eventide, however, the serious business of the day begins. Food. I’d been saving myself up for my first night in Paris … for a certain little bistro not more than a couple of hundred metres from here where they serve the kind of Real French Food than I adore. Tripoux, andouilettes, saucisse d’auvergne… Tragedy! It was Sunday and La Chopotte with its ‘cuisine du terroir’ was closed. I had to wait a whole 24 hours. But it was worth the wait.
I dined last night on the most delicious tripou (and I am a conoisseur) with crisp green beans and snow peas, I nibbled at Pierre’s andouilette and at Christophe’s Saucisse … and somehow two bottles of an interesting Beaujolais of which I failed to note the name went from full to empty. I’ve had some good meals since I left New Zealand, from Santo to Noro to Maastricht and Kevin’s kitchen, but I can tell you, this was my FAVOURITE meal of the past three and a bit months.
If you are in the 14eme arrondissement of Paris, and you want to eat French food made the way it was when French food was the most famous in the world, try La Chopotte, 168 Rue Alésia, right by the Plaisance metro station. You'll thank me!
Its 11.30am. Christophe and Pierre are at work, and Jean-Baptiste is on the otherside of town making himself uninfectious, after a hellish bout of flu, in preparation for my arrival tomorrow. So I’m solo. And, though I don’t normally do lunch, its too much for any man to sit here when at 200 metres … dammit, I’m off back to La Chopotte.