It is a glorious Friday night in Paris. The weather is perfect, everyone is out eating, drinking, talking and yes, kissing along the streets of Paris tonight. I had made a reservation at Restaurant Helene Darroze for tonight at 7:30 pm. It is quite an upscale restaurant made famous by the cooking of it’s eponymous chef and owner Madame Darroze who comes from a little known part of France called the Lande in the southwest close to the Atlantic coast and as you might expect foie gras and seafood are her very famous dishes. I decided to rent a suit at the last minute so I had to cross town all the way from my location in the 10th to the 15th. That may not sound like fsr but it is across the Seine from the right bank to the left bank and from shabby chic to upscale chic. I arrived at the excellent rental shop Les Deux Oursons at 10:30 am and by 12;15 pm I was walking out with a very nice fitting dark suit, jacket and pants and I had shirt, tie and shoes so all set! Dinner 3.5 hours, 2 amuse bouches, 5 courses, a cheese course and two desserts, four glasses of wine, one bottle of Vittel and one espresso! Total 337.5 Euros, two taxi rides to and return 40 Euros and 95 Euros to rent the suit. I was the best dressed person in the restaurant for sure among the men. It used to be that all men at a restaurant in Paris like Helene Darroze wore a suit but no more: open shirts, no jacket, jeans, ripped jeans, sneakers etc. etc.!! Dressing down is now the in thing in Paris, tres branche’ as the Parisians say, very hip and cool.
So I guess that I am an old fart but I prefer it my way. Out of touch but my French is getting better and better and from time to time I am actually mistaken for a Parisian. I am very happy when that happens. So on my return trip at 11 pm there must have been 300-400 people, see photos at the corner of rue Alibert and rue Bichat which I now consider my corner of Paris and note that rue Bichat is totally blocked by people spilling out into the street and there were at least that many on the corner behind me of rue Alibert and my new street rue Marie & Louise. As I am writing this blog the strains of Happy Birthday are wafting into my window from the revelers outside my window. The corner, my corner need I remind you, was the site of some of the terrorist attacks in November 2015 which resulted in multiple deaths and injuries and the closure of both Le Carillon and Le Petite Cambodge which, I am happy to say are both back in full swing. The Casa Nostra a few blocks away, also the site of terrorist attacks, deaths and injuries has now reopened, in spite of a sign there in January 2016 that it was closed for good. I was delighted to see that recovery and it is just one example of why terrorist attacks, horrible though they may be, will never quench the love of the French people and the many tourist visitors for the exciting, loving, happy soul of France and the free world. Vive La France!!! And one final note for your assistance, do you think the final photo in this group is Conan O’Brien? He was having coffee on “my corner” at about 9:45 am this morning and that suit and tie, the shock of red hair and that distinctive profile-if it is not him it is a fantastic double. Let me know what you think, please??