Now that there are no direct flights back to Newcastle from Venice, we are trying various options, and decided on impulse this time to return via Paris, spending two nights in a little hotel in Place d’Italie where we used to stay.
Despite an air traffic control strike, and another of taxi drivers, we really enjoyed our short stay, and having felt in recent years rather disappointed by Paris, I have now reviewed my ideas. People were noticeably pleasanter, and we found plenty of very French souvenirs.
The newly revamped Musee Picasso was a delight: all the more so because there was hardly anyone there.(Sadly I suppose many tourists are staying away from Paris at the moment.) We discovered wonderful shops, and had an enjoyable stroll around the Butte des Cailles area where we came upon a strange church of a sect believing in mesmerism.
Our final lunch was to have been at La Coupole, an old favourite, but on the spur of the moment we went to La Rotonde across the road. It was superb! No concessions to being English tourists, and what’s more, we were probably the only tourists anyway. It’s an equally historic restaurant, but with rather more tradition, I feel, than La Coupole, and I take my hat off to French cuisine which is at its best there. (Oysters of course for Monsieur, then boudin with caramelised apple cooked in cider vinegar; and duck terrine with orange, followed by a Norwegian salad of smoked haddock and salmon for me.)
It was good just to be reminded of the small things, like the familiar sound before the doors close on the metro, and the tiny lift in our hotel, running up and down the narrow stairwell as in so many buildings in Paris.
I think we’ll be back!