I had a hard time choosing a title for this post. “How I Slowly and Methodically Froze My Husband to Death in Paris on His Birthday” was too wordy. “Never Chase a Hell’s Angel Tour Guide With a Baguette” was a close second, but again, too wordy. Also, the tour guide was the one with the baguette. I had a camera. Story to follow.
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Paris more than once. Such are the joys of living in London where the effort required to go to Paris is similar to the effort expended taking the train to New York from Connecticut. I had great plans for The Mister’s special, special big-number birthday, starting with pre-trip drinks in the fabulous Booking Office at St. Pancras station. I love the vibe of St. Pancras, with the beautiful kissing statue overlooking the train platforms, the gloriously fancy hotel adjacent to the station and the bustle of people off to exotic locals (ok, some are just going to Wimply-on-the-Marsh, but it’s fun to imagine). After drinks, The Mister and I would gather ingredients for an en-route picnic from the epicurean delights found in Marks and Spencer…wine, cheese, something lovely to share as we planned our weekend in Paris.
Of course, this was not to be. The Mister was flying in from a business trip, ended up on a late flight and had just enough time to switch suitcases before we raced out to catch a cab. We arrived at the station with 10 minutes to spare. So, instead of pre-travel drinks and a lovely picnic dinner, we had soggy
horseburgers hamburgers and wine in tiny bottles. Not to worry…we had days of wine sipping and fine dining ahead of us.
The Eurostar is a modern day marvel. Fast train, comfortable seats, no airport check-in. We were in Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes, which was barely enough time for me to practice my “hailing a cab” and “giving the hotel address” in French. It turns out that my anxiety was totally unfounded since my French is clearly unrecognizable as a foreign language. I did try. The cabbie blinked, stared and asked if I had the address written down. Oh well. He was charming and patient, although he kept looking back in the rear view mirror and laughing. We just told him we were Canadian. It was clear from the beginning that French cabbies do not possess The Knowledge required of London cabbies but after a few minor detours, we pulled up in front of our little hotel and unloaded our luggage.
We chose the Hotel Luxembourg Parc because of its fabulous location and intimate size. I like the Left Bank, its proximity to restaurants, Luxembourg Gardens, metro stations and things to do. The hotel has a little bar in the lobby, a library, an enclosed courtyard and a tiny, glassed-in breakfast room. It isn’t over-the-top fancy, but it’s pretty and the hotel staff is warm, efficient and multinational. Jules graciously tolerated my abysmal French (I’m pretty sure I said something along the lines of “Good Day. I am the reservation.”) and whisked us off to our room overlooking the courtyard where, instead of planning our next day’s adventures, we promptly passed out and dreamt of long walks, chocolate chaud and afternoons spent in steamy French cafes.