My entry in to Paris began with the usual jet lag and a few ‘hiccups’.
Not the best way to start a long awaited and annual visit to Paris but it was beyond my control and that could have been the major cause of my grumpiness when I finally entered the apartment.
Of course I had plans and the delays were not part of my imagined idyllic arrival.
The best remedy to shrug off anything in Paris is to stroll or flâneur as they say and that is what I attempted to do, but I only made it as far as my usual landing spot, Point Zero and I felt like an orange stripped bare of its zest as I plonked my feet onto the disc in the front of the Notre Dame to carry out my ritual. Begging to return to the City of Light, despite only just arriving, it did not go unnoticed that the courtyard was void of the familiar giant Christmas tree. I shot off a message to my tour guide friend Julien, ‘where is the Christmas Tree’, he had no idea.
I headed to Hotel de Ville, only to discover there was no ice skating rink. Poor Julien is bombarded with messages, where is the ice skating rink I ask and in true Julien form replies humorously, not with upbeat compassion but ‘you are being too Parisian’, meaning I had only stepped foot in the City of Love and I was already complaining.
The afternoon saw me in my favourite bar on a small wicker stool by the window when the beautiful smiling face of Nina, the co-founder of Insidr appeared for our rendezvous. Her icy cheeks touched mine as we greeted.
Excitedly swiping through the new updated features of her and her brother’s brainchild the Insidr Smart Phone warmed my heart and filled my chest with pride.
A year ago they approached me to give it a test run and now I am a convert. They have come a long way in 12 months, received fantastic reviews from the likes of Conde Nast Traveller, The New Yorks times and little old me, Paris Adèle. They have carefully listened to and taken on board comments and suggestions and have a thoughtful well needed product for tourists. Their start-up is going to be huge and remember – that you heard it here first!
The LG smart phone is full of cool third party apps and some equally cool applications of their own. One of the new features is a map they have put together with Parisian Insider (excuse the pun) knowledge of where the new cool places are, combined with the usual and unusual sites worth seeing. I can even create my own maps combining both my ideas and their suggestions but first timers will love the self guided tours and of course one of the most compelling features for me is unlimited data.
Watch this space, I am taking it on another road test and I will let you know how I go. I can’t believe that Nina actually offered to deliver it to me at the airport and presented me with a couple of bags of coffee from a local award winning roaster. Now that is what I call service with a smile and stopped me complaining for the rest of the day!
Now if you think that is my only hot tip for the day you would be mistaken and the most exciting thing is that this next tip is my discovery so I don’t have the usual gag order from my friend, warning me to not tell the world about his favourite places. So be sure to jot down this restaurant.
My friend Julien and I perform a restaurant dance each time we go out for dinner. I usually have a list as long as a roll of toilet paper and he of course has suggestions of his own and we like to faire du lèche-vitrines – window shop or literally lick the windows! We peer in through the windows, taking in the decor, checking out how popular it may be, study the menus, which is French law to be displayed outside, procrastinate and move on to the next place but more often that not, we end up at our first choice and that is what happened last night and if it had been a competition, I won the dance to dine at Bistrot des Dames in the eclectic and trendy old Batignolles neighbourhood of the 17th arrondissement.
The warm golden glow that filled the room with red velvet banquette seating made it very inviting but slightly too noisy for what we were hoping for and a mere suggestion for a quieter table had us following the waiter down a flight of stairs to a hidden room out the back with a garden view.
The intimate room with low ceilings, tables that rocked on the mish-mash of brightly coloured Persian rugs that were scattered over the uneven floor and a tiny table wedged into a little pocket was waiting just for us. We were officially squeezed into the ‘in crowd room’.
The healthy servings were simple, traditional and delicious. We devoured both our own plates and each others like an old married couple while searching for the English words of the vegetables that accompanied our melt in your mouth lamb and the biggest pork chop that I had laid eyes on to learn that the pureed panais is parsnip and the sweet marinated rutabaga is what we would call a swede, the old fashioned root vegetables with a cool modern spin.
Begging Julien to brave the cold we wandered around the small tropical garden filled with bamboo, palm trees and ferns that divided the restaurant from a charming, green shuttered maison that looked very similar to the Musee de la vie Romantique and discovered that it is in fact the Hotel Eldorado. It would be a fabulous spot in the warmer months.
Unfairly Julien excitedly half jokes that he will bring his clients here. Oh they will love this he exclaims. It is just not fair. If he takes me to a special place, I keep it under wraps and now, here he is threatening to reveal my new fabulous discovery, therefore I think it is only fair that later I will reveal his super cool, buzzy bar where we met earlier for drinks but that is for another day.
Returning back to my neck of the woods saw me with an elbow on the marble bar, a glass of French red wine at my side while I reunited with my very dear friend Bouba who works at the Petit fer a Cheval along with his colleagues.
Familiar faces that I know well but not the people who they are inside, laughed and chatted with their friends, or sat alone at the bar flicking through a copy of Le Monde newspaper and outside I observed as bearded men placed faint kisses on each others cheeks, others keeping warm under heaters on the terrasse and I felt like I was back home.
And then, if it couldn’t get any better, in walked Robert de Niro. Not the real one but the one I have secretly nicknamed one of the locals, a younger version of Robert de Niro. He nods, offers a faint smile of recognition, I blush and trip over bonjour, bonsoir and it all feels back to normal.