The rain is back, which meant I needed to do something that could be spent, mostly, indoors. I took the metro, to just outside of the Paris periphery, to the area of Vincennes and took shelter at Chateau Vincennes. I was slightly disappointed. The entry fee to the Chateâu Vincennes of €8.50 only allows entrance to the keep and the chapel. I understand that they are renovating it and I suppose, eventually it will be restored to the grandeur of the Versailles Palace.
Interesting all the same, and the work that has been carried out on the chapel, so far, is good.
No matter what kids of today think, as they carve out their name on a desk or a wall, they are not original. Evidence of prisoners who were held there, can be seen carved into the walls.
The Marquis de Sade, famous or infamous, depending on which way you look at it, for his pornographic literature was incarcerated twice in Vincennes. His second bout was for seven years, before being transferred to Bastille.
When I think of real estate prices in Paris, per square metre, he stayed in, what was a comfortable sized room, equivalent to a studio apartment. Good lighting and forced to block out, the outside world, would have given him ample time to write, which he did. Although, I am sure, he didn’t look at it that way.
After the assassination of Henri IV, Catherine de Medicis, took refuge here to keep the young Louis XIII safe and built a fine royal residence here.
Fortunately, they currently have a military exhibition, which allowed me to take a look at a few rooms, but, I still felt disappointed.
Heading back to the centre of Paris, on line 1, I made my way to the front of the train, and sat glued to the window like a child. Line 1, of the metro system is now automated, with no driver. This enables you to sit at the front of the train, looking out the window, as you watch other driverless trains pass. Strange feeling.
Later, I looked out another window, as I sipped on a glass of rose at Petit fer a Cheval and watched Paris walk by.
A couple of years back, I read about a restaurant, La Fermette Marbeuf. As construction workers renovated a disused cafe and tore down the plaster walls, they discovered behind, a beautiful ornate room and restored it against, their original plans, to a fine dining room. As luck would have it, a Parisian couple had some tiles for sale, they were identical to the tiles in the restaurant, the owners bought the tiles, which enabled them to install a second room with the matching tiles.
The Australian couple I met on New Years Eve at Jim Haynes, allowed me to chose a restaurant of my liking for when we met up again. I chose La Fermette Marbeuf.
Putting in a request, in my bad French, to be seated in the grand dining room, probably ensured this would not happen, and we would be seated in the secondary room with fellow tourists.
This almost happened when I wanted to sit under the cupola in the brasserie Bofinger. When I attempted to make a booking, not only, could I not get a seat under the stained glass roof, they told me the restaurant was booked out. Pierre, my French dining companion, called moments later, he not only had secured a reservation, but much to my relief, we were also seated under the cupola.
Anxious, as the charming maÎtre d’ led me through the restaurant, he asked ‘are you Australian’. The vision of the you tube clip, flashed before my eyes. A French woman, abused by Australian men on a bus, in Melbourne, had gone viral. A quiet ‘oui‘ reluctantly, slipped from my mouth.
Apologising, for my lateness, as I sat down, the Australian couple, offered me to join them for a Kir Royale. as the waiter poured the champagne from a bottle of Kruger, I looked up and around.
The magnificent green, glass room, sparkled like the champagne on my tongue and the smile on my face.
We chatted the night away, as we divulged in a fine, five course degustation, all the while, looking up and around at our beautiful surroundings.