We’re both originally from Canada and we’re both bloggers. Caitlin, the gal on the left, was visiting from New York.
The plan was to meet for cocktails at The Lone Palm, a vintage hideaway in the 11th arrondissement purporting to be “Where Paris meets Palm Springs.” Unfortunately, it was closed. So with lots of time to spare, we ambled over to the restaurant where I had booked us two seats at the bar for 7:30 pm. It was a beautiful clear, cold night. Had The Lone Palm been open, we wouldn’t have been sauntering up the rue Paul Bert looking for a bar in which to enjoy a pre-dinner drink and I wouldn’t have spied a small vintage shop called Anna Colore Industriale. We went in. The shop specializes in clothes and accessories from the 1950s to the early 90s, vintage deco furniture and upcycling.
I saw an Yves Saint Laurent shift dress from his Mondrian collection in merino wool. It was my size. I saw a pair of Italian Pollini boots made from soft and luxuriant leather. They were my size. And I saw a mint condition leather handbag that smelled of attic, but it was a nice grandmotherly atticky smell. All circa late 1970s, early 1980s. After purchasing the items, the generous Esther didn’t put them into an ordinary paper sac. As a New Year’s gift to me, she placed them in a gorgeous ruche-fabric tote bag from Florence. Wow. Merci, Esther!
There is also furniture, including this stunning vintage Danish sideboard in perfect condition for only 890 euros.
We said our goodbyes and headed over to the sister restaurant of Paul Bert which is called Paul Bert 6. Whereas Paul Bert is traditional and cozy, Paul Bert 6 is edgy and innovative. It was my first time there and I will definitely go back. The chef, we were told, is from Québec.
The menu, specially concocted for New Year’s, was a tasting menu. To be honest, I’m not a fan of small multiple dishes, but prix-fixe menus are the norm in France on New Year’s Eve. I do, however, like sitting up at the bar.
And so the evening proceeded with one startling dish following the next, each one inventive and bursting with flavor. Yes, the portions were small, but the friendly ambience of the place, the smiling waitstaff, the superlative wine and the interesting conversation with my dining companion all conspired to make it an extremely pleasant evening. Until, that is, the arrival of the maple syrup pecan tart.
Now I mentioned that both Caitlin and myself are Canadian, as was the chef which is probably why he served something with maple syrup in it. It should be known that Canadians LOVE maple syrup. (I’ve been known to shamelessly drink it straight from the bottle.) When I go to Montreal, I buy those sugary maple candies in the shape of a maple leaf. So one lone tart was placed before us on a plate at the end of the meal. We stared at it. What were we supposed to do with it? Share it, evidently.
Oh, come on! For a menu costing 80 euros per person? I don’t think so. I wanted my own maple syrup tart. We protested mildly and in good humor. Our waiter had a word with the chef, but word came back that there weren’t enough to go around, so share we did. Funnily enough, after two small bites I was stuffed and could barely finish my portion.
The Paris metro was free all night. At around 11:20 pm, Caitlin and I split up at Concorde and I changed lines to the central number 1 line. 300,000 revellers, it was reported, were converging on the Champs-Elysees to ring in the New Year at midnight. And I swear there were 300,000 passengers waiting for the train on the platform at Concorde, all of them eager to get off at Franklin-Roosevelt, George V or Etoile which are the Champs-Elysees stops. I was going further than that. I thought that the RATP, the Paris metro system, provided an exemplary service. Every 4 minutes a train arrived and I finally stuffed myself onto one. Each carriage was full to bursting. At each stop I was spat out onto the platform, caught in a maelstorm of shrieking drunken revellers – all languages, all nationalities. All shapes and sizes. The entire world was in Paris last night and they were all on my subway line.
As the crowd surged towards the exits, I had to claw and push my way in the opposite direction to get back onto the train. I felt like a spawning salmon swimming upriver. This repeated itself three times. It was awful. Finally the train emptied at Etoile and I rode the rest of the way in peace, grateful to head back to my quiet flat and call it a night. Or rather, a year.
I wish you a peaceful and prosperous 2015.