Here we go again! Jardin du Roy. Order placed with the serveur. No mussels. No cidre. I’ll settle for the onion soup on the hottest day of the year. And that’s even including this deluge of the long-awaited threatened downpour. It’s difficult to know (as I’m sitting indoors) whether the thunder is making that roar over the noise of the rain or if it is coming from the canopies of the shops and restaurants along rue de la Hachette. It may even just be the dust cart making its rounds, tidying up after a busy day of touristic shoppers. The French weather app. Météo-France says it’s going to last for three hours. They were virtually bang on with their 1800 prediction. Just 10 minutes late. Which isn’t bad in real terms. In real terms, I knew it was going to rain so I left my coat in the hotel room. I guess I know how long dinner takes in this place. I think this is now my fourth time dining here. The staff may come and go (one has stayed at least) and yet the service remains what I would loosely refer to as stereotypically French farcical. But that’s one of the charms that has kept me returning. If I wanted the tourist trap of one of the tourist traps, I’d go to the tourist traps. I want stability. I want decent food. I want a nice setting. And this place gives me all of that as well as familiarity and the “at home” feel that is missing in a lot of places. I enjoy the down to earth places. There’s something heartwarming about the traditional soup. The big round bowl, the huge croutons and the cheese that melts just enough to get stuck to the soup spoon, leaving you no choice but to attempt, in vain and with vast disappointment, to try and drag it off the metal piece of cutlery with your teeth. At first. When this ultimately fails, there’s the nonchalant schluck that ends with a noise mixed between a dental scream and Donald Duck falling over. On ice. Scattered with razor blades. Greased up with vinegar. And seasoned with salt for the wound and the ice-melting properties.
And now I’m sweating from the soup, rather than the damp weather. I’m glad I chose not to wear my paper Panama hat. However, the Paris hat made of felt that I chose to wear may get a little out of shape by the end of the evening. My main threat is to my bag that I bought here last August, near Les Halles. If the bag isn’t waterproof, my writings are going to take an amount of abuse that I honestly don’t want to think about. It’s only today’s writing that I’ll lose as I managed to get everything typed up before I left. Luckily, I haven’t started the new book yet. Yes, I know. I was meant to earlier today, but I was also meant to wake up at half four and not half three, this morning. One day won’t make a difference. Not a negative one, anyhow.
I’m 3 doorways down from Bar Latino, Bistro 27 de la Huchette. I’ve seen this place many times. I’ve seen it open; I’ve seen it closed. I’ve seen it with people standing up and drinking; I’ve seen it with people sitting down wearing masks. Tonight, it may be my refuge for a few hours. I’ve no idea if they dance in there, eat in there or simply drink. If there’s no room to sit, I’m not even going to think about it. I was asked by my eldest, Rory, to have a drink on this trip. The lack of cidre made tonight a tricky night to fulfil that request. I want to write tonight, and if I have an alcoholic drink, then so be it. I’m unsure of what else I’ll see on the way back to the hôtel de Genéve although I do know that there’s a brasserie next door. I don’t know if that’s Wetherspoony enough for me. If I make it to Bar Latino (Hemingway in Cuba vibes?), I don’t want there to be dancing. It’s a Tuesday night, I’m full up and I neither want to dance nor be distracted. I’ll wait to see if I’m offered dessert or not first. I’ve been here an hour so far, so that’s not bad. The rain won’t be stopping for another 20 minutes or so. According to the app.
And no, it wasn’t the dust cart.