I’ve started writing this eleven hours after I posted the story of Le Teatime. Let’s see how long it takes to reach the publication point.
It turned out that there was an international rugby match in Paris the weekend we visited. A few colleagues asked if we were going because of the rugby… I hadn’t even noticed there was a fixture (but I once managed to congratulate myself on avoiding the Eurovision Song Contest by going to Lisbon, not realising it was being hosted in Lisbon) and my niece prefers football so she didn’t care.
Our hotel wasn’t that far from the Stade de France (about three miles) but we didn’t bother to venture over for a look at it before the game. We started the day at Bob’s Bake Shop for breakfast.
The criteria for today was extremely limited walking as a result of some seriously impressive blisters on my niece’s feet. Each walking stage of today’s activities could be no longer than fifteen minutes.
Breakfast was a ten minute walk away from the hotel and looking likely to be much better value than the options offered in-house, though we were going to be surprised by just how much better.
We had anticipated that a bagel breakfast would probably just be sandwich option which was why we also decided to have muffins too. When our plates arrived… they were a damn sight more impressive than we had expected.
The muffins were still warm and the breakfasts were prepared using fresh ingredients on the premises. Absolutely delicious.
The service was friendly and there was a really relaxed atmosphere. The Bob’s franchise has a number of places to go around Paris and we didn’t visit them but if you’re in the neighbourhood of the Bake House, go there. The food was amazing.
A leisurely hour or so later and a ten minute walk to the Metro station and we were on our way back to the Eiffel Tower, this time for a boat ride along the Seine. Well, when in Paris on a sunny day.
It was much busier around the Tower than on Friday. The England rugby fans were out as were the beret-wearers. Every souvenir shop sells berets. We began counting beret wearers as a game on Friday. We counted eleven. On Saturday we would achieve a staggering 47, courtesy of groups of girls or gangs of male rugby fans wearing their berets en masse. Sometimes they mixed up the colours, sometimes they all wore the same.
There are several companies offering boat trips up and down the Seine. Whether you choos a lunch cruise, a dinner cruise or a one hour trip (as we did), there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of variation between either the price or the offer.
We paid €17 each with Bateaux Parisiens and sat on the deck as we sailed smoothly up and then down the river. There was an audioguide – available either by the free wifi on your phone or using the headsets by your chair if you sat downstairs.
I cannot comment on the quality of this because we didn’t use it. It seemed that most people around us didn’t bother either.
After a sunny ride down the Seine, listening to the family next to us commenting on Les Rosbifs wearing berets, we took our next fifteen minute walk (which may have become twenty minutes). Briefly back to the family: they had spotted the same five-in-a-row beret-wearing English rugby fans as we had.
Rosbif, as in roast beef, caught on as popular term in 18th Century France because the English (apparently) style of cooking meat in this way had become very popular. By 1850, it had become a slang term for referring to the English.
Out twenty minute walk led us to a corner bistro on a quiet street where we found a table outside to watch the action on the pedestrian crossing. Seriously, it was all happening here.
As the afternoon wore on, we decided to head back up to Montmartre which may be one of my favourite spots in Paris. The last time I was here, it felt like you couldn’t move for caricature artists, portrait artists, painters and all manner of people trying to sell you a souvenir.
Possibly as a result of the pandemic and because tourism has not yet returned to its usual levels, there weren’t the previous numbers of hawkers. The crowds were not as busy as I remembered. For Mancunians, it felt like a lively though not heaving Saturday afternoon in the Northern Quarter.
On a particularly sunny square there were four or five small restaurants running a busy though not packed trade. We chose a pizza place, Le Florenza (I know it’s not very French) and the waiter quickly found us a table on the street.
It was a lovely spot: close to Sacré-Cœur and incredibly reasonably priced, considering how close to a major tourist attraction it is. With excellent Neapolitan style pizza, good vegetarian options and very friendly service, it was a great place to have a leisurely kerbside meal.
And just to round off all things eating… as it was our last night in Paris, we headed back to Sacré-Cœur itself and dessert at Le Ronsard’s “hole-in-the-wall” creperie.