I have to say that if one is to be caught up in a security scare because of an unattended package, one could do a whole lot worse than wind up in a room full of naked women. That is exactly what happened to me today. Here’s one. Her name was Venus.
I had a text from Mirinda asking where I was and I assured her that I wasn’t the unattended package. She didn’t get the joke until I explained that there had been a security scare.
We were at the Musee d’Orsay and Mirinda was starting to admire their exhibition of Degas Art. She is rather a fan of Mr Degas. This is mostly because she was once a ballerina and she still loves ballet. I think she also just likes the style of his works. I don’t mind him even though I’m not especially enamoured of the Impressionists.
Something I am very enamoured of is when someone notices my walking stick and, as a matter of course, moves me by every queue imaginable. We had arrived outside the d’Orsay in a cab and the queue was horrendous. I was sure that Mirinda would once more declare we were going somewhere else. But no, she was determined she was going to see the Degas.
We approach the long, long twisting line of humanity when an official looking woman suddenly appeared and directed me towards a colleague of hers who was standing further away. I approached him and he opened a special lane for me to head closer to the entrance even ahead of the advance ticket holders.
Then it was through the security with a cursory smile and to the ticket booths.
We were inside in very short time, planning our attack. This was delayed somewhat when Mirinda came up against the screaming woman at the cloakroom who claimed there was no room, that it was full up while, directly behind her were thousands of unused hangers just longing to be used.
Because of the infernal strike, a couple of the other exhibitions and rooms weren’t open but the Degas was (phew) so we headed there first. I was trailing behind Mirinda and Bob in his new beanie when I spotted a beautiful statue that I just had to inspect.
Having had a good look at it I turned and spotted a massive canvas showing some sort of Roman orgy. It had a number so I pressed the corresponding digits on my audio guide and was listening to a delightful explanation when a chap moved me out of the immediate area in front of the painting. I moved a bit but then was almost ejected by a quite short security guard who insisted I move away completely. Which was how I wound up with the nudes.
As soon as everything was cleared up, I found Mirinda and we went through the Degas exhibition unscathed. We then met up with Bob who had been looking at other pictures he thought preferable to ballet ones and went for a coffee and regroup.
We had a few options at this point but we decided to go and catch a boat.
There’s a new thing on the Seine: a hop on hop off boat. It’s a genius idea. And quite reasonably priced as well. So, after drinking our coffee and beer – Mirinda bought us both – we headed down to the BatoBoat dock at Musee d’Orsay.
It was then just a case of sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the view, something which brightened up the longer we were on the river. This was excellent given it had been raining in the morning.
The boat takes you all the way from the botanical gardens to the Eiffel Tower and back as many times as you like in a 24 hour period. And if you’re lucky you might get a good picture of the many famous landmarks.
The boat wasn’t very crowded and the journey was very relaxed. In fact it was a joy.
Back on dry land we headed across to the Hotel Meurice where Bob spent a few nights in utter luxury back in the Belle Epoch. He was quite aghast looking at the menu prices by the front door. I mean €125 for a couple of prawns is a bit much. Not to mention the €1250 for a 2003 bottle of red. We quickly hurried away from this Stupid Man’s Folly.
We had a surprise lined up for Bob and we had to head up towards the Opera Charles Garnier.
Ever since we arrived in Paris, Bob has complained that he hasn’t seen any Christmas lights. Yesterday I spotted a bus advertising Christmas Light Bus Tours. Last night we bought three tickets on one. That’s where we were headed.
We stopped at a cafe for possibly the best millefeuille I have ever had. Bob suggested I give it a score but I said I had my hands full with the creme brulee scoring so would skip any pastry delights. Mind you, it was easily an 11/10.
Actually, tonight I had a creme brulee that I could only give a four…but more of that later.
Then came the low point of the holiday (for me). The ticket for the bus was in the form of a voucher downloaded from an email. The voucher downloaded okay and I was prepared to show the woman on my phone. Ignoring my proffered phone, she pointed to an email address on the wall and said I had to email it to them so they could print some tickets.
This seemed totally ridiculous but, of course, I did as I was told and tried to email it to her. Twice I emailed it to her but she didn’t receive it. I should add I wasn’t the only one suffering from this stupidly overly complex system. An American chap beside me was getting just as frustrated.
Eventually the woman did look at my phone, realised I was Mr Cook and handed me my tickets. According to Mirinda she was petrified because of the looks I was giving her and the seething sense of doom I was emitting. This doesn’t happen often but when it does…
Still, all was well and we boarded the top of the open top bus and froze around the traffic clogged streets of Paris in the freezing cold winds of December in order to see the Christmas lights which, I have to admit, were very good.
The whole trip took about an hour and a half but that was because of the traffic. Later we asked a taxi driver if it was usual for Paris to be so traffic bound of a Sunday night. He blamed the strike and the fact that the Metro was not running. Makes sense.
Frozen solid but warmed by the fact that as we reached the Eiffel Tower it suddenly sprung into full twinkle mode, we made it back to the Opera Charles Garnier. It then took a while to find a vacant cab. The one we did find was driven by a Frenchman who seemed to be obsessed with the new Australian gold rush. He even had a TV programme lined up to show us as we slowly crept towards our hotel.
He wasn’t the only odd person we encountered today. Top of the list was our drunk waiter. We ate at the Bistrot de la Place, not far from the hotel. The food was fine, the waiter very entertaining and the wine superb. The creme brulee was one of the worst I’ve ever had. This was a shame because everything else was so good.
The thing I liked best about the Bistrot was the fact that they had a black and white movie showing on a small section of wall. We could watch it and try and guess what it was. I knew it was Brigitte Bardot but had no idea of the name. We asked the waiter but he got into trouble from the boss for talking to me so we didn’t quite get the title.
However, upon further investigation, I have discovered that it was the 1958 film, En cas de malheur (Love Is My Profession) in whch she starred alongside Jean Gabin.
I have no idea why it was on a permanent loop but it was.
Eventually we headed back to the hotel (about 50 metres) and went to bed. We have an early start tomorrow for the Eurostar.
I should explain the title. It refers to Bob’s new beanie. It can be seen in this photo and should be self explanatory.