We are off to Paris - after two months of dark days, dreary diet and nowhere near enough cake, we are cheering ourselves up with a week of total self-indulgence.
I have visited Paris many times, the first with my parents when we stopped on the way back from one of our interminable car tours of Europe. I was very young and all I remember is that we spent a hot afternoon in a floating swimming pool on the Seine and that we went to the very top of the Eiffel Tower leaning over the railings before they netted the whole thing in to stop people chucking themselves off.
Years later in the late 70s I revisited Paris with two girlfriends. We had been given the offer of free accommodation in the apartment of a friend of a friend whom we had never met. We were young, impressionable and impecunious but full of excitement at the prospect. Even more so when the friend of a friend turned out to be wearing leather trousers decades before Ross made them look ridiculous by getting stuck in them on 'That' episode of Friends.
I hadn't remembered the 'friend of a friend's' name until digging out these old photos. I had written on the back of this one 'Francis - he said he wore the leather trousers in case he fell off his motorbike!'. Whatever - it was all terribly exciting and even sleeping on the floor of his small left-bank flat seemed the height of Parisian glam to us.
The ingenue below is me - I can't believe I ever looked so sweet and innocent. I was never sweet.
We did the tourist stuff, the Louvre, Notre Dame and again visited the Eiffel Tower but as I remember I didn't make it to the top this time..
Francis took us to Chartier's - to experience an authentic Parisian restaurant. Bustling, boisterous, the bill written on your paper tablecloth and garlic laden food. I think someone had frogs legs - maybe it was me because my digestive system started rebelling against this onslaught! We walked back to the apartment along the romantic banks of the Seine, as we approached a bridge I fell back and to ease my discomfort 'let one go'. Unfortunately I must have been up wind because Francis immediately remarked 'The Seine is very beautiful at night - but sometimes it doesn't smell so good!'.
I have since revisited Chartier's with various friends, it isn't great cuisine but it is usually good honest cooking. What it lacks is made up for by atmosphere and fun. R has never been so this time we will be going together and it is probably just as well we are used to any of each others unromantic digestive disorders!