Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A cold spring in Paris with the Three Chicks

Thanks to a generous present from Tim and Emma, our son and daughter, last Friday Jo and I were heading for a late March weekend in Paris.

We left Havant at on the 10 04 p.m. train and, after a short delay on the way to London, due to a freight train negotiating a signal problem, arrived at London Waterloo only ten to fifteen minutes late. Jo had texted ahead to Tim to warn him, as he was meeting us at the station to confirm the tickets.

The Eurostar train left London Waterloo International at 1.41 p.m. and arrived in Paris, at the Gare du Nord. The train was impressive, particularly traveling in France when, while running alongside a motorway it appeared to be overtaking vehicles at about twice the speed they were traveling, which would have meant a train speed in excess of 150 m.p.h.

Outside Gare du Nord there was a very long queue for Taxis. We were offered a limousine style Taxi for 90 Euros (about £60), which seemed a might excessive for even a reasonable distance, let alone what was purported to be a fifteen minute walk.

After consulting a map, I took a deep breath as regards finding the way and we decided to walk. As far as map reading went I got us quite close to the Hotel, Les Trois Poussins (The Three Chicks) in Rue Clauzel, but the map was not detailed enough. After consulting a female Police Officer, who could not speak English, and a couple of greengrocers, who were very pleasant and helpful, we found the Hotel.

It was during the walk that my first impressions of Paris formed, essentially, just like London, except they drive on the wrong side of the road and the signs are gibberish. Maybe it was the cold weather combined with trying to find my way through a strange city. In any even, my mood, feelings, soon lighted. They certainly did by well into the following day, Saturday. Besides, my French, largely remembered from forty-five years previously, at school, was enough to make out quite lot, at least as far as signs and shop fronts were concerned; later, menu items started to come back as well.

The only sensible way to get to other parts of Paris, without spending a fortune on Taxis, was to use the Metro. Finding one’s way around on an underground, Metro, system is far easier that bus routes. The Paris Metro not only has colour coded lines, as does the London Underground, but each line has its own number, so, it was simply a matter of deciding on the route and following the relevant colours, number. It was also quite inexpensive at 1. Euros each way to the Bir-Hakeim Station near the Eiffel Tower.

Unfortunately, that Saturday was very cold and, intermittently, rather wet. It was also overcast and a little misty. So, apart from a long cold wait to go up the Eiffel Tower, the view at the top, up to 74 kilometers on a clear day, was very restricted. We opted for a tour bus instead. Unfortunately that was so cold, on the open top, we moved down inside; not such a good view and no place to take decent photographs but decidedly warmer. I listened to the commentary provided, on earphones, and, though the quality of the sound was, occasionally, not brilliant, I learned quite a lot about the parts of Paris that the tour covered.

It was fairly late in the afternoon before we returned to the Hotel. It was a relief to be out of the cold. We lay on the bed and read as we rested, intending to go to a restaurant for a meal in due course.

That evening we ate nearby, at La Calangue Pizza Restaurant. Jo and I had a pizza each, though somewhat different; Jo’s was her usual Marguerite, mine a Provençale. We shared a half bottle of rose and finished with a real crème brouillée as opposed to the usual supermarket variety, version.

On returning to the Hotel, I asked the Receptionist for the key to Room 203, adding that my numbers, in French, did not go that high.

She said it was easy, “Deux cent trois.”

I had not been thinking enough, or remembered enough.

She was right, it was easy, so I said and repeated,

“Of course, deux cent trois.”

“Your accent is South of France,” commented the Receptionist.

I laughed as I corrected her,

“My accent is Clacton County High School, 1960.”

She laughed as well as Jo broke into our conversation,

“Come on. You’ve had two much wine.”

I had only had a glass and a half of rosé. It was just my natural exuberant sense of humour and quick wit; not something with which all my family are happy, though immediate family are okay with it.

Jo should certainly have been used to it after thirty five years, plus; though she had some wine as well

Sunday, the day of our return, was somewhat warmer, with the weather due to improve after we left.

However, overall it had been an interesting visit with Les Trois Poussins turning out to be a very pleasant little hotel.

We finally arrived home at about 9.30 p.m., via a coach from Petersfield due to engineering work on the line south of there.

I booted up the computer to see if there was an E-mail from Barbara Ford-Hammond, a reaction to Lorelei’s thoughts on Andrea Wren’s regression, for her forthcoming book, “Past Life Tourism”, Mirage Books; about which, more later; Barbara had wondered if Lorelei ( would like to comment and Lorelei had been only too pleased to do so, of course. There was no E-mail, so I told Jo and mused that Barbara was either so taken aback that she did not know what to say, or was having the weekend off, among other possibilities; though in practice, it is Barbara who is supposed to be muse, according to her Blog (

Jo said something along the lines of,

“You’ve probably shocked her so much you’ve blown the poor woman’s bunions off.”

Actually, they are supposed to have gone already by other means, but that is Barbara’s story, though I accepted the sentiment of Jo’s reply.

I did begin to wonder if Jo was becoming more in tune with her Celestial Sister, remember, sense, what she is like, at this stage of our current physical life together.

It turned out to be a little different, in due course. Barbara found Lorelei’s comments “interesting”. Does that mean Barbara is getting used to Lorelei? Now that is an achievement, for, almost, anyone.