last updated Sunday June 21, 2009
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SATURDAY 25TH: PARIS
Only a short wander, sadly, before catching the Eurostar back home, although thankfully this was by no means our first visit to this fantastic city. These few pictures taken on an afternoon stroll make little sense, we know, but we include them here for their random charm.
This one was spotted in a café window near L'Odéon:
We had a very good Chinese/Thai dinner at the Restaurant Paris in the Chinese quarter (by the Porte de Choisy metro). The gold and orange decor was slightly bizarre but the waiters were friendly and the cooking excellent, such that Thailand's ministers and dignitaries are known to drop in for a little cuisine à la vapeur when on official visits.
We also dropped in on Shakespeare & Co, the legendary bookshop near Notre-Dame. It's a staggering, creaky old shop - the tendency is to feel that removing the wrong book from a shelf will bring the whole building crashing down around you. While it has a great history of both selling books (famous customers include Hemingway and Joyce) and accommodating struggling young writers and anybody else who might need a bed for the night, these days, in our experience from several visits over the past 10 years, the service (invariably from young expat Brits) isn't the friendliest in the world. At one point on today's visit we became aware of an assistant telling off a customer for sitting down reading a new paperback. "We've got lots of second-hand stock upstairs that you're welcome to read," she was saying, "but we don't really want our new stock to look second-hand." Given that he was only reading and not molesting the book, this seemed astonishing, even by Shakespeare & Co's standards of irascibility, but the truth was even odder than this. When the assistant went away we asked the customer - a slightly grizzled Antipodean guy - how long he'd been reading the book. "About four days," he muttered. Ah, well, in that case, maybe the shop had a point for once...
Our own holiday reading incidentally included the following two excellent books, both completely absorbing, entertaining and imaginative in their very different ways, and thoroughly recommended for reading either on or off a train anywhere in the world:
And thanks again to Lonely Planet for guiding us through this great country with aplomb
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