Sal and I spent a thoroughly pleasant weekend in a Paris seemingly filled with kilted Scots, bagpiping their way around town, and in surprisingly high spirits even after their narrow defeat to the French on Saturday afternoon (that said, although a crowd of young chaps belting out Flower of Scotland on the streets of Montmartre might be entertaining for a few minutes, I’m not sure I’d have been quite so happy if we’d unwittingly chosen one of the restaurants opposite them for our lunch…)
But then, it’s hard to be grumpy for long in a city like Paris. Even I was caught by the bug–when we arrived at our hotel at almost 11 on Friday night, we could tell instantly from the body language of the chap behind the counter that something was wrong, but I greeted the news that we were being moved to their other hotel with nothing but glee: not only had I talked to the chap in French, but he actually replied to me in French, unlike almost everyone else I’ve ever spoken to in the country. The fact that their other hotel boasted une autre etoile for le meme tarif didn’t hurt, though, and it’s just possible that he didn’t actually speak the English that usually features in replies to my stumbling French, but I like to think he was impressed by my grasp of the present participle. He even gave me directions to their other hotel in exactly the same terms that the people used to use in French lessons (“take the first street on the right, walk straight on…”)
The pattern continued for much of the rest of the weekend. From somewhere in the depths of my brain I managed to resurrect much of the French that I spent 9 of my formative years learning and have subsequently spent almost as long forgetting, and I was able to dutifully translate for Sal for much of the weekend (it seems they don’t bother with languages in the Australian school system–well, something has to make way for all that sport–and so her semester each of Italian and Japanese didn’t quite cut it).
Having both already been to the city several times before, we didn’t feel much pressure to visit the usual tourist haunts. Consequently, we spent much of the weekend eating and drinking, and mightily pleasant it was too.
I’m just a bit worried that I won’t be allowed back on any of those “back the bid” tubes now that I’ve visited a rival city and been on one of their gagnons les jeux! trains. I expect Seb Coe will be popping round to beat me up any time now for assisting the enemy.