It has been the most unrelentingly grey and wet few weeks and this weekend is no exception – but there’s no place I’d rather be than Paris if I have to put up with the rain and I wasn’t going to let it stop me from enjoying my adopted city today.
I am writing from a minuscule corner table in “Les Deux Magots”, a couple-of-hundred-year-old café/restaurant on Boulevard Sainte-Germain. It seemed an appropriate location to fulfill this Saturday’s mission of having as cliché a day as possible: I wanted to find somewhere to write, and as a former haunt of Hemingway, Sartre, Camus, James Joyce and Simone de Beauvoir – not to mention flipping Picasso – this seemed a pretty good choice.
I ordered the house hot chocolate “à l’ancienne” and I truly cannot stress enough how much you NEED to come and try it if you ever have the chance. Unless you hate chocolate, (in which case you probably wouldn’t enjoy it) you really shouldn’t pass up on this experience.
And it truly is an experience. The waiter – clad in a crisp white shirt, black bow tie and suit jacket – brought a silver tea tray to my table, a small jug and delicate cup-and-saucer perched on top, all printed with the restaurant name and logo.
The hot chocolate itself looked almost solid – and it poured too slowly from my little jug into the cup to really be classed as a liquid. I’m pretty sure I could have stood my teaspoon up in it. (Not that I tried. Wouldn’t have been very élégante.)
It was just as thick to drink – it sort of coated my whole mouth in this glorious, rich, velvety chocolate goodness. And then I swallowed, and it disappeared, warm and slow all the way down my throat, and I couldn’t get the cup back to my lips fast enough.
Like I said, a real experience. 8€ seemed pretty steep for a hot chocolate when I placed my order, but now I feel like I’ve cashed in on some fantastic bargain. And you know how much I like a bargain.
Also, the setting is fabulous. Think classic French bistro, as stereotypical as they come: deep red leather furnishings, high ceilings supported by ornate pillars, gorgeous gilded fittings and fixtures all over the place, and everything bathed in this warm, buttery light (from chandeliers and wall-bracketed lamps) that couldn’t be more of a contrast to the grey, drizzly day outside the vast windows.
When I’d finally finished with my hot-chocolate-heaven, I returned to the San Francisco Book Co. in search of the next instalment of the Robert Langdon series – and the book shop magic happened again! I knew which section to look for this time, so I went straight to it, and lo and behold, there sat one pristine copy of The Lost Symbol right at my eye level (more convenient than you might realise – the book shelves go VERY high), yet not another Dan Brown volume in sight. Thank you very much, SFBC.
By the way, I will be continuing with my arrival narrative – there are three more Airbnb’s to complain about – but I couldn’t not tell you about this heavenly hot chocolate. You’ll thank me if you take me up on that recommendation. Promise.