The early morning train journey in winter along the coast is simply splendid. As the sun rises, everything is gilded in soft rose gold light and the sea looks like liquid mercury. Having woken up at 06:00, I felt I should grab some more shut-eye but I couldn’t tear my eyes from the view which is easily one of my favourite parts of the train trip to Paris. You also get some fabulous views of the spectacular seafront property porn though much of it is closed up and dormant at this time of year.
As we head inland, mist veils the fields and the sun’s a ghostly orb just starting to peer over the hills. The lush once green foliage of the harvested vines has taken on a variety of autumnal hues, as have some of the trees, a few of which have lost all their leaves. But once the mist lifts, the sun shines and everything looks as pretty as a picture, albeit one in autumn’s more muted colour palette. I even spotted the Pont du Gard which we recently visited.
It’s only as we near our destination that you get a sense of the approaching urban realm. First, large warehouses and then the creep of urban sprawl, and all that it entails. Typically, once we arrive at Gare de Lyon, we’ll lunch at Le Train Bleu but not this time as we had an afternoon meeting with a client whose offices are in the 10th arrondissement. Instead, we walk to our rented apartment in Le Marais, the same place we stayed at in September, drop off our luggage and head back out for lunch in one of the many neighbourhood restaurants.
We decided to walk to and from the client’s offices in the 10th arrondissement, passing through an area popular with France’s African and Caribbean community. The road we walked along was lined with shops selling hair and beauty products for persons of colour, and simply loads of hairdressers. I’ve already written about the number of hairdressers per capita in France but this number, one after the other, was quite extraordinary.
When we walked back at about 18:00 these places were abuzz (literally) and heaving with clients. More people were hanging around outside chatting. Possibly waiting for their other halves or, maybe, just shooting the breeze with friends. In addition, there were lots of small restaurants; little more than stalls, selling French-Caribbean and African food. It was such a lively and colourful scene but it was too dark to photograph with my iPhone.
Having walked plenty of kilometres, we’d now worked up an appetite which we satisfied with some Middle Eastern fare before opting for an early night. It had been a long, enjoyable and very satisfying day.
For reasons best known only to himself, when in Paris, my beloved is happy to fetch breakfast, putting the coffee on before he leaves the flat to buy a variety of breads and croissants. The latter are for him and maybe that’s why he enjoys going out. There’s a large selection of bakeries nearby though he usually goes to the closest.
Heavy rain was forecast, so we were happy to spend the morning pottering around the various food shops, markets and traiteurs picking up provisions for the next couple of days. We ate lunch in the apartment before my beloved settled down to answer a slew of emails. He likes to keep on top of them daily, even when on vacation.
In the afternoon, I popped into one of my favourite stores for a cup of tea, a chat and a try on of most of their winter collection. I enjoyed having a mooch about on my own, something that’s more difficult to do when my beloved is around as he loves to stride off, at least 20 metres ahead of me, demonstrating that his leg is now working much better. This renders it more difficult to indulge my love of window shopping and enjoying the architectural delights of the arrondissement.
Having eaten a lightish lunch, I decided that for dinner we were going to try one of Hank’s Vegan Burgers. My beloved was less convinced but prepared to concede. The chips were excellent and while the burgers were tasty we both felt they were under spiced and under seasoned. However, two glasses of red wines, 2 burgers and chips all for Euros 14 was easily our cheapest meal of the trip. We paid more for two pots of tea at Mariage Frères the following day.