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Guerre du Breakfast Room: Adventures in Paris, Day 3

While the pot boils back home, here at the Grand Hotel Relais Bosquet breakfast is becoming a combat sport. What starts as a lovely conversation about how every single person in the breakfast room sports a guidebook by a certain Washingtonian native turns suddenly ugly as the mention of Events Back Home is raised. Sides are drawn, positions are vehemently supported, accusations are levelled. Then a pain au chocolat goes flying and all Hell breaks loose; the Chinese tourists dive under their tables. Mon dieu! Hasn’t France seen enough war? When will the madness end? How much did I drink last night? All I know is that if someone biffs me with a croissant because of my voting record, the fromage WILL fly.

Onward to more peaceful things. Well, sort of.

I don’t understand why it’s so hard for some people to mind their P’s and Q’s when in sacred spaces, such as Notre Dame. Take off your hat, turn off the flash and shut your mouth: three little things you can do not to make the Baby Jesus cry. But noooooo . . . SOMEONE has a $5,000 Canon 5d and a flash that rivals the Trinity test going off and damned if they ain’t gonna use it! ker-FLASH! You didn’t want to munch down that Communion Wafer in peace (and not be blinded), did you? Not everyone has a camera, but everyone’s born with a mouth. What better place to run it than during the “Dominus Nabisco” part of the Mass? Oh, sure, the same Mass has been going on without fail since the Normans were sawing the tops off Christian’s head, but you know what would make it REALLY special? Your British mouth running on about the footy. An appeal to the Almighty in softly-spoken French is certainly enhanced once everyone in the cathedral knows what a “boonch of c***nts” Coventry are. Oh, nice hat, too.

(Side note: among the flashes, hats and voices, I watched as an elderly woman -- a plain sort of woman who you’d see making beds in a hotel -- lit a candle to the Virgin of Guadalupe, closed her eyes, bowed her head and prayed simply to the Blessed Mother. As a spiritual Atheist, I sort of hope the Virgin Mary is real and heard that woman’s prayer. There was more holiness in that woman’s act of contrition than in all the carefully choreographed words and songs in the Mass that was being held at the same time).

On a different subject, who’s smarter: the person who stands in line for 20 minutes trying to score the special at Ace of Falafel, or the guy and his wife who go to the little place across the way and sit at the window WATCHING the people standing in line for Ace of Falafel? Watching the competing hustlers is quite the show. Sadly, there’s a price to be paid for either (25 euros and the kind of gas that triggers Richter Scale readings and disapproving looks from fellow passengers on the 69).

Little observations:

Is there anything more romantic that a cobblestoned Parisian street wet with warm rain? It’s lightly raining now and the streets are gleaming. The lights of the cafes reflect off the stones. Folks huddle under black umbrellas or walk bravely through the pitter-pat drops. Life slows, but goes on. In Paris, life always goes on.

Seattle is known for its coffee. I’ve had a lot of Seattle coffee. But the best coffee in Seattle is a million miles from a single tiny cup of espresso sipped at the outer edge of a sidewalk cafe, watching life go by at 2:30pm on a workday.

A ride on the 69 from end-to-end in traffic beats any thrill ride at Euro Disney.

In Paris, the older a woman is, the more fashionable she dresses -- and the better and more naturally she wears it.

Jeans and a sports coat on a man looks a thousand times better than just jeans.

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
2382 posts

I was already a fan of The Beebe Reporte but now that you've opened the realm of making fun of British tourists and noticing legit acts of piety (and combining them in one post) you have me wanting the premium subscription.

I have a 'no kebabs' rule when traveling in Europe, which can expand and contract as necessary, so avoiding Ace Falafel is as easy as falling off a barstool for me. Leave the entire Bou Mich cafe scene to the English footballers, I say.

Posted by
2393 posts

Your descriptions are making me yearn to be there! 96 more days until we fly across the pond...

Posted by
10858 posts

Entertaining and educational. I had to look up what a falafel is.

Saw a picture of the shop and the product. To maintain the decorum of this site, I will forgo telling you what came to mind when I saw the falafel that was pictured.

If ever I make it to Paris I definitely will find a little cafe, order some red wine , bread and a cheese/meat tray.

I will do my bit to shorten the line at "Ace Falafel"

Posted by
417 posts

The guy taking pictures in Notre Dame must have cousins in almost every cathedral I've visited in Europe. They are rivaled only by the security people yelling "silencio" and "no pictures" in the Sistine chapel. Or 500 Chinese getting off a bus to take "selfies" at Athabasca Falls just outside of Jasper, Canada. Unfortunately there are rude tourists everywhere. Our job when we travel is to let people know that there are some good ones still out there!

Posted by
11613 posts

I am dreading going to the more touristed parts of Italy because I cannot keep my mouth shut when someone is taking flash pictures next to a sign that says "No flash". I try to be nice about it, suggest they try one with no flash and therefore not get the glare/flare in the photo, but my mind is in un-churchy territory.

Another great installment. But weren't the first two in Trip Reports? I've been looking for new ones there...

Posted by
80 posts

The one consolation with the "flashers" in churches and elsewhere is that they clearly don't know their cameras very well and so will be very disappointed with the results.

Posted by
19245 posts

Rue Cler. I really must go there someday and show off my blue and orange guide book.

Posted by
681 posts

I have been looking for you Mike in the trip reports. I was almost starting to cry with no new postings. So YEA! Here I go!!!!

Posted by
15542 posts

I am eternally puzzled by the allure of L'As du Fallafel. I completely understand why the locals like it - kosher and a taste of Israel. But why oh why would anyone spending a few days or even a few weeks in Paris want to eat fallafel when there are FRENCH restaurants serving FRENCH food, not to mention the French patisseries. And if you really must eat a fallafel, why would you stand in a long line, when there are a couple others just as good across the street?

Jeans and a sports coat on a man looks a thousand times better than just jeans. What about the scarf? No scarf? Sacre bleu!!

Posted by
95 posts

I have seriously LOLd at all of your posts thus far. Such an enjoyable read! Can't wait for more!

Posted by
3844 posts

Before long, someone may set up a Gofundme for Mike's travels so we can all chip in a little -- just to get to read the reports.....