a golden afternoon

Today we went for a long, boozy lunch at one of my favourite restaurants.

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Au Bistrot d’à Côté is tucked away down a quiet side street, far from the tourist crowds. It is one of the few places in Paris where I have never heard anyone speak English. I don’t fully understand the menu, but I just assume that most things are red meat, served somewhere between rare and raw. If you’re a vegetarian, I’d give this one a miss.

Inside, the decor is plain and unfussy, with phrases such as this painted on the walls:

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“The best way to resist temptation is to give in to it.”

And that’s certainly what customers are encouraged to do here. Le patron persuaded Olivier and I to have a bottle of wine to go with his burger and my rack of lamb. (Souris d’agneau, which translates literally as “mouse of lamb” – can anyone shed any light?!) Anyway, suffice to say it was somewhat bigger than a mouse.

We took a little break after our main courses, finishing off the bottle of wine and observing our fellow diners (two men on a business lunch, an elderly gentleman dining alone, two men covered in paint-spattered overalls and two vielle dames).

After our little pause, we moved on to dessert. For me, it had to be the Café Gourmand… and it really is “gourmand”.

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See what I mean about giving in to temptation…?

Feeling extremely full and a little bit drunk, we paid our bill and left, practically rolling down the Boulevard Raspail.

Olivier wanted to go to a fancy dress shop to buy a wig for a party he is going to, so we made our way up to the Grands Boulevards on foot, determined to walk off our lunch. Mission accomplished, we wandered back down towards Beaubourg, through the Marais, across the Île de la Cité and along the river, enjoying the beautiful golden sunshine.

We passed a street where an assortment of abandoned shoes had been strung up over the telephone wires…

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…and a florist’s shop, wafting a heady aroma of flowers halfway down the street.

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By the time we came back along the river it was late afternoon, and the old Parisian buildings looked even more beautiful than usual in the yellow light.

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