My Funny Valentine

Having lived away from home for the best part of the past ten years, I very rarely get homesick. Even now, I don’t miss the place, just the people. So when I was feeling a little low after the devastation of my Oreo Disaster, I put in a call to the folks.

Happily, Mama Morrell was more than keen for a visit, and on Thursday evening I returned from work to find her hanging out of her balcony at the hotel just a couple of doors down from my flat. Because it was a “school night”, we popped open a bottle of wine, I cobbled together a chilli con carne and we caught up over a delicious dinner.

Though I had work the next day, she was more than happy to entertain herself in BHV Marais, until the evening when I had planned a cinema trip and some cocktails. Except, of course, because I’m an unlucky idiot, when it came to locking up the office at the end of the day, I realised my keys were on my bedside table. All alone in the office, it meant I had to call in a favour from my mum: she came to pick up my house keys, return to Ranelagh, and then come back to the office. By that time, we were thirty minutes from the cinema, with five minutes to go before the film started. As major Jamie Dornan cinema fans, we couldn’t face missing part of the film, so picked a cafe for some pre-film dinner and happily tucked into duck magret before pitching up to the cinema stuffed full.

On Saturday I finally managed my bank meeting, meaning I’m almost officially a Parisienne. We walked off our pain aux raisins with a stroll up Rue du Passy to Trocadero, where we did in fact see a couple taking advantage of Saint-Valentin with a cringe-inducing proposal photo shoot. We walked along the river, before the rain forced us to shelter among the columns of the Grand Palais…

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The afternoon was spent strolling the Marais, naturally, and we dipped into Breizh Café for quality coffee and a restorative crêpe. We enjoyed an exquisite dinner, some lovingly-crafted cocktails, and fascinating people-watching at Pan, a restaurant I’d previously been to with Soph and her folks just a few weeks ago. Our romantic dinner for two was perfected by our night-time cab ride along Avenue President Kennedy, with an unobstructed view of the glittering Eiffel Tower.

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Today we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before hitting the streets again, as we strolled across the Seine to Les Invalides, wandered aimlessly through Saint Germain des Près and peered into private courtyards as the sun broke through the clouds. I took my mother to the peaceful Place Dauphine. I picked my dream house based on the ironwork at the windows and glimpses of decorative plastering on the ceilings.

Our destination for lunch was a recommendation from Sophie – Derrière. This restaurant is decorated like a private home, with large shared tables, an extensive CD collection, a ping-pong table and even a large, made-up bed. The brunch menu includes a starter, main, fresh juice, hot drink and an unlimited selection from the buffet. Sounds fairly conventional, but this place is anything but ordinary.

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We opted for apple, pear and strawberry juice, with a coffee for Mrs Morrell and a spiced chocolat chaud for me. Mains were picked from a range of roast meats, and we tucked into caramelised pork and delicious veal accompanied by a spectacular rainbow of legumes.

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For dessert, though, we really went to town, taking it in turns to sample the offerings at the impressive buffet spread. Tarte tatin, tarte aux poires, upside-down cake, gianduja tart, brownies, pistachio cakes, and fresh fruit. We had happily acknowledged that we were fairly full after our mains, but left after pudding unable to take another bite.

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Before leaving though, we had to take a peek into the smoking area: through a mirrored armoire at the end of a corridor, the doors conceal a vast, study-like room. Furnished with taxidermy and quirky heirlooms mounted on the walls, the room offers smokers a clubby, homely suite in which to enjoy a cigarette: some people were stretched out on the leather sofas, while others took on the challenge of table football.

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All too soon, it was time to head home where we discovered unfortunately that Mama Morrell’s train was not at 8pm, but 18.00, and after a perfect leisurely weekend it was sad to rush out of the house and back into the Metro. I’ve taken the opportunity to relax at home after a weekend of walking all over the city. Unwinding with a tea (Mariage Frères, naturally) and listening to Bruce Springsteen as I write my recent blog posts.

I might dread Monday and the rest of the working week, but I make enough wonderful memories each weekend to keep me going until the next one. Not bad, eh?

Bisous,

S. X

Chanson du jour: I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen

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