There was a gap in my schedule between the weekend with Yunpeng and the arrival of Gordon and Mustapha on Wednesday evening. But since Paris is the most popular tourist destination in the world I’ve often noted how friends keep popping up here without prearrangement; so predictably that I have come to expect several additional visitors during each stay. Bob Tobin’s trips to Paris have overlapped with me several times over the past few years so it was just such an “expected surprise” when he contacted me to suggest a meal together. It was tantalizing, however, when he said that he would also be inviting someone I might enjoy meeting. This turned out to be Christoph, one of his former students, who was in Paris for a few days as part of his Grand Tour of Europe. We met for dinner on Monday evening at Les Gars dans le Cuisine (“the boys in the kitchen”) in the Marais. The restaurant is quite ok — nice space, warm welcome, good service, reliable food — yet somehow I’ve always felt that the experience left something to be desired. My best guess is that I’m not excited by their menu, which seems to strain a bit too hard to be novel.
The meal was pleasant, however, and after re-grouping at Bob’s rental apartment I took Christoph out for a night on the Parisian bar scene. We started at Raidd, which as usual was mostly foreign tourists. I realized, however, that if you don’t speak French you will have a better time at a place like this than at a more typical local bar. The last time I’d seen their shower show the guy artfully used a diaphanous cloth to reveal his endowment without showing it directly, but this time he pulled it out and gave us an unobstructed look. We debated whether to wait an hour for the next show, but finally decided to go over to Le Duplex, where it’s quieter and easier to talk. It was absolutely dead but we nevertheless had a drink and a nice chat with the bartender. At this point it was almost 2 am and the barman told us that everything would be closing then — except Le Depot, which had a 10 euro cover and a sketchy reputation, and Le CUD Bar, just down the street, which has no cover and is open until dawn. We went to CUD, where we enjoyed a lively and friendly crowd on the basement dance floor. Christoph of course drew attention, including free glasses of champagne for both of us! I was at first bemused by the lighted urinals right next to the entrance stairway, although later I realized that there were normal toilets on the upper level.
Around 3 am Christoph decided that his evening had been sufficiently fabulous so I walked him home. I often manage to log a “mile after midnight” when I’m in Paris but “3-1/2 miles after midnight” was a first!
On Tuesday I slept in, then ran errands. That evening I got together with Bob and Christoph again for dinner, this time at Le Bouillon Chartier, which is always fun. When I’ve come there alone I have been seated at a table with other patrons, which is sometimes a wonderful experience, but on this occasion the three of us had our own table on the balcony.
On our way there we had noticed a crowd outside of the non-Marais gay bar Bonne Nouvelle, which Geoff Gilbert had shown Bob and me a few years back. It’s quiet most of the week but crowded on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Like the previous evening, Bob Tobin had to get to bed early because of his 9 am French class. Being too lazy to take classes myself, however, I was again able to serve as Christoph’s wing man in his exploration of gay Paris.
Mot du jour: filet de bar. Filet of sea-bass.