Lunch in Paris 

There has been a vicious rumour circulated throughout England by a marvelous satirist. This jester has been claiming that that we are in the month of June.  

Having never been the sort to enjoy being duped, I checked my facts; Only to discover that there has been a Test series played, four of the five classics completed, and Wimbledon is on the horizon. 

The spectacular events of the Great British summer, in all its splendor, are almost over. So, why have I been feeling like Noah without his Ark? The perpetual rain has dampened my mood so much so that I write this blog wearing a mint green jumper, inside, with sadness in my heart.

Nevertheless, I decided to enliven the soul and accept an invitation from watchmaker Hublot to watch a game of soccer in Paris last week. Round ball regardless, the real thrill of the day – of course – centred on travel and sun.

It will not come as a massive shock to discover that London’s Kings Cross station is a strange zone at 7am. The business class lounge is stranger still. However, splendidred was decked head to toe in linen and raring to go. I scuttled around and found a strong coffee, the Spectator, and the Daily Mail. 

Perhaps none of this makes the reader envious.

Once onboard, the Eurostar train did its usual thing and travelled towards the liberal land of wine and art.

I digress for the most splendid aspect of nipping over to France for a day is food and booze – and the travel is a gas too. The three hours slip serenely by and bucolic scenes dazzle in the early morning shimmers of sun – the lush trees of Kent turn suddenly into a dimly lit underwater tunnel, an eerie silence engulfs the carriage at this point, then like a child’s birth the train emerges with blinking eyes.

The heavily-lorried motorways of Calais give way to the sumptuous and immaculate vineyards of Northern France. Inside the train, the attentive hostesses top up your coffee cup and bring your first course. A two course breakfast, as we all know, sets one up for the day. 

A starter of croissant, whole meal roll, confiture, orange juice, and some yogurt is probably enough for me on a usual day; nevertheless, I gleefully accepted the second course. I did, feeling like a European, refuse the cooked option – which was on all accounts excellent. I opted for some glazed fruit and some cheese with cold cuts.

As we pulled through the graffiti-laden walls of the banlieues the hostess takes the orders for espressos – so one has what can only be described as a bolter just before you disembark onto the dirty Parisian pavements.          

Hervé, my impeccably dressed – and continually lost – taxi driver chomped on a thin cigar in anticipation of leaving his car. The sun blazed and Hervé, relentless in his quest for a shortcut, continued to find the mass embouteillages. 

After what seemed an aeon, the rake thin driver found the Palais Royal and gleefully sparked his cheroot. I, now delighted to be dressed in the cooling linen suit, strode in to watch the soccer; the match of friendship was a friendly five-a-side match between teams managed by the legend Pele and the swollen cheat Madonna.

The game was played under a gin-clear sky and it was contested by a number of high-profile retired players, including Rio Ferdinand, Clarence Sedorf, Marco Materazzi and Hernan Crespo. 

The game finished eight a piece, I think, but I was more concerned with the champagne brunch and chuckling at the anti-capitalist protesters outside the gates. 

I had my champers and attacked my raclete like Pele used to a header. I nattered with the glitteringly bejeweled Rio Ferdinand for a while and found myself entranced by his mouth – the chap speaks out of the side of it, like a camel that has been slapped.

I returned to brunch, which like any event in Paris, was excellent but the glorious aesthetically pleasing portions were, perhaps, on the small side of small. The hot sun beat down on my wintered cheeks and I began to crackle like a pig on a spit. I found solace in another cold glass of champagne. 

The game of soccer and brunch came to an abrupt halt and I left the Palais Royal to find Hervé languidly propped up against the wall, with one foot resting sole side on it and the cigar dangling impertinently from his Gallic lip. 

“Home James and don’t mind the horses,” I yelped at him. We bowled along the flower filled boulevards to the Gare de Nord. 

I re-embarked onto the Eurostar, where I had been but a few hours previous and returned to Blighty.

Fear not dear reader, for I did fill my suede boots. Once the sun has crossed the yard arm, it is common practice for champagne to be quaffed on-board instead of coffee. I supped it down and in a peculiar twist; I was given some delicate petit fours before the main course of boeuf bourguignon – which I enjoyed with a glass of thin red.

Suddenly, I was back into London – together with a proud pink stripe on my nose – which greeted me with a light whisp of rain and grey cover to greet me.     


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