Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Night Time is the Right Time

This is what we saw at dusk last night when we got off the bus in Place de la Concorde on the way to Clotilde's booksigning and blog anniversary event at W. H. Smith, the English language bookstore on rue de Rivoli. The sky was startlingly beautiful, the clouds casting shadows, the colors morphing from pink to red to rose.  The monuments and streetlights and statues were all just outlines against the depth of color behind them.  We stood still and stared for several long seconds and I noticed others around me pulling out cameras in an attempt to catch the effect.

We were in fact early for the event and on our way to meet a friend at Angelina's, the long-established tea salon also on rue de Rivoli.  I say tea salon, and it is that, but what Angelina's is known for is the incredibly rich hot chocolate, chocolat à l'Africain they call it,  served from china pitchers, with a side of whipped cream, at the little round tables where generations of ladies have indulged themselves.  When we arrived however, they were turning everyone out and closing early, ostensibly for inventory (later on we passed by and there was a party going on).  We nipped in and got a hot chocolate to go before the doors were locked; no whipped cream, no little round table, no pitchers, but heavenly chocolate.  We shared one and couldn't finish it.

The book event was fun, Clotilde talking about her interesting career and her latest effort, the English version of a classic French cooking manual called "I Know How to Cook" by Ginette Mathiot ( the French is called "Je Sais Cuisiner") and recently published by Phaidon.  She updated the original 1932 book and its several later revisions, working with a team of translators.  There were amusing people to talk to and a great spread of food and wine, obviating the need for dinner (especially when you take into account the hot chocolate).

And then we walked home.  It's gorgeous here on a clear cold night.  They light the monuments and public buildings, the stone shines and the sky serves as backdrop.  The forecourt of the Louvre makes the most of the contrast between glass and stone.



While the Cour Carrée behind it looks like the set for your loveliest dreams.

Dreams you may continue to have as you walk along the quais and look into other lives through the lighted windows.

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