Thursday, September 23, 2004

Lunch with Laure

Before we left on this trip, I mentioned to Sudha in Colorado that we were going to Paris and that we were going to see Laure. Sudha said that she had done that once, and she said what a great host Laure is.

We had arranged to spend some time with Laure on our last full day in Paris. It was Saturday, so she didn't have to work. She had graciously set aside the whole day to show us around her city.

She called our room in the morning. We were still pretty much comatose from all the walking the day before, and we were still in bed, but her call was a welcome start to the day.

We arranged to meet her downstairs at noon. She said she'd find some good place to eat. By this time in our trip, we were thrilled to have someone else do the heavy lifting of selecting a restaurant.

I confess I don't remember the name of the restaurant -- shame on me. It certainly wouldn't have been a place we would have selected. First, we never would have discovered the place, hidden as it was from any path we might have followed. And second, it was over our fancy-threshold. Besides our basic frugality, the sad truth is that we were usually desperate by lunch time, and deciding to eat at this place would have taken too much deliberation outside studying the menu.

The restaurant was at a corner of two narrow streets. Laure led us up the two steps through the doorway. A waiter walked up, smiling. She told him we wanted a table for four. He asked if we had a reservation. She said we did not and seemed worried. But it was still early, and he found us a table in the back.

We sat down and began to study the menu. Laure translated all the words we did not know, and she ordered the wine. Laure keeps a collection of 400 or so bottles in a cellar at her parents' house in Caen, so we trusted her choice.

Upon hearing of Laure's proficiency with wine, I shared with her the story of how I (not knowing anything about wine) had ordered a demi-sec red wine the night before and how the waiter gently let me know that there is no such thing. She got a good laugh out of that. You know you're lucky when you're dining in Paris and your host gets a good laugh out of your mistake in ordering a demi-sec red.

We took our time. The place began to hum with activity as the lunch crowd arrived. The conversation was warm and relaxed. The meal was wonderful, and it included dessert. By the time we left, the waiters and waitresses were working furiously, and there wasn't an empty seat left in the place.

And this was only the beginning of our day with Laure.

Trip to France - Day 15

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