My soul has been put back together, thank you Paris, but time has now come to enjoy our last night in this beautiful city.
We head down our little stairway and step out for our final evening stroll in our rue St Honore neighbourhood. We are heading to our favourite little casual bistro, Le Petit Machon. We had initially stumbled across it after an overwhelming morning in the Louvre. Emerging onto the open street from the immensity of the musee it had taken several deep breaths to steady the rushing of blood through my head. It was lunch time and all we wanted was something simple easy and quiet.
We spotted it’s pretty orange awning on a corner ahead. As we got closer we thought it looked perfect. Small with pretty decor and a Lyonaise menu. I hadn’t experienced dishes from Lyon yet so we decided this would be us. We were seated at a lovely little table in the window where we could watch the people passing by. We were the first customers for lunch and staff were still organising themselves and having their last cigarette out the front before service so we ordered a bottle of Rose and let them know to take their time, we were in no rush. We sat back relaxed and perused the amazing list of rustic Lyonaise dishes on the blackboard menu.
Soon the waiter appeared with our wine and some bread and a pot of gooey white cheese that he insisted we try. Cervelle de canut a very traditional Lyonaise cheese spread made with fromage blanc, herbs and garlic. Oh my goodness it was to die for!
Our first meal there was just perfect for our mood that day. We ordered sole and it came swimming in butter. Melt in the mouth deliciousness, such simple good food. The staff were lots of fun and we could see so many other dishes from France’s culinary centre that we wanted to try, so we decided we would have to come back. Before we knew it it had become our little local eatery and our table became our table and our waiter Eric had become our guy!
We had so enjoyed the warm welcoming atmosphere that we simply had to say farewell to our wonderful staff and farewell to Paris at Le Petit Machon. We rolled up and Eric excited to see us as always greeted us warmly with arms wide as though we were family “again sir!” He said to my love, who explained it was our last evening in Paris so of course we had to come here. “We will have a very good table for you” he said thanking us profusely for coming back again. He showed us through to the dining room and we were momentarily thrown to find some other lot were boldly perched at “our table”! Eric assured us that he had a better table and wheeled us over to a four seat table near the bar. He cleared away two of the place settings and we felt very special being given so much of their precious space.
By now we had tried lots of their wonderful rustic dishes. Quenelles with nantua sauce a rarely made anymore dish, of large dumplings of airy puffy creamed fish poached in a shellfish cream sauce were like nothing I have ever tried before. Yum!
Tonight we felt like something simple – steak. Eric insisted he would choose for us the best cut of steak so we left the ordering in his hands and concentrated on toasting our amazing trip with a glass of champagne.
The patron himself, Bernard Migneau, floats over to offer a welcome . We have seen him in the distance here every time we have been. I’ve decided his long hair and cool charming disposition remind me of Alan Rickman playing Professor Snape. He glides cooly up to our table and begins to speak a deeply serious warm and charismatic expression of gratitude (We think? ….it was all in French!).
After listening mesmerised for a bit to his smooth tenor we finally pipe up with our well practiced “Je suis Australian Je ne pas parle Français. Parlez-vous Anglais?” (I am Australian I don’t speak French do you speak English?). He changes to his very few words of English combined with a bit of charades …. three words ….sounds like…..
Yes definitely a big thank you for our frequent patronage. He asks “do we like alcools” – this bit we definitely get – why, yes we do! He tells us he will bring us something later – a soopreeze! We graciously accept and he glides off, back to hold court at the front of house again.
Our Eric brings us his choices of plats over the evening, along with uncorking a couple of good bottles of wine and we enjoy a lovely long slow meal. Later in the evening Professor Snape changes up the vibe, turning on some very cool jazz tunes. We settle in enjoying the music, joking with Eric and talking about how quickly we can arrange to come back to Paris.
Bernard has clearly waved a hand at the bar, a couple of glasses appear with a very, very generous pour of something…….Eric tells us this is very very special and a thank you from Bernard. We lift the glass to our noses and wow! Whatever this is it is warm and rich on the nose. Then a taste – so very smooth and luxurious, a stunning digestif.
Professor snape materialises right next to us (whoa where did he come from?) again he starts a little in French then a few words of english are peppered through. We get that what he has given us to drink is very very aged, very very special, hidden under the counter stuff. He asks if we like?…”oui beaucoup!” (yes very much). He continues with more charades indicating that it is very potent. “My wife she take this one….” and with a sensual rolling of his body and slow gyration of his hips, a flowing swirling gesture of one hand down his body the other up past his face into the air and a raised eyebrow ..”and ooh la la!”
We laughed! Tears rolling down my face. What a wonderful performance, fantastic!
Wonderful easy rustic food, fun engaged staff, a cool vibe and a gorgeously generous host. We were still laughing as we tottered down Rue St Honore to our little apartment. An unforgettable way to wrap up what has been a life changing, revolutionary trip for me. As I drift into slumber I have the strange sense that tomorrow I’m not going home, I’ll be leaving home.
As I zip my bag closed the next day there is only a brief moment of sadness as the thought of the end of the trip goes through my mind. Just as quickly that thought is washed away as a far more powerful feeling of beginning floods over me. I thought I had done a really good job of putting the faintly glimmering fragments of my soul back together. But now I realise I had them hidden, keeping them safe in a little box in my heart. Paris has ripped the lid off, I am open. The light inside is pouring out. It is dazzling me, it is beautiful and I will never be the same.