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A warm welcome by a Parisian bistro

Monday, July 16, 2012

For some reason, every time I arrive in Paris I feel a little melancholy. Once I get in to Paris and arrive at the apartment where I'll be for two weeks, I first unpack everything and then go for a walk. I like to breathe in the cool Parisian air, smell the city,and study my neighborhood. I do all this just so I can feel comfortable in Paris again. I was in Florence for three weeks to get my life back in order and to get used to living alone again. It was the perfect amount of time for me to get settled in before taking off again. It was almost as if I wasn't supposed to get too comfortable or get stuck into any routine before returning to Paris.

As a treat for myself, I decided to get dinner at a typical French bistro, Le Grand Colbert. It is right around the corner from my apartment for this trip. I went once last year and loved it. I tried to return last month, but it was packed. The gentleman who greeted me the last time told me that it was necessary to make reservations. I thought I would take my chances and see if they had a table for one.

After I walked in and pushed aside the thick red curtain to enter into the large room where people were seated at tables and booths, a gentleman rushed to greet me. I leaned in close to him, probably closer than normal, to tell him that I wanted a table for one. He turned around and scanned the room. Keeping the distance between us to a minimul, he described a particular table nearby that was about to leave in a few minutes. I glanced over his shoulder and saw that the one he talked about had just been served desserts.

He invited me to wait at the bar and escorted me to a seat that he pulled out for me. He seemed to glide on the mosaic marble floor as he placed olives and potato chips in front of me. Every staff person who saw me sitting alone greeted me with a smile.

I was happy to have this time to wait for my table; it was a pleasant experience for all my senses. I listened to the murmur of voices swirling in the air without hearing making out a word, the clanking of plates and silverware being picked up and carried to the back, and the chiming of glasses being picked up to deliver to tables. I enjoyed watching the food as it passed behind me on large silver platters and inhaled each time to whet my appetite. Waiters conversed with the customers, switching from French to English depending on the person even at the same table. For me, just sitting at the bar of the bistro was a delightful initiation to Paris. Everything pleasurable is represented: food, wine, language, beauty, elegance, cordiality, and class.

I was almost disappointed when the waiter told me that my table was ready. When I sat down to look around me, it wasn't the same. I ordered my dinner and was very well tended to by two different waiters and the man who initially greeted me.

When I left the bistro, the melancholy I felt earlier had completely disappeared. I walked around a little to enjoy the evening before the sun set. By the time I arrived home, I felt happy to be in Paris. Florence was far from me, but it was still nesteled in my heart.

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