Yesterday the 4th was a day off in Paris. It’s a city where you can throw a glance in any direction and spot a dozen cafes, bistros, brasseries and bars. Before food, the first order of business was a hole in the wall cash cow. I asked the hotel concierge where the nearest automatic teller was located and he very kindly walked me out the front of the hotel, pointed left, pointed right and said if I didn’t see it in 3 minutes it was my fault and I’d taken the wrong route. The French attitude is alive and well. I indeed hit the ATM and was happy for his directions. That little withdrawal will be a down payment for the martini at the roof-top bar the other night.
One of America’s great downfalls is restaurants not posting their menu outside the door. It’s common practise in the U.K. and Europe and helps greatly in making the decision where to eat. I found a small Patisserie just down the street, checked the menu and found exactly what I wanted. I sat down at one of the sidewalk tables in the warm sunshine and thought sonofabitch, I love my life. One of many things the French do better than anyone else is prepare an omelette. Very simple and mightily delicious, browned on the outside, piping hot and creamy on the inside with jambon and fromage…ham and cheese, a side of leafy greens with a delicate dressing that only the French seem to make, a basket of sliced baguettes and a couple of large cafe au lait. Ole! ….arrow hits target dead centre. I sat there nearly an hour enjoying my breakfast and the people passing by.
Another thing the French do very well is smoking with elegance and class. Apart from occasionally filching a cigarette, that particular avenue of pleasure is one I no longer travel. Still, I love seeing others indulge and Parisians can smoke them better than anyone I’ve ever seen.
From there it was an afternoon of walking, hours of it, up and down the avenues, around the Arc de Triomphe and a good length of the Champs Elysees. Lots of gawking and no shopping. By late afternoon I needed fortification. I fell in to a quiet dark bar just off the main street and had an ice cold pint of creamy pilsner. I couldn’t have enjoyed that beer more and once again thought of my good fortune; to play music all these years for my keep and have it take me to places like this. There are far more rewarding things to do and see in Paris but I was very happy pounding the pavement.
I had dinner with a friend at the wonderfull Boucheri Rouliere. They raise their own beef and lamb. Fantastic, simple, well prepared food, great wines, desserts and coffee. The first thing that appeared on the table was a small glass of very cold, dry white wine to get the meal started. I ordered a baby spinach salad with goat cheese, followed by a delicious steak filet done to a perfect medium with frites. Dessert was a caramel glace and cafe au lait. All remarkably good in a casual and comfortable setting with no muss or fuss. Bouchri Rouliere 24, Rue des Canettes - 75006 Paris. Tel. 01 43 26 25 70. A walk past Notre Dam and a cab back to the hotel. A grand day off in Paris.
Thursday the 5th, back to work, if you can call it that. We left Paris early this afternoon and arrived in Antwerp after an hour flight. Soundcheck, dinner, meet and greet, change clothes and on stage. It was the first show with everyone using their new set of in-ear monitors. Moulds were taken when were in production rehearsals and they’ve just arrived. I guess we all got used to the old ones being a bit leaky… letting in sound from the stage as well as front of house. The new ones fit very snug and really block everything out giving the effect of a slightly different mix. It was a well played show but a struggle as well. Over the next few gigs we’ll resolve any mix issues.
A runner from stage to the waiting vehicles and a two hour drive to Amsterdam where we’ll spend the night, play tomorrow and have a day off the next.
The score for today: one show and three countries in 12 hours.
Finally a special thanks to Henk and Nadia for the two magnums of delicious Belgium brewed Duvel beer. They will be served ice cold on our next after-show plane trip.