Saturday 1 July 2006

Brunch with Florence Nightingale in Paris

Don’t be late for brunch

A morning in Paris is not complete without brunch at the Café Beaubourg adjacent to the Georges Pompidou Centre – usually, I take a window seat on the first floor and watch the world go by as I tuck into the amalgam of English/Continental breakfast.

Well, it is tea, coffee or chocolate, freshly pressed orange or grapefruit juice, toast, scrambled eggs, hash browns, fried ham looking like bacon, sausages, butter, jams, a salad and still water.

You crown that with a fruit salad or a selection of cheeses, somehow this time the waiter brought coffee instead of the chocolate, I ordered, that was changed, but I did not ask for the fruit salad to be exchanged for the cheese – well, sometime the staff are just not up to it.

The main thing is to get to the café before 11:00AM when things start to change to another kind of menu, so, as the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I did wonder to myself as I looked at my watch – “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”

I just never seem to make it for breakfast in hotels though the quality of choice can be lacking in hotel buffets.

My big toe – Ouch! Ouch!

So, I left the hotel with just 45 minutes to spare and got out at Les Halles metro stop, just as I was cresting ground-level on the escalator, there was a misstep and I bruised my toe.

It is summer and temperature are in touching distance of 30 Celsius, so we are all in shorts and sandals, but unlike the Dutch, I never wear socks in my sandals, probably leaving ones toes unprotected if one stumbles.

Protecting size 46 – European/12 – UK feet can be an ordeal, not that my feet are big, they are just long and really each foot is exactly a foot (imperial measure) long – so I do have 2 feet in every sense of the word.

Thankfully, my feet were already size 45/11 at 15 and they have not grown in that proportion, shopping for good shoes is some arduous task.

Anyway, I thought, it was just a bruise then noticed it was really bleeding, so I had to look for a chemist to get a dressing and treatment if necessary, so I hobbled about looking for a green neon sign in the shape pf a cross – the sign for pharmacies in Europe in general – I found one and walked in, queued up to be served.

Only Florence Nightingale could do better

A lady comes round and now my foot is something of a mess, she gets sterile pads and so on, and here I am thinking I have to find a bench to sort this thing out.

Then come the sterile gloves and disinfectant, swabs and all that nursey stuff, she gets me to sit down and sets to work on my bloodied big toe, nothing overly serious 4 lint pads later and a plaster.

Then she cleans the blood off my sandals too and after that, says I can go. I can go? No charge for the service? She would not take anything and you really cannot tip for this kind of service.

Anyway, I put a healthy currency note on the counter and insist, that is a thank you for what she had done.

Just in time for brunch at the café but for the first time I have to have it on the terrace rather than my favourite window seat.

If only the waiters in some restaurants in Paris could be as good as the lady at the apothecary.

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