We were in Italy after all.
Specifically, my wife and I were in Florence. At the airport. Our flight out of Italy was cancelled and then rescheduled. But every connecting flight home to California via Paris was affected. Infected. Not good.
Clearly, we weren’t getting home tonight.
The airport was too warm. The lines way long. The crowd thick and getting hot. Finally, our turn came to step up and speak to an airline rep.
There we stood at the Air France counter; tired, poor (vacations cost a lot you know), huddled together yearning to breathe free. For the moment, feeling homeless ready to leave this teeming shore. Both, slightly tempest tossed and I, smelling just a tad wretched.
The Airline Rep fussed with the computer. Fiddled with the phone. She consulted with a Supervisor who ran back and forth between other customers and agents. Then she looked up at us and made an offer.
“If you don’t mind, we could put you up in a hotel in Paris for the night. Includes 3 meals and then we would fly you direct into Los Angeles in the morning.”
It was May and I felt like singing. No, shouting is more like it.
“I love Paris in the spring time!”
The City of Light. Where Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Alexandre Dumas and Ernest Hemingway once called home. Where an engineer named Alexandre Gustave Eiffel built art in the form of a tower. The city whose liberation Joan of Arc fought for. The final resting place for the Little Corporal known as Napoleon. Shopping. The arc de triomphe. Le Louvre. Disneyland. Founding home of the French fashion empire known as Louis Vuitton. LV to his friends. Oh yes, and the food.
Ooh la la. The food.
So we mulled over her offer for at least half a second.
“YES!!!!” we shouted in unison.
Paris for FREE!
Go ahead, call me a cheap date.
But I like “free”. Food samples at Costco. Little shampoo bottles at hotels.
But to stay the night in Paris! All expenses paid for!
I could start singing.
“I love Paris every moment. Every moment of the year”
After checking into our hotel, we hopped on the subway train just after lunch to explore Paris, not returning until nightfall.
And I love it. Every bite.
I can’t remember the name of everything. But even in the hotel restaurant, people treated food seriously and with respect. And that attitude showed in the dishes that were served. Presentations pleasing to the eye. Flavors that spoke in quiet accents. An unrushed atmosphere. Attention to detail. The French do food.
Restaurant Graine d'apetit ~ Roissy-en-France
We had fresh Haddock with vegetables baked in folded parchment boxes.
Mmmm. Très délicieux!
Red wine from the vineyards of the south of France. Every sip was a celebration of the grape.
And our dessert! C’est extraordinaire! A peach gateau. A cake with peaches. Succulent. Sweet. Warm. Fresh whipped cream. And a scoop of French vanilla ice cream that once sat atop. When it reached me, the scoop had slid off the cake. But who cares? Not I.
I sat across the table from my wife. We toasted our good fortune with our French wine.
Frank Sinatra sang it best.
“I love Paris, why oh why do I love Paris
Because my love is here. “
But it didn’t hurt that our experience was free, too!