Arrived in Paris on the evening of the 29th November and since then I’ve been bonjouring and bonsoiring my way around like a regular local. Although after the standard salutation, it’s all English from there! Thankfully most locals can manage a little English lingo or, if that fails, I resort to hand signals. I just point to what I want to buy, flash the number, and that’s it. So far, no problems.
Once again, I’m lucky with my choice of hotel location. The Hotel du Commerce is right in the heart of the Latin Quarter – 5 minutes from Notre Dame, 2 minutes from the metro and just about everything else I need (pubs, restaurants, markets) are all around. There is one funny detail about the Hotel du Commerce, however: the bathroom is right in front of the hotel’s reception desk! So every morning, still dressed in my shorts and PJ top, I stroll right in front of a lovely Frenchwoman, who herself, being French, is absolutely dressed to the nines. After two showers now, my senses have become blasé about this whole juxtaposition.
Odd showers aside, the first thing to do in any city is to find your “local” – a pub or a bar, a place where you can immediately seek recovery after a day’s long walkabout around town. On my first night, I found the perfect place – not too big, not too small, good beers (Guiness and Leffe are on tap), suitably dark and plenty of female clientele. It’s the Shywawa Pub on 7 rue de Petit Pont, a stone’s throw away from Notre Dame and around the corner from the famed Shakespeare & Co bookshop. If you love your cocktails, here they are served with glow-sticks, just in case you happen to be too drunk to see what you’re drinking. While not exactly “hip” (it’s a pub with footy on plasma screens), Shywawa is relaxed and friendly, plus pretty good beers.