Switching gears: a little hotel in town

I was determined. I knew I wouldn’t finish up until late Saturday out in Boulogne-Billancourt, but before leaving (I’ve already delayed my flight once) I HAD to see ‘my’ Paris, the Marais and the Latin Quarter and the streets between Bastille and Republique. So I booked my last night into a distinctly non-Radisson place: a funky little hotel on rue Oberkampf, six floors tall and three tiny rooms per floor, serviced by a lift the size of a shoebox. Every surface is painted red or yellow and the bathroom furniture follows the same theme. Crazy but it works.

I reach this little hotel sometime after midnight. And, somehow not fatigued after a week plus of 14-hour days, I go out. I have to.

I head south, veering to walk across Republique and Bastille, then veering southwest towards the Quartier. Cross the Seine, into the streets I first visited when I lived in this city long ago. And I see…

… a modest greek lunch counter. It was the first place I ate in, years back. (I moved to Paris on a New Year’s Eve and ended up befriending the owners.) The shop is different – the whole street seems slightly more upmarket – but…

… the people are the same. And by an amazing fluke, the two guys there remember me. Egyptians have good memories.

I enjoy a pita bread or two. And then a beer or two out on the edge of the Quartier, before standing at my favourite spot on the Ile de la Cite and walking north along rue du Temple, my old home (it’s got gayer) and rue Faubourg du Temple.

It’s 4am. I’ve been walking for hours, drunk on being in this beautiful city again. But it’s all been worth it.

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