It was going to be easy. Catch the Metro to Bastille. Take the number 1 ‘Sortie’ (French for Exit, don’t you know!), and find somewhere to have a drink to wait for my friend on Rue De La Roquette. Fate wasn’t on my side for this evening, and for my first experience in a non english speaking city.
The exit was closed. I was forced to find my way through the busy underground Metro station. It was difficult to get my bearings from below ground, and when I emerged on the streets of Paris, I was totally lost. I walked the streets, like a tourist, obviously out of place, reciting “excusez-moi, parlez-vous anglais?” over and over, to ensure I wouldn’t forget. You never truly realise how stupid you are until you are lost in a city who’s language you can’t speak. After 30 minutes or so I found Rue De La Roquette, and Cafe des Anges.
Rue De La Roquette is a busy street, with quite a few different options. Before I came across Cafe des Anges I had passed a few others. The first one I passed looked a bit ‘too cool’ like they wouldn’t want me there. I actually walked into the second, but it seemed more like an ‘old man’ hangout. Finally I came to Cafe des Anges, where I decided to settle, and wait for my friend.
Cafe des Anges is a nice, cosy little cafe, with down lighting to set the mood. There was a nice charm to the place with it’s retro decor. The walls are a mix of brick, cement with chipped paint, and mounted antique mirrors. The ‘old school’ phone on the counter would ring with the chime of bells, like they did back in the day, although every smart phone seems to have it included as a ringtone.
I ordered myself a glass of wine. The first of many things I learned on my Paris trip, was that cider isn’t readily available at bars like it is in the UK. I tried to explain to the waitress what I meant, but she seemed to think it might have been a cocktail made of apple juice. I’ll just stick with the wine thank you.
While waiting for my friend, I sat quietly, taking in the sights and sounds around me. The barman talking on the retro phone (I’m not sure who he’s talking to, but he’s been chatting for a long time), the cyclists and cars passing out front, and the Bells of the Bastille Church nearby. I’m truly in Paris. My week-long adventure starts here…