Living in a democracy is a wonderful thing, but when a result is not what you’d hoped, it can be hard to see that … especially when you have listened to months of political rhetoric that you find hard to stomach. We woke up on Friday morning to a result we had been dreading, but had luckily booked an overnight trip to Paris to say a pre-baby goodbye to friends and colleagues, so were able to escape the worst of the Brexit horrors.
Regular readers will be aware that I travel to Paris frequently because of my job (how my job and that will change in our new world is yet to be seen), and we also have a lot of French friends thanks to the fact that they have been able to travel freely to the UK to work until now (okay I promise, no more Brexit talk), so we had wanted a little break to see them before our son makes his debut appearance.
I did have a little worry that the baby would come early (I have a smidge over three weeks to go if he comes on time) but luckily he stayed put and I was able to enjoy our 36 hours in Paris: we didn’t bother with too much tourism as we know Paris so well – this trip was really about seeing our friends.
I’d booked us into the Scribe hotel near Opera – it’s run by Sofitel and so a chain I am familiar with for my business travels – and it’s perfectly located for a short trip as it’s so central and easy to get to and from.
As I was paying for the hotel using some of my hotel loyalty card points, I contacted them in advance and mentioned that I was visiting for a babymoon. I didn’t expect a lovely 3-person welcome committee which made us feel like (rather grubby) VIPs, and a gift of a 30 minute pregnancy massage in their luxury spa and some lovely toiletries.
We had to head out to my office to see friends and colleagues so managed a quick, delighted giggle at our luxurious hotel room and then legged it to La Defense where my company is based. However, we did have time to wander there via Jardin des Tuileries to buy ourselves a nostalgic ham and cheese crepe, which we ate sitting in the shade of the park.
Rather ambitiously, we decided to walk to the Champs Elysees to get the metro to La Defense, which was probably a bit too much for me in my 9 months pregnant state. Luckily someone on the metro gave me a seat so I was able to recover a bit, and I left Andrew to the bar and shops while I went to see my friends in the office.
I had taken some homemade oat shortbread (I’d promised cake, but biscuits were so much easier to carry – even though Andrew was my slave for the trip and I didn’t actually have to carry anything myself), and expected to have a quick chat and farewells before we headed off to dinner at a friend’s house. However, it turned out they had organised a little collection for me, and had bought me a fantastic little machine – a Babycook – for a few months time when I am ready to start on weaning my little one. It was completely unexpected and nearly made me cry (bloody pregnancy hormones!).
Then we had to head off to nearby Colombes for dinner with my ex-colleague and dear friend Sophie and her husband Franck, plus my boss (and also my friend!) Odile.
Due to the lovely weather we had the opportunity to eat al fresco in the garden, which was wonderful. Food made by Sophie is always a treat, and this was no exception.
We started with a lovely fresh tomato and mozarella salad, plus aubergines mixed with soy sauce – both of which were so delicious I tucked in without taking photos! Our main course was pork marinated in herbs and slow cooked in veal stock and onions, which was spectacular. This was served with a pot of garden vegetables which are cooked in olive oil: Sophie had picked peas, carrots and turnips, and was fresh, light and delicious. I’ll be making both at home.
Sophie did let me down with her cheese course: she had picked the most perfect camembert which was ripe and buttery and absolutely my dream cheese, but of course I cannot eat it because of the baby, so I was left with the pasteurised goats cheese while Andrew tortured me with lumps of camembert!
Strawberries with chantilly cream were the perfect end to the night, and we left Sophie’s well fed but not over fed, which is perfect in my current state.
And then when we got back to the hotel we had some complimentary fruit juices and fruit salads left out for us.
These helped refresh us before we slept like stones in our beautiful room (of course that means I was up every 1.5 hours to go to the loo, but in between the toilet breaks I slept like a stone!).
The following morning laid in and then ate a gorgeous breakfast in the hotel. To walk off the breakfast before my massage we wandered around the local area and discovered the Eglise de la Madeleine which is a spectacular Roman Catholic church which we’d never noticed before (amazing because it’s bloody massive!).
So we popped in for a peek, before checking out the flowers and swiss chard growing on the steps (random!) before wandering back to the hotel spa for my maternity massage.
Well the spa was 30 minutes of loveliness and I felt like a new woman afterwards. The masseuse focused on my poor swollen legs and feet, and back and shoulders, and when I went back to the room afterwards Andrew said I definitely looked like the cat who’d got the cream!
Then we were off out again for an afternoon drink with our friend Alex, so again we walked down to the Jardin Palais Royal (right by the Louvre) to have an al fresco drink on a terrace. This was another address we’d never before discovered, and it was great to catch up with our friend and I even treated myself to a little glass of rose.
Then we had to head back to the hotel and check out, although we did have time to enjoy a quick complimentary cocktail from the hotel (a virgin mojito for me).
Feeling thoroughly spoilt and relaxed, we made our way back to Gare du Nord and our train journey home (with a final beer for Andrew).
And back to the realities of Brexit, and those lying bastard politicians.