Feb 21, 2018
Is it possible to uncover romance amid the tree-bordered boulevards, intimate cafes and hushed museums of Paris, alone? Our writer steps out.
“Would you like to taste our kouglof?” A young female pastry chef leans towards me with a pan filled with slices of buttery Alsatian cake, just out of the oven.
I’m perched on an impossibly soft leather banquette for tea at Le Dali (above), French celebrity chef Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in Le Meurice. It’s Monday and the room is packed with mothers, businesspeople, lovers; many of them alone, all of us partaking in this Parisian ritual of unwinding.
In the past hour I’ve been here, I’ve already swilled jasmine tea and devoured scones with jam, along with pastries – including a sublime tarte au citron (lemon tart) shaped like a golden egg. But it’s cold outside, the wind is ferocious and life is short. “Of course,” I answer, and reach for a warm chunk of cake.
Finally, I relax for a while in one of Tuileries Garden’s (below) distinctive metal chairs. People glide along rows of elms, leaving an echo of voices. It is a parade – despite the different characters – that has likely not changed much since the time of Catherine de’ Medici, the Queen of France from 1547 to 1559.
‘He travels the fastest who travels alone’, wrote the great English author Rudyard Kipling. With due respect, I’m changing the sentiment to ‘one travels with abandon when unencumbered by company’. This is particularly true in Paris, whose mysterious allure seems perfectly suited for solitude.