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Now for the fun part.

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I’ll try to forget that I am trapped at yet another crappy Marriott hotel (this seems to be happening too often this year, but at least this time it’s free). That should be easy to do, because this is Paris after all.

One find worth noting is the Bistro a Vin (aka Paris Gourmand) gem in 14th close to the awful Marriott Rive Gauche. They have no website and tripadvisor sucks, but I have been there and the duck confit and citron tarte were out of this world. Very simple, authentic French cooking done properly. It beats the hell out of eating at the Marriott! (Well, I assume anyway. After one “croissant” there I didn’t eat another scrap of Marriott food.) The owners are very friendly.

Paris Gourmand (aka Bistro a Vin)

Paris Gourmand (aka Bistro a Vin)

In the mixology department, the bar that started everything in Paris is called the Experimental Cocktail Club. It is superb. Late on a Sunday evening after a delicious relaxed meal, we stopped in for a drink or two.

ECC stock photo.

ECC stock photo.

Barman Maxine Potfer was happy to play, willing to chat, and all around just a great guy. Mad mixing skills as well, with a particularly impressive pour. I have an appropriate Experimental Beverage made as follows:
cucumber (muddle)
2 cl Amer Picon
2 cl Salers Gentiane Apéritif (look here)
2 cl Gin (London style)
3 cl Genever (bols)
1 cl port wine
2 dashes French absinthe
Muddle. Shake. Serve on the rocks highball fashion.

Great. Now I have to get some Salers!

Sadly, a second visit only confirmed that Salers is hard to work with. It has a very large bicycle tire attractor.

Also of note was this.

Iron Maiden's  Bruce Dickinson geeks out.

Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson geeks out.

Eddie is much more dangerous.

Eddie is much more dangerous.

Way more striking than Eddie.

Way more striking than Eddie.

In restaurant land, I was taken by some foodie friends (from Minnesota no less) to Benoit for a very nice upscale meal. Very nice Pheasant. Supremely great desserts. A well stocked wine list (we had a Cote Rotie). Though it apparently has its ups and downs, Benoit has been around since 1912.

I ventured out i the drizzle this afternoon to find some Amer Picon to take home and ended up at a corner “supermarket” run by a Moroccan. He was very nice, but my broken French and his broken French met at right angles. Enter a friendly Mauritanian to translate, and lo and behold, we found 3 dusty bottles. I bought a bottle of wine for the Mauritanian for his trouble, happy to find the elixir I must bring back home. Smiles all around.

Later in the trip I enjoyed meals at the new, small and mostly secret Chez Edgar (which is in a superb looking boutique hotel), Le Souffle (just do it), and the absolutely incredible Spring (a Daniel Rose place). Americans win, hands down. In Paris. What is the world coming to?

Mortality? Why certainly.

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And then there is the Louvre.

Gorgeous day for a stroll though the Louvre.

Gorgeous day for a stroll though the Louvre.

Obligatory Venus

Obligatory Venus

Hermaprodite 1

Hermaprodite 1

Hermaphrodite 2

Hermaphrodite 2

How dare you think that.

How dare you think that.

Best painting at the Louvre.

Best painting at the Louvre.

Wow.

Wow.

Mona Lisa scrum.

Mona Lisa scrum.

Lunch across from Napoleon.

Lunch across from Napoleon.

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Good dog.

Good dog.

An then there was shopping. Computer bags, coats, shoes. You name it, all picked out with Pascual and Stefano. Their style trumps mine!

Prescription cocktail club is fantastic. Much noisier (with a DJ) than ECC. But fun spread over two floors. Master barman Yann Tesnier has created the very fresh Mary Action
1/2 tomato juliee
2 dashes celery bitters
2 cl lime
2 cl simple syrup
4 cl tequila blanco
1 spoon reduction of balsamic vinegar
+ pepper (on the top)
Serve on big cubes.

Paris rocks.

The feeling this picture gets across pretty much sums this property up.

The feeling this picture gets across pretty much sums this property up.

Lets get this straight. I’m here because I have to be. I am directly involved in a large congress with over 825 people most of whom are staying here at the Marriott Rive Gauche. There is a crazily designed conference center here where we held the show.

Simply put, this property has seen better days. And in case you wondered, the 14th arrondissement is not really Paris. (Somewhat fittingly it is home to the catacombs.)

I am in plussed up Executive Class Junior Suite 1755. It’s about what you would expect from a Marriott: that inexplicable musty smell, really creaky HVAC, design from the late 70s, colors no longer found in nature, bathroom layout that is just laughable, concrete walls that are so thin you hear the neighbors (all of them), expensive bad net that is overstressed when geeks are present, and awful showers.

Without further ado lets jump right in.

The set of rooms seems like a cave that you must duck your head into. That’s probably due to the “hide a beam” paint job.

Welcome to the room that seems shorter than it really is.

Welcome to the room that seems shorter than it really is.

Exactly what color is that couch?!

Exactly what color is that couch?!

Whoa, the architect was on crack.

Whoa, the architect was on crack.

The bed is very comfortable.

The bed is very comfortable.

There was a flower here when I arrived. It has since disappeared. It inspired the title of this post.

Fallen flower.

Fallen flower.

There are two bathrooms which are mirror opposites. They are equally strange.

Really?

Really?

Euroshower.  Terrible shower head.  Thin plastic tub.

Euroshower. Terrible shower head. Thin plastic tub.

Yeah, really.

Yeah, really.

There is this kind of view of whatever this is a view of. Paris, where are you?

Paris, the side most people never look over.

Paris, the side most people never look over.

All that aside, this room needs some attention. Like new carpet that is not gold, better furniture, revitalized HVAC, and some help in the land of wallpaper.

This is one of several wallpaper issues in 1755.

This is one of several wallpaper issues in 1755.

I am also distressed to report that on Monday I had the worst croissant I have ever had in France. I believe it must have been flown in special by United airlines in cahoots with their supplier.

But all is not lost this trip. I am in Paris and there is great stuff to do. I think I’ll make a separate blog entry for the good stuff.

But I can share one tip. If you find yourself stuck here for whatever reason, just around the corner (out to the right and left at the first street) is a great little bistro, Bistro A Vins (aka Paris Gourmand)— authentic, simple, and fabulous. Across the street from that gem is the more workaday L’alouette which has net (password: alouette) and nice staff.

The Mormons of Marriott are giving US brands a bad name here in Paris. Way down there with Burger King and McDonalds. Horrors. A low two showerheads (and a look the other way) for the Marriott Rive Gauche. Only stay here if you must.