“Ode to the “”Tricolores”””
No, that’s not Paris. It’s London. You can tell by the British flag and the London taxi, no doubt…but the flag is hanging on what once was a French “hôpital.” Now it’s one of London’s chicest boutique hotels, The Covent Garden Hotel at 10 Monmouth Street, in the heart of the theater district. The “Brasserie Max” on the ground floor is the hottest spot to see and be seen. That’s where we met with property attorney John Howell and his wife, Janie, for “coupes de champagne” in celebration of our newest Fractional Ownership property, “Le Palace des Vosges.”
It was a fitting spot, considering the French history on the street and neighboring ones, awash with French “patisseries” and French restaurants. Across the street from the old brick hospital-turned-sleek hotel, hangs an equally impressive “Tricolore” French flag. above Monmouth Street. Established in 1948, “Mon Plaisir” at numbers 19-21, claims to be London’s oldest French restaurant. Reviews say that the “French onion soup, ‘l’escargot’ in garlic butter and ‘moules marinières’ live up to the Tricolore promise of traditional French fare.”
Earlier that afternoon, I took a coffee with an American living in London who’s considering a property project in France. Where would one typically meet for such a meeting? In Paris it would be in a “brasserie” or “café.” In New York one might meet at “Starbucks.” In London, the hot meeting spot is any “Pret A Manger.” No, it’s not pronounced “pray-ah-mangay,” as it would be in French. It’s “preht-ah-mangay,” like a “fileht” of beef. And from what I can tell, it has nothing to do with France, but satisfies the fast food needs of our fast-paced society.
In fact, that’s what one immediately notices the moment you step off the Eurostar at St. Pancras station and hop on the “Underground” — the pace. Londoners move at the speed of light. It seems to be at a more rapid pace than even in the New York subway, if one can believe that. By comparison, the French on the Métro take a little more of their sweet
Going to London from Paris is as easy as any “trajet” can be. The journey is all so automated now that it puts airline travel to shame. You need only to arrive at the station a few minutes ahead of departure. The Eurostar has security and passport control, but other high-speed trains don’t, so it’s as uncomplicated as boarding, dropping your bag on the rack at the end of the car and taking your seat.
This is one of the most wonderful advantages of living in Europe — to be so accessible to so many different cities, countries and cultures, with such good public transportation — rail and bus service. But I must say, I’d never trade Paris for London…or any other city for that matter.
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
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