Saturday, 22 March 2014

Cary Grant and his drip-dry suit ... February in Paris

Hotel St Jacques - view from the balcony by day
The Hotel St Jacques in the rue des Ecoles proved to be a good choice. It seems to have changed little since Cary Grant took a shower here whilst wearing a suit, much to Audrey Hepburn's amusement, in the 1963 comedy mystery 'Charade'. A comfortable room with a delightful view from the balcony, friendly staff and a varied and delicious buffet breakfast.
The streets around the Pantheon are very atmospheric and it's only a short walk to Boulevard St Michel and the Musee d'Orsay.

We had arrived via Eurostar (from Ashford in Kent, direct to Paris). (It's very useful having a daughter who lives 40 minutes from Ashford and who can provide a lift and overnight accommodation in Kent.) Travelling by Eurostar is much less stressful than dealing with airports and much more comfortable than travelling on British trains. It's also amazingly quick. One excellent, time- and hassle-saving innovation is that you can buy books of metro tickets from the Eurostar buffet en route to Paris (and Oyster cards for the London underground, if you're travellling in the other direction.)

Our Eurostar tickets also gave us two-for-one entry to the Musee d'Orsay.  The former grand railway station would be worth a visit in its own right even if it didn't contain a mesmerising collection of the world's best art. Looking through the giant clock out over Paris, it's incredible to think this building was threatened with demolition in the 1970s.
My wife Sue and I spent the days walking, exploring, having improvised picnic lunches in the Luxembourg gardens, browsing in bookshops and stopping off in cafes. Despite a disappointing vegetarian meal at Le Grenier de Notre Dame restaurant and a horrible coffee at Starbucks (why bother?) we agreed that, thanks to Eurostar and the Hotel St Jacques, this had been our most relaxing trip to Paris ever, and the best holiday we could remember in a very long time. We will definitely do it again and, next time, I might even take a shower with my suit on.
Hotel St Jacques - view from the balcony by night


  1. Lovely blog,Tony. It sounds like the most romantic weekend, rather different from Hanif Kureishi's Le Weekend. By the way I think you and Sue would enjoy this film.

  2. Thanks, Linda. I haven't seen 'Le Weekend' yet but I'll check it out. As for being romantic, I do my best. In the 1980s I was a bit of a New Romantic; now, I'm just an old romantic.

  3. Hi Tony! Sadly, I don't think the French really 'get' vegetarianism.

    1. You're right there, although my wife was impressed by one café's unexpectedly generous salade nicoise.


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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, a freelance writer, trainer and musician. He is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing' (2002) and 'Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice' (2018).