The Right Response


I was in Paris just a few weeks ago and, as it was lunchtime, I did what I often do and strolled over to the Carrefour de la Croix-Rouge on the Left Bank, at the end of the rue de Grenelle. There, at the Bar de la Croix-Rouge, I ordered my customary L’assiette Saint Germain, wafer-thin slices of rare roast beef served on toasted pain Poilâne. It was a sunny day, so I sat outside beneath the awning, enjoying the world’s best sandwich and watching the Parisian world go by. It was an animated but profoundly peaceful scene, as the citizens went about their business, dealing with the mundane realities of daily life — job, love, kids, mortgage — but perhaps being subliminally aware of living at the heart of a glorious and ancient city, a place where, over 2,000 years, their predecessors had constructed one of the greatest embodiments of human civilization.

Paris has known revolutions, riots, sieges and invasions, but the city has always survived, its spirit unbroken, its character intact. And despite a tumultuous history, over the centuries the place seems to have acquired a paradoxical serenity. Perhaps this is merely a reflection of the exquisitely harmonious neoclassical buildings and the perfectly coiffed parks and gardens. Or maybe it is because of the citizens’ unshakeable confidence in the values their city represents: of humanism, of the value of art and learning, and the supreme importance of beauty.

The other night when I heard the news, I gasped, called relatives to check that they were unhurt, and then sat dumbfounded at this monstrous outbreak of murderous depravity. After a while, however, I became more reflective. Paris is bigger than this, I thought. Two millennia of European civilization are not about to be overwhelmed by a handful of gun-toting psychotics. Then the phone rang, and a friend said, with some indignation, “I think I’m going to get on a plane, to go over there and show them that we’re all in this together. And that we’re going to win.”

And actually, three days later, I think he was right. That’s what we all should do. It’s the best response: not to stay home, but to book a trip. It’s what I’m going to do.

So, “Monsieur, une autre Saint Germain, s’il vous plait. Et un verre de Chablis avec ça.”

By Hideaway Report Editor Hideaway Report editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.

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