Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cats And Champagne

Every birthday weekend should start out with champagne, don't you think? Perhaps not a river of champagne but at least a glass or two. I didn't go into the shop above - I think I saw it when I was walking to the cat café for brunch on Sunday - but as luck would have it, there is a small store/champagne bar, Ma Cave Fleury, that sells biodynamic champagnes and wines just across the street from the hotel where I was staying. After I found out that the front office wasn't open until 4pm, and realized that I still had an hour before I was to meet John and Anne at their flat, I dragged my body and bags over to the other side of the cobbled street. Plus I really, really had to pee. It wasn't a long trip up from Pau, but long enough when you count the time to get from CDG via RER. There was no one else in the bar, so I dumped my bags in the corner, had a lovely pee in the tiny bathroom, and then settled down on a comfortable chair for a glass of bubbly from the family vineyards.

The bar is owned and run by retired comedienne/actress Morgane Fleury and the house wine is from her fourth-generation family business, Fleury Père Et Fils, south and east of Paris; it's in the Aube, on the banks of the Seine, not north on the Marne where Mom and John and I were traveling last year. Maybe a boat trip on the Seine is something that needs to go on the to-do list for the future, because the champagne was quite good.

I had a glass of champagne with my Sunday brunch as well, at Le Café des Chats, just a short walk from the hotel, in the direction I needed to go to get to the Place Bastille for the opera later that afternoon. This salon de thé just opened last year and you already need to make reservations to get in, especially for Sunday brunch. There weren't any cat cafés in Tokyo when I was there, but there are dozens now, apparently, and a few months ago Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium opened here in London, where you can get afternoon tea, if you have a reservation. I don't think I'll go, since although the website says there are "gluten-free options" the whole point of British afternoon tea is little sandwiches and cream pastries and things like that, and in general even the gluten-free options are full of dairy: cheese, clotted cream, buttery sandwich spreads. Not to mention the average $50 price; I don't like tea that much.
And there's no guarantee that the on-site cats will be friendly; at the Paris café there was only one cat that was interested in snuggling. The rest were unmoved by chin scratches and petting, simply tolerating the people around them or ignoring them entirely. I've got a cat to snuggle with at this house, though she's a bit of a biter, but she's a sweet and fuzzy little thing who is possibly pregnant. There may be kittens when I come back to housesit again at the end of the month.

I had a cat deign to park his butt on the other chair at my table, but once a few families with children arrived, he was off and down the stairs to where all of the cat houses are, along with more tables. I enjoyed my vegan platter with hummous, guacamole, eggplant caviar, and a yummy carrot spread, all eaten with the still-warm rolls from Helmut Newcake instead of the house bread (apparently they now serve corn tortillas with this platter, and salsa instead of hummous). It was more than enough food for lunch, especially with the generous side salad.

My final birthday glass was a gift from Aurélie, as we stood at the top of the Tour Montparnasse; I didn't get a glass of champagne with my sushi on Monday, but I probably could have. Ah, well, there's always next year. I might not be in Paris for a third birthday in a row, but I will do my best to make sure there is champagne.

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