Angelina, the Eiffel Tower and a case of weak knees.

Angelina, the Eiffel Tower and a case of weak knees.

Sahit has always known that I love chocolate. I’m always compensating for a childhood filled with a loathing for sweets and sugar. To be fair, it was the common boiled sweets and the wrapper variety of toffees, my snobby tastebuds turned their nose up against. I was always up for a bar of Dairy Milk or even a little something from the Quality Street box. But adult me LOVES chocolates. And it’s in Paris that Sahit realised the full extent of this love. Angelina. 

The first time I went to Angelina was after our trip to the Louvre. The bright, summer, closing-time sun tricked us tropical beings into believing that it was earlier than it was. Just as we walked into Angelina, one of the pretty girls from behind the counter informed us that they were closing up. I shook a silent fist at The Louvre. Now if I were well-versed in art and history, I’d have the most appreciation for the Louvre. It honestly is magnificent. But as a self-confessed duffer, well it felt like I had found the biggest, juiciest storybook in the world and it was in a language I didn’t speak. We dedicated an entire day to our Louvre visit and yet, found ourselves flying past the Egyptian history section (which I was hugely interested in) just so that we could get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa before closing time. Louvre demands at least three days and a lot of dedication for its due justice. Anything else is just one more touristy thing to do. 


Three days later, on our last evening in Paris, we found ourselves racing from one end of Rue Rivoli to make it to Angelina before it closed. I had to have that Le Chocolat Chaud l'Africain I had read and dreamt about. My shoes weren’t quite keeping up with our typical Parisian day. A slight hobble quickly turned into a limp and finally, Sahit was part dragging, part carrying me down the colonnades on Rue de Rivoli.

These galleries are so ancient and beautiful, that it’s a pity that its ridden with a dime a dozen souvenir shops. Those galleries go on for ever and ever! I was so sure that the staff at Angelina would turn us away - I looked like I needed to be in a hospital. By this time, I had one arm over Sahit’s shoulder and pretty much given up all pretences of trying to walk. He transported me into Angelina. It was a scene deserving of Chariots of Fire background score. As for the Le Chocolat Chaud l'Africain - it was the perfect last memory to make on our last evening in Paris.  


Fast forward to a year later. We’re back in Paris. And we’re pouring pitchers of molten chocolate magic into cups at Angelina. Again. 

Breakfast at Angelina is almost a benediction from Paris. A few moments of make believing that you’re just another Parisian. Two cups later, I find that there’s almost another cup left in the pitchers. Not the one to be able to live with the memory of having WASTED an entire cup of that divine albeit heavy stuff, yours truly polished off the last drop. Drinking an entire jug of Angelina chocolate chaud takes some serious dedication. And perhaps, not without consequence. The excess endorphins went straight to my head and are probably responsible for  some foolhardy decisions taken later in the day. After wandering around Paris, we found ourselves standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. Standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, turned quickly into climbing the Eiffel Tower. All the way. To be honest, we just got suckered into the shortest line. And surprise, surprise - it turned out to be the line to the stairs. NEVER TAKE THE SUSPICIOUSLY SHORT LINE. EVER. We were so naive that we harboured hopes of a quick hop, skip, jump into an elevator, when the woman at the counter said “Till the second floor”! 'Till the second floor' is up 674 steps that feel like sixty thousand. 


Once we wheezed up to the “Second Floor”, we looked around, saw the sights, marvelled at tiny Paris down below and much to our dismay, discovered that our ticket was just for the Second floor and not all the way to the top. All that climbing was for nothing, and we were literally caught in the middle. We drowned our sorrow by rewarding ourselves in the gift shop. Sahit who wasn’t letting me have a snow globe until then, said we’d earned the Eiffel Tower snow globe.  After years of hankering for a snow globe since my teenage years, it figured that Paris had to make yet another wish come true. Just when we had given up all hope and decided to head downstairs , we noticed a little kiosk that sold tickets to the top. Oh glory!

A long line later, we were in the elevator. On our way to the top. And the view? It’s everything and more. Paris and all her people, turned into dollhouse dimensions. Making you feel like you could just put your arms around her. And in the secret apartment, Gustav Eiffel and Thomas Edison continue to keep an old, old conversation alive. Around us people celebrated this top of the world moment with 16 Euro champagne in plastic flutes. I had enough of a buzz from the adrenaline and the exertion. No champagne for me.  


By now, my knees were creaking all kinds of obscenities and I was dreading the climb down. Thankfully, the elevator takes you all the way down, unless you’re feeling extra adventurous and your knees are a triumph of biology, I’d really recommend taking the easy way down. I was so grateful that I “merci beaucoup”ed the operator so profusely that he looked a tad bit confused, big grin notwithstanding. I fully recommend the Magic Hour Eiffel Tower experience. When the city is enveloped in a purple nebula and the Seine turns into a satin ribbon. Stay for just a bit as the streets bring out their evening diamonds. Tell your feet to keep on - just a little more. And watch the city of lights live up to its moniker.

The Tour de Eiffel was turning into a silhouette of metal lacework against the darkening sky. Now that sensation had been restored to their respective parts and my body stopped feeling like a receptacle for pain, I became aware of just hungry I was getting. We walked down to one of the cafes right behind the Eiffel Tower. Sure we’d heard all the warnings to steer clear of all the places near the attractions, but aching feet make deaf ears. Against our better judgement, we found ourselves at one of the brasseries near the Eiffel. But judgement and facts can be two different things. For Paris, ever the gracious host, steered us into the direction of some fantastic food and great service. A day that began with Chocolat Chaude being pumped into my veins ended with us trying out escargot at the Bistrot de la Tour Eiffel. Not to forget the wine. And the view. On the whole, pretty divine I must say. 


Just as we walked past the Eiffel Tower after dinner, it lit up pink to garner support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On the day I climbed the Tower, it went pink. It went out of the ordinary. It told every one to stay healthy.

Paris is a whimsy tease. She hands things to me in tiny rationed gasps of delight. Some things she gives freely. And some things, she withholds - keeping it for another time. Another visit. Always making me come back for more. 

With Paris it’s always à bientôt! 

A friendlier and less 'familyer' Kodaikanal

A friendlier and less 'familyer' Kodaikanal

Why do I love Le Marais so much?

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