A Trip to London and Paris...to meet friends...

One of the great things about The Hour Lounge, apart from the watches and the information surrounding them, is the people and the friends you make…from around the world.

I have been fortunate indeed to have met some very wonderful and interesting people and consider them my friends, even though I see them only periodically.

With this in mind I departed for a conference in mid-June in London, England; but not before making arrangements to meet with two other Loungers, Gary Hewitt (hewitgar) and Francois Moran (veuilletron).

For dinner on Thursday, Gary had made arangements at a restaurant called “Bibendum”, from the Latin ‘nunc est bibendum’ – “now let us drink”.  The restaurant is housed in a lovely and quite unique building which was built around 1909 and was the headquarters for the Michelin Tire Company in the U.K. It is quite remarkable, having been designed by a Michelin employee and the first in London to use reinforced concrete. It also presages the Art Deco movement. Even if you don’t eat here the building is definitely worth a visit.  It also houses three stained glass windows featuring the Michelin man as well as several early Michelin art posters.

The food is also excellent with a very good wine selection.
In case you were wondering,  there really is a watch connection here too!
Here’s a photo of Gary and his superb Quantieme Perpetual in Platinum.

It was a very enjoyable evening indeed! Gary’s choice of a restaurant was excellent and introduced me to a part of London which I had never seen and a very historic building.

The following evening, I met with Francois at an excellent Indian restaurant near Hyde Park called Zaika.
I have become a big fan of Indian food since eating at the Quilon Restaurant at the Crown Plaza-St. James in London a number of years ago. So I left it to François to make the arrangements and he didn’t disappoint. The food here was also excellent and we spent an excellent evening eating drinking and talking about…watches… mostly...cool


Here’s Francois and his lovely Quai de L’Ile.

There’s also a photo of my Overseas Chrono.

I did actually go to the conference angel which was near Regents Park, a lovely area with some very expensive homes… I mean mansions. In wandering the streets at lunch I found a few older, but well maintained apartments in the Art Deco style and built during that period that period. (I always wondered about the buildings in the Hercule Poirot episodes and now I see such buildings do still exist.
The Sunday morning after the conference ended I was on my way to Paris via the EuroStar TGV and in less than three hours and a very pleasant and comfortable ride found myself at the Gare du Nord in Paris.

After settling in at the hotel, I decided to take a stroll. I know the area well. The Parc Monceau was not very far and because it was a gorgeous day, it was crowded but still very pleasant. I eventually ended up at the Jaquemard-André Museum which is not very far from the park. It was once a private mansion and bequeathed to the State. You can still visit the private quarters and see how the rich lived in the last part of the 19th century. But they do have special exhibitions and concert recitals. This is where the masks from the Barber-Muller Museum of Geneva were shown in Paris. Some of the masks were used by Vacheron in their Metier D’Art Masques watches. But this time I went to relax and have some tea. There is a very nice café there, on the terrace, and I spent a pleasant hour with tea, a tarte aux poire and my trusty Overseas Chrono contemplating life, the universe, and where I was going to have dinner.

(I don't know why these pics are rotated. They are normally oriented on my monitor.)

There are two other very intersting museums near the parc Monceau, the Nissim de Camondo and the Museé Cernusci, both very much worth a visit...or two

So as not to make this a boring travelogue, I will leave out many of the sites I visited but I will say that after my wife, Gale’s arrival we did take in Les Invalides wherein lies Napoleon’s tomb, the Quai Branly Museum the Jaquemard-Andre Museum and the Palais (Opera) Garnier – the subject of a follow-up post.

But we had three evenings of delightful dining with  two fellow Loungers and their wives, Guillaume Fauconnier and his lovely wife Francesca , and Lin Nin and his lovely wife Marie-France.

The first evening was at a small restaurant on the Left Bank called “La Rotisserie d’en Face” around the corner from the house in which Picasso lived for many years and where he painted the famous and iconic Guernica. Opposite this house was a small hotel and bistro with a plaque indicating that this was the spot where Louis XIII was crowned within a half hour of the death of his father, Henry IV (the body wasn’t even cold yet, figurez-vous!).  The restaurant is owned by Jacques Cagna and his sister and has been completely redone. It is small and very comfortable with excellent food and service.
Paris is full of places with historical plaques and any visitor should keep an eye out for them. In fact the hotel at which we stayed was the home of the famous Brazilian composer, Heitor Villa-Lobos. Just around the corner on the Boulevard des Capuchines was a building in which the first moving picture was shown in Paris by the Lumiere Brothers around 1895.

The second night was at a relatively new restaurant, very close to our hotel called Les Jalles which was very elegant with vintage lighting and resembling an English private club Upstairs was a piano/Jazz bar. They even serve breakfast. It is run by Delphine Alcover and Magali Marian of Bistro Volnay and they have done a fantastic job.

The third night was at a restaurant which was part of the Grand Palais called Mini-Palais but was not “mini” at all and included a very large terrace where we ate while listening to the music and revelry of La Fete de la Musique taking place all around the city.

The weather was perfect for outdoor dining and it was another terrific meal. Each dinner was a treat…good food and wine, great company, wonderful ambiance. They were evening-long but passed in the blink of an eye, a sign of a pleasurable evening.
Unfortunately, I had forgotten my camera and only remembered my iPhone as we were leaving.

Guillaume had on his VC Regulator and Lin wasn’t even wearing a VC. He had on a (I’ll whisper this)…Patek-Philippe.
Guillaume and Francesca, and Lin and Marie-France were great hosts and are great friends and it really made the visit extra special. To relax, eat, drink and see the sites with good friends in The City of Lights was something special…c’etait formidable!

And all this was made possible, albeit indirectly by Alex, Vacheron and The Hour Lounge!

…to be continued… with a visit to the opera or rather THE Opéra Garnier, with its beautiful Chagall ceiling.

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