I'm sitting in one of the side rooms, a section called the "Big Ben Bar," I guess, since that's what's written on the menus here. It's a beautiful room, about ten tables surrounded by leather armchairs, mirrors on three sides, flesh-colored walls with golden flourishes, a tapestry across the high ceiling, and an elaborate 20-bulb art nouveau light hanging in the center. To my left are windows looking out towards tall, 19th century buildings across from the train station, and I can see top of the Bastille monument over a tree lined street. And there is a Holiday Inn sign as well, unfortunately, but if I sit farther back in my seat I can't see that.
The table is a little low for writing -- it's wooden with an octagonal top and a thin sheet of stone over the wood for the surface. I have on my table two Big Ben menus (the large clock outside the train station does look a bit like a stunted Big Ben), a stand-up card promoting the house champaigne, a Train Bleu cup and saucer and empty sugar cube packet, an empty shot glass for water, a glass ashtray, an empty chocolate almond wrapper, and a red plastic dish with the rather sizeable bill in it. Not much room for anything else, but I managed to find a corner for my notebook.
Earlier, I had a staring contest with a cute little pug-nosed dog that looked like it was upholstered in black velvet. I have to say that I looked away first. Next to me, in the corner of the room, is a Samsung TV with a VCR built in. The TV is turned off, thankfully, and rather inappropriate considering the elegant decor of the rest of the room. Above the mirror on the wall to my right is a large painting of a cruise ship sailing along the coast, also quite inappropriate considering the fact that the café is in the middle of a train station.
Place Louis Armand
Metro: Gare de Lyon
Phone: 01 43 43 09 06
Sugar: packet of sugar cubes
Bonus: chocolate-covered almond
Copyright © 2002 David Sadegh.
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