10pm // 22h.

Poisson (merlu) et sancerre, by waiter’s orders. Section fumeurs.

I soak in the red plastic tables and white plastic chairs, under the ‘dining al fresco’ heaters. It feels cosier to be surrounded by committed smokers than sitting in the aseptic non-fumeurs sector, inside.

Not many lit their cigarettes. But the faint aromas emerging out of the three die-hards around me feel strangely comforting. I am at ease letting my luxuriously luminous cardigan get contaminated by tobacco. A hint of not-good-for-you fumes will give this jacket a character it had been lacking so far.

I drink my prescribed wine. I feast on my poisson <<fish! not venom!>> sauce, so delicious I’ll risk it trickling down all over me. I look at the Boulevard Voltaire sign outside. I read Le Monde. I tap these few words on my laptop, bathed in red light.

The waiter is back and seduces me into a crème brûlée (it was not hard). I write ‘crème brûlée’ delecting on every acute and grave accent, on every circumflex. I feel happy and completely satisfied on this, my first hour back in Paris, at the very start of my EU excess tour.