The restaurants that line up the tiny alley that is rue St-Grégoire de Tours beckon on a cool autumnal evening. Madame stands outside soliciting for business, enticing walkers by to dine at the restaurant. The competition seems fierce as others vie for the Euro but her flamboyance has its rewards.
It is our last night in Paris.
After dining on an array of meals that ranged from the mundane to the extravagant, my inner gourmand was more than satiated. For the last meal, I have something specific in mind.
I study the cursive writing on the chalkboard menu outside then approach Madame and her eager smile. I ask if confit du canard is on the menu.
“Bien sûr,” she replies in a heavily accented voice.
We are shown to a modest table where the lively Monsieur takes our order then sings it back with an artistic flair. The place has an ambience that is redolent with regions in Italy or Spain.
The Kir Royal arrives swiftly, my favourite French aperitif, a mix of Champagne and Crème de Cassis. I tell Monsieur it’s our last night in Paris. He offers to take a photograph and balances on top of a chair to give a wider perspective of his restaurant.
Un… Deux… Click…
“Voila! Un souvenir de vacances.”
I watch the two chefs behind the modest bar that extends into the kitchen; their animated interactions are as much part of the entertainment as the dining experience itself. They look on with interest in between cooking meals.
Monsieur sneaks a few puffs of his Gauloises seemingly out of view. Madame takes an order from new arrivals and sings the menu back to the kitchen in Spanish. Later, Monsieur takes a couple of quick sips of his vin rouge, again, out of sight of most diners.
The music is playing in the background, an eclectic melange of English and French songs that span a few decades. Monsieur bops along to Sex Bomb and Madame joins in the dance before they move to a rhythm more akin to a salsa. Later, he sings to the tunes of Elton’s I’m Still Standing and continues to gyrate.
A bottle of Château Dupray 2000 from St-Emilion is placed on our table. The confit de canard arrives, a generous serving of sizzling duck preserved in its fat, croustillant (sizzling), just the way I like it, with pommes frites, green haricots and a vegetable mix.
The tables are filling up quickly. Demoiselle Blonde, a Patricia Kaas look-alike, and her boyfriend sit down at the table to the left. He makes eye contact with me and he says bonsoir. They sit down. I like how patrons acknowledge one another.
The elegant woman behind me accidentally drops her jacket on the floor. I pick it up. “Pardon Madame…” and I hand it to her. “Vous êtes très gentille” she says. There is an air of bonhomie amongst diners, one that is almost non-existent back home.
The plastic covered music system along the open kitchen serves as another source of entertainment. Francis Cabrel sings a familiar tune. Monsieur sips more red wine and hides his glass behind the espresso machine. Pascal Obispo’s voice sends shivers up my spine and the unmistakable voice of Garou fills the restaurant. The interplay between Monsieur and Madame who, incidentally are not a couple, is almost theatrical when she catches him singing and dancing along to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
Ironically, Patricia Kaas is now playing on the radio. I glance at her double, Demoiselle Blonde on the table beside me and wonder if she knows what I’m thinking.
We order dessert and I insist on a glass of Sauternes to put a fitting end the jovial meal.
Madame cocks her head and compliments my taste, “Vous avez du bon goût!”
We toast to the end of the last meal in Paris and pay l’addition. We take our leave and meander our way down the tiny lane towards boulevard St-Germain, for a night cap to remember.
16 rue Grégoire de Tours
For more suggestions on where to eat in Paris, don’t miss our Paris Restaurant and Bistro Guide.
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