While I love London and live and work in it there is something very tawdry about it compared with Paris. Tourists come here to see the historical sites but also to get ripped off in places like Madame Tussauds. When and why did that get so expensive? I guess they have to pay image rights to make wax models of dreary celebrities. Then of course there are the chain shops with their pile em high, sell em cheap. So London is becoming the chav shopping capital of the world.
Now take Paris, lots of independent shops, cafes and restaurants and not so many Starcoffee and Costa Bucks. At a recent concert we attended the main artist didn’t finish until 11:40 but few if any people left before the end. If that had been London it would have had to finish by about 10pm and people would be rushing to get out to get their last train. London, it really isn’t rock and roll like Paris. And after the concert, well you just go to a little bar on the corner of the street where your hotel is and that is open to 2am in the morning. No having to pay a fortune and get past a bouncer to get in for overpriced past 11pm drinks.
And then there is the architecture, Paris is beautiful and old, London has been flogged off so that the Qataris and Chinese can rip it apart and do what they want because in London money talks whereas in Paris it is French and it is known as the City of Lights. It is a beautiful city and has what London can’t have because London has been sold off so that the get rich quick merchants can buy their new Bentleys and Range Rovers.
There is much that London could learn from Paris but the authorities can’t see and won’t listen.
As you can probably guess I’m a great fan of individuality and have a definite hatred of corporate blandness. Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit one of my favourite eating and drinking places in Lausanne Switzerland called the Brasserie Bavaria situated at Rue du Petit-Chêne 10. I’m glad to say that nothing notable seems to have changed. The simple wooden seating is still chipped and scratched and the paintings above the wooden paneling look as yellow as ever probably through age and previous generations smoking in there. The clientele are mixed, from all ages, on their own or as groups of two or more. They drink tea, coffee, beer and wine. They are there to relax, to talk or if they are on their own to read the paper or just watch the world go buy through the large window. And then there is the honesty, none of this paying upfront. You order what you want and the bill is placed on your table. This is a very civilised place. In the middle is a long table where if it gets busy enough you will have to sit and maybe engage in conversation with complete strangers. How nice is that in the modern time of plug yourself in and shut the world out? It is an amazing place and if you visit Switzerland you would be mad to miss it. If you live in Lausanne then it’s a must as places like these need all the support that they can get in time of corporate creep as they dissolve our individuality.
Small and Beautiful is a little gem of a restaurant in Kilburn in London. It is independent and nicely and uniquely decorated. The food is well cooked and presented with plenty of flavour and the prices are very reasonable. We went there before we went to see the comedian Mark Thomas at the Tricycle theatre. Definitely worth a visit. http://www.small-and-beautiful.co.uk/