Gare de Lyon, Paris

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I don’t know why I hold on to my adolescent view of Paris as a great romantic city. It’s drizzling. Croissants and pains au chocolat (I tested both at breakfast) don’t taste the same. And the suburban train from the Gare du Nord yesterday was as dreary as anything I’ve travelled on. As for chic . . . pah! This is the Paris of Zola rather than Vogue.

But I can’t let go of my outdated idea, and the sight of the Gare de Lyon reminds me of my first holiday in Paris in 1977 or 78 when we walked around in a state of constant delight at everything we saw. Even decoding the signs on the métro about seats being reserved for les mutilés de la guerre – gruesome though it was –  was full of charm.

But we grow older. On the train to London yesterday an old man gently held the hand of an old woman and took her to the toilet, went inside with her, then gently led her back to their seat. I almost wept.

I’m on my way to Barcelona in an hour’s time. The online weather forecast says sunny and 15 degrees. Bring it on!

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