Paris Travel Tales
Chapter 6: A Night in St. Germain des Prés - Le Mondrian and Mabillon
A few years ago was the last time that Samantha and I spent a night out in St. Germain des Prés, and things got a little out of control. We started wandering in and out of Left Bank bars and ended up at the Le Mondrian. It was packed, but we lucked out and grabbed a small table next to the bar. We ordered our favorite drink in Paris, Kir Royales, and smiled as the waiter brought the bottle of champagne to the table and expertly filled the slim champagne flutes with ripe strawberries on the rim.
There is nothing like the energy of a packed club to make time fly. We watch the young, Parisians flirt and keep the champagne flowing. We snack on small cups of olives and marshmallows at our candlelit table and watch the bartenders who are putting on a show a la Cocktail, the famous 80's Tom Cruise hit. They throw bottles ten feet in the air to towards each other, then expertly slosh the alcohol in a glass. They make a show of juggling the large conch shells that serve as huge containers for their French Island themed drinks. I make a mental note to order a "Martinique" as my next cocktail.
As we sway to the music, Samantha twirls a toothpick from the cup of olives. She mischievously smiles and spears a marshmallow, then begins toasting the marshmallow over the candle. Yummy! Other tables notice what we are doing and begin toasting marshmallows, too. Just when I think the night can't get any more surreal, it does.
"Ahh!" I scream like a teenager at her first rock concert and grab Samantha's arm. "Ahh!" She grabs me back.
The Grease soundtrack is blaring over the speakers. And, the uber hip bartenders jump on the bar and dance to "Grease Lightening". They sway their arms and shake their legs in the signature John Travolta move and the crowd begins to sing along. I feel like jumping up and dancing on the table too, but Samantha gives me the "you-probably-don't-want-to-do-that-here" nod and I dance in my seat.
We giggle like the 8 year olds we were when Grease hit the big screen - when all the girls pretended to be Olivia Newton John dating John Travolta. We sing along to "Summer Nights" and "You're the One that I Want". I am always awestruck when a part of my American past pops up in Paris. I tend to forget that American pop culture is everywhere.
Then, the soundtrack is replaced by techno-pop, and Samantha is starving, so we get the check, and fight through the crowd to the door.
We stumble next door to the more sophisticated and packed Mabillon, order more drinks, and chicken club sandwiches with large helpings of pomme frites. The fries really hit the spot. Since it is getting late, we walk the few blocks back to our hotel.
As we pass the St. Germain church, I notice that the crepe vendor that sells my favorite crepes in all of Paris and has a line around the block at night is closed.
"That's weird.", I mention to Samantha. "Maybe he wasn't feeling well and decided to shutdown early."
We enter the Hotel Danube and walk up to the desk to request the key to our room. In many, small Parisian hotels, the keys are tied to heavy brass holders and you leave them at the desk when you go out.
"Bonsoir Severin." I say.
Severin, the desk clerk, with the large gray mustache, smiles at me with a twinkle in his eye like an overindulgent uncle. He shakes his head and replies, "No, No, Cherie... Bonjour."
What is he talking about? It is Good Evening, not Good Morning. I giggle and reply back, "No, Bonsoir."
We do the back and forth "Bonsoir, no Bonjour" a few more times and I curse my limited knowledge of French.
As we are walking up the stairs to our room, I ask Samantha, "What was that all about?"
"I don't know. I guess its some kind of French inside joke."
We enter our rooms, get our pajamas on and lay down on our beds.
"Oh No!, " Samantha screams as she is leaning over her alarm clock.
"I get what Severin was trying to tell us. It's 6:45 in the morning!"
"No way," I pull back the curtains from the window and look at the pitch black sky outside. "How can it be 6:45 in the morning? Don't the bars close around here? "
"I guess not. I can't believe we lost track of time. Every place was still packed. And, when is sunrise around here?"
We frown at each other. Our plans for the day included being up at 8:30 and ready to hit the Louvre, then the Musee d'Orsay. Looks like that is not going to happen.
We compromise and set the alarm for noon. Looking back, it all worked out OK. I can't remember where we went to sight-see that day. But, years later, I still remember our wild night out at Le Mondrian.
Address: 148 Boulevard Saint-Germain
01 46 33 98 35
Address:164 Boulevard Saint-Germain
If you are not into the night scene, Le Mondrian and Mabillon are fabulous locations for sitting outside and viewing some of the best people-watching in Paris along Boulevard Saint Germain.
Photo Credits: Mondrian photos courtesy of Deva Luna. View more of her beautiful Paris photos here.
Author: Cheryl Montgomery