#38 vs “Un chapeau”

Just like back in the states, waiters are waiters and can do anything from make your experience amazing or horrifying. Who knows that better than us? In France it’s exactly the same. Horror stories about rude French service are no more true than thinking that everyone gets treated well stateside. Nice people are nice people and assholes are assholes, end of story.

Our opposite extremes so far are the “gentleman” who served us at world famous, 100+ year old Bouillon Chartier in Montmarte and the humble young man at Le Viuex Paris in the Latin Quarter.

I’ve already blogged and posted on FB about our trip to Chartier. I called it the Berghoff of Paris. Our server wore a badge that had the number 38 on it. When CJ tried to order in French he waved his arms in a circular motion and said, “Speak English. I don’t have the time.” At the end of the meal he wrote our total on the table cloth and walked away. Can you even imagine if we did that to an overseas tourist at Joes?

As a complete contrast,  we stopped on a whim at a fondue place in the Latin quarter this afternoon before Musee d’Orsay. Maybe about 50 seats all at 6 tops. Ox heads on the wall. Brick exposed inside. Old, simple and the smell of burnt cheese in the air. We had salade roquefort, fondue, salmon, cooked meats, wine, chocolate mouse and of course bread. He even showed us how to scrape the last and best part of the fondue out of the bottom of the pot when you thought you could eat no more. Our server was likely the proprietor so I recognize comparisons about job situation are not the same, but it was amazing. As we were paying our tab, our server looked down at the chair next to me and remarked, “Un Chapeau!” He then ran out the door and looked left, then ran faster down the narrow street in front of Le Vieux Paris. He returned a minute later, winded, but without the hat. He had found it’s owner, an Italian man who sat next to me. By the way did I mention “Mr. Un Chapeau returner” spoke politely to us in English, to our table neighbors in Italian, and to the other table in the place in Spanish.

So if either of us needed a reminder (which we usually don’t) that the server makes the experience, we got it right here. As we were leaving CJ said, “He’s just a really nice guy. I could tell as soon as we got here.”

How right she was…


About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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