La Palette, a sidewalk cafe

Kimberley and I met back at the hotel and headed out for dinner at a small Chinese restaurant where I'd gotten some takeout the first night I was in town. The restaurant was small and friendly and the food, which one ordered by pointing at things behind a counter, was good. Afterwards, we decided to go sit at a sidewalk café (above) and sip drinks and watch the world go by.

The waiter (you can see him in the picture, with his hand pressed melodramatically to his forehead) wore the Central Casting Parisian Waiter outfit and was delightfully, refreshingly rude, refusing to speak French to us when he heard our North American accents. (A trip to Paris wouldn't have been complete without encountering a rude French waiter.) I drank slightly chilled Beaujolais and Kimberley drank Perrier and we soaked up atmosphere and talked about our families. I could get used to sitting around at a sidewalk café in Paris drinking wine.

This was the scene of the second of my two Weird Parisian Bathroom Experiences. I went inside the café to find the facility, and spotted a single translucent glass door labeled "W.C." So I went inside and locked the door behind me and saw . . . not a toilet, but a white porcelain arrangement, flush (no pun intended) with the floor, with places to put one's feet at the front. I guessed (rightly, I hope) that one places one's feet, drops trou, and squats, and heaven help those who don't have strong quadriceps when they need to stand up again. When I flushed, water splashed outside the white porcelain and out onto the floor. Once again, high strangeness, at least to my North American sensibility.


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Emily Way (
Last updated August 17, 1999