That perhaps explains how I got chatting to Tito - my companion on the Eurostar. I have actually never had a conversation with the person sitting next to me on the Eurostar before - it's just not that kind of train. I'm usually a pretty disinterested plane or train neighbour. I have been known to put headphones on (without pressing play) or fall into an instant faux sleep to avoid making conversation. But for some reason I didn't this time.
Burgundy velvet banquettes, brass rails, glowing lamps and the discreet hum of intellectual conversation.
The Modiglianis lining the walls are reproductions these days - of paintings given by him to the former owners as payment for his meals there.
We had a lovely lunch - the wine was perfect, the fish was good, the waiters were very charming and attentive (though I imagine they might not have been quite so charming and attentive if I had been with someone else). We said goodbye and au revoir after lunch and I hope I'll see my friend in London soon. And I've ordered Tito's latest book, Talking with Sartre for myself for Christmas.
At the time, I took the whole experience in stride as one of those "when in Paris" things that only happen, and do happen there. It was only when I got home to London that I realised quite what an extraordinarily serendipitous Paris experience it was.
p.s. You need to click on the links, and read them, or it won't make sense!