236.

Oooh la la, two trips to France in the space of a month, I'd better scratch up on my school French.
My first trip was an invitation from a good friend who’d come in from San Francisco to give a talk at a Tech conference in Paris…a Flaneur’s dream.
Here, where cake-shops and patisseries are easily mistaken for a jewellers window display, it seems almost criminal to deconstruct these works of art, pop them in one's mouth and eat them.
Stepping into the cooled calm interior of a Fromagerie, one is visually whisked back to pre-WW2, though not its prices.
Whilst the buildings of Paris stand strong and proud, they're delicately decorative; small creative boutiques aren't crowded out by the global label chains, thus encouraging the individuality of this city. And...they’ve a rail/metro system that makes ours in the UK seem pre-WW2, there’s much to be said for nationalising a countries railways; people before profit.
I took a trip to the Musee d’Osay (a converted railway station), to refresh and feast my eyes upon the vast Van Gogh collection they exhibit on the top floor, before moving on to other 19th Century works.
It's difficult to fully digest and appreciate the contents of a grand art gallery in one visit, I've tried it, it goes in one eye and out the other, without ever really soaking it all up. Now, I prioritise what I want to see, returning another day to feast upon and pick over the rest. 
A lot of galleries seem to have cottoned on to this dilemma, and now offer tickets that can be re-used over three or four days.
I've visited Paris many times, but this was my first visit to Saint Germain, more fool me. Alack, beautiful as it is, it’s a stupidly expensive area. I’m sure there are a few remaining local eateries serving good honest food, however, they'd managed to elude me...still, it cost nothing to press one's nose up against a shop window and stare, thus leaving a greasy smudge.
My friend and I dined one evening at an opulent Brassiere; my French is fantastic if you can count hand, arm, eyebrow and facial expressions as language, which it is, a form of communication. Fortunately, we had a sympathetic waiter who talked us through the menu in perfect English, without looking down his nose at our lack of the lingo.
With my host at conferences all day, I was left to my own devices to stroll the streets, markets, churches and boutiques. There’s really nothing much I can buy here that I can't get in London (and cheaper), apart from cheese and wine, so that’s where my Euro's went.
Evenings were spent sitting up on high stools at the bar, drinking wine and Ricard, putting the world to rights. Nor did we fail to notice that we were the last to leave each night, a good sign of a friendship methinks.

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