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15, Place Vendôme

There is no oatmeal at the Ritz, but their basket of freshly baked breakfast breads is pretty good. Among its offerings, I found this tiny round brioche that was perfectly heavenly. I wish they had two, and still regret not asking for more. Would that have been a faux pas? Luxury hotels always make me think of Liliana, one of the protagonists in my first novel, Dogs with Bagels. So, breakfasting alone in one of the world’s top hotels, what would Liliana do? I figured she’d hang out for a while and check the place out. It’s most important, for example, to go to the restroom. That’s where the swans are! Seriously, each bathroom stall contains a Villeroy & Boch porcelain sink with a faucet shaped like a golden swan. Now isn’t that something? The other magical thing about the Ritz is the scent. It smells so wonderful in there! Also, the gift shop is stocked with all kinds of goodies, and I found something perfectly magical that I needed to buy for someone special. By the afternoon, once I’d walked back to my hotel, through the beautiful Jardins des Tuileries, past the Louvre, and across the Seine, by the time I painted my daily watercolor, John, who’d been unable to join me for breakfast, was texting me about getting together. We decided to go have drinks at the Bar Hemingway, also at the Ritz – an adventure we’d anticipated with much enthusiasm. After all, a luxury breakfast is a lovely thing, but bars are where the stories are. Bar Hemingway is small and cozy, smaller than I’d imagined, which makes it feel even more exclusive. John had champagne. I had mini-burgers – one of the two snack options available. At some point I excused myself to go to the swan room. There I examined myself from all angles wrapped in my John Ross Palmer Landscapes scarf, and not wearing much else. When I returned, one of the older servers, dressed in an elegant white suit, stopped me at the entrance to Bar Hemingway.

“Who are you with?” he asked.

I said: “I’m with John Ross Palmer, the artist.”

“Oh, but you are an artist too,” he said.

I assented, and he told me I was perfect. I enjoyed that exchange a lot.