So what now? We remember and persevere. And learn what ‘bref’ means.

Hello from the Yellow Flat Paris at least in spirit…it has been a long long while.  But before catching up, a story.

Yesterday towards the end of a long bike ride, I became unstuck in time and place (thank you Joseph Heller for introducing me to this concept, see Catch 22).  Instead of the green rolling hills of Berkeley, my conscious being was transported into the 6th. In particular, I felt myself walking on Rue De Seine towards Rue L’Odeon staring into the window of the wondrous Maison Mulot.

Visions and smells of pastries quickly filled my head.

paris 6 9

And then I realized I had better pay attention to the road as a sharp curve was rapidly bearing down on me.

I think of Paris constantly these days.  We slowly adjusted to the thought that the Yellow Flat will sit empty for some time until we can return to Paris. As most of you reading this are not French, we wonder when that will be.  We adjusted to the fact that our French side of the family is living a close to normal life   And we adjusted to the reality that the future of travel is evolving and that the present is brutally on hold at best.

And I say ‘bref’.

So what is this bref?  It is a French word that is the verbal equivalent of the famous gallic shrug of the shoulders.  Google translate states that Bref means ‘in short’.  I don’t agree completely.   It is more than that.  During a conversation that has come to a logical turning point when one of the participants wants to move on it is what you say. Bref. I can’t think of an English equivalent that has the same emotional impact.

There is a lot of bref going down in our lives right now every day.

We want to get back to Paris next year and I believe that we will.  And I hope to share ideas with you in the coming months about how that can be made easier.  But for now, I want to enjoy this memory of that late morning visit to Mulot and the lunch that followed.

This institution has earned the right to make you feel like you are lucky to wait in line to order and then wait in line again until you reach the cashier, pay and then go back to wait in line again to pick up your purchases.  It is just that good.  It wears arrogance like designer couture, you don’t have to shop here the dismissive cashier infers in her tone. It has the extensive menu of a master patissier (with some tarts sold in bulk by the kilo!), the chocolates and macarons.  And as you can see they are also a visual feast.


Tower of goodies

Mulot is also a first rate caterer, so you can take out.

Leak and Goat Cheese Tart

But we had other plans that day.

Ever since I spent a wondrous lost afternoon at the tiny Avant Le Comptoir, I wanted to dine at its big brother, Le Comptoir Relais just a few blocks away at Odeon.  I could never get in.  After being told that we are full, I asked the hostess what the trick was. The restaurant opens at 12 noon for lunch, and if you come at 1145 and wait in line you will get in, she replied.

She was right.

Seated outside on a mild spring/summer day, we enjoyed a classic bistro lunch, right down to the only on the chalkboard menu.

The food was light, generous, flavorful and seasonal as the pea and nicoise salads shine.

Dessert was more traditional…

Creme Brûlée
Fruit ‘soup’


From there we burned off some of these calories on a long walk to the Seine through Odeon and then along the river back to the apartment where  we may have napped. A glorious Paris day.

My earnest desire is that by sharing these moments I have evoked a similar memory to help transport you out of these times. Got a memory you want to share?  Please do comment.

All the best,




  1. Thank you very much for your latest bit of writing. We’ve been thinking of Paris recently and may make a trip back to France next year. Both my wife and I agree that Paris is the loveliest city in the world. I always like to receive your notes. Hopefully we’ll make it back to that lovely city in the near future. In the mean time stay healthy and enjoy life.

  2. Thank you for your update Jules, and the photos made me miss Paris even more. We had a Rhine River cruise booked for this fall which we postponed in May. Bruce and I miss our travels terribly during these difficult and changing times. We would love to return to Paris again, such a Magnificent City! Once again, thank you and keep the Yellow Flat Blog coming. We love hearing from you!

  3. Good luck to you and good luck to all of us❤️

    Joan Chambers
    Technical Products LLC

    Sent from my iPhone

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