Thursday, 25 March 2010

51. Café Society

24th March 2010. This afternoon we went to Biarritz and while there we trolled down to the Cafe Patisserie Miremont to give Madame a special treat. The Miremont has been an institution in Biarritz since the late 19th century.

It's one of the very last of the cafés in the grand old manner. This is where the great and the good glittered and displayed in the Fin de Siècle and the Golden Age.. The whole swirling social scene of crowned heads, Grand Dukes, soon-to-be-extinct minor European royalty and all the carefully calibrated social distinctions and gradations of old families, assorted aristocracy, nouveau riche industrialists, Brits on the Grand Tour, White Russians, Jazz Age Americans, opportunists, gigolos, "Grandes Horizontales", wide-eyed hopefuls, courtesans, confidence tricksters et al have passed through its doors and into dusty oblivion. On the evidence of yesterday's visit, the clientele of the present day is drawn more from the ranks of the European mittel-bourgeoisie - discreet, well dressed, comfortable and perhaps more democratic.

There's a sense that the salon is set in aspic and that nothing has changed. It's a moot point how long it can continue. A glance at the menu shows that the old style carries on regardless. Their display of patisserie is faultless.. It has a picture window at the far end of the mirrored salon that provides a magnificent view of la Grande Plage:

Despite the mirrored walls starting to show signs of their age they still support their original purpose which was, and of course still is, people watching.
We ordered two ice creams which, when they arrived, appeared to be about a foot high.. and they were decorated in a lather of freshly whipped cream. Underneath lay chocolate ice cream of a richness I don't think I've ever tasted before, together with some sort of crunchy pistachio flavoured biscuit.. Needless to say, we didn't eat when we arrived home!
Like the café Florian in the Piazza San Marco, Venice, the Miremont is definitely a place to visit at least once in your life.

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