Monday, November 04, 2013

Dîner des cons?

Saturday night in Dijon began with a bottle of champagne in the hotel room while getting ready (after some discussion of whether this would ruin our palates for subsequent wine tasting. Naturally, we decided it would not), and then we headed out to a wine bar to sample some local Burgundy wines. The wine bar was lovely - friendly owner, nice quiet atmosphere, freshly hand-shaved deli platters - but we were a bit disappointed that there was only two red and one rosé Burgundy wines available by the glass. Seems a bit weird for a wine bar! I thought my rosé tasted a bit like fruit juice (although not too sweet) and Liz found her red insipid - it was that beautiful Burgundy colour though. We actually moved on to a bottle of non-AOC "vin de France", which we all quite liked. Well, at least we made the effort with the local wines!

It was getting lateish by this stage, and time for a spot of dinner. After being turned away from a full restaurant, we came across an obviously drunk guy who wanted to speak English with us. It's fair to say we were a bit reticent at first to engage in conversation. Sometimes drunk dudes who want to try out their rusty high school English are a dime a dozen in France, and it does get old. But he asked if we had eaten, we asked for restaurant recommendations, and, in between telling us a million times that he'd had a big apéro already that evening (as if it wasn't obvious), he somehow persuaded us to accompany him to a restaurant. The fact that he claimed to have just won 50,000€ on the lottery and planned therefore to treat us all to dinner may also have been a factor (although we were all a bit sceptical).

He took us to one of the fanciest restaurants in town, but it was just before 10 pm and they weren't serving any more. The maître d was unfailingly polite even when confronted with a drunk French guy and three Anglo girls, and told us just about the only place likely to be still open was around the corner. We headed in, ordered a round of kirs (white wine with crème de cassis, which I don't actually really like, but they're a local speciality of Dijon, so...) and started enjoying a fun dinner.

Jérémie was, I will say, very charming, and we were all having a good time. He pressed us to order whatever we wanted - it was on him! My confit de canard with foie gras duly arrived, and was very nice, if a little over-the-top with the double richness of fatty duck and foie gras, and we accompanied the main course with a bottle of Nuits-Saint-Georges wine, which I'd never heard of, but is a red local to the Burgundy region.

There had been murmurs between us girls before going in about Jérémie's offer to pay, and the consensus between us was that we were going to eat out anyway, so whatever, we'd work it out when the bill came. But as the bill racked up - I didn't actually look at the price of the Nuits-Saint-Georges, but looking online, it seems to start at about 25€ and up, so with restaurant markups, perhaps 50+€ - there began to be certain glances exchanged between us. Jérémie made a joke - "ladies, I'm homeless, but you see I manage to eat and drink well". Melinda replied by saying that she was sure we could run faster than him, but I think we all had a sinking feeling at the backs of our minds that we might be about to be played by a charming smooth talker who would disappear and stick us with a huge bill.

Then the Veuve Clicquot arrived... We love champagne as much as the next girls, but again, this starts from around 35€ online, so maybe 70€ in a restaurant. Naturally, we wouldn't have minded paying our share if it was food and drink we'd ordered, but there was a bit of a whispered conference between us when Jérémie disappeared to the bathroom over whether he was coming back.

At this point, the bill arrived on the table, and we were confused to see that it was only for about 9€ or so, the price of the crème brûlée Jérémie had eaten (and tried to feed to the rest of us, much to my displeasure). We cautiously flagged down the waitress and enquired whether the bill had been paid. To our surprise, our suspicions about Jérémie had been completely unfounded - he'd paid for dinner for four, the apéros, two expensive bottles of wine... everything. It must have easily been over 200€. And he had tried his best to talk us into getting dessert. I guess sometimes not everyone is out to screw you after all? I'm sure, if it had come down to it, we could have sucked it up and managed 80€ each or whatever to cover the bill, but just the fact of being played for fools would have been the worst part.

Jérémie re-appeared and, after an interlude in an Irish bar until we got kicked out at closing time into the pouring rain, we headed to a karaoke bar. I had been harping on about going to karaoke all weekend, since I had walked past not one, but two karaoke bars on the short walk between the train station and our hotel on Friday evening. Jérémie, by now even drunker, warned us that he wasn't sure he could get in since he had a habit of taking his clothes off and giving people the finger and had been kicked out before. Given that he had already briefly taken his shirt off in the restaurant, we probably should have taken this more seriously, but at the time I just laughed and said if he didn't do that, he'd be fine.

The karaoke bar was a bit mixed - there was a looooot of waiting around for endless dreary French songs until we got our turn. The other patrons might have turned in more professional performances, but we all know who brought the fun! I did "Back to Black", with an unhelpful and unsolicited accompaniment by Jérémie, and then we did "I Love Rock and Roll" as a group, which was fun. Again, Jérémie insisted on paying for all the drinks, even ambushing the bartender at the other end of the bar so he could pay before she got back to me with the bill. At one point, we were sitting down after our group number when a bottle of Piper Heidsieck appeared at the table (terrible waste to drink champagne at 4 am, in my opinion, but not complaining).

Trying to stop Jérémie ruining my rendition of "Back to Black"
Mel, Liz and me at the karaoke bar

We Love Rock n Roll!

Late-night champers

Moments later, amidst a general commotion, Jérémie was rushed past our table at a rate of knots, hauled out by an angry bouncer. I didn't see what happened, but apparently he had dropped his pants in the middle of a gaggle of karaoke-singing ladies up by the stage. I guess we had been duly warned! Partly through embarrassment that we had been with him, partly because he had left his wallet and jacket at the table (and he had, after all, been good company and very spendy), and partly because, even with gaining an hour due to the end of Daylight Savings, it was after 4 am, we duly made our exit from the bar as well.

Outside, we had no idea where he had gone and no way to contact him, so we were debating what to do with his stuff when he suddenly ran past with some angry-looking dudes in hot pursuit. We basically threw his stuff to him and skedaddled ourselves. Felt a bit bad leaving him when, it would seem, he was about to get his arse kicked, but seriously, getting involved in street fights on behalf of a rogue nudist is a step too far. Guaranteed fun when I'm with my ladies, but this night was crazy even for us!


  1. What a great story. I would love to find out the background to Jeremie's character, but I guess that's unlikely to happen!

    1. Thanks! I feel quote bad about it all, he was a nice guy. He did keep saying we'd saved his life cos otherwise he'd be bored and alone, so I hope in the end he had a good time...

  2. This story just made my morning!!!

    1. Ha ha yay! I do love when you think to yourself "well *this* is going to make a good story!"

  3. Thank you for the Tuesday morning giggles! Okay, so Jérémie is kind of cute. When I first started reading, I imagined an old dude wanting to take you ladies out but was surprised to see how young he was. Wow, lucky dude, he won 50k in the Lotto?!?! I'm glad he spent some of his winnings on you. You deserve it!

    "an unhelpful and unsolicited accompaniment by Jérémie" Hahaha that made me laugh! How annoying when you're trying to rock out to Amy and there's Jérémie drunking it up more than it needs to!

    Why did he keep taking his clothes off???

    Hahaha! GREAT STORY, Gwan. Thank you again! xo.

    1. Heh, yeah I think that he was cute and charming when not causing trouble probably helped persuade us ;)

      Ha, I have so many grumpy face photos from that song! Isn't it awful when you don't realise what you look like and then you have photographic evidence that I was Grumpy Catting it up throughout the whole song because he kept grabbing the mike and shouting over me.

      I have noooo idea... We thought he was joking, but not so much!

  4. Why do I never meet men like this, for fun nights? Great story.

    If you ever find him why don't you take him on and try to turn him into David Beckham! could do worse. generous with money and likes your singing! what more could a girl ask...... the "taking his clothes off "thing could be worked on. Lioe Denise

    1. Ha ha, I thought you couldn't change a man? ;)

  5. Dijon seemed like a rather sleepy city when we were there but perhaps it's because we didn't have the good fortune to meet Jérémie. I would have loved to hear your rendition of I Love Rock 'n Roll ... put another dime in the jukebox, Baby!


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