No. This is not a reference to Monty Python. Be advised, clicking on the above link may be injurious to your mental health.
The eighteenth arrondissement in Paris is quite a paradox. On the one hand, Arab restaurants offer free Ramadan food after sunset – it’s late here, 9:10 last night – to those who can produce a valid social security card, hundreds of backsides pointing more or less away from the direction of Mecca ( yes, think about it…) line the pavements at prayer time because the mosques are too small and too full. The image isn’t mine – my camera battery died, but this from near the Omar Mosque in 1991 captures the essence of the scene. These days, there’s a high police profile and they clear the roads so the faithful are all squashed on to the pavements. Photographed by Jalai Abbas (Children of Abraham).
On the other hand , there are secret hideaways for the very very chic and at 240 euros a night, few of the faithful on the pavements will be able to afford to get through the door of le Kube Hotel, four stars. There’s one here and one in St Tropez. It’s unique in Paris since it’s the only one with an ice bar – called – what else – le Ice Kube.
On arrival, you pay your 38 euros and are provided with arctic clothing. Inside, the bar and walls are made of ice and the temperature is -10 Celsius. Unless you’re Canadian, in which case you might think it quite mellow, your stay is limited to half an hour. In that time, you get to taste four or five different vodkas. In my serious drinking days, I couldn’t imagine myself here. Its frequented by rock stars, I am told, plus other well-known faces. Mine will not be photographed along with the frostbitten famous, I’m afraid, but I couldn’t resist a few arty-farty shots.