Thursday, June 30, 2011

What My Husband Will Miss about Paris

For one thing, the view right outside the front door of his office building.  There's nothing quite like that in Arlington, Virginia.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ten Things My Kids Say They Will Miss About Paris

I've asked my kids many times to reflect on their experiences and it's a little bit like pulling teeth. And now that school is out, while they're happy to read for pleasure, writing is not high on their list of priorities. I'm sure one day they'll look back on this experience and be amazed by their good fortune.  Perhaps, they'll even be moved to write about it.  But for the moment, when asked what they'll most miss about Paris, the best I could do is this.

  1. Bread, bread, bread
  2. The métro
  3. Watching the searchlight of the Eiffel Tower reflected in the courtyard outside my bedroom window when I'm falling asleep
  4. Going to movies on the Champs-Élysées
  5. Salted butter and speculoos spread
  6. Being able to walk everywhere
  7. Shopping on rue de Passy
  8. Pastries
  9. Going out to eat at L'Entrecôte
  10. My friends
Rough life, huh?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ten Days in Turkey

If you've been wondering why I've been on radio silence with respect to your comments recently, it's only because we spent the past 10 days in Turkey, a kind of last hurrah for our international adventure.  I managed to post plenty in advance of our departure but thankfully was disconnected from the computer for the duration of our trip.

Our Turkish holidays was a study in contrasts:  a relaxing week on a gullet, a Turkish style yacht, cruising the waters of southwestern Turkey from Göcek to Andriake, followed by two nights in busy Istanbul.  On the Mediterranean, our days were spent kayaking along the rocky coast, hiking to the sites of the ancient Lycians, snorkeling over sunken ruins, reading, and napping.  With its pink sunrises, turquoise seas, and trails we shared only with goats, the setting was almost zen. 

In Istanbul, our short stay was a whirlwind of visits to mosques, museums, haggling over carpets (which in the end we decided not to buy), and wandering both the busy Bazaar quarter and the quiet back streets of the Sultanahmet. Women in head scarves and those in full burqa; vendors hawking corn on the cob, watermelon, umbrellas, and ice cream; tour groups from cruise ships and families out enjoying lovely weekend weather; and the din of the call to prayer over tinny loudspeakers made for a colorful and chaotic scene.


A trip to remember?  Without a doubt.  And now our four last days in Paris, sure to be busy with chores and a last round of favorites, lie ahead of us.  Ready, set, go!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Street Art Redux

You could do an entire blog on street art in Paris (for all I know someone has) and once you start looking for it, it seems to be everywhere.  Here are a few favorites that popped out at me during my recent forays around town.

In the 2nd:

In the 3rd:

In the 5th:

In the 13th:

In the 17th:

In the 18th:


In the 20th:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight

Paris can be kind of coy.  Her people take a while to warm up to you (or at least to understand your pathetic attempts at speaking French) and lovely spots are often hidden behind locked gates.  Short person that I am, I walked past this entrance many times without noticing a thing.  Then one day, riding the bus and perched high above my usual vantage point, I noticed the staircase and greenery within.  These residents seem to have the best of both worlds -- close to the action on the street but buffered from the noise and fumes.  Pas mal.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ten Things I Won't Miss About Paris

You've heard it all before but I'm saying it again, more than anything to remind myself that life in Paris, like life anyplace else, has its unpleasant and annoying moments.   And even the trick of  adding "in Paris" to the end of these phrases (as in "I'm Paris, or "I just spilled coffee down the front of my favorite Paris") doesn't make them any more enjoyable.  So without further ado, here are 10 things about Paris that I'm pretty sure I won't miss:

  • Public urination
  • Bagging groceries
  • Calcium deposits from the tap that leave a brown sheen on the kitchen sink and a film of white on anything chrome

  • Strikes
  • Cold, gray miserable weather for days on end
  • Inadequate indoor lighting
  • Sidewalks mined with dog poop

  • The three semi-inebriated clochards who hang out on my corner
  • Living in a haze of cigarette smoke
  • The white tile on my kitchen floor

Friday, June 24, 2011

Remembrance of Things Paris

There's an image of Ruth Reichl's Remembrance of Things Paris over in the sidebar of this page marked "What I'm Reading"  But that's a lie.  I'm not reading anything now.  Maybe it's the craziness of moving or a yen to watch movies but for whatever reason, I don't have a lot of patience for reading at the moment.  And maybe I've just had it with books about Paris.  So to be honest, I haven't read every piece in this anthology of articles about culinary Paris originally published in Gourmet from the 1940s to the present.   Some read like ancient history, describing a Paris that is no more real to me than a page in a dusty book.  Others delve deeply into technique and dish out recipes with a daunting number of steps.  And then there are some more contemporary memoirs, some sweet, some funny that touched just the right note.  In particular, I enjoyed "An Insincere Cassoulet," by Michael Lewis, a piece I had originally read in the magazine back in 2001.  I mean, who could resist these words?

Permit me to explain.  As anyone who is honest about it will tell you, Paris is a city of vulgarians that has somehow cowed the world into believing it is the global capital of worldliness, a living and breathing arbiter of good taste.  The Parisians treat each other and everyone else with a crudeness and contempt that would make a New Yorker blush.  Yet for reasons as deep as they are mysterious, they retain the unique ability to convey an air of sophistication to anyone unlucky enough to experience prolonged contact with them.  You don't live in Paris for the fun of it; you live in Paris to acquire, or seem to acquire, a bit of the Parisan ability to impress others with your worldliness.

Put another way, the whole point of living in Paris for a year is to let others know that you are the kind of person who might well have lived in Paris.

Put yet another way:  Though I have arrived at the point where I can't wait to leave Paris, I don't exactly want to leave Paris behind.

Remembrance of Things Paris is probably not the kind of book you should plan to read in a single sitting, or even in a single vacation.  Better to let it marinate on your nightstand, in your commuting bag, or wherever you have your morning coffee, ready to be picked up and delved into in small increments.  Les Halles and Gourmet may both be gone but with this anthology, they'll never be far away.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

La Tour Eiffel

Because it's impossible to have too many pictures of the Eiffel Tower, right?  In any season, under any metereological conditions, at any time of day, from any angle or distance.

And to think that the Parisians wanted to tear it down after the universal exposition in 1889!  Nowadays, you can't say Paris without conjuring up an image of it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Portrait of a Blogger


Thought I'd finally post a photo of myself?  Well kind of.   I loved this bit of street art I happened upon while prowling around the streets of the 19th and 20th arrondissements.  That would be me, walking and snapping.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Le Grand Bordel

When I hear horns honking on my block, it usually means that someone has parked in front of a building entrance, blocking the residents from either entering or exiting.  One morning last week, the honking was more insistent than usual and when I looked down to the corner, I saw this mess or as they say, un grand bordel.  My guess is that there was a vehicle around the corner to the left, perhaps a garbage truck or a bus, blocking the one-way,  one-lane street.  But just what the fellow in the white car was thinking, the one turning right the wrong way down the one-way street, I cannot imagine.  And of course, the motorcyclist was doing what they always do, weaving in and out of traffic, making time and making car drivers crazy.

Twenty minutes later, when I looked out the window again, all was back to normal.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Heat Relief for the French Palate

The French adventure in Mexico during the 19th century pretty much ended in disaster.  Perhaps it was inevitable given the clash in palates.  This latest product by Old El Paso, which dominates the international aisle of most French supermarkets,  has the tag line: toutes les saveurs du Mexique sans piment.  I'm trying to imagine the reverse campaign:  all the flavors of France without the wine and butter?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

And a Bunch of Other Numbers

My patience with this number series is wearing thin.  But while I'm too bored to count all the way to 100 (and you do have to give me credit for getting halfway there), I have a few numbers from the vault to share.  So without further ado, I give you:

If your taste runs to the classic blue and white metal, you can find the perfect souvenir of your time in Paris in the basement of BHV's flagship store on rue de Rivoli.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Past, Present and Future

My heart is being tugged in three ways at once these days.   A lot is already behind me:  people whom I've seen for the last time; metro rides I won't make again; tears held back or wiped dry; experiences that have been documented, put in a box, and filed away.  Then there's the planning for what lies ahead:  appointments with doctors, dentists, painters, and home renovation contractors; reconnecting with professional contacts and friends; re-establishing accounts for gas, electricity, water, homeowner's and car insurance, cell phones, and Internet service.  The present feels a bit like no man's land where I'm vacillating between trying to stay focused on Paris and already feeling a bit disconnected and at loose ends.   Part of me wants to spend all day wandering the neighborhoods, soaking it all in for as long as possible.  But another part is saying enough already and just wants to go home and take a nap.

But since naps make boring blogs, here instead are some things that caught my eye this week.

Rooftops at sunset and in the morning light.

A leggy, impossibly tall model posing for a photographer in the 7th.

A chandelier that can only be described as fabulous.

Views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower from the pont de la Concorde.

Creatively designed window bars in the 18th.

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