Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Paris: The Ninth Week

A shrine to Eros at the Petit Trianon in Versailles
Observations d'un Canadien à Paris: la neuvième semaine

Bonjour my friends and welcome to another edition of my Parisian observations.  I write these with almost an air of sadness now as my time in Paris grows to an end.  I suppose that it is inevitable that I will return to the city, but I still find myself counting down the days. I feel a melancholy as though I am about to leave a loved one behind.  In the mean time, there are still many things yet undiscovered.  Humbly, I submit what I've learned this past week.

1.  To learn a foreign language can take months or even years of course, and in my Western Canadian brain I’ve decided that French fluency is still a few months away, though I have come a very long way from the 3 French words that I knew when I started.  By living here, I’ve learned an interesting trick which enables me to sound more Parisian.  That is to simply add an “-ahh” to the last word of every other sentence.  You can say, “Oui-ahh,” for example or “Au revoir-ahh.”  I even managed to hoodwink a French waiter when I asked “Puis-je avoir un café crème-ahh?”  The waiter was astonished to return and hear me speaking in a perfect American accent.

2.  Paris is home to roughly 2.2 million people, maybe 20,000 vampires and I’m told about 5 vampire hunters.  Vampire hunting is pretty much the most dangerous profession on Earth, since every vampire in the city will try to kill them, given a chance and every human will think they are crazy and would never help them in a crisis, e.g. “Let me in, I’m being chased!”  “No, it’s 2am.  Go home!”  “Nom nom nom!”

3.  I found a killer ¾ length black trench coat at a men’s couture shop that is so fucking James Bond that I desire it, even in my dreams.  Unfortunately, it clocks in at about $400 and I have only about 3 weeks left in Paris and the weather has been nice enough that I don’t even need a jacket.  Grrr.

4.  A scooter seems to be the most expedient way to get around the city without incurring regular traffic fines and vehicular damage.  A very popular version of scooter here comes with two front wheels.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them anywhere else, but about one in four scooters come with an extra front wheel here.

A strange, but popular 3-wheeled moped

5.  This week there is a bullshit American report about a Mumbai style attack being planned for spots like the Eiffel Tower (which is a block from my apartment).  I know this to be bullshit because as I’ve mentioned earlier, there are French machine-gun guys at those locations.  I’d wager that about 0.2 seconds into such an attack, the French commandos would already be arguing as to who scored the first head-shot.  I doubt that terrorists would plan an attack in a place where they would be so likely to be killed before they could even unpack their armaments.

6.  I’ve noticed that the Globe and Mail, a fine Canadian publication, has been talking about Paris in their travel column.  Mostly their column is just a bullshit list of websites for places you can google for yourself. They recently reported, however, that the 20th district is now “the cool district” having usurped the 4th or Le Marais.  Hey Globe and Mail guys!  Have you ever even been to Paris???

7.  Paris is greener than most North American cities I’ve seen.  I’m sure that they still have waste and garbage problems and all that of course, but it’s easier to recycle here. They make allowances for cyclists and mopeds on the streets and I haven’t seen a single incandescent bulb anywhere.

8.  Living in the 7th district, which is really the “rich” district of Paris, one sees a lot of kids.  There are daycares and private schools everywhere for the children of Parisians and ex-pats alike.  It is now obvious to me that the fashion attitude that I’ve mentioned in previous observations is something that starts at a very early age.  I’ve seen boys and girls as young as 5, strike a very mature pose in their fashions as if to say, “Here is your moment too look. Drink it in.”

9.  OMG!  I was in the 5th, also known as the Latin Quarter to pick up supplies for my visitors when I walked past the most incredible comic book store I’ve ever seen.  It was loaded with figurines and busts of every comic book and sci-fi/fantasy movie character imaginable.  The geek in me could have dropped 50,000 Euros there on the first visit.  It was astonishing.

10.  When the store clerk on the Rue de Rivoli chased me away for being too fat, I was trying to buy a red shirt.  I vowed to lose weight and I have, but I’m damned if I can find another red shirt anywhere!  This fall’s colours for men are blue and violet under a black suit.  I want red!  The only designer with a red shirt out there this fall is Brioni and at 500 Euros… wow.  Women, on the other hand can get anything in red this fall, from shoes to lingerie to outerwear.  The little red riding hood ensemble is easily doable for the Parisienne of adventure this fall.  I don’t want to hurt anyone.  I just want a red shirt!

That is all for this week.  Miss you all, and will start to see many of you again very soon.


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  1. About pont #9: where is that fabulous comic books store? Do you remember the address?

  2. It's called Album Comics and it truly is incredible.
    67, Boulevard Saint-Germain 75005 PARIS