Monday, October 11, 2010

Paris: The Tenth Week

A statue of a lion at the Jardin Des Tuileries,
near the Louvre
Observations d'un Canadien à Paris: la dixième semaine

Aloha and bonjour mes amis,

Bienvenue and welcome to another week of my Parisian observations.  Life in Paris has simply become life as the weeks have progressed and I suppose that I have already begun to take many of the sights and sounds of Paris for granted.  One thing is for certain, which is that deeper observations will require some French fluency as I can’t help but think that potential observations are slipping past me daily due to the language barrier.  I did have a fantasy that by now I would be conversant in the French language and only now realized the full extent of my folly.  While it’s true that being here has drastically improved my ability to make a few French sentences, I still have a long road to travel.

1.  If you walk through a park and see a bunch of older men playing bocce ball, hold on tight to your wallet!  You can watch these guys play all day and they seem to become miraculously better at it when it’s your turn to bowl.

2.  It seems that I’ve finally found the upscale locations for Parisian nightlife and it wasn’t where I expected.  The 2nd district, where you’ll find the Louvre had a couple of clubs that are very interesting.  It’s not unusual to see a row of Ferraris and Maseratis parked out front of them.  For me, this discovery killed two birds with one stone as I finally got to ogle a few pretty cool cars. It seems, however, that the cool cars are never far from an upscale hotel, so it might be fair to assume that there are very few cool cars that are Parisian.

A 1936 Delahaye coupe - the most recent addition to my collection
...of photos

3.  Like any predator, vampires generally have a preference for easy prey.  A homeless person on the sidewalk or a drunken girl hitchhiking home from the Bastille can make easy targets.  A very few vampires like to hunt for sport and will take on anything from a fencer to a karate black belt. Local vampire experts in the region tell me that in rare cases, such an attack can be survived by demonstrating a Brazilian Jui Jitsu move. A master of Brazilian Jui Jitsu could easily be killed by a vampire… or by anyone really, but I’m told that vampires sometimes have a sense of humour and will feign fear and take flight when their prey puts its hopes in this decidedly ineffective martial art for salvation.  You might even spot a poster for Jui Jitsu classes in the 7th if you’d like to add this otherwise useless skill to your repertoire.

4.  There is an old Monty Python sketch where a Mr. Smokestoomuch goes to a travel agent to book a vacation and goes off on an endless tirade about how awful his previous vacations have been. His nonstop complaint in this comedy sketch can only be outdone by real-life British tourists.  When spotted in Paris, they seem to have a capacity to bitch incessantly without pause for their entire time in public. I’ve witnessed them in their unnatural habitat, bitching about everything from the time of day to the colour of the asphalt.  It took nearly 40 years for me to finally see the true source of the humour in this legendary comedy sketch.  I wonder if I’ll ever discover a place that really does sell dead parrots.

5.  There is no doubt that the Champs Elisee is a tourist destination and loathed by Parisians, as I have found myself starting to avoid it at any cost.  The shops, theatres, café menu’s, and even the feel of the street itself is not Parisian, but rather entirely designed for temporary visitors. When I think of all the times that I have heard movie characters wax romantically about strolling down the Champs Elisee it unleashes in me a giant case of the willies… it’s just not good place to take a date.

6.  I’ve had a change of heart where ex-pats are concerned. My first experience was at an ex-pat bar in Le Marais.  I found that experience to be a bit pathetic.  Maybe it’s just that pubs can be a bit pathetic.  The other night, however, I was invited to a house-party soiree (no I didn’t get naked… this time), where various ex-pats and Parisians alike mixed and mingled.  New friendships were struck and I had a truly great time.  I think that I’ll try to make this sort of thing a routine.

Parisian Starbucks - nom!
7.  Since I’ve been in Paris I get a lot of crap from some people about hitting the local Starbucks.  I’m sorry, but there is only one way to put espresso in milk and Starbucks does it as well as anyone.  Also, they generally charge a little less than most of the other cafes, so I’ve remained a fan.  However… an American friend did coax me into a McCafe in Versailles. The coffee tasted the same as all of their other plastic shit food. I have no idea how McDonalds found a recipe to make espresso taste like their fries... but just thinking about it induces a gag reflex.

8.  Paris has a long history of being in love with jazz and the honeymoon is far from over.  Cafés with impromptu jazz nights can be found all over the city and there are a couple of famous clubs here and there that serve up jazz hardcore.  My very first experience was to sit down to a band belting out their own version of Weather Report’s Birdland.  I was instantly in jazz heaven.  Birdland was the first jazz song that I ever learned to play on the guitar… coincidence?

Love and best wishes,

P.S.  My friends! If you had a read, but don't have a comment, please click "like" so I know you were here!  Many thanks in advance.


  1. Dont like it....... LOVE IT

  2. Love it....You're funny and so so enjoyable ! Merci! Mireille!

  3. I stumbled upon your blog yesterday and love it! Am far behind your postings, but reading like mad to catch up. :)