Sunday, May 1, 2011

My First Month as a Citizen

Huge queues await delicious Berthillion ice cream!
My friends et mes amis!

I have been in Paris a month now and I’m slowly but surely starting to become a citizen.  Back in Aristotle’s day a citizen was defined as a person who was allowed to vote, but as an ex-pat I sort of rather think of a citizen as being anyone that contributes toward a place in a positive way.  I think that since 20% of every dollar I spend here goes toward taxes… I believe that I’m well on my way toward citizenry.  And now without further ado, my most recent observations of springtime in Paris.

  1. I’ve come to discover that one’s water bill is the most compelling piece of identification that a person can possess.  Despite the fact that a water bill is frightfully easy to forge, provided that one owns a “colour printer”, you will find them requested by banks, visa official, and cell phone companies alike.  So far I’ve been honest in my dealings with most agencies and have explained that my water is included in my rent and offer a rental agreement instead.  They shun these formal agreements, but may relent.  In the future I may just bring in a fake water bill, if I am otherwise unable to pay the water company directly for such necessary identification.

  2. I don’t have a foot fetish or really any kind of fetish that I know of but I find myself staring at women’s feet more and more often.  I think that I might be developing a shoe fetish.  In Canada and the US it is normal to see most women wearing running shoes more often than not.  Here, the cornucopia of ballet slippers, pumps, stilettos, sandals, etc., combined with an endless assortment of nylons and stockings to accessorize… well it is far too much for my simple brain to inventory and I find myself staring, perhaps to find a spot in my brain to store these new and unexpected images.

    A video about Louboutin shoes that everyone should enjoy.

  3. It is one thing to enter into a cell phone contract in a language that you understand fully.  It is quite another to enter into such a contract with no idea whatsoever.  While the French language is a mystery that is slowly unravelling for me, French contract language may be a sealed vault.  After a tense negotiation, I managed to secure a new contract, however I have no idea about the details.  I have a vision of burly men coming to take my belongings from me for some monstrous unpaid phone bill of epic proportions.

  4. I tend not to string my observations together, but since I do have a new phone, it will take time to get in contact with my many friends around the world and even the ones in Paris.  I worry when the ones in Paris don’t call me back right away, for fear that perhaps they have been compromised by a vampire.  Please, my Parisian friends.  Don’t leave me to suffer with worry.  Call me back right away!

  5. Vista print is this interesting service where one can print business cards or other various things with your company or personal information on them.  They offer the service in many countries including France.  Like so many websites, the French version is only offered in the French language.  Now that I have a phone contract, I thought it might be time to get business cards.  I managed to hobble through the selections on the website, design my card, choose my options and get to the checkout.  From there I was presented with two pages of untranslatable French contract language.  Damn!  I will try again under the influence of champagne… since most things go better with champagne.

    OK I'm bound to figure out this French legalese eventually, right?
  6. There are three sizes of champagne emergencies and as such there are three common sizes of champagne bottles.  The ½ bottle or piche serves for single serving emergencies, the full bottle for regular emergencies and the magnum for more serious entertainment emergencies.  A favourite brand here in Paris is Deutz (which I had never tasted in the US or Canada) and is now installed in my apartment for all three sizes of champagne emergency.

  7. Yesterday for breakfast, I had Berthillion ice cream.  Most of the flavours are quite sumptuous, however if you ever get a chance to try the white chocolate (chocolat blanc), then be prepared for a possible public orgasm.  The line from “When Harry Met Sally” comes to mind… “I’ll have what she’s having.”  Berthillion sells their ice cream in bulk at their main store and every flavour sounds good.  For your voyeuristic pleasure I’ve attached a list:
    Oh if only I didn't have to wait!  I would go back every 20 minutes.

  8. I returned to France heavier than when I left.  I’m not normally obsessed about diet, but I am obsessed about wearing French fashions and anyone sporting a pot-belly can’t wear them properly.  Since arriving in Paris I’ve lost weight on a diet consisting of foods baked in butter, cheese, pate, bread, and a lot more cheese.  And meat.  And cheese… with more cheese.  And ice cream.  And pastries.  I nearly forgot about the pastries.  At present, I have no theory about how this is possible.

  9. Language continues to be my greatest barrier to entry in terms of becoming a citizen of Paris.  I’ve purchased a number of children’s books to assist in my ongoing language training.  While the “fog” of being immersed in a foreign language is lifting, one word or phrase at a time, I still feel quite mute.  As a consummate storyteller, I certainly don’t like to be mute if I don’t have to.

    My first of what may be 100 Roger Hargreaves books translated
    dutifully into French.  I believe that the theme for each book is
    really contributing to my learning.  History shall judge.  :)
  10. There are countless international groups in Paris that meet regularly, though generally over cocktails.  The groups seem to be largely fuelled by their ability to fill a bar, restaurant or nightclub, but they do provide a rather interesting perspective of Paris.   The Franca lingua here seems to be English.  From what I’ve observed, a Chinese person speaking to an Italian, for example, will start with English and then switch to French if that fails.  I’ve joined two expat groups including InterNations (.com) and A Small World (  I’ve also attended gatherings with and  Given enough time and the ability to drink more… I could attend 15 gatherings a week from these groups alone.

  11. On the Rue de Faubourg Saint-Antoine near the Bastille, there are several furniture stores of which a few I am certain will soon be in possession of most of my money.  I’m sure it won’t be long before I find a permanent apartment and while I dream about that, I dream about the furniture it will possess.  Perhaps it’s not a shoe fetish that I’ve developed, but rather a design fetish.  Stay tuned for more furniture related entries in the near future.
This video is from Ligne Roset, a favourite
furniture store of mine in the Bastile.

Thank you all for reading and take care my friends.

P.S. If you have a few extra mouse clicks for your humble friend and Paris blogger… please “follow” my blog, or “like” it, or “tweet” it, or “share” it or whatever you young kids do on the Internets these days. Many thanks in advance.

1 comment:

  1. Think there's a niche market for people who need to "pay" some kind of water company to prove their venture, anyone?