Sunday, June 26, 2011

Checking in Around Paris

A fountain in Chatelet near Les Halles.
 Bonjour, aloha and welcome, my friends,

It's been a busy two weeks since my last blog post.  I've completely suspended my search for a new apartment and have decided to stay in my tiny apartment with the sexy view.  My most excellent and understanding landlords are going to work with me in getting some furniture which will be better suited to my life/work and the SOLDES (sales) have begun in every shop in Paris.  I think I shall soon be the owner of a new and comfy bed and a desk that better suits my computing habits.  So, without further ado, here are my observations:

Technology:  It only just occurred to me that I can check into places as I wander around Paris.  I see my friends checking in at Joe’s Dine & Dash and thought, “Hey!  I can check in at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and the like,” and now I do.

City Life:  Never lock your key in your apartment in Paris.  Locksmiths here charge through the nose.  I was offered a locksmith service for 200 Euros who promised not only to break the lock, but charge me up to another 800 Euros to replace it.  I decided that for 200 Euros I could break my own lock.  In the end, good friends put me up for the night and the landlord arranged a new key for me the next day, free of charge.

Durex. Woot!
Sex: There are condom machines on the street here.  They can be found just about anywhere.

Culture:  I’m officially part of Parisian culture.  This is also true of most kinds of bacteria, but let me explain.  There is a small cadre of ex-pat bloggers who take the time to explain Paris to both non-Parisians and Parisian Anglophones.  Over time, I hope to feature a few of these other bloggers on my blog for a bit of cross cultural exchange of ideas.

Sport: Since arriving in Paris the only sports I’ve noticed were reports on the Internets about the Stanley Cup.  To think that I nearly moved to Vancouver… I could have been an instigator in a riot!  Oh well, there will be demonstrations in Paris I can participate in, I’m sure.

A bicycle path cuts its way through the
busy streets and sidewalks of Paris.
Transportation:  I’ve mentioned that getting around the city on a bicycle is possible and maybe even less dangerous than other cities.   Now cyclists are kinda psychotic and the French certainly have their moments, and so where would a French cyclist ride?  On a cycle path!  (Get it?)  Here’s one below:

More Sport:  Next week I start fencing lessons.  This has been on my “to do” list for years and now… it is finally happening. I’ll be taking private lessons ‘til September when group classes start.  If I get good fast (I’m pretty handy with my fists), then I’ll probably continue with private lessons as well.

Fashion:  When the temperatures in Paris dip below 19C (below whatever room temperature is in F), it seems that everyone in Paris sports a jacket and a scarf.  I’m convinced that this is for fashion more than for comfort, though my French friends wonder how I can survive the cold without a jacket when it gets to be so cold. "These are my Canadian powers at work," I reply. They murmur a long “Ohhh" and nod in understanding.  :)

Cook'n With Class.  Remember you saw
it here first, my friends.  Unless you've
already been there in which case... 
Food:  I was treated to check out a place called Cook’n with Class in the 18th.  Yes, I was brave enough to go into the 18th without a sidearm.  It turns out that this is a great place for an Anglophone to take a few French cooking classes on their visits to Paris.  The link is as follows:

Architecture:  I could swear that when I left, there were was not a guard fence at the Saint Paul metro station.  I’ve taken the liberty to examine them and they look like they have been there for years.  They totally weren’t there!  I swear!

Vampires:  2 weeks ago, I had noisy neighbours across the hall.  Vampires came as I mentioned last time.  This week, I have no neighbours across the hall.  No one says anything about it.

Pride: On Saturday, the gays had a pride parade that raced around Le Marias.  For the most part, I didn’t notice any difference between that and a regular day in Le Marais except the music was a lot louder.  Today (Sunday) penitent Catholics went through a similar path praying and singing hymns very loudly.  They say that you should not judge someone’s taste in music, lest your taste in music also be judged.  I gotta say though, the gays have WAY better music than the Catholics.

That’s all for this time my friends.  I hope this blog posting finds you in the best of health and spirits.

Your humble servant,
Sir Robyn

P.S. If you have a few extra mouse clicks for your humble friend and Parisian blogger… please leave a comment or “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.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June: Summer Approaches

A mime, now nearly extinct in the wild is
pictured here at the Louvre museum.  This
specimen appears to be a female, a hopeful
sight for the continuation of the species.

Greetings my most excellent friends!

Well it is another day in Paradise.  Paris has been warmer than usual for this time of year and opening the window has done little to cool things down in my apartment.  I know summer is coming because the superhero films are starting to show up in the theaters.  Also, I have to plan a trip back to Canada to keep tabs on my clients, my family and my baby niece, whom I miss dearly.

The past two weeks have seen a bit of an uptick in my social life, though I've made no progress whatsoever in finding a new apartment and have decided to be content with where I am for the foreseeable future.  I suppose that should I desire to entertain more than two people, I will have to make use of a public venue until I can change or increase my fortunes.  In the mean time, I have made many new observations!

Culture:  I saw a mime!  After six months in the city and being convinced that mimes were a total French myth, I’ve finally seen a mime!  But this sighting raises questions than it answers.  Are there more mimes?  Where do they come from?  Where do they go?

City Life: You’d think that in a big city, people would walk very fast.  This is true in most big cities, but not Paris.  I notice this in particular when I’m in a hurry.  The sidewalks become like a highway where everyone is doing 20 clicks below the speed limit.  As soon as you pass one, another slow person is right in front of you.  The more I look, the more I notice that no one here seems to be in a great hurry.  Now if they are behind the wheel of an automobile, that’s another story.

Automobiles:  While considering the enormous amount of paperwork that will be required to bring my car over from Canada, the automakers on the Champs Elysee continue to tempt me with these rare and unpurchasable concept cars.  I love cars, but I’m starting to think that I may never drive again without drastic measure.

A concept car from Toyota that has never see a Parisian
street.  You can tell this is true because it has no dents.
Vampires:  The vampires are back this summer from wherever they were.  Today they were going door to door in my building knocking and asking to be invited inside.  I’m not certain how many neighbours I have lost today.  Also knocking on every door this Sunday; the slightly less frightening Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Language: In my seemingly vain attempt to learn French, I’ve been dutifully translating my Roger Hargreaves books from French to English.  I’m learning, but slow.  Also, I’ve purchased French DVD’s and have been spending time with locals who insist on speaking French to me… the later method, I think is having the greatest influence.  My favourite line from my translating so far you ask? “Je crois que je peux faire tout ce qui est incroyable.”  (I believe that I can do anything that is incredible. – Mr. Incredible).

People:  Quite often I’ll pass by an older woman who appears to have skin that is remarkably young looking.  This is not vampirism but rather, I suspect, the myriad skin care products offered on every other block on Paris.  The products often feature a nude woman checking out her perfectly smooth buttocks in a mirror.  It’s not photoshop (it probably is), it’s Product X.  You see posters like the one below nearly everywhere.

Nude bums in the city. These signs indicate the sale
of skin creams for the forever young.
Culture: In Greek mythology, there are nine goddesses who inspire artistic creativity; by any reckoning this is a lot of help!  I’m now convinced that these muses are real and they all live in Paris.  Every time I turn around I am inspired to creativity, whether it is writing, painting, poetry, and lately I have been thinking about making a film.  The urge to create here is ubiquitous.  Those taken by the cinematic muses can be seen everywhere in the spring at various locations throughout Paris, which make common backdrops for new films that are being made here daily.
A restaurant scene being filmed on the Seine not more
than one block from my apartment.  Action!
Transportation: The metro will get you from one place in the city to the other in minutes.  I find myself leaving for appointments ridiculously close to the time I’m due.  If you take the Metro a lot you can get a Metro pass called a Navigo card.  It gives you unlimited Metro rides for a week, month or year.  Unlike say, London’s Oyster card (where do they come up with these names?), you can’t just put a sum of money on it and use it occasionally.  Why not?  This is Paris, silly!

Culture:  Something astonishing has happened to me twice now.  I’ve asked for things to be mailed to me on one day and received them in the mail on the next day.  The post office here is very brisk.  In Canada, I would assume that someone was stalking me or playing a joke, if my mail were to arrive in the same week that it was sent.

Shopping: In various spots along both sides of the Seine, you can find booksellers with various used books and magazines.  Some of these sellers have various vintage items that you might even be lucky to find on eBay such as old magazines and newspapers of some historical significance.  Should I ever have a bookshelf and/or a magazine stand, I think I shall begin to frequent these stands.

In addition to books, these vendors along the Seine sell
vintage magazines, newspapers, posters, jewellery and
a host of other interesting curios.
Paperwork:  I’ve created what I call my Kafka-pile.  A stack of papers that I use as ID for such things as going to the bank, the OFII office, cell phone companies, rental agencies or anyone that requires identification of some sort.  In Canada and the US, showing your driver’s licence gets you most places, and only in Kafka’s novels had I ever heard of anyone needing much more than that to establish their identify.  Kafka must have had a great influence on French society.

Well that is all for this entry my friends,  thank you for looking in.

Your humble servant,
Sir Robyn

P.S. If you have a few extra mouse clicks for your humble friend and Parisian blogger… please leave a comment or “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.