Wednesday, February 29, 2012

La Journée Bissextile

Don't start wondering; imaginations might run wild.

It's Leap Day!  And that's the French translation - bissextile.

So go freak out your friends using this word in whatever way comes to mind.

Joyeuse Journée Bissextile, tous et toutes!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rush hour on the Paris Métro

Without a second thought about it, I wanted to take this seatmate on the métro home with me.
 Not sure the fellow sitting across felt the same.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscars and Césars

It's that time of year in America and in France - not yet the Presidential elections, but those are gaining speed, too.  No, it's the film awards - tonight in Paris and Sunday night in LA.

Unfortunately, I don't get to see the Oscars this year and, like everyone in France, I'm rooting for "The Artist."  I guess I'll have to find out in the papers, like those this morning, whose front pages are all covering the film awards.

It's a nice change from "la présidentielle," as the Presidential election is referred to in French.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Breakfast in America in Paris

If you didn't have to read that title more than one time to understand it, then you've been to Breakfast in Paris.
It's a funny geographic warp (like a time warp, but with geography).  The wait staff all speak English, mostly American English, the menu is entirely in English (perhaps there's a French language version, too?) and the dishes are authentically right out of the American diner.
Burgers, wraps, chili, club sandwiches, shakes and sundaes abound, but I'm coveting the blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup.  It's just that it was 1pm on a Monday, and it didn't seem like the right time of day for such indulgence (though after my order arrived, I saw quite a few of them nearby).  Next time for sure.
Breakfast in America
17, rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris, France
Métro: Cardinal LeMoine or Jussieu
Tel: 01 43 54 50 28

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paris Addresses

I arrived home the other day and found a catalogue from a local retailer at the base of my door.  Here's the address (with the name blacked out to protect a prior tenant's privacy):

No apartment numbers are used so the addresses need to be descriptive.  This one says "First floor, left door, red stairway."

I never really noticed that my stairway is red.  And what happens if the landlord paints the hallway another color?  A change of address?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


A day late but the memories linger, of chocolates and heart displays and roses in buckets in front of every flower store and couples walking hand in hand on the rain-slicked streets in the evening.  (How those girls walk on the Paris streets in stiletto heels I'll never know.)

But, back to Valentine's Day in Paris, just a few snaps of all the caloric joy being spread - 


I admire the displays and am happy there is glass between me and the works of edible art behind it.  There's just far too much of this gorgeous stuff floating around here.  However, I did have a slice from pictures 3 and 4, as that amazing-looking (and amazing-tasting) pistachio/raspberry macaron heart cake was serving double-duty as a birthday cake, topping a dinner that lasted till midnight and featured a cheese course and tarte tatin as well, not to mention the bottles of white and red wine, and the champagne that began and ended the evening.

And that's another mystery besides the stiletto heels.  Just how does someone dine until midnight and then go to work or school the next morning?  Apparently, this American is now conducting an empirical study to find out.  So far, I'm discovering that it works far better for the locals than for me.

Perhaps, like exercise, it's simply a matter of practice.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bibliotheque Centre Pompidou

Very little about the first few days back in Paris and my experiences here resemble the pattern of my days, in school or otherwise, of the first "semester" I spent here last fall.  And that's just fine, because the new of Paris coming at me even after a few months living here reminds me that, really, I'm just a short-term visitor, trying to make the most of my days here.

For example, last Friday, when a fellow student told me about the large library in the Pompidou Center, I was confused.  Of course, we all know about the contemporary art museum.  I had no idea there was also a library.  So I walked over (in the below-freezing temps) to check it out for myself.

The entrance is on the opposite side of the building from the museum's entrance with which most Paris visitors are familiar.  The library itself is on a bit of the ground level and the entirety of the next two floors up.  It's enormous, and there is media of every kind located there, including many internet terminals for public use, television sets tuned to broadcasts from various countries around the world, a large music department with CDs for listening and recorded performing art works for viewing, world periodicals, and books on academic as well as practical topics, such as finding jobs and living in Paris.  And there are many, many communal tables for sitting, reading and studying.  Food isn't permitted inside the library, except for a small cafeteria on one of its levels.

I'm told there is most often a long line to get into the library; hence, the rope maze out front resembles the waiting area for security clearance at an airport.  But, perhaps because it was an unusually cold day, there was no one waiting outside when I visited.  Inside, however, you do have to cue up to register to use a computer terminal.
It's a spare, open space, with large windows on all sides, sun streaming in on the rare sunny days, and  with wonderful views of the neighborhood in which the Pompidou resides.

Much more information can be found on the BPI link here, such as hours, speakers and events.  The museum is open to all and is worth a visit.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Paris Deep Freeze

The poor fellow in that last photo is a little how I felt, arriving back in Paris after over two weeks of practically Caribbean-like weather in New York.  OK, so now it really feels like winter is  supposed to feel but my body is in shock; at last look, it was witnessing confused cherry blossoms around the Central Park Reservoir in their premature stages of development, two months too early.

The Parisians are apparently so unaccustomed to this that the frozen fountain (above) is still burbling water into that unintentional ice sculpture.  Ah, art!

It's all the television news is talking about here, other than the upcoming presidential elections in both France and the US.  Gee, I wonder why we don't give as much time to the French elections over in the US.  How many people in the US know who's running in France?  But I do love listening to the French newscasters pronounce "Gingrich;" those hard 'g's' are quite a mouthful.

By the way, that dusting of snow is about as much as Paris gets, I'm told.  Good thing, because no one removes it and I slipped on sidewalk ice a couple of times today and let loose a few choice English-language words and phrases.  

So much for blending in.