15 January 2008

Inline skaters mob Paris streets

A pack of in-line skaters take over the streets of Paris every Friday at 10 p.m. If you'd like to join this gang of rolling Parisians, come to the area beneath the Montparnasse tower at 9:30 p.m.

For three hours you can tour the city while vigorously "getting your skate on." The route covers thirty kilometers and you'll meet people from all of Paris - and beyond. This group of thrill-seekers is always up for a good time, but if the streets are wet or if it's raining the week's ride will not roll.

Should you need to rent in-line skates for the Friday night ride consult with Nomade Shop. They will rent skates to you, but because of the logistics of the transaction and schedules and such -- you will probably need to rent the skates for a day and a half. I think you'll pay about 9 euros for the full day and less for the half-day.

View their Web site or visit the shop at 37 Bld Bourdon, near Place Bastille, to get more details about purchasing or renting in-line skates. I've heard there are other places to rent skates. If you know about alternate places, please leave a comment (below) with the information.

Skater's beware! Remember that the Metro closes at 12:30 a.m. If you return to the Montparnasse starting point at 1 a.m. you will need to take a bus or taxi, or walk home --- unless you are one of those automobile owners that we hear so much about.

METRO: lines 4, 6, 12 and 13 to
Montparnasse Bienvenue
INFO: PariRoller Web site

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16 September 2007

The Thing About Paris -- Beautiful & Brutal

"People come to Paris to work out something, to try a dream that may very well have failed at home. They believe they can either forget themselves, or find themselves...it was these extremes I wanted to explore, margins where cultures and beliefs collide. That’s the thing about Paris: you may not be changed in the way you dreamed of, but you will certainly be altered...[Paris is] a city that is both beautiful and brutal"

-- Lauren B. Davis, on The Radiant City

14 December 2006

Travel tip: wheelchairs in Paris

There are a number of wheelchair-friendly tourist attractions in The City of Light. However, it seems that there are fewer in Paris than in other international cities.

The question below appeared on the San Jose Mercury News Web site:

Question: Is there anywhere in Paris to rent a wheelchair for a parent who is unable to walk long distances?

Answer: The French Government Tourist Office told us that some pharmacies in the Paris area rent wheelchairs. Try Pharmacie Thoraval, 264 Boulevard Voltaire. You can send e-mail to pharmacie.thoraval@wanadoo.fr or call 011-33-1-43-73-51-73 to reserve one before your arrival.

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17 August 2006

Les grandes vacances

au revoir

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04 August 2006

The importance of being punctual

Most restaurants in Paris are beyond my reach. It won't always be the case and, for now, it's fine with me. When I'm a full-time Parisian, I plan to dive in to the restaurant scene one star at a time, starting with the zero-star restaurants. (I don't suppose Monoprix has any Michelen stars in their future.)

Pop star Janet Jackson can afford to dine anywhere she wants. Unless that happens to be Chef Alain Passard's (pictured) l'Arpege in the 7th. No amount of money will get her in.

The Irish Times says Jackson's been banned from the resto for not calling to cancel her reservation. Surely, there is a personal assistant or Ritz Concierge who could assume the blame for Janet; it's doubtful she makes her own rezzies.

"No-Shows" are, apparently, a "no go" at l'Arpege, and Janet...Miss Jackson...has had the welcome mat pulled from beneath her Manolo Blahniks. This harkens back to the time Oprah Winfrey was left at the stoop of Hermes when she tried to gain entry at closing time. Sometimes Parisian indifference trumps U.S. Star Power, and the result is always salacious gossip.

Or is this a simple case of strategy. Do the folks at l'Arpege understand, as we do, that Janet sitting on your curb brings more attention to your establishment than Janet simply unfurling her serviette at a private table inside? L'Arpege doesn't seem like a place that needs any publicity and Janet denies a reservation was ever made.

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30 July 2006

'Just one more. I swear.'

The robust air-conditioner at Corcoran's on Blvd. Clichy could inspire anyone to become permanently affixed to a bar stool. The place is an Arctic refuge. But, just as high petrol prices help to deter unnecessary driving, the price of a pint of Guinness at Corcoran's prevented me from becoming a serious drinker.

Most people drink too much because of their thirsty strands of DNA. It appears that genetics, behavior and other elements align to make an alcoholic. And with alcohol being an integral part of daily life, it is definitely the most socially-acceptable addiction to have. Life for the expat can be a complicated endeavor, even for the most well-heeled, evenly-keeled person.

Fortunately, the Paris anglophone community has a solution and a network for just about everything. This includes a strong link to the international support system of Alcoholics Anonymous. Meetings are held in Paris everyday, although some meetings don't meet during the August break or on national holidays.

The folks at AAPARIS.org have published their summer 2006 meeting schedule and offer support and advice to people with questions. A lot of my friends and family members have maintained sobriety using the A.A. program. They've all said it starts with that first meeting...and then another.

25 July 2006

Sing, sing a (Rouget de Lisle) song

The New York Times carries a column called "Metropolitan Diary," in which readers submit accounts of random occurances in The Big Apple. Having witnessed Americans in Paris, I enjoyed the following entry about Parisians in America. Apparently, we CAN all get along.
Dear Diary: Recently, on a beautiful sunny day, I was riding downtown on a Fifth Avenue bus, sitting in the back and surrounded by what sounded like a group of very noisy French students with their American guide.

As we passed the French Embassy, with the Tricolor flying majestically in the breeze, the students suddenly stopped talking and, as if in one voice, began singing "La Marseillaise."

When they stopped, this lovely spontaneous act of patriotism was greeted with a round of applause from the riders, all of whom had a big smile on their face.

I did, too.

20 July 2006

La Petite Anglaise makes former employer 'incandescent with rage'

A terrible thing has happened to popular blogger "Petite Anglaise" (aka Catherine Sanderson.) As reported in the expat blogoshere and now in The Guardian, Daily Mirror and elsewhere, "Petite" has been sacked from the Paris branch of British accountancy firm, Dixon Wilson. The firm cited her legendary blog, Petite Anglaise, as the central reason for the dismissal.

From all accounts it seems to be a baseless action on the part of her employer. Her French lawyer agrees. I've always assumed that "terminating" a worker in France is a complicated process, to be avoided at all costs. Do British firms have it easier or are they willing to take legal risks that French firms don't dare? Her firing may indicate that some "old school" chap at Dixon Wilson took the blog entries personally when they were discovered. Nevermind that the firm was never named or identified.

Sanderson has always omitted her name from blog entries, calls her daughter "Tadpole" and her daughter's father "Mr. Frog." It's such an endearing dose of anonynimity. Where is the crime in all this, I ask you? I suppose misuse of the firm's computer is a viable charge against our "Petite Anglaise." But, that could be a petty and laughable claim, given the daily atmosphere at so many firms in France.

On her site, Sanderson offers readers a chance to defray her legal expenses by making a donation using PayPal. Petite Anglaise's more daring fans might be tempted to share their thoughts directly with Dixon Wilson. I suppose one could also apply for Sanderson's job and start the process all over again, with another blog about Dixon Wilson adventures. Infiltrate. Replicate.
Ms Sanderson's employers, the Paris office of a British accountancy firm, allege that her anonymous blog La Petite Anglaise brought it into disrepute, even though it was never named - a judgment that seems harsh. -- Guardian
This is sure to be an ongoing story. I hope that references to Bridget Jones' Diary will cease, and I'm sure Catherine...err..."Petite" agrees. Stay tuned.

15 July 2006

U.S. voter registration abroad

Registering from afar: it just keeps getting easier. Let's all praise the fact that registering expatriates to vote in their "homeland" does not involve any french governmental agencies or french government workers. Click, click, print, and mail: that's all there is to it. It takes less time than waiting to purchase a bottle of water at Monoprix.

Military and expatriate voting is an overlooked, but important part of America's democratic Republic. Perhaps we've learned a valuable lesson recent elections; every vote counts, especially when every vote is not (always) counted.

Spend a couple minutes at the site linked here. Register if you'd like, and vote your conscience (end of sermon.)

Superman Returns to Paris

Brandon Routh is the latest Superman to be cast in a decades old franchise that now seems dated; but, in a charming way. Routh's hair (pictured) has sued Warner Bros. Pictures for second billing on "Superman Returns." As you can see, it played a prominent role in the film. Although, it was often found laying down on the job and looking like a wig. This will not diminish the film for viewers.

"Superman Returns" opened in France on 12 July.

>Read the entire post

14 July 2006

Paris: A new bridge, a floating pool and a fake beach

Apparently Simone trumps Josephine on the hierarchy of special events and logistics. To accomodate the opening of Passerelle Simone de Beauvoir (below left) on Thursday, the brand new - and operationally challenged - Piscine Josephine Baker was closed. Yes, again.

De Beauvoir becomes the first woman to have her name given to a Parisian bridge; in this case the 37th bridge in the city and one that leads to a library. How fitting, eh Simone? But, back to this pool…

It’s never been easy for me to wrap my brain around the idea of a floating pool. People in Manhattan have been begging for these contraptions, but the pools remain uniquely Parisian (so far as I know.) They are quite odd. Plain and simple. But, given the real estate required for a real live pool, it's no wonder Parisian and New Yorkers don't mind jumping into the drink...which floats in the drink.

I once took a swim at the Inter-Continental in Montreal in the dead of winter. The room that contained the terrace level swimming pool was enclosed in glass on two sides. It was over-heated and the air in the room was swampy. As I swam, a blizzard raged outside. I’ve never recovered from the sensory confusion of swimming in a hot pool while snow was falling overhead.

The Piscine Josephine Baker replaces the Piscine Deligny (pictured) that sank more than a decade ago. I never saw the Deligny and, to be perfectly honest, there’s something peculiar about an eighty-foot long container of over-chlorinated water floating atop a natural body of water, even if tethered to the dock.

Compared to the sight of those oddballs who willingly swim in the Seine, however, the idea of swimming in a buoyant body of water is not so strange. One would assume there are fewer microbes in the pool than there are in the river.

Despite its €17 million price tag, the Piscine Josephine Baker – and the complex itself - has been closed several times since it opened earlier this month. This is a monumental case of bad timing, given that temps will climb past 35-degrees by Tuesday. Perhaps Josephine’s troubles will cease and swimming will resume.

Paris Plage...coming soon! Mister mister might be able to cool the air for a moment or two.

10 July 2006

World Cup finale: Zizou sings the blues after seeing red

"Madness can descend in just one second, an aberration from nowhere. So it was in the 110th minute of the World Cup final as Zidane, the greatest player of his generation and in his last game for France, decided to head butt Marco Materazzi in the chest...Zidane's evening rapidly went from the threshold of glory to a slow ignominious trudge from the field." -- International Herald Tribune

"J'espère que ce qu'on a fait jusqu'à la finale va nous servir de base pour les qualifications à l'Euro-2008. Si on garde le même état d'esprit, on devrait y arriver. Arriver en finale et perdre aux tirs au but, c'est difficile de retenir quelque chose au niveau sportif, mais on retiendra notre merveilleuse aventure humaine et cela, ça n'a pas de prix. Jedis merci à Zidane, Thuram et Makelele pour ce qu'ils ont fait mais maintenant on va essayer de se débrouiller sans eux." -- Teammate Willy Sagnol, Les Bleus.

Zidane une icône française
LE MONDE | 08.07.06

© Le Monde.fr

09 July 2006

Paris, New York...Memphis: "Give me your tired, your poor...your zealots"

I don't often apologize on behalf of my countrymen. Je suis Americaine, but I also have an EU passport. So, if need be, I could momentarily claim not to be associated with that fat family-of-five from Phoenix who sprawl out on their bus seats and loudly complain about the lack of air-conditioning.

Something has come to my attention and I am compelled to step forward and issue a loud "mea culpa" to the families of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and his friend Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. These men worked hard to give the United States a gift that has become its most iconic symbols, the Statue of Liberty.

A church in Tennessee has installed their own version of the Statue of Liberty, based on Bartholdi's Liberty Enlightening the World. Their version has caused a stir, due to its crossing a line between a once understood, now blurred, division between church and state.
Said the local paper: "Onlookers, confused by the statue's message, stared in disbelief. 'I had to come out here and see it for myself,' said Yolanda James. 'I can't believe they put the cross in America's hand.'
A police car has been stationed near the cross-wielding Lady Liberty statue on the church grounds in Memphis. Even tacky people's liberties are protected in the United States. I guess that's something.

06 July 2006

"Let them eat bandwidth!"

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe plans to install 400 WiFi access points all over the city in 2007. Actually, he'll probably have someone else do it (I don't think he's keen on manual labor.)

There is nothing more democratic than free access to a high speed Internet connection. Many cafes and hotels offer WiFi for free - or a small charge. Even the cafeteria at Alliance Francaise provides WiFi, although bravery is required to use the electrical extension cord next to the drinking fountain.

Wifi picnicing (pictured) is another way to use WiFi while socializing. One wonders if the spread of WiFi Gratis throughout Paris will diminish people's interest in mobbing together to share tips and conversation. Given the insular nature of technology, my guess is that WiFi picnics will prevail thanks to free access in parks and public spaces.

First he gave us free toilets...and now this! Thanks Monsieur Delanoe. Free PeePee and free WiFi are both inalienable rights of The People.

28 June 2006

Screenwriter Jason Smilovic wrote a hip script and watched "Slevin's" stellar cast bring it to life

I recently interviewed screenwriter Jason Smiolvic and producer Robert Kravis, who are out in support of their feature film, "Slevin."

From the parlor of a well-appointed suite in a boutique hotel, Smilovic says he thrived on fast food from Burger King's "99-cent menu" while toiling over the "Slevin" screenplay several years ago.

The film that grew from his efforts was acquired by The Weinstein Company, which recently partnered with MGM. Perhaps the cheeseburger sacrifices paid off?

"Slevin" is distributed by Metropolitan Filmexports and opens in France today, 28 June. -- Go to interview --

(Photo courtesy The Weinstein Company)

27 June 2006

Seasonal Paris -- I'm cool like that

This weekend will send temperatures into the 30-degree range. Put your head under the sink, sit on an ice tray and watch this video clip again and again (:22 seconds). Revisit the cool weather of last November as your apartment's thermometer climbs into the oppression zone.

21 June 2006

Passerelle Debilly, a moveable bridge

Visit ParisDailyPhoto for a more artistic, black & white photo of this unassuming and relatively peaceful pedestrian bridge. (You'll also find many other great Paris photographs made by Eric-the-Friendly-Parisian.)

Here is some tourism propaganda about Passerelle Debilly.
"In order to carry visitors to the 1900 Exposition, its General Commissioner, Alfred Picard, on 26th October 1898 approved the construction of a footbridge opposite the Avenue Albert de Mun, intended to join the Army and Navy Halls to the exhibit recreating old Paris.

This metal footbridge designed by the engineers RESAL, ALBY and LION, was completed on 13th April 1900.It was then named the Military Exposition, or Magdeburg, or even de Billy footbridge, after an Imperial general killed at Jena in 1806.

The city of Paris took over management of the structure in 1903 and in 1906 relocated it to opposite Rue de la Manutention after a few alterations. From its original provisional status, the "Debilly" footbridge, as it was now named, finally became a permanent fixture. As a contemporary of the Alexander III bridge and the Austerlitz Viaduct, it was included in the supplemental registry of historical monuments in 1966. It was repainted in 1991 and its plating resurfaced with tropical hardwoods in 1997."

Look at Passerelle Debilly from S P A C E

18 June 2006

Paris: walking from Pigalle to Place Clichy

Two cliches of
Blvd. Clichy
The Tour Bus &
The Sex Shoppe
(near Place Blanche)

Le Quay - afternoon

16 June 2006

How precious! I've adopted a German.

People think my German, Thomas Vieten (left)
looks like actor Jason Biggs (right)

The World is full of marketing schemes and promotional curiosities. I have fallen for a rather unique one -- I've adopted a German. I had to choose between twelve of them, so I chose the one who most resembled a sweet little (stoned) puppy dog, the only thing I've adopted before.

I received an adoption certificate and was assured that no child support payments will be requested. My little guy's name is Thomas Vieten and he's from Dortmund as you can tell from the picture. Thomas-Tom-Tommy has won the opportunity to represent Dortmund in a PUMA campaign that had him crammed in a tour bus and touring Europe with eleven of his countrymen. They stopped in Paris in mid May. The twelve adoptees worked with local PUMA reps and ran a contest that resulted in a french woman winning a free trip to the Cup.

These adoptees have made friends while influencing people, and while gaining exposure for the World Cup and Puma. Now, of course, they are back in Germany working the party scene and reporting all about it on their individual blogs. You can adopt your own German at the campaign's Web site. Be sure to download your certificate, suitable for framing (not really.)

That little bastard better be sending Daddy some new Pumas, don't you think?

12 June 2006

Coupe du Monde 2006: Are you trying to escape World Cup fever?

Even though it's not being held in France this time around, the World Cup has a hold on everyone. Heck, even the Americans are going to give it another go. And for those who aren't interested in football, the Swiss offer a temptation-filled alternative to World Cup mania. Click the 'play' button for details. (Mon dieu!)
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07 June 2006

Smoothe sailing on the River Seine

04 June 2006

Stalking famous works of art

Some people insist on having their photo taken in front of "famous" art. It's odd. I've seen this most often at Musee d'Orsay. Wherever it occurs, Impressionism is involved. They must recognize the art from mousepads or coffee mugs and insist on a photo. Do they remember reports of paintings sold for millions at auction or art that was hauled away by crafty thieves?

If they recognize a painting, they call it "famous." But, not everyone poses in front of paintings. There are also serious photographers grabbing shots with impressive cameras. I choose to believe that those well-equipped photographers are taking photos that will one day be used in an art history class. And, I choose to believe that the tourists who barge past inspired works of art to get to "the good stuff" will share the photos with their friends back home and will eventually be motivated to develop a broader appreciation of art.

As a journalist, I've learned to observe. It no longer takes effort. But, it is difficult. Objectivity is a learned trait. All humans are inherently judgmental. "This is GOOD" and "that is BAD." Artists hate this about us. Why can't we allow their work to wash over us like a salty wave at the beach. Do we have to proclaim that the water is cold or warm or blue? Can it just be wet?

(Have you hugged an artist or photographer today?)

31 May 2006

Are the French open to fancy footwork on the court?

Marc Gicquel (photo: AP)

Sebastien Grosjean (photo: Reuters)

It's not like a Frenchman to stray too far from tradition, even with sports. These photos, taken during the French Open at Roland Garros yesterday, seem to suggest that French players have introduced some peculiar new moves to their game. But, don't be alarmed. I'm sure these hijinks are the product of a camera's shutter opening and closing at just the right (or wrong?) time.

Marc Gicquel (top) appears to be playing futbol rather than tennis. Or is he riding an invisible polo pony across the court? In the second photo, Sebastien Grosjean looks like he has blended some kickboxing and ballroom dance moves into his game. Or, like Luke Skywalker, has he finally mastered "The Force," which allows him to suspend a tennis ball in mid-air simply by clenching his buttocks?

I suppose these questions shall remain unanswered.

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