Delivery in Paris – “Moby” the Armoire

Armoire Delivery in Paris This was going to be a rant, but the situation became rather humorous to me, so I may include more dry irony than exclamation marks.

Since we moved, I have been frequently ordering things for the new home (ie. furniture, decorative elements etc.) Getting them delivered has proved to be quite the hassle. At first I thought it was because the intercom on the ground floor had not been changed to include our name and the deliveries were unable to include my detailed instructions on which name to buzz. I eventually scotch taped our name over the old occupants’. Six months after our entry in the building, the name was finally changed. But for some reason all these efforts didn’t help to make deliveries happen smoother.

So… regardless of all these difficulties in getting my purchases delivered, I still seem unhindered in ordering things to be delivered. Of course, i really don’t see any way around it, as I don’t have a ton of time to go from boutique to boutique looking for the perfect decorative item nor do I have a vehicle to be driving my furniture purchases around. Continue reading

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Farm to Plate in Paris

Or as my twin sister often says : Farm to Fork!

Produce Basket When you live in a big city, and time for good food is short, it is so nice to know that the good food can come to us. And it was quite by surprise that I saw a farm stand at my local train station in the middle of Paris, on my way home from work one recent evening in April.

The store Les Poireaux de Marguerite, has branched out their activity to offer their products to people who are well out of the vicinity of their store (which is located at 51 rue Saint-Maur, 75011 Paris). The gruff yet charming Frenchman with the friendliest attitude attracted several of us passengers as we exited the train station. 10€ for what they call the “Vegetarien” basket which is a heap of season fruits and veggies from the farms they work with. The in-store price seems to be 14€, and I am not sure why the slight price drop at the train station stand, but I am not going to protest!

There was also a “Gourmand” basket also for 10€. I remained reasonable and stuck to the leafy stuff. Continue reading

Some Things Never Change : 19th Century Parisian Activities

Expo : Les Parisiens de Daumier.
Until March 4th… HURRY!
3€ Entry.

Galerie du Crédit Municipal de Paris

55, rue des Francs-Bourgeois – 75004 Paris.

Mon-Fri 9am-5pm – Closed Sundays

I first heard about this expo via the blog Paris, Maman et Moi. Being a 19th century French literature fan (I have the entire collection of Balzac – and FYI, some editions of Balzac’s works were illustrated by Daumier) I knew this was right up my alley. So instead of waiting in line for the Brassaï expo (just like in Sheily’s post linked above), I headed over to see these wonderful drawings of what Parisian life was like in the 1800’s.

You could say that Daumier, who’s work is the entirety of the exposition, was what we would consider a lifestyle/humorist blogger today. Each drawing (there were dozens and dozens of them) mocked, exaggerated or poked fun at a certain “type” of Parisian, in different situations of social life back 150-200 years ago. Continue reading

Poo-Pooing the Kong Restaurant

Kong Restaurant After seeing the amazing David Hallberg dance the Sleeping Beauty prince… Chéri brought me to the Kong for dinner. We thought we would make a fabulous night of it and eat at what I assumed would be a swanky and chic address with amazing fusion food. (I had been to the bar for drinks this summer and had some grand illusions about dining out there).

So the swanky part was not to be denied. The place is prime Parisian real-estate. But the sparkle of all that was so tarnished by the down sides that it didn’t seem as fabulous as one would expect from an establishment that boasts presence in a Sex and the City episode. Continue reading

Christmas gift shopping with the French

Christmas decorations up already at Le Village Royal #Paris. Kinda early non? In Paris, stores often add extra opening hours to their schedule so everyone can have more hours to spend their cash on their friends and loved ones for the holiday gift giving frenzy. But it never seems to be enough for this conflicted hallmark-holiday-poo-pooing population. I can’t even tell you how many French people have said to me over the past decade that Christmas has been over commercialized by the USA, yet there they are squeezed in the boutiques like sardines trying to find the best deal on presents or the perfect indulgence for giving.
Continue reading

Vintage Salon

I went to the Salon du Vintage recently with my friend Quinn. I had marked it in my calendar for months. I love vintage things and was hoping to see the mother-load of vintage things.

Salon du vintage, Paris 2011

The cost of entry was 3 euros. I found that surprising for a Parisian event, where most things are much more costly. But I believe this is the first year they have held a vintage salon. I am assuming that next year the price will be at least 10€ for entry. It reminds me of the first year I went to the chocolate salon, it cost me 2€. Now it’s 25€. Ridiculous.

Anyway we stood in line for a while to gain access. There was a lot of people. But we noticed that those people who were leaving did not have shopping bags or purchases, at least none that we could see. So for some reason people were not buying or spending money. I wondered why. Well we found out when we finally got in. The entry fee may have been low, but there were few items that were priced reasonably. Everything was so expensive!

vintage lacey things

There were two sections of the salon, a vintage section selling items from the 20th century; and a créateurs section selling contemporary items made by current designers, most of them young and/or unknown.

vintage shoes, of course!

There may have been some interesting things to see in both sections, but because of the amount of people that were there and the price tags on most items, we were reluctant to explore the booths. And I think most of the other visitors felt the same. There was a desperate vibe coming from the vendors, who were probably disappointed by their sales over the past 3 days and were mentally comparing it to the price they probably paid for the space they were occupying. I can imagine it was steep. The salon du vintage was raking in money on both sides, from the vendors who pay to have space, and from the visitors who pay to have access to the vendors. Yet neither the vendors or the visitors seemed to get what they wanted from the salon.

We left after making one long slow lap around the entire salon, where we had to fight for every inch of space in order to just at least catch a glimpse or two of the wares for sale at any particular vendor. It was hot, ncomfortable and I propably will not return next year.
They should really consider holding it over more than just a weekend, so that the people don’t have to packed in there like herds of cattle. But then those who run the salon don’t care about the comfort of the visitors (or the vendors) it would seem. We are all just good conforming consumers to them and money in their pockets.

Quinn and I decided that it was to better to make things rather then buy them.

There was only one booth where I felt welcome. The créatrice of Raven Blakk who was happy to allow me to take photos and wrote down the name of my blog so she could see the free publicity that I would put up about her brand. I liked her gentillesse and her creative clothings which was a line of “réccup” style clothes. She takes vintage clothing and distorts it to make it sexier, even a little trashier, more rock n’ roll… She has style and creativity, and most of all was nice.

Raven Blakk

Costs you a quarter!

A quarter is 25 cents of American change… it used to be that you could purchase things for a quarter or under a quarter. Not anymore really.

Let’s see…

In 1942 you could get a bottle of Coca Cola for 5 cents.

In 1955 you could get fresh roasted penauts at Ebbet’s Field to watch a Dodgers baseball game, for 10 cents!

This guys says that if you have a 25 cent piece minted pre-1965 it’s actually worth 8 bucks! So I guess you can sort of get a couple of gallons of gas for a quarter, as he points out.

In 1978 a 1.2 oz chocolate Hershey’s bar cost 25 cents.

But this is 2011, and I live in Paris, one of the most expensive cities in the world… so imagine my utter astoniqhment when I saw something for under 25 €ents! A bottle of water, folks. For 20 cents. I couldn’t believe it. Especially because they cost 2 whole euros when you purchase a bottle of Evian in a vending machine.

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I found this at the Galaries Lafayette Gourmet boutique OF ALL PLACES TOO!!! Not a place where you will find lower priced groceries by any means! So hip-hip-hooray for the Gal-Laf for putting something on the shelf that is priced at a cost that is reasonable and accessible to everyone. It’s so accessible that as I was leaving the department store to go grab the bus, I saw a clandestine street vendor with a bucket full of ice water and those very same water bottles… his price? 1€.

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I still wasn't convinced it was 20cents until I paid. Photo proof! 🙂

Oh and just for comparisons sake to put things in perspective… at the Galaries Lafayette store, you can also get what looks like a gallon of Nutella…for 39€. It’s a balancing act, right?!? LOL!!!
NutellaGallon

Oh, and FYI… You don’t have to pay for water in Paris… when you order a meal or a drink at a restaurant or a café, you may ask for a “carafe d’eau” and it’s free. You can also fill up your own water bottle for free at the Wallace fountains that are scattered around the city!

To see or not to see…

The question is why do people  come to Paris? Tourists, I mean. I started pondering this question after an encounter at the Westin hotel bar in Paris’ 1st arrondissement. I stopped in there with a friend for a “nightcap” because I love the setting and décor which is cozy, warm and intimate. We are two Americans who have known Paris intimately both as tourists and as residents, and we both have a great appreciation for this city and the French culture, and do our best to integrate into the culture and adapt the the country. This obviously does not mean that we try to be French. That would be silly. We are not French. But we can modify our behavior, customs, norms, to better adapt to the society in which we live out of respect for this host culture, and in order to grow as world citizens.

This is what I feel is an appropriate mentality when visiting any culture foreign to your own.

Imagine, that you are invited to someone’s house for dinner. You wouldn’t have them make you a separate dish for dinner because you don’t like green beans and baked sole fish would you? You wouldn’t refuse to take off your shoes at the door if that was their custom, would you? You wouldn’t insist on playing a game of Monopoly after dinner if they wanted to play Trivial Pursuit, would you?

Well it’s a similar mentality when you are a tourist GUEST in another country. This doesn’t mean you have to stop being yourself, but you should try to accommodate your hosts in a polite, and gracious manner.

SO, back to the bar at the Westin. We stepped into the red velvet and dark wooden bar/club area, which was full of a group of men, business looking men all anglophone yapping away like a bunch of hens. We chose a cozy table far away from them after signaling our presence at the bar. We could still hear their loud conversations, but were better able to ignore the noise tucked in the back of the lounge area. But honestly those guys were not what drove me to write this post.

As we sat sipping our drinks and having a quiet conversation, we were brutally interrupted by a loud obnoxious voice saying in our direction : “Aw yeah, English speakers! Thank god! We’ve heard nothing all day but French.” My back was to them. I slowly turned around, with a smoldering gleam in my eye, looked that person up and down, he was dressed from head to toe in ignorance, and I said to him : “Well you just happen to be in France where French is the national language”.  And I turned back away. I heard his girlfriend chime in in a thick accent : “Well peeeple have just been so mean tuh us awwll day“. I had to be stopped from contributing to the “mean” people she had encounter all day. The party of four un-tourists proceeded to blabber on about how they just couldn’t get what the problem was. I tried to ignore them. It was hard. They were loud. they were conspicious, and gravely lacking in cultural awareness. The waiter went over and handed them menus. the menus at this place had both English and french on them, and listed all the things that were offered to drink and eat at the establsihment. Regardless of that convenience, one of the women piped up up to ask the (very patient) waiter : “Do y’all got any fewwwd here?” He affirmed that and pointed out several items on the menu to which she giggled and then gasped in delight when she saw written on the menu ‘Pizza USA’. I cringed. “Oh it saaays USA pizza, look! USA pizza! Isn’t that wonderful! Whuht’s on thaayt?

I wanted to tell these people what their problem was and why they thought people were so mean to them, but they would not have understood. But, why on earth, do these kinds of people travel to foreign places? They are not there to discover a foreign culture, obviously by their lack of interest in the language and the food of the culture that they were visiting. These are just the most basic and simple ways to experience a different culture, and they couldn’t even take part in those!

What ARE they here to see? They spent the rest of their evening chumming it up with some other compatriots that they overheard on the otherside of their table. So they have probably not encountered many of the “natives” other than those who serve them in restaurants or wait on them in boutiques. Those people who either must retain a certain level of customer service politeness, or probably just flat out ignore these types of people. Paris isn’t historically know to be overly warm in customer service situations, in fact Parisians are stereotyped as rude. Now, this doesn’t apply to all Parisians, because a stereotype is a generalization and cannot be slapped on every individual, but I don’t find it difficult to see why they may be rude to such a type of “tourist” as those that were polluting our conversation space.

I guess in a perfect world, people would travel with a real interest in seeing, understanding and learning from a foreign culture, and not just for the pictures that they can then post onto facebook to make their friends think they are so cool. But then the world is not perfect, and neither are humans… If we could all just at least travel with a little more grace, it might make a slight difference.

Breeding bridezilas

Brides are a product of the industry that they now must rely on. It’s almost frightening to think that one of the most special events of your life, has turned into a money making machine that doesn’t really give a damn about you and your marriage, they just want to squeeze every penny out of you that they can under the pretext that THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE!!! I want to put duct tape over the mouth of anyone that says that. What on earth do they know about the most important day of everyone’s life!?!

So I got this invite from the Galaries Lafayette to go to a fashion show of wedding dresses. Oh fun! I thought. And it was kind of fun, but it was also scary. Scary like the Salon de marriage that I went to a few months ago. It made me laugh, because when I called to reserve my seat for the show, they asked me when my wedding was. I said, “Oh I’m not getting married, I am a blogger, this is for my blog.” That made the woman on the phone become very confused. She didn’t understand why I would be going there. She even go upset, when I asked her not to waste the rain forests and spam me with a bunch of publicity pamphlets. “I’m doing you a favor here by letting you reserve a seat to the show, this is really for brides of 2011 and 2012 only!” I felt like saying ‘well laaa ti daaa lady! I just can’t wait to be a bride and feel soooo special because I’ll be invited to your wedding gown fashion show!’ But I didn’t, because I knew she’d hang up on me.

The day of, I discovered that it was slightly more than a show. There was also a place to meet and greet with people who offer all sorts of wedding services. Those wedding vendors scare me! They are like vultures, literally, but they think they are swans, and that’s the problem. They all want to sell you something for this MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE! and they pitch it to you as if it is totally normal to spend an entire fortune on… just the flower arrangements, or just the reception hall rental. Your wedding becomes just a bunch of figures on the accounting sheet of some company who could care less if you live happily ever after.

I am not personally planning a wedding… I just went to this thing to see pretty white gowns for fun, but I learned NOT to say that I wasn’t getting married to the vendors, they look at you as if you are completely mad!

So with out much more ado… here is a peek at the fabulous gowns they showed :

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Oh and this guy made me laugh…he had obviously been dragged here, and was not extremely enthusiastic :

And then he realized that he could distract himself by noticing that the models were hot… (not that he was interested in the male model…) :

I think the one thing I would purchase from this show would be the sparkle “oui” temporary tattoo. LOVE it! :

I wonder if these bridal salons actually “work”? Do the attendees actually find useful services and vendors to book for the “special” day? Or is it one big marketing flop? Because who in this economy can afford these overpriced “must-have” services? I think, when the time comes, I might even just go get some couture lessons over at BDA and make my own dress on the Sweat shop machines! Naaah! I’m kidding! (sort of).

Well any way, the dresses were pretty and I enjoyed that part. So…Mazel Tov to all the brides of 2011 and 2012 only! I hope you have a long and blissful marriage no matter what kind of shindig you throw. The important part is what happens afterwards and onwards.

XOXO

Bouges tes fesses!

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Move your behind!

The ministry of health wants to get the French moving.

France has been preoccupied lately about the rising national weight and a depreciation in people’s general health from lack of exercise and unhealthy diets. So they have launched a campaign to convince people to move their derrières a little more often. A healthier population means less funding poured into the health department, n’est-ce pas? Yes!

But….

I feel their campaign is slightly flawed, or if not flawed, it is slightly unrealistic for a couple reasons.

BUT FIRST let’s see what the ministry of public health has to say about health, weight and physical activity norms:

A study,  on physical and sedentary activity, by Anne Vuillemin, Hélène Escalon, Claire Bossard, published in the Baromètre Santé 2008 by inpes (institution national de prévention et d’éducation pour la santé) finds that “Out of the totality of the subjects aged 12-75 years old who were questioned for the study by telephone, 62.6% of these individuals are a normal weight, 28.3% are overweight and 9.1% are obese *17 (*17. The norms of the International Obsesity Task force (IOTF) were used for people aged 12 to 17). In the 15-75 age group, the distribution of physical activity according to the context varies in function of body size” …

“In the 15-75 age group, 49,3%  feel their weight is normal, 44,5% estimate themselves to be overweight and 6.2% feel they are too thin. But the level of physical activity doesn’t appear to be significantly different according to ones body image. Even if the differences are not large, the amount of time spent doing a physical activity tends to be higher for people who find they are of a normal weight (149 minutes per day) than for those who who see themselves as too thin or too fat, these people declaring an equivalent amount (130 minutes per day).”

“Physical activity in the workplace is the most common source of activity, but this percentage passes from 43.5% for individuals who have a normal body size, to 50% to people who are overweight and 54.3% for people who are obese. People who are obese tend to claim less physical activity in their leisure time (14.8%) and more physical activity linked to commuting and getting around (30.9%). Indeed, for subjects of the study with a normal body size, leisure and commuting represent around 28% of their total physical activity. These proportions are respectively 23.5% and 26.5% for individuals who are overweight.”

NEXT let’s examine their campaign posters and signs :

These signs are scattered around town, and I have to admit that when I first saw them, I assumed they were to help out the tourists (although for tourists they can be mighty helpful!) there are in fact to get people to walk more often. This is, in my opinion the most practical and realistic part of the campaign. But mostly for it’s orientation help. But I do admit, if I had to chose between a stuffy, stressful 2 minute bus ride, and a brisk 10 minute walk, I’d probably opt for the walk (unless I was late of course, which many Parisians often are). 😉

These posters (at the top of the post & below) that can be seen around town are a little more far fetched (pun intended) in my opinion, and here are the reasons why I find this campaign, although well-intentioned, somewhat unrealistic for the general population :

According to this image, all of this person’s habitual activities are within walking distance that is less than a half hour. Most people don’t live that close to walk to work or school in 10-20 minutes. SOME people live that close on the metro, but a large majority of people have an average 30-45 minute commute by public transportation, which could easily translate into 1-2 hours of walking.

As far as the market is concerned, yes there are many withing a few minutes by foot, but with rising food costs, more and more people are forced to go farther from home to find the less expensive large supermarkets.

Friends’ homes and cafés may certainly be found in your own neighborhood and thus withing a few minutes walking, but mpst people, at least the Parisians, that I know have a much longer commute time in transportation, than this poster says by foot.

In oder for this concept to be more realistic and adaptable, central housing in city centers needs to be more affordable for the general public, if we want the general public to lose weight and be more active. The neighborhood commerces “commerces de proximité” also need to be more affordable; for Paris this isn’t too much of a problem for many neighborhoods, but there many mini-marts that open up where the local specialty food shops were (the fish monger, the butcher, the cheese shop) and major market chains are gobbling up the food business… The major market chains certainly have low prices and great ad campaigns to get shoppers in their doors, but the disappearing specialty stores promote a more balanced style of eating, shopping, cooking, and interacting with the community. The rise in supermarkets also gives rise in consumption of pre-packeged, industrial foods, that help augment the problems of obesity and poor eating habits.

So, you would think that this “bouger 30 minutes par jour” campaign would be effective in aiding the national weight and health issues, it may be feasible for a SMALL percentage of the population, and may raise awareness on how much exercise individuals get but as far as effectiveness, but well, we’ll have to let the campaign run it’s course (hahaha) to see how well it helps lower the country’s cholesteral levels.
…..