"The reluctant Francophile..."
My husband Jack has always wanted to live in Paris and learn French. I thought it would be good for him to achieve his life time dream. Hence, we moved to Paris in 2008. My first year was difficult. I started "missives" to relieve some stress and chronicle my life so friends back in the US could read what I am experiencing. I currently write about my food and travel experiences, which is my passion.
It is definitely a challenge to live here, but each year it gets easier, and quite enjoyable, in large part because I value friendships over locale. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as do most Parisians, mais La vie est belle (but life is good)!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
July 7 - 13, 2008
Monday: Slept in really late, ‘because we were just exhausted from the busy week-end. It’s cold, wet and raining. So we decided just to stay in and recover from all the partying. Later in the afternoon J called and asked if we wanted to go out to eat. Never one to turn down an eating invitation, told him yes. So, we met him at 8:30 at his apartment and he had made reservations at a restaurant called “Domaine de Lintillac.” They specialize in duck. Practically everything on the menu is duck, from duck pates to duck gizzards, you name the part of the duck and the different ways to cook it and they had it. We started out with different duck pates, and I ordered the duck gizzard salads. For our plat I ordered the confit, Jack ordered the cassoulet J ordered duck breast and so did Vincent, his houseguest, but they were cooked differently and flavored differently. I’m a big duck fan so I was in 7th heaven. And, of course we had to have a bottle of wine.
It was odd, ‘because we had reservations for 9 pm but at around 10:15 pm the staff was rushing all the patrons out. It appears that most of the patrons on a Monday night are people getting off of work, so they eat early, 8 pm, and start leaving at 10 pm. So, we left relatively early.
Since Sarkozy has been named the new President of the EU the Eiffel tower has been bathed in blue. And, on the hour the Eiffel tower glitters. So, we decided since J was driving and we only had 5 minutes to get to the Eiffel tower we hauled ass. The parking fairy must’ve liked J cause as we got to the Eiffel tower he found parking, who knew? Took pictures, but my camera isn’t very sophisticated as you can see from the pictures, the Eiffel tower looks psychedelic.
J drove us home afterwards and found parking by our apartment; again, the parking fairy has been good to us ‘cause it’s rare to find parking where we live. So we took advantage of it and walked around the Place de Tertre. Afterwards, J and Vincent came up to our apartment just to small talk till about 1 am. Definitely had a wonderful low key evening.
Tuesday: Awful, awful day, wet and cold. I just did not feel like going out today, so I decided to use my energy to creating a flickr file and start download. The file name is Randy and Jack Paris 2008, how original and unique (lol).
Wednesday: Another dreary cold day. Jack decided he wanted to go out and buy some stuff for the apartment. So, he went on his own to Auchan shopping store, and I stayed home to catch up on a few things, like laundry.
As the day progressed, the day got nicer. We were to meet our friends Mehran and Anne at the Palais Royale park at 7:30. Originally this was the core of the group. We were supposed to bring our own champagne glasses, have a few drinks and snacks than we’d go out to dinner.
Well the gang of 4 grew to a gang of over 20. Like I always say crowds get bigger in Paris. It was tons of fun. Most of the people we knew, but met some new people like Rafael who is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina and an artist. He is having an art exhibit in Buenos Aires in May of next year and invited us, fat chance we’ll be able to make it, but I’m sure other people in the crowd would. We also met a woman named Valerie a friend of J’s who splits her time between NY, Paris, and Italy. She works for the U.N. funny woman, very New Yorker. As the evening progressed, we realized the crowd (as you can see from the pictures) grew and it would be impossible to coordinate dinner. So, we decided to head off with Pablo and Jose, our new friends, to an Italian restaurant around the corner. Pablo and Jose are originally from NY, but now split their time between Florida and Paris. They both retired in their early 40’s. Jose is a retired Psychiatrist, that explains why he’s a little nutty, in a good way (lol). They lived in Alicante Spain for 13 years, but decided to give Paris a chance 8-years ago. They got an apartment, and have loved it ever since. Hmm, methinks I’d like to do the same now.
We headed to an Italian restaurant just around the corner. The restaurant was a typical French bistro/café, but with Italian food. The maitre’d was funny. I don’t think he spoke French or English, but he seemed to understand us. Pablo speaks fluent French but with a Québécois accent. He learned French as a child from his French Canadian parents. French people think his accent is cute. I can’t tell the difference from a Quebecois French vs. Parisian French. I was very surprised when I ordered my pasta dish. I ordered carbonara (eggs/procuitto/cheese) the carbonara was topped with a raw egg yolk. This is very traditional Italian, but you will not see this in the States because of the big salmonella scare.
Got home at a reasonable time, midnight.
Thursday: The weather was switching back between being cloudy and sunny. Decided to stay in since we were invited to J’s house later in the evening for dinner.
J belonged to a group called “Parles, Parlor” where English and French speakers who want to learn each others languages will meet and spend e.g., half an hour speaking French and the next half hour speaking English. I believe that group has splintered off to be a sort of ex-pat club to meet and get info about France, e.g., moving here etc. He met some people there the night before and decided to invite them over as well. Always up to meeting new people. Vincent, J’s houseguest was also there. Nice man. He splits his time between NY and Florida, but once had an apartment in Paris so knows Paris quite well.
We got to his home at 7:30 pm and at about 8 pm a couple showed up, Bill and Celia, and later a woman from SF Marylynne came. Bill and Celia are from Florida, they do house/exchange programs. I think it’s a great idea, if you can bear having other people using your stuff. Celia was telling me that the apartment they switched with is gorgeous. Has a very large American kitchen. Hmmm, methinks I’m jealous.
Friday: We literally had torrential rain. Unbelievable. So we stayed in, ‘cause we were suppose to meet our friends Jöel and Cynthia at their apartment in Ile St. Louis. As you can see from the pictures below, they have a really cute apartment. Very tastefully decorated. A few more people were to join us to explore an Indonesian restaurant called “Djakarta-Bali” in walking distance of their apartment. They had so much food spread out with cocktails that I don’t know why we’re going out to eat at all. Oh well. While in France may as well pig out.
As the evening progressed, Alexandra, Carine, Léandre, and Aldo showed up. These were the French contingent. Then Mehran and Tara came as well. We were all drinking Lycée martinis, American martinis not French. French martini is literally martini and rossi over ice. Needless to say, drink one lycée martinis and it’ll knock you out. So of course I had 2. Afterwards, Cynthia asked me if I had ever had an Absinthe, I said no but would be willing to try. Absinthe is the alcoholic drink that is banned in the US because of it’s hallucinogenic qualities. There’s a whole ritual where you have to use a special glass, see photo, you dip a sugar cube in the alcohol, then place on a special absinthe spoon, and light it up. When it stops melting, it’s thrown into the glass, then the glass is filled with water and, viola, you drink it. I’m not sure if it had hallucinogenic qualities, except Jack told me later than evening when I went to bed I was hiccupping all night, but I don’t remember doing that. I believe I was having weird dreams, if only I can remember them. Oh well.
At 9 pm we all headed towards the restaurant, but Mehran couldn’t make it. We were 9 people. They actually had a Balinese dancer entertaining us. The atmosphere and the décor were really nice. I would have probably been upset that the food was just mediocre and expensive, if I didn’t have such a great time with friends. Great time chit-chatting with friends. The metro was open late, so we were able to get home by 2 am.
Saturday: Woke up and felt like crap, surprise, surprise. I know I have a hangover. I had vodka, absinthe, and wine all in one night, so when I got up I was sicker than a dog. Up to this point I’ve only been drinking wine and have not been mixing alcohol, I think. I don’t have typical hangovers where you get a headache; I get really bad stomach aches. Oh well, this is the price I have to pay for mixing alcohol. Methinks I’m not doing anything today.
Sunday: I was right. I did absolutely nothing yesterday, but tried to recover from alcohol poisoning. I’m on the wagon, I think!
Got a message that Jeff and Brad from Serene Lakes arrived last night. We made plans to get together tomorrow night and play it by ear as to what we’ll do for Bastille day. I’m not sure I want to hang out at the Eiffel tower. Our friend Jöel is going to camp out at 3 a.m. this morning so that he can get a good spot by tomorrow nights activities. Methinks that’s crazy, but he’s American.
I’m getting apartment fever really bad. So, we headed off to the Muslim museum. It’s relatively new, and they only have 2 floors of exhibitions. The building is covered in very interesting metallic work, what I thought was art, but turns out it has a functional purpose. The metal art closes and opens allowing a certain amount of light to come so the artifacts don’t get faded by the sun, see below). Pretty inventive. This was probably my least favorite museum.
I’m craving for something spicy and different, so we’ve decided to go out to an Ethiopian restaurant close to our neighborhood in the 9eme. We walked there, the restaurant is called Addis Abeba. The food was wonderful. Normally, if you have Ethiopian food in the states it tends to be a little spicier, but it was perfect for us, since as I get older I find spicy food harder to digest. The coffee was served traditionally Ethiopian. They lit a little incense jar and served the coffee in a cute little slanted clay coffee pot, so you can have a sensual pleasing aroma as well as good Ethiopian coffee. All-in-all in was and “A”.
Afterwards we decided to head to a nearby Fire Station. Every time this year, the fire departments throw a big open house to raise money. It’s really popular because French firemen are known to be very hunky, and true to the stereotypes they are. Also, as the evening progresses, they do a strip tease where people start stuffing money in different places, hmm. We went for a little bit, but I just felt so out-of-place, so we went home. Tonight is really noisy, it’s the eve of Bastille Day, so a lot of firecrackers and fireworks are going off. Guess it will be a noisey night.
Walked home via the Moulin Rouge. Busy with lots of tourist.