"The evolving 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

April 6, 2008

We’ve been here a week now. What a week it’s been. It’s been busy with exploring our neighborhood and socially busy as well. I promised my mother I’d go to the Sacre Coeur and light a candle for my deceased father, if you’re Catholic you know what I’m referring to. After going to the Church, we went out and I had my picture taken with the “SAVE DONNER SUMMIT” sign. While standing there, a strange woman came up to us staring at us like crazy and kept saying “bonjour”, after awhile, I realized it was a woman we met at the French consulate from Hawaii. Talk about a small world. From there we went to the African market. I don’t know what I was expecting; I guess a lot exotic foods from Africa. The market places had the same foods you find in Chinatown, with the exception that you find more root vegetables (e.g., cassava etc.). What was exciting, you get to see a lot of people with their native, very colorful, costumes. But net-net, I was sorta disappointed. Plus there were quite a number of Arab men aggressively hawking knock-off watches and perfume coming at me.

We were invited to dinner at a friend’s home not too far from where we live, about 10-15 minute walk. We met them through Bernard and Joan Pech. For Parisian standards, they have a mansion. It was a corner apartment with a wrap around balcony and tons of windows that you could look onto a typical Parisian street intersection. Be forewarned, if you’re ever invited to a Parisian home for dinner, dinner is served late. We got to meet 2-other couples who were just the loveliest people ever. Our hosts are fantastic. Very generous and hospitable, the best ever. They wanted us to go skiing with them in the Alps, but we have friends coming in that week-end from SF visiting. Our hostess made a typical French meal, Pot au feu, tons of food. French people typically have a cheese course. I like this. They’re so civilized. I need to start doing that when we get home. So, next time you come to my home for dinner in the US, be expecting a cheese course. Dinner was at 10:30 pm and we were having so much fun that I totally forgot the time, so we left just before 2 am. Thank God we were in walking distance to our apartment. As we were walking home, I noticed in addition to bars being open, outdoor cafes were also opened and serving food. I also noticed single women (not the ladies of the night) walking home from wherever. I’m assuming it’s safe to do that. How civilized.

Today we went to the “Flea” market, Marche Aux Puces. Loved it, especially the antiques section. If you like antiques, you can spend hours there. You can skip the clothing section. Cheap tacky stuff. Just an FYI…, because the dollar is so weak, pair of jeans can set you back $50-60 at the Flea market. And, as you know, jeans in a US flea market will set you back only $10.

Here’s some more sticker shock. We’ve gone to the groceries twice already and a few markets. The tiniest possible peanut butter, which I’m guessing is 4 ounces will set you back $6. They don’t have a quart of orange juice, a liter of OJ (slight smaller than a quart) will set you back $5. I think you get the picture. It’s outrageous. I feel like I’m from a poor third world country.

I’m getting more and more used to our apartment, and cooking in the kitchen. FYI…, Paris kitchens are electric. They don’t allow gas. I’m also just learning that most Parisian homes don’t have bathtubs, but only showers. So, I’ve been told that we are lucky to have a pretty large bathtub for a Parisian apartment. Too bad I only like showers. Oh well. Just an FYI…, if you come here and rent an apartment, DO NOT do what I did and compare the US sizes to Parisian sizes. I suppose if you go out to the suburbs in France the homes are much larger.

Now here’s the strange part about the world being small. As we’re sitting down for the evening, I kept hearing someone yelling from the street and whistling like crazy. I kept thinking, great, there’s a crazy in the neighborhood. Then all of the sudden, I heard our names being yelled at with a French accent. Who could it possibly be? We looked out the window, it was Joni Kaufman (Fire fighter volunteer) from Soda Springs. What a small world indeed. So, she and her step-father came in and we had a nice little visit. Our neighbors must think we’re the loud ugly Americans. She’s returning to Soda Springs this coming Friday, so we plan on having lunch with her on Tuesday at the Bois de Bologne, and afterwards walk around the lovely gardens etc. So, if you want us to receive any gifts, send us EUROS through Joanie (lol). She’s coming back in July. Also, speaking of small worlds, we’re having dinner with the Raisbeck’s on Wednesday.

Well most of you know that Jack is very thorough (anal). He did a lot of homework before arriving to Paris. I’m glad he did. He knows how to get around really well and his basic French is improving every day. I previously had no desire to learn French because where am I going to use in the U.S., but now that I’m here, I’ve decided to go to French school along with Jack. So, I’ve been telling our French friends that within a month or so, we can switch to French.

Well this is it for now. More later…

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