Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I give to the following day

Ok. So I am finally going to finish blogging about Paris. And thanks to the magic of backdating, you may never notice. It's Blogger's gift to the procrastinator. Speaking of, I learned a new saying:

Je remet au lendemain.

(It's French for 'I procrastinate.' Or literally: 'I give to the following day' which is a really nice way of saying it.

See. It's not that I'm procrastinating; I just want future me to have something to do. Wouldn't want her to get bored.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I don't speak French. I speak French Food.

So, after 27 days in Paris, that is the conclusion I've come to. I can wing it (or gesticulate it), but really, my French is not so good. But my ordering is impeccable. Or at the very least, it gets me food and wine. So I'm fine with that.

(And for those wondering, I never had an issue with my "not-so-good French for a few reasons.

1. In the city, many people speak English. In the country where people don’t speak English, people appreciated any attempt, no matter how butchered. They know it’s hard.)

2. I tried. I said s’il vous plait and merci and bonjour(nee) and bonsoir(ee). I said excusez-moi de vous déranger. I said monsieur and madame. I looked up key words or phrases when I knew I had to ask something specific, but otherwise I winged it. So thank you, Alliance Française for teaching me enough French to feel comfortable even when I wasn’t speaking it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Étoile Sighting!

This may be something that only Samantha cares about, but my second to last day, I saw Daniel Auteuil on the street. He was coming out of a parking garage near Pont Marie. It took me a second to process who it was. One of those that guy looks familiar, how do I know him? moments.

Daniel Auteuil is one of my favorite French actors. And there he was. On the same sidewalk as me. In Paris. Not that I was following him or anything, but I lost sight of him on Île Saint Louis. I couldn’t trail him too closely, not being familiar with French stalking laws.

Plus, I had some shopping to do.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Most definitely not The Jewel.

I was at one of my neighborhood grocery stores (there are three right outside the St. Paul metro station). I tried to buy groceries frequently because 1) it's very French and 2) I was living in a third floor, ancient uneven stone staircase apartment. So heavy bags of groceries were a no.

I'm checking out and the cashier takes my yogurt and says something to me. In French. I put my deductive powers to the test, "What would someone be saying at this point?" 'I love this yogurt.' (No, it seems more important than that.) Ah, she's pointing, saying something about the date. Oh, it's expired. (Holy crap. She was actually checking the expiration dates on the food as she rung it up.)

So I divine that she's telling me I can run back and get another one. Which I do. 'Causing a hold-up. Which
(for a change) was totally not my fault.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beep. Turn the page.

I was in the Museum of Jewish Art and History (Le Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme). It’s a beautiful building featuring impressive and moving exhibits. They provide visitors with audio guides free of charge. I’m not always a fan of audio guides, but the exhibits were frequently in Hebrew and described entirely in French so it was necessary. (The only Hebrew I know is the wine prayer. And while that certainly comes in handy in Paris, it’s not so useful in a museum.)

So I found myself in a room filled with various and ancient Hebrew tombstones. It was amazing to see these concrete (well, stone) examples of the presence of Jews in France hundreds of years ago. I wandered through the room along with an elderly couple, listening to my handset describe the unearthing of the stones and the age from which they came.

As I looked over these memorials to loved ones, Audio Guide Man said, ‘For more information on anti-semitism in the Middle Ages, press 5-5-1.’

Now do you recall those read-along records we had as kids? The one where you’re reading Peter and the Wolf and the record says “At the sound of the beep, turn the page.” Remember his voice? His inflection? His enthusiasm for turning the page? Well, there he was. In my ear in the 4th arrondissement.
That same voice. That same inflection. That same enthusiasm for pressing 5-5-1.

So I laughed. And no, it wasn’t that uncomfortable, at a funeral, inappropriate laughing. It was real laughing at something really funny.

Okay. So maybe you had to be there. Though by the looks I received from the elderly couple who were there, no, that wasn't it (But I’m guessing they never had that record. Probably don't even know who Peter and the Wolf is. Are.) But if you had been there, you Generation X American, you would have laughed with me. I promise.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re wondering, I did press 5-5-1. And anti-semitism in the Middle Ages (and I’ll go out on a limb here and say every other age, as well) really isn’t funny.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Walking down the Champs-Élysée.

So today I happened upon an amazing event when I turned the corner onto the Champs-Élysée. I'm having trouble discerning it if takes place every day but that seemed to be the buzz around the Arc.   

Several old soldiers, sailors, paratroopers (I'm not familiar with French military so I don't know who belongs to what) paraded down the end bit of the the Champs-Élysée to the Arc de Triomphe and laid enormous wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, sang the national anthem and waved flags from their respective regiments. 

For a few minutes (about a half-hour or so), you could see the young men and woman (there was one) that they once were. They got scolded for talking and not paying attention. They sang with pride and raised their flags with enthusiasm.

And then they were just regular old guys and gal again, a little hunched, heading off in their own directions. I wanted to give them all hugs. But there was a rope and you know, that'd be weird.