Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Why is it that a country that was basically on-line ahead of the rest of the planet with the Minitel system, uses almost exclusively chip-embedded hyper secure bank cards, and superior cell phone technology has such uniformly crappy Web sites? (And yes, I am talking about you, SNCF, among others.) And while you're at it, can someone please explain why my cable box still has not switched over to daylight savings time? Every time I glance up and look at the clock, I have to remind myself that it's an hour behind. Are we waiting for Jean-Pierre over at Orange (France Telecom) to manually set the clock back for its 3 million subscribers?

End of rant.

Update (4:40 p.m. Wednesday, three days after the time change): The display now reads "8". Not "8:00". Just "8".

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Chag sameach to all members of the tribe. I think the guy in Franprix thought I was a bit touched for taking a picture of this box of matzah. But there were so many intriguing things about it that I couldn't help whipping out my camera:

Prepared following the formulas used in Algeria!

With greetings from Mrs. Bitone and Mrs. Emsalem! (Interestingly, not Mme. Bitone and Mme. Emsalem).

And why does M. Bitone get top billing?

Of course, I turned to my old friend the Internet for answers but came up dry. The Biscuiterie d'Agen actually has a domain name but their site is under construction so the details remain a mystery.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Which I Visit Yet Another Chateau

How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm
After they've seen Paree'

I'm afraid that old chestnut dating back to end of World War I is going to ring true for me in about 17 months. While we still have a good chunk of time left in our time in Paris, I already feel the clock ticking, the opportunities calling, and the regrets piling up of the things I don't have the time or energy to do.

But why mope? What got me started on this train of thought was my trip Friday out to where Ile de France ends and Normandy begins. And that's where, after passing through countryside and a series of small villages, you come around a corner and find this:

It's the 17th century Chateau d'Heudicourt. Louis XIV likely visited there on one of his many hunting escapades and Madame Heudicourt was a court favorite and dear friend to Madame de Maintenon who eventually became the king's wife. In the 19th century, it became the property of the Comte d'Esteve, Napoleon's treasurer, who re-did the facade and tamed part of the surrounding woods into a French garden, symmetrical and ordered in contrast to the wilder garden designs taking hold across the Channel.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you're thinking, another chateau in a country thick with them and 19th century to boot. Scarcely worth a sniff from the real history buffs. But what's amazing to me, American that I am, someone whose family roots only go back so far before our immigrant history peters out into nothingness, the Esteve family is still in residence. Of sure, there are certain grand reception rooms reserved for guided visits, plus souvenirs from the time of the Sun King and the Emperor. But there are others more intimate with all the niceties of daily life in the 21st century.

The lady of the house is an old family friend of one of the ladies who organized the group visit. We all brought a covered dish to share. Fortunately, the cook decanted my Tupperware into something more appropriate for this milieu.

Holy cow. Lunch in a chateau. With a comtesse. What's it going to be like to be back at work, grabbing a turkey sandwich to eat at my desk? I guess I should just try to enjoy it while it lasts.

The gardens of the Château d'Heudicourt are open Sunday afternoons in June and everyday during the months of July and August. Last year, the chateau itself was open during les Journées du Patrimoine in September.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Monsieur le Président

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I'm not taking sides on this No Sarkozy Day effort; I'm just a disinterested observer passing it along for your review. I'll also have you know that I almost committed an act of vandalism to post this image on my blog. That is, if you can consider removing a sticker affixed to a paid advertising panel in the subway, an ad for eyeglass frames no less, vandalism. But the sticker tore in two as I attempted to remove it. So maybe that was vandalizing the vandalism. Whatever. Thank goodness for the Internet and Google image search.

The folks who've had it up to here with President Sarkozy are trying to get 1 million people into the streets today. There are certainly plenty of dissatisfied customers; his approval ratings are only around 35 percent these days and his reactions, hemming, hawing, and shuffling about since the Socialist Party kicked the UMP's tail in the regional elections doesn't seem to be winning him any friends.

Want to know more? You can become a fan of No Sarkozy Day on Facebook or visit the official Web site at

Friday, March 26, 2010


I'm such an idiot when it comes to fashion that I had no idea that the camellia was the symbol of Chanel. Silly me, I thought it was those two letter Cs locked together, one frontwards, the other back. But then again, until I went to look for a photo to go with this post, I had no idea that Chanel also made skis, surfboards, bikes, and tennis rackets. That is some crazy you know what.

There are no prices on the Chanel Web site. (And why did I even bother looking?) But just for a ballpark estimate, on eBay, a camellia pin will set you back $400 and a blouse with the camellia logo around $3,500. Adjust upwards by the multiple of your choosing.

So I even though I really love camellias, maybe because they remind me of the dozen or so bushes we had in our backyard when I was a kid, I don't think there will be any Chanel camellias for me. And while I stopped and contemplated a bit at the market where I saw these beauties, 35 euros for a potted plant still seems a bit steep. (The big ones were tagged at 50 euros!) Maybe I should think about Dior's lily of the valleys instead.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Because One Blog is Not Enough, Right?

Well, I don't have reservations yet for the kids' spring vacation coming up at the end of April and my plans to lose 10 pounds, brush up on the subjunctive, and move the winter clothes into the back closet and the spring stuff to the front seem to be pretty much on the back burner. And yet, with all that on my plate, I have decided to launch yet another blog, Posted in Paris. But don't go looking for my dorky sense of humor or tales of my family's travels on the new site. Posted in Paris is strictly business, designed to provide English speaking newcomers with practical information about making a life here. There are dozens of terrific Web sites that already offer up restaurant reviews, tips on the hot new boutiques, and announcements of upcoming exhibitions. But for the newbie in need of a dentist, desperately trying to find the eggs in the grocery store, and wondering just how long it will really take to get phone and Internet service going? Not much.

The passage from newly arrived to veteran expat goes in the blink of an eye. Trust me, it seemed like one minute I was still recovering from jet lag; six months later I was dispensing phone numbers and addresses. Then recently, I had an epiphany. I could keep doing this one e-mail at a time or I could enlist the help of fellow Parisian expats to build a much larger resource that would help new arrivals find the answers to their questions.

Those of you jonesing for a vacation in Paris, this may not be your bag. Those of you already here, I could sure use your help. The site is up but the content's still pretty thin. Surf on over for a visit and drop me a line if you're willing to write a guest post on the topic of your choosing. And those of you who think you might be making an extended stay in the City of Light in the near future, share with me your questions.

And not to worry, I'll still be blogging here, every day except Sunday, a new post each morning somewhere around 8 am. See you around.

A thousand thanks to my talented college pal Angie Hurlbut of New Haven's AH design for the fabulous graphic.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Remnants of the Past

These crumbling stone arches are virtually all that is left in Paris of the Palais de Tuileries, built by Catherine de Medici after the death of her husband French king Henri II in the mid 1500s. It was a royal residence for Louis XIV and Louis XV, and it's where the Paris mob brought Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette after forcing them to leave Versailles in 1789. Later it was the home of Napoleon and Josephine, and under the Second Empire, Napoleon III. It was finally burnt to the ground during the 1871 civil war known as the Commune, one of the darkest hours in French history.

The building stood in what are still today the Tuileries Gardens, closing off the big open U created by the Louvre. (While the Orangerie and Jeu de Paume, today among Paris's best loved small museums, were a part of the palace complex, these arches are from the palace itself.) Since 2003, there has been a movement afoot to rebuild it. Perhaps that effort will go somewhere, perhaps not. In the meantime, you can find these remnants of the past in the Trocadero Gardens, well west of where they originally stood. If you stand with your back to the Eiffel Tower, walk to the left of the fountain, and you'll find these, still smoke scarred, amid the grottos and greenery that flank the south side of the park.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sidewalk Art

Some time last fall, I found myself on Avenue Montaigne, fashion center of Paris, midway between one errand and another, when I spotted these mosaics embedded in the sidewalk. I was pressed for time and couldn't explore up and down the street to document what I assumed was a full series. Later I scoured the Web looking for information about their provenance and I even sent an e-mail to the neighborhood association looking for details. And I found....bupkis.

For months, I kept telling myself I'd go back, some day when I had the wherewithal to stroll the avenue from the Pont de l'Alma to the Rond Point of the Champs Élysées, up one side and down the other. But between the grim weather and lots of other things on my "to do" list, it just never happened.

So imagine my disappointment when finally last weekend, I set off with my camera to document more mosaics. I even dragged one of my kids along with me. And what did I find? Bupkis again.

So why the salute to these two long ago couteriers and nothing more? Enlighten me if you can; otherwise we'll all remain in the dark.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Vehicles of Paris, Part 20

Now if you're going to brave the traffic on the Champs Elysées, shouldn't you do it in style? On the other hand, this car, which I think dates from the late 1920s, is a very expensive toy (as in the neighborhood of 100,000 euros). Would you risk that kind of investment in Paris traffic?

But as they say, the rich are different from you and me.

Note: I took this picture two months ago when the temperatures were frigid; you can't quite tell that from the photo but to me, it added to the devil-may-care attitude that this driver exuded simply driving this car.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just One More

Whoa. 99 followers, people. Just one more will make my day. Thanks for reading and writing and coming back.

P.S. Yahoo! You did it. Merci mille fois to Olivier for pushing me into triple digits.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Top Ten for Kids in Paris

Awhile back, David Hogg, author of the family travel blog, My Little Nomads, sent me an e-mail asking me to write a guest post for him on the top ten Paris sights for kids. And since I've got nothing better to do, I sent out an e-mail to friends in Paris asking for their input and combined it all into one article, now up for all the world to see. Take a look!

But why stop at just ten sights? (Although if you read the article, you'll see I cheated a bit by combining this and that.) If you are planning a trip to Paris with kids (or if you're already here and you're sick of hearing "I'm bored"), here's the complete list. It reflects the input of friends who have kids ages two to twenty. In short, there's something here for everyone.

Aquarium Tropical Porte Dorée
Arc de Triomphe (climbing it is key!)
Bateaux mouches
Bike riding and rowboating in the Bois de Boulogne
Chocolate tour by Paris Walks
Cité des Sciences
Da Vinci Code walk with Paris Walks
Eating crepes
Eating falafel in the Marais
Eating ice cream on the Ile St. Louis
Eating steak frites
Eiffel Tower (special mention for lunch)
Évasion Vert in Parc St. Cloud
Euro Disney
France Miniature
Jardin d’Acclimitation
Jardin du Luxembourg
Montmartre (special mention for street artists and musicians)
Movies on the Champs-Élysées followed by a meal at Pizza Pino
Musée Picasso (which, by the way, is closed until 2012)
Musée des Arts Decoratif
Musée Rodin
Notre Dame and the archeological crypt
Parc Floral
Peugot store on the Champs-Élysées
Playing soccer in les Arènes de Lutèce
Pompidou Center (with special vote for escalators and street artists and Stravinsky Fountain)
Riding carrousels
Shopping (Galeries Lafayette, Au Bon Marche, St. Germain, Marche Richard Lenoir)
Treats from the boulangerie
Tours of Parc des Princes and Stade de France
Tour in an old Citroen 2CV (expensive but fun)
Versailles, including water show in the summer, Marie Antoinette’s farm
Walking along the Seine
Wednesday afternoon ateliers at many museums
Zoo in the Bois de Vincennes

Thanks a million to Carol, Deborah, Isabel, Kathleen, Kristi, Melinda, Missi, Nicci, Polly, and Teka for sharing their ideas.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Roller Cops

Quick! What do you consider signs of spring? Crocuses and forsythia in bud? Blue skies and a sun that actually feels warm? Wool exchanged for poplin overcoats?

How about your friendly neighborhood cops on roller skates? I've seen the police on bikes, on horseback, and even on Segways but this was a first for me. The nice weather clearly had everyone in a good mood as this trio had pulled out a copy of Paris Par Arrondissement to help a lost soul find his destination.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

ODing on Chocolate

I know, I know. There are those who say there's no such thing as too much chocolate but after the experience I had Tuesday, I beg to differ. I'm no chocoholic, but when someone offers to include you in a behind the scenes tour of one of Paris's oldest family chocolateries, how can you say no?

Servant has been doing business on rue d'Auteuil for nearly 100 years and though they've expanded to locations in Neuilly and rue de Sevres, they're still making the good stuff by hand in the basement of their shop in the lower 16th. We saw the ganache being stirred and then once cooled, delicately painted with another layer of the dark stuff; almond paste being rolled out and cut into bite-sized morsels; hollow chickens, bunnies, puppies, and bells being filled for Easter baskets; and the amazing enrobing machine in action. It's nothing like that old I Love Lucy episode; it's all on a much smaller scale although the total production is still staggering.

The proprietrice proudly displayed the storeroom where freshly made chocolates await their turn on the store shelves, nothing frozen, nothing older than a week or two. She kept pulling out box after box: ganache infused with red peppercorns or jasmine tea, dark chocolate coated orange peels, crunchy nut squares. I wish I'd had a baggie in my pocket! As it was, I finally had to say, "non, merci." One of her sons, who also works in the business, joined us for a few minutes, popping bon bons as he chatted. He admitted that he eats 30 to 40 pieces a day, hard to believe because he was trim and fit. But then again, the whole operation is crammed into a tiny space, requiring employees to climb up and down stairs from the laboratoire to the storage rooms and packing areas.

The front room itself is all 19th century charm, worth a visit in its own right. But beware, chocolate this good doesn't come cheap: 96 euros for a kilo, 70 plus for the largest Easter egg adorned with a signature orange bow. Those who take their chocolates seriously will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

To the Polls, Encore Une Fois

It's election time in France, something I have a lot of difficulty following. So you can learn along with me. This year, what's at stake are the presidencies of each of France's 26 regions. These aren't parliamentary positions but the regions do administer large budgets for transportation, economic development, and education. And at the moment, it's also seen as a referendum on the performance of Sarkozy and his party, the UMP, even though some of the big issues on his plate -- unemployment, reform of the national retirement system, the public debt -- are only marginally linked to the issues in the regionales.

The voting is done in two rounds with voters making choices among lists of regional counselors put forward by all the various political parties. The first round was Sunday and the UMP got its butt kicked everywhere. Overall, the UMP had between 26.5 and 27.3 percent of the votes, depending upon the region; the Socialist party (PS) racked up between 28.4 and 30 percent of the vote. Alarmingly, Jean-Marie Le Pen's far right Front Nationale (FN) party did much better than expected with 11.6 to 12 percent of the votes. And everyone's also pretty alarmed that more than 50 percent of voters stayed home, tired and fed up with the whole thing. Sound familiar to anyone?

This week, everyone's in a scurry to regroup. Parties that got at least 10 percent of the votes carry through to the second round; those with more than 5 percent can ally with a qualifying party. It all goes to a second vote on Sunday.

Here are some of the folks still in the running in Ile de France:

Jean-Paul Huchon, candidate for the PS, and current president of the regional council for the Ile de France.

Wunderkind Cécile Duflot (she's just 34) for the Green Party which finished surprisingly strong in the first round.

Marie-Christine Arnautu for the FN. Born in France to Romanian parents, she's holding the anti-immigrant banner for the far right. Doesn't anyone see the irony here?

Valérie Pécresse, the current minister of higher education, is the UMP's candidate. Almost all the ministers hold some additional office. Hard to imagine for Americans as this would be kind of like being secretary of education and governor of a state at the same time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Translate That!

Those of you in Paris dying for a manicure with sheer polish and white tips but who have limited French language skills, fear not!

The origins of the term are obscure. Perhaps it was invented by Max Factor for Parisian fashionistas in the 1930s. Or maybe someone in the nail business elsewhere just thought it sounded classy. Either way, the sign cracks me up.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cinque Terre

Last week was a crazy adventure. It had been on my calendar for months and dreamed about for months even before that: a trip to Italy's Cinque Terre region for a holiday with my hiking buddies. No family, no computer, no obligations other than to hike, eat pasta, drink wine, and enjoy. And that's exactly what happened. Of course, there were a few unforeseen events. Like the unseasonably cold and windy weather the first day out when the temperatures were so low that the water in our bottles became chunky with ice and the Swiss army knife we brought for our picnic lunch froze shut. Or the fact that the famous low trail linking the five towns along the Ligurian coast was closed between Corniglia and Monterosso due to landslides. Not to mention the general strike in Italy on Friday afternoon that left several of us with no flight out until 30 hours after the originally scheduled one.

But it was going to take a lot more than that to knock the stuffing out of 11 strong women and one incredibly patient man. The weather improved as the week wore on, our aches and pains subsided as we became more adept at climbing what must have been thousands of steps up and down, and we had one delicious meal after another. There were scarcely anyone else on the trails and we were rewarded for all the uphill climbing with spectacular views of the coast, terraced with vineyards, with tiny villages, pink, yellow, and white with red tiled roofs, nestled in the crevices.

And if you're ever stuck in Pisa, go see the Leaning Tower for sure but then hop on a bus. Just 2.80 euros will get you to Lucca, a walled town in the foothills of Tuscany where there's plenty to keep you busy for a day, the wine is cheap, and service is given with a smile.

Coming down the mountain on a steep rocky path, we turned a corner, saw this view of the town of Vernazza, and gasped.

Hearts with locks marking the entrance to the low route between Riomaggiore and Manarola. As tradition has it, you and your sweetheart leave a lock and throw the key into the sea.

Lemons everywhere. The one I couldn't resist putting in my suitcase did a fine job of countering the aroma of my dirty hiking duds.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Gone Fishin' (Figuratively Speaking)

The opportunity came along and I jumped at the chance. I'm headed out of town for a few days, leaving husband and kids behind, my first trip without them since my last business trip in June 2007. And it's my first trip for pure pleasure without them for even longer than that.

Usually when I go away, I post ahead and let Blogger publish during the days I'm gone. But right now, I haven't got the time or the inspiration to do so and I'm not sure whether there will be a computer or Internet access at my destination. Back next Monday with new tales about my adventures sans famille.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Salon de l'Agriculture

We braved the crowds Saturday morning for the last weekend of the Salon de l'Agriculture. It's kind of like the state fair except that it's inside a huge convention center, there are no fried Twinkies, and there's a lot more wine. Otherwise, there was plenty of livestock, farm equipment, people clamoring for freebies, and yes, even a guy demonstrating a knife.

For the record, it was not a Ginsu knife but "Le Nicer Dicer." No joke. I would say that his sales pitch was rather understated compared to the guy who hawks those Ginsus at the Missouri State Fair.

At any rate, we had a lot of fun, at least, until we started to run out of steam about three plus hours in and the crowds started mounting and all those restless French folks started throwing in elbows, strollers, and whatever else they had to get through the crowd.

We tasted quite a few apples (The "Ariane", created and grown only in France, was our favorite); checked out the cows, sheep, goats, and pigs; and watched a horse show put on by students at an agricultural school in Champagne-Ardennes. We even beat the pants off a French dude in a quiz about growing grass. Plus we saw President Sarkozy on his official visit to the Salon. Correction: we saw a glimpse of the top of his head as his entourage passed by. Unfortunately, he was shaking hands on the other side of the aisle from where we were standing. But we still got a brief thrill from the proximity to celebrity. I'm sure he'll mention us when he visits Washington at the end of the month.

Yesterday was the closing day for this year but if you are around in 2011, I highly recommend it. I'll leave you with a few more momentos of our trip.

Olives for sale from an Italian vendor in the farmers of the world section.

Hunting horns.

Now that's a food pyramid. Regrettably, I failed to take a picture of the free cotton candy station sponsored by the sugar beet growers.

Gratuitous beef picture.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm Too Sexy

No, no, not me. It's Madame Sarkozy who is once again causing a stir. Turns out that she attended the state dinner for Russian president Dmitri Medvedev in a stunning skintight gown but sans appropriate undergarments. This didn't even make the French press until the British newspapers started making comments. Actually, the real problem with Madame Sarkozy is that she makes anyone standing next to her look like a dwarf or hopelessly frumpy or both. What's worse for her guests (especially poor Mrs. Medvedev who is only two years older than la belle Carla) is that she actually wasn't as smoking hot that night as she sometimes is. But you be the judge. You can find an incredible slide show on the Paris Match site right here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Musée Rodin

Everyone who comes to Paris wants to hit the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, and the Pompidou. After that, there are still lots more choices (150 in all, I'm told) but just what qualifies as numbers 4 through 10 is a pretty subjective business. Still I'm willing to bet that of all the smaller museums in town, the Musée Rodin is a favorite of many visitors. And with good reason! The work is familiar yet still interesting, the location central, and the setting divine. Go for the special exhibitions, the permanent collection, or chuck the indoors and pay the 1 euro entry for the gardens, and you will not be disappointed.

The building dates from the early 18th century and had a long history of aristocratic tenants before the Revolution, and students and artists after, including Isadora Duncan, Jean Cocteau, Henri Matisse, and of course M. Rodin. The rooms, which are badly in need of a major updating, are filled with Rodin's own work (finished and in draft form) as well as pieces by other artists he collected for himself. The process of creating bronzes is complicated but the curators have assembled models to explain the different steps in the process.

Then there are the lovely gardens, dotted with masterpieces like The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, The Burghers of Calais, and a controversial portrait of Balzac. It was too cold this week to linger there but I know I'll be back.

Pondering the universe or what's for lunch?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

All for the Want of a Button

My husband's raincoat came back from our low-rent dry cleaners the other day with a broken button and sadly, if there ever were extra buttons sewn into the inside lining, they are long gone. So stay at home mom, femme de foyer that I am these days, I set off on a cross town journey for a replacement. And actually, it didn't turn out half bad since it gave me an excuse to finally visit le Marché St. Pierre, fabric central at the foot of Montmartre.

I didn't bring my sewing machine with me to Paris. In truth, I didn't use it all that often back home but it did come in handy for Halloween costumes and the odd this and that. It's my mom's old machine, brand new around 1967, and I didn't think it would take too kindly to being run off a transformer. Honestly, I haven't really missed it all that much; I've just crossed sewing off the list of possibilities.

Le Marché St. Pierre is not really a market; it's more of a district. Just around the corner from all the heinous souvenir shops lining the hill up from the Anvers métro stop, it's one fabric store after another, some just holes in the wall, others offering five full floors of silks, toiles, cottons, wools, and all the notions your heart might desire.

Every color silk imaginable.

Toile de jouy, natch.

Awesome stripes so you can pretend you live on the Côte d'Azur.

Couldn't resist this shot. It wasn't the best store but the reflection couldn't be beat.

It took two stores before I found the right buttons, not before fingering lots of fabrics and dreaming, completely unrealistically, about whipping up some curtains or reupholstering my living room or making fabulous striped pillows for the deck furniture we don't have. The lady at the cash register wanted to be sure I knew that the two-button card I'd picked out would cost almost 5 euros. "Damn straight," I was thinking. I wasn't about to go home empty handed. I just hope the dry cleaners does a better job next time around. At least I have one button in reserve.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Parisians Everyone Loves to Hate?

One of the things with which I've struggled a bit in reflecting on my expat experience is which things I see and hear are Parisian and which are more broadly French. When it comes to personal behavior, in particular, I have a hard time separating the two since most of my time in France has been spent here in the capital. After all except for that brief period after the terrorist attacks when everyone said "I Love New York" with all sincerity, most of the time the modal American doesn't hold New Yorkers in very high esteem.

It was with some interest that I noticed this poster on the news kiosk.

Actually, it's a bit of hyperbole. The poll done for the magazine, Marianne, found that the French don't really hate Parisians. In fact, 68 percent of them have a good opinion of them. But those in the provinces also find Parisians more stressed, less smiley, less sympathetic, more aggressive, and less humorous. In addition, 71 percent consider Parisiens "plus snob." (I love this usage of "snob", by the way. It also sometimes appears as a verb. In English, the word "snob" is never used except as a noun. The adverb or adjective would be "snobbish" or "snobby.")

On the plus side, Parisiens are viewed as harder workers, more chic, better informed, more plugged in, more fulfilled, and more cultivated. Not a bad rap, I'd say.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hint of Spring

February went out like a lion in western France on Sunday with a terrible storm that left at least 50 dead, homes flooded, and more than a million homes without electricity. High winds sent awnings flapping, street signs flying, and tipped over parked motorcycles in Paris too although that was the worst of it.

Yesterday morning we awoke to blue skies and while the air was still cold, there was a hint of spring in the air. The sun is up and shining at 8:00 am when my kids leave for school and it was still out when my older child arrived back home around 6:00 pm. The crocuses have pushed their way up and the forsythia is in bud. We're not out of the woods yet but at least we have hope for brighter, warmer days ahead.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Since customer service is not assumed in France, it's important to give credit where it's due. My hat is off today to the folks at the RATP, the authority which runs public transport in Ile de France.

Believe it or not, my husband and I both managed to lose our Navigo cards, our unlimited passes to mass transit, within a few days of each other. Pulling my card out of my bag as we arrived back in Paris from London on Friday evening, I was thinking that I needed to get a replacement for the cracked plastic case. Tomorrow, I said to myself. By the time we got to the metro entrance, not five minutes later, my card had slipped out of the case, lost underfoot in the crush of humanity at Gare du Nord.

But no matter. The lady at the Montparnasse branch of Le Club RATP (open on Saturdays and Sundays!) was all smiles and within minutes, both of us had a fresh Navigo pass in hand, no questions asked. Well played RATP. I'm a fan for life.
Related Posts with Thumbnails