January 29, 2007

Last week in review

Spain will have to wait a bit longer. My memory is playing tricks on me. Let me catch up what’s been happening here in Paris during Rogers sejourn. Last week included:

An epic walk around the 5th arrondisement that included a visit to Notre Dame (technically the 4th, but it was on our way) where we caught half a mass and sat obediantly heads bowed taking in the atmosphere of the diligent and the just. We visited all the chapels around the edge, something I’ve never spent the time doing before and read all the inscriptions before heading back outside into the freshness. Continuing we visited the Pantheon where the crypts of Voltaire & Rousseau amongst 71 others are housed – as well as the most amazing exhibition called Les Justes de France on those French men & women that risked their lives for Jews during the second world war. We also visited the market street, rue Mouffetard, the Grande Mosque of Paris and the Jardin du Plantes where we saw real live wallabies jumping about as part of the zoo that is housed there. It was a lovely walk on a lovely day with a stop at the Cafe de la Nouvelle Mairie for a lovely simple lunch.

One of the highlights (for me at least) was the meal at Brasserie Wepler at Place de Clichy. A huge old fashioned brasserie that specialises in seafood. We took Roger along with some old friends of mine for a feast fit for kings. I chose a lobster by weight, the first time I saw it it was brought to me still squirming about trying to grab hold of anything in it’s path, the next viewing was cooked whole on my plate, and finally in front of me, the waiter expertly took it all out of it’s shell for me, arranged it with some vegetables, a sauce meuniere and a bernaise sauce and placed it in front of me where I happily spent the next 90 minutes sucking and cracking and enjoying. Roger, Ahmed, Valerie and Michelle went ahead and ordered the most giant platter of seafood on ice to share. There were prawns (big ones, little ones, tiger ones, sand ones, mud ones), oysters of all sizes, mussels, sea urchins, clams, sea snails, crab, and at least another 3 or 4 slimy wet things I would hesitate to name…. Bottle and bottle of Alsacien white wine and the evening ended up back at Ahmeds bar at the bottom of the Sacre Coeur drinking digestifs and shooting the breeze on all manner of topics.

The next day after spending 4 hours at the prefecture, where I still didn’t get my carte sejour(!) Roger and I went on a walk through the Northern End of the third arrondisement. It’s a grittier part of Paris, and perfect for a walk of discovery after a big night out. We discovered together the amazing Passage Brady full of Pakistani and Indian restaurants, a few streets full of ‘ladies of the night’ who are not afraid of working during daylight hours(or showing their not so lovely bodies to passing tourists), a lovely artsy, grassroots kind of street full of pricey french local bistros and a cafe that’s decked out as an apartment where we sat and caught up on the local news reading the free press and drinking hot chocolates while the sun went down.

Friday we took a walk in the 13th arrondisement. Famous for Chinatown, we were headed to an unknown quartier for us called the Butte aux Cailles. We started by the market on Auguste Blanqui which was full of the usual uber fresh produce as well as clothes and shoes and lots of other bits & pieces, then wandered around the quartier, along passage Barrault where the houses resembled something like a small village in the Loire not the steamy high rise quartier of the 13eme arrondisement. We came upon a crest with a selection of good restaurants and food shops and then the magical street of Villa Daviel full of single home houses like an Alsacien village. The end of the day, with icy winds blowing, had us traipsing up and down the streets of chinatown where like all the other chinatowns in the world all the signs are in Chinese, the inhabitants are Chinese and all the restaurants are Chinese, except one – where we had lunch, Cafe Biarritz. The Buttes aux Cailles area was lovely, and in the early evening we took ourselves along to the nocturnal opening of the Louvre. From 6pm until 9.45pm I am allowed to bring a guest to the Louvre free of charge. Since Roger has never been to the Louvre, and he has been to France at least 5 or 6 times previously (!) we made it a ‘Must Do’. At least the Mona Lisa and the Venus di Milo have to be viewed when you visit the Louvre for the first time. So we did. We also managed to continue the Islam theme after Seville and visit the Art d’Islam pavilion full of amazing carpets and bowls and items carved with the signature islamic style before heading off to the Comptoir du Gastronomie on the rue Montmartre for another full on, full fat, full taste, full texture meal. Perfect.

Add to all this all the work Roger did, building and painting a stand for my printer, re-assembling the wardrobe that he painted the previous week, wallpapering the interior doors of said wardrobe, fixing our laundry step so I don’t fall over backwards and break my neck, fixing a painting onto our angled walls (we’re on the top floor) and installing a doorbell just in case someone comes to whisk me off for a long lazy lunch at an infamous Brasserie(!) or local cafe, either of which I would hate to miss ’cause I couldn’t hear the door bell chime, it was a pretty full on week.

Not to end there though… Saturday morning bright and early we were off to the Marche aux Puces in St Ouen. We got lost in all the allees from about 10am till 1pm looking for some special door handles for our new look wardrobe. We left disappointed, only to find the perfect handles imported from a flea market in India (by the look of them) in the Passage du Grand Cerf right here in the 2eme, not two streets away from where we live.

It was a busy week, we managed to fit in quite a bit, and with any luck we’ll take it a bit easier this week. I’ve come down with a flu so I’ve been moping around the house today, Roger had a bout of bad luck on Saturday not feeling so good and today he’s been busy installing all our gorgeous new handles. With only a couple of days left we have big plans for some big walks around some of the typical Paris scenes, tomorrow is Montmarte followed by the 8th and 16the arrondisements on Wednesday.

filles at 8:15 pm

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January 23, 2007

ffffreezzing

Yes, we’re back. Had a fabulous time in Spain. We were straight back into the work once we got back so I haven’t had a chance to tell you all about it, maybe tomorrow, once the wallpapering has finished…

filles at 11:38 pm

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January 18, 2007

The three S’s

Sunshine. Spain. Sangria

Now I know you weren’t impressed with my weather comparisons, considering Montreal was having nice balmy weather as little as a week ago…. but it’s all changed hasn’t it? We’ve been sitting around 13 or 14 degrees during the day, and 11 or 12 overnight which has been lovely, we don’t even need the heating with 3 bodies living in such confined spaces (good thing too, since the heating still isn’t working). And get this, tomorrow we expect a sunny 21 degrees, and the next day, and the next.

We’re off to Spain. Seville & Cordoba. We’ve been practicing eating all hours of the night, and we think we’re ready. Bring on the sunshine, the wine and the tapas.

It’s our mid-work break. It’ll give Roger a chance to rest-up, he’ll have a bed for the next 3 nights which must be a relief after our lounge room floor, as well as a taste of Spain and a sense of real holiday’ness, something that I think he’s probably been missing since the bathroom saga began…..

filles at 12:57 pm

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January 17, 2007

An update from the “building site”

The weather has been just so-so. But for our needs this week, we could only call it perfect.

Roger is raging through our list of chores we put together for him when he casually mentioned he was going to “come & help us paint”. We weren’t sure if that was just an excuse for a trip to Paris, or he really meant it, but we didn’t take any chances. We started writing a list, started researching colours & finishes, bought curtains to be hung, started pouring over decor magazines for ideas, and here we are. Roger’s here. The list has been written, though thankfully we’ve been managing to even add things as we think of them, like “oh yeah, you wouldn’t know how to go about fixing something like this wobbly step would you Roger?” oops, I haven’t told him about that one yet….

Anyway, not even a full week here in Paris, and we have our curtains hung in our bedroom (no more flashing for the neighbours). I have a light installed here at my desk (hopefully no more spelling errors!). The cupboard door handles are fixed, our coat rack installed in the kitchen so we don’t have to go outside without a coat, to get a coat(!).


Today is part 1 of the bathroom saga. All the doors are off the wardrobe. The bathroom has been emptied, and from what I can gather from peeking through the keyhole, Roger is stripped down to his skin, sanding back the doors….

I’ve just delivered the mop, the broom, a rag and a garbage bag, so I gather it’s knock off time. I’d better put the kettle on…

Tommorrow, the painting begins.

filles at 4:04 pm

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January 15, 2007

Now back to work.

Measurements were taken. Tools were sorted. The hardware store was visited. We have paint. Screws. Curtain rods. And more.
A big day.

Now it’s rest time.
Perhaps Thai for dinner….

filles at 8:52 pm

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January 14, 2007

Friday/Saturday/Sunday

Shopping, Shopping, Shopping. My turn. Roger’s turn. Michelle’s turn. Shopping, Shopping, Shopping.

Saturday we didn’t get much further than BHV. It was Michelle’s day. I didn’t think I could ever get sick of a department store, but it happened. We were looking for screws, nuts & bolts, peppered with trips to the women’s work clothes section, fine glasses and kitchenware.

Yesterday after another marathon shop around Madeline area taking advantage of the ‘ouverture exceptionelles’ we wandered up to Montmartre to fulfil a little quota of so called ‘Paris discovery’ while taking advantage of the Parisian watering holes along the way. A cafe here, a glass of wine there, the later it got the more likely it was a pichet here, and a pichet there, but we managed to get home safely, on foot, sober enough to make a caramelised onion tart. Yum.

filles at 10:48 am

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January 12, 2007

a quebecer in paris

I’m trying to find a map on the internet to map our daily wanderings but so far no such luck. A description will be the best you’ll get for the moment.

Roger and I have taken to the streets of Paris, walking, window-shopping, eating and drinking. It’s been very cool. Yesterday we walked around the 1st arrondisement, cut through the Palais Royal, continued along rue des Petits Champs then up to the Opera Garnier. Here we stopped and because of my misunderstanding (I thought there was a tour advertised at 1pm) we ended up inside the Opera visiting the most beautiful building I’ve seen for a very long time. In addition, there was a fabulous exhibition by Gerard Uferas which was worth the stop. If you go through the link you’ll get to his site, select “stories”, then “In the company of Stars”, then go to the bottom right to start the slideshow you’ll see a selection of the photos from his exhibition at the Opera Garnier which I can’t praise enough.

Next stop, the food hall at Galleries Lafayette where we sat ourselves down at the Italian food counter for a spot of lunch which was delicious and the eye candy of the staff was also not so bad. We wandered home along Rue 4 Septembre then down Montorgueil where we checked out what was on offer at the Poissonerie for dinner and after much umming and ahhhing, we chose fresh scallops and prawns which we drowned in garlic and butter and ate with gusto.

Today was a slightly later start. We continued our walk along Rue St Honore, all the way to the Champs Elysee, under the Charles de Gaulle etoile, and we huffed and puffed our way up the 280 odd stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The day was superb. The view spectacular. Then a quick metro ride back to the Marais, where we stopped for a bite, and a pichet, before returning home to wait for Michelle to finish work, a glass of wine in one hand, a good book in the other and some fab music playing on the stereo.

Bliss. And we still have a dinner to look forward to….

Lorraine: Work will commence Monday… je te promis

filles at 8:46 pm

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January 11, 2007

Beautician?

Early on christmas eve, before the kids christmas service, before we picked up Maryan and before we went to the pub, Moselle did Michelle’s hair, and her own makeup… especially so they would look beautiful at the pub.

they didn’t get many comments from the regulars, but they certainly got their share of stares!

filles at 7:21 pm

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le chaise

I don’t think I ever posted our funky chair….

Here’s your chance, before I forget, and before I get busy ‘handymaning’ with Roger….

filles at 7:12 pm

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January 10, 2007

Paris Sales!


If you don’t hear from me for awhile, I’ll be fighting my way
through the crowds at the sales… The sales started today and
go through till Feb 17th. Head down, concentrate, that’s the only
way to manage your way through them…

filles at 7:21 pm

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January 9, 2007

Reservations

I just did our availability (see right column). It’s all a little overwhelming. I don’t know how to start budgeting for a schedule like that….

filles at 3:40 pm

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January 5, 2007

Champagne

Just because it’s the season, I thought you might like a reminder of all the sizes champagne bottles can come in. There’s really no excuse for just buying the boring standard….

Piccolo :from 0.187 L to 0.2 L
Split: 0.375 L
Standard bottle 0.75 L
Magnum: 1.5 L
Jeroboam: 3 L
Rehoboam: 4.5 L
Methuselah: 6 L
Salmanazar: 9 L
Balthazar: 12 L
Nebuchadnezzar: 15 L
Melchior (also called Solomon): 18 L
Sovereign: 25 L
Primat: 27 L
Melchizedek: 30 L

me, I was only aware of up to the Jeroboam, so much more to look forward to…

filles at 6:08 pm

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The Days are getting longer…

We’re eagerly awaiting a visit from Roger. He’s kindly agreed to come to Paris and do all the ‘fix it’ things we need doing. Winter is no problem for a Quebecois, it doesn’t go below zero here at the moment compared to Montreal where it seems to hover below zero pretty much from now till the end of February (n’est pas?). It should feel positively balmy for him. Along with all the handyman work we’ve put aside for him (and there’s a list as long as my arm!) we thought we might go for a weekend jaunt somewhere in Europe. Perhaps Seville. Maybe Rome. Could be Berlin. Brussels could be fun. Or even the coast of Brittany (for some reason Michelle has it in her head that Brittany would be nice in winter!). Factor in that, plus the parties we’ve been invited to, the restaurants we’ve always wanted to try and the galleries we keep meaning to go to. It’s going to be a jam packed 3 weeks! Come on Roger, hurry up, I’m looking forward to it….

filles at 9:42 am

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January 3, 2007

Old stuff

I wrote this the day of the flood. The day I almost burnt down the apartment. I guess I must have forgotten to post it with all the excitement…. so here you have it, a few weeks late, but still. This kind of rubbish will always be rubbish:

Today I was invited to lunch by Michelle’s boss, the director of HR & the 2 HR girls that are our contacts in this expatriation contract. I have to tell you I was not keen to go. After everything that has (and hasn’t) happened over the past 6 months I was not sold on the idea of meeting the people involved, but as usual logic over-rides all else, and the fact that these people are important to Michelle and her position here in France, it was the least I could do. Turn up, smile and enjoy the meal.

It’s been planned for some time. In fact the idea was first mentioned by Michelle’s boss while I was in Australia, before we even had news on my visa. At this point I had the right to veto! I mean, there was absolutely no cause for celebration, welcome, whatever you want to call it, while I was on the other side of the world (except maybe on the part of my mum, who was happy to have me home for 2 full months!) But once the good news was welcomed, the date was set and here we are. I’ve been not looking forward to it ever since.

But today, after having gone & conquered my fears, I am pleased that I went. Michelle’s boss was truly charming. Extremely kind and very generous I was glad to have met her and everyone seemed genuinely happy to have the whole disaster behind us. I now have faces I can match to the names, as well as a better idea as to how far, whats involved, and generally a much clearer picture of where she heads off to every morning to what she loosely terms ‘work’!

filles at 6:34 pm

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January 2, 2007

Now it’s here…

We had a nice, reasonably quiet New Years eve. The mechoui was a success, Claire brought over some amazing oysters and smoked salmon and the champagne & bordeaux just kept coming. At midnight we took a couple of flutes over to our amazing neighbours brothers family. Our neighbours are in Egypt, but M’s twin brother is housesitting with his wife & three children over the christmas/NY period, and we wanted to welcome them and wish them a happy new year. They were as kind as we could have hoped, they invited us in, invited us to visit them in Brest one day, and invited us to share their selection of ‘Stohrer’ delicacies….

Even more, New Years Day, we finally got out of bed around midday, made coffee and were about to go out to find some bread or croissants, and what do you know? Open the front door, and there on the step was a little package for us. A baguette & three croissants, fresh that day.

I’ve told you once before, we have the best neighbours ever, well this now extends to our neighbours family. I don’t know how we got so lucky, but I’m so very glad.

filles at 10:11 am

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