Au revoir Bercy, bonjour Clignancourt

The move went as well as could be expected.

As per usual I underestimated the amount of stuff we had. But that soon became evident when I couldn’t fit all my clothes into my large suitcase even after I opened the zip that expands it by about 20 cm.

We discussed when the taxi van would come to pick us up (13:40) and then, on the Saturday of the big move, I suddenly misremembered the time as 13:20 and insisted to be downstairs with all our luggage at 1pm. I’m still surprised gergö agreed to it without arguing. We only cleared up the mistake once we had 9 pieces of luggage downstairs.

On the plus side that left us enough time to get lunch from the food truck that is in the park on Saturdays. I’d seen it once before but wasn’t hungry at the time. Of course I had to try the home made pickled veggies. The veggie burger was delicious as well.

It would be a lie to say I was getting nervous by the time it was 13:30, because I had already been very nervous for the entire day. Every time a taxi drove past I indignantly said “That’s not a van!”. When the car arrived it was a very big van. The driver helped with luggage tetris and we easily fit all the suitcases and boxes into the trunk and only had to take two medium sized bags to the sitting area – which was no biggie, as it had room for 6 people facing each other.

The plan was to unpack the two big suitcases and the small ones and return to Bercy with them. Maybe bring another bag or two. I was proud that I fit all my clothes into the wardrobe until I realised that a whole lot of them are still in various bags of dirty laundry and some additional boxes when I ran out of space.

After the first run.

When we arrived back in Bercy for the second tour it was evident that there was a concert – there were large groups of people everywhere. I sometimes try to guess the artist or music style based on the crowd. It was fairly easy for Metallica – I’d never seen so many middle aged men wearing metal shirts in one place. It was more difficult for Celine Dion – lots of women but not exclusively, all age groups. It was impossible for Phil Collins – what are elderly British couples doing here?

The crowd for the concert on Saturday was almost exclusively black. It was a different crowd than for Drake, though. There were vendors selling beignets (fried food, can be sweet like donuts, but I’ve also seen it salty) and drinks. There were women dressed in evening gowns who I suspect left their coats in the car, wearing extremely high heels. I saw someone wrapped in a flag, but I didn’t recognise it. It was only halfway to our apartment that I saw that it was a concert by Youssou N’dour. I know the name because of a song in the nineties he did with Neneh Cherry. Turns out he is not just a musician but also a Senegalese politician and he draws quite the crowd.

We returned to the apartment and did some more packing. Gergö really wanted to take at least his large suitcase back to the new apartment by metro. He was concerned that we wouldn’t fit everything into the van on the next day. I only took a small suitcase and our fresh food. I thought at 9 pm the concert would be in full swing and there’d be no more crowd outside the metro stop, and said something to that effect. Gergö finally stopped the tolerant boyfriend act he’d been keeping up all day and snapped at me “You are overthinking this, Verena!”.

Well, I wasn’t. The place was just as busy as before. I don’t think there was anybody trying to sell or buy tickets anymore, but there were people chatting and eating and arriving and leaving and just standing around. I bumped into about 20 of them with my suitcase and promptly lost Gergö on the way.

He wanted to use the elevator, but while it looked like it worked, it never moved. In order to get from our old apartment to the new one you need to change metros at châtelet. It’s the stop that most lines call “Châtelet/Les Halles”, except for the few metro lines that stop at both châtelet and les halles, like the 4. The change over from 4 to 14 isn’t so bad, as they are right beside each other and you don’t have to walk along endless underground tunnels for hours.

That was one of the reasons Gergö originally wanted to do the move by public transport – only two metros with an easy change over. So it was very gratifying when most of the elevators and escalators weren’t working – my decision to spend about 70 € on taxi vans was the right one. I’m sure even Gergö agreed as he was dragging the large suitcase upstairs at châtelet station. So yeah, I hate moving apartments, but I do get a kick out of being right twice in one day. Almost worth the move. Almost.

The second day the taxi van was smaller and the driver didn’t help much with the luggage. During the ride he listened to Radio Africa 1 and sang along and we even heard a song by Youssou N’dour. We successfully transported the rest of our belongings to our new place in Clignancourt. I was wrong when I said we’d be moving to Montmartre. We are in the ugly little sibling quartier of Clignancourt.

I’m glad I took photos before we moved our things, so I can show the apartment without having to tidy up the incredible mess.

The new place is slowly taking shape. The bed turned out to be far too soft, but before we buy a new mattress Gergö wants to try sleeping on the floor with just the mattress. For that we need to make enough room in the apartment to put the bed frame somewhere. For that I needed to go to the laundromat once more for the giant bag of bed linen and towels that needed washing.

You can tell that Clignancourt is less fancy than Bercy because there are more laundromats and they are busier. There are about 10 laundromats on my way to work. The closest is literally around the corner. I filled a 14 kilo machine easily and then hoped one of the 8 giant tumble driers would free up in time. We are looking at a manageable amount of laundry for the first time in months.

For the first week of his new commute Gergö sent me daily texts how long it took to get to work. It’s about 45 minutes and he didn’t yet have to commute in the warm embrace of a complete stranger while people try to shove their way onto an overly full train, so I think it’s a win. I’m not sure he agrees. I really enjoy walking to work – 2 kilometers which take 22 minutes. I hatch a Pokemon egg every other day. It’s definitely an improvement over métro 13.

 


A big nosed plastic roman soldier guarding the entrance of the cinémathèque

Les lieux speciaux de Paris

I recently visited a friend who’s working as a barista on weekends and because she was busy took a little walk in the Bastille area. Not far from the little coffee shop there’s a cat café!

I also came across rue de Lappe, which has a lot of restaurants and bars. Shuttered for the day they look quite interesting.

Among them is a Caribbean restaurant where you can get a Bokit – a sandwich in fried bread.

And a bar called only rum that has the interior design of a jungle. There are fake plants and vines everywhere, you have to duck below them to get to the bar. The place is lighted entirely in green and has a citric smell to it that was still noticeable in my clothes the next day.

The drinks are served in preserving jars and are good, but nothing special, but the atmosphere definitely is. Unfortunately the bar keeper is a grumpy bastard who put up a sign that asks you not to tutoyer him i.e. not use the informal tu when talking to him, like duzen in German. There are other signs around telling you that you don’t have the right to touch this and change that.

Last weekend P visited Paris for the 4th time. I’d been seeing ads for the Goscinny exhibition on the metro for a while but as it’s in the cinémathèque, I always assumed that it’s in fact a show of films by Goscinny. There’s even a boar on a spit in front of the cinema. Turns out it’s not just a cinema, the cinémathèque also has an exhibition space. I’ve been living across the place for 9 months now and never even noticed it! We went to “visit our childhood friends” like P. called it: Goscinny drew Asterix, Lucky Luke and Petit Nicholas.

Afterwards we had coffee and cake at the cinematheque’s café, together with a dozen screamy children and their parents for Sunday brunch.

I had been telling P about Poké bowls and Buddha bowls. They have become fashionable a few months ago and I finally tried a Poké bowl in summer – It’s a Hawaiian dish consisting of raw fish and vegetables on rice. The Buddha version is vegetarian and sometimes the rice is replaced by other grains.

We wanted to have a Buddha Bowl lunch on Friday in a place recommended by a friend not far from Saint Lazare. But we left home so late we arrived after all the lunch places had closed – In France it’s still very uncommon to eat outside of meal times and especially lunch places close at 14:30. We ended up finding a place with good tartes and spent the rest of the afternoon walking to Montmarte. We came across a small Colombian shop selling Colombian coffee. It was tiny and you had to ring a door bell just to get in. Inside were two tiny women speaking rapid Spanish with each other. We also saw a chocolate place that had monkeys made from chocolate in the shop window.

A monkey made from chocolate
We went inside to check out their chocolates and ended up buying a cookie, a quinoa energy ball and a sweet on a stick consisting of meringue and gianduja covered in matcha frosting. The back of the shop was partinioned off by a glass wall and behind it you could watch the sweets being made by the chocolatier and we all know how much I love watching people prepare food.

On Sunday night we went to a pizza place that has fried pizza. They claim it’s a neapolitan speciality, but I’m not so sure I believe it. Gergö had to have it, of course, and it wasn’t bad. “It’s just like filled langos”, was P. comment and I think she might be right.

A golden brown bit crescent of fried dough.

I only added the photo to keep up my food photo quota.

During this dinner our Italian friend A mentioned that there is a Mozza Bar in Paris, where you can try different kinds of Mozzarella cheese. I’ve started to make a list of places I want to visit and cafés and restaurants I want to try. The cat café and the Mozza bar are on this list, together with a place that has minus 8 degrees and this list of the best desserts of Paris.

I already went to one on the list: the Japanese French Patissier. They have everything in a matcha version, but I actually took the yuzu tarte. I couldn’t have said if it’s any different from a lemon tarte, but it was a very good lemon tarte and very good green tea, in a fancy fancy little tea salon surrounded by chocolate with black sesame and matcha.


old sign advertising electricity, showers and phones in hotel Frochot

Encore un déménagement

We found a new apartment and will hopefully sign a new lease on Thursday. It’s closer to my work this time (2 km or 20 minutes by bus) and Gergö will have to take the metro to work instead of walking. It’s small, no surprise there, 39m2. It has a separate small bedroom with some closet space. The sitting room and kitchen are separated by a bar. The kitchen seems pretty fancy and has 2 gas hubs and two regular ones.

We’ll no longer have a fold out couch. The couch is definitely too small to sleep on, though I’ll probably still fall asleep on it and later regret it. We’ll keep the single inflatable mattress, for visitors, but it won’t be the same as our current couch.

our sofa with an ugly pattern of green, mustard and brownish orange

The loudest sofa in the world

The apartment is technically in Montmartre, I think – but in reality it’s a 20 minute walk to the back of the hill. So it’s not the romantic area of Amélie, don’t get your hopes up. It’s located between M4 Simplon and M12 Jules Joffrin. And it’s a little cheaper than our current apartment. The downside of the apartment is that we will rent it only until August 2018. The landlady’s son will return from his studies abroad and she’ll need the place back then. So I’m hoping he is one of the many, many exchange students who fall in love and stay in their host country ;-)

There’s a small supermarket in our building and a post office across the street. A little further down the road is a tea salon / patissier with nice street art.

 a collage of a rat wearing armour made from small lego pieces and spikes on its back street art of a bird with patterned feathers

During this move I’m working full time, as is Gergö, so we won’t be moving by public transport like last time. I just ordered a taxi van online for Saturday. We’ve only been in the apartment since mid-February. So, like last time, I’m hoping against all evidence that we don’t have that much stuff, really.

Gergö had a beer subscription for the last months. Every month there’s a box of 6 different fancy beers in the mail. So we should have at least 6 boxes we can fill with our stuff. Plus the two big suitcases and two small ones.

Like the two apartments before, we found the new one via science accueil. The process is to email them your requirements (how many rooms, which arrondissements) and then you get a list of apartments. They say it takes up to two weeks to get a response, so Gergö prepared me for the wait. I still got nervous about the fact that we didn’t receive any feedback and hadn’t even started looking at other ways to find apartments yet. And what if we didn’t find anything with science accueil, what would we do then? “It’s only been ten days! We discussed this, Verena, we don’t freak out before the 2 weeks are over!”, Gergö said, as if he never met me before.

While I was busy coming up with worst case scenarios of homelessness in Paris, Gergö also looked at another agency, renting out furnished apartments. My personal highlight was a 14sqm apartment in Montmartre on the 7th floor without elevator for 800 €.

Before we decided on the apartment we also looked at one other place – an apartment hotel across the street from Gergö’s workplace. I expected a soulless depressing place, but it was actually not so bad. It didn’t have any storage space though and not a single book shelf. Gergö didn’t like the tiny little kitchen – only two burners.

I was tempted, because it had a laundry with really big washers and driers and access to a gym room. Also the linen and towels are changed every two weeks and the room is cleaned as well. Weirdly, for Paris, we didn’t have to decide right away. The apartment hotel is very new and they could only build it because they agreed to accept researchers as permanent residents for a special reduced price. And they don’t have the right to say no to them. It’s good to know there’s an expensive but doable option for us in Paris, as long as Gergö is a researcher.

Because our week isn’t going to be stressful enough as it is, our washing machine broke. It had been acting weirdly for the last couple of months, occasionally forgetting the program or restarting itself. Now it’s completely broken and has started to smell bad. I was ready to face two weeks without laundry, I have a lot of clothes. But I also have an inexplicable affection for large washing machines. So on Thursday I trekked to a launderette. It was everything I hoped for: 13 kilo machines and even two for 15 kilos! I only had enough laundry for a regular sized machine, though.

I sadly didn’t have any more battery left to take a picture of the enormous driers. I could probably fit in there as a whole. I didn’t have time for another visit to the launderette but I’m already wondering if it’s not really time to wash all of our blankets and pillows.

Shortly before the place closed, somebody came in and opened the drawers of all the washing machines poured water into them and scrubbed half heartedly with a toothbrush. I was a bit disappointed that I had to leave before he got to the driers. I would so have loved to see if he opens up all the driers every day and gets out all the drier lint. I realise it’s weird, but at 3.50 a pop, launderettes and giant washing machines are a fairly harmless fascination/obsession.

Just to cut down a little on the amount of stuff to move, I went to a bookshop on Sunday – a second hand bookshop called San Francisco Book Company. They also buy English books or take them on credit and I figured I could get rid of the English mystery novels I bought in a moment of weakness coupled with my new disposable income. I got 17 € in credit which I will not spend before we didn’t move all our crap across town. I love the idea of having book credit in a cramped little bookshop with piles of books on the floor.

Today we visited our cellar for the second time since we moved here. We retrieved the two boxes of inferior French cooking pots we put there to make room for Gergö’s superior Austrian ones. We also spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to deflate the inflatable mattress, pushing and pulling on the valve to no avail. I even googled the mattress name and found that another person asked the same question on amazon. The response was to put in the deflate nozzle. Ours didn’t come with a deflate nozzle, but I hope I can work the expression into a conversation soon! In the end I used a pen to open the valve, we won’t have to explain to a taxi driver why were transporting an inflated mattress.

Wish us luck!


A graffito of a girl crossing her arms in front of her body like in a defense move

Untitled

Shortly after the rentrée (as everyone calls the return to work after the summer holidays, but also the start of the school year) Gergö and I went to the parc de la villette. I’d heard from my Pokemon Go playing colleagues that there are always lots of raids going on.

It was a beautiful summer day. I’d been to the park once before but forgotten about it. In the sunshine the big globe of the science museum’s imax cinema is really impressive. They also have a u-boat on display and an enormous toboggan. There were only kids in the line for the toboggan, so we didn’t try it out. We might have to come back at a later time, when the kids have gone to sleep. There’s also a big event hall and under the canopy there are people doing breakdance, practising acro yoga and other impressive feats. I always wonder how they agree on the music to play in a place like this. There was also an elderly lady pushing a pram with cold drinks around. We also walked past the concert hall, la philharmonie and looked at the canal st martin.

On another Saturday I went for a walk with my friend, took photos of street art and had a Pokebowl. I was only a little disappointed that it has nothing to do with Pokemon Go. It’s a Hawaiian dish with fresh vegetables and raw fish over rice and it was delicious.

The Menu of the Poke bar with photos of their bowls

Poke Bar that has nothing to do with Pokemon Go.

The first September weekend Gergö’s dad came for a visit and we did a few touristy things – the tour Montparnasse. It’s one of the few skyscrapers in central Paris. They say after they saw how ugly it was Paris decided to build no other high rise buildings in the city, but it actually has more to do with the statics of the city.

We also went to visit the Louvre – a first for Gergö, I think. We spent a few hours in there. It amazed me, again, how few people check out the Egyptian collection. Even in the room of the Venus of Milo it is comparatively calm compared to the mayhem that is Mona Lisa. Very fittingly we overheard a group of American tourists say: “We saw the Mona Lisa, Ah think we’re done here.”

Once a month (except for the summer) we have lunch together at work and this time we went all the way from the sad ugly part of St Ouen to the artsy part at Paris’ biggest the flea market.

 


Alea iacta est

After our little trip to Austria we had Gergö’s brother visit for a few days.

He was really motivated to do some sightseeing, so we went on a walk of the petite ceinture. It’s a lot like the promenade plantée – a raised disused railway line that used to connect various Parisian train stations. And it’s called ceinture, because it goes around Paris like a little belt.

Even though the little belt went around most of Paris at one time, only parts of it are now open to the public. We went to a section in the 15th district which led directly to Parc Georges Brassens. Apparently there’s a book market there – we could see the empty stalls.

We also went to Centre Pompidou again. I hadn’t been in a year, and A. wanted to see the David Hockney exhibition. I usually visit the 5th floor, with the permanent exhibition of modern art and then I am too tired to look at much else. This time we looked at Hockney of whom I had only a vague idea and then Walker Evans who I’d have sworn is an actor who plays super heros.

This time I also took some time to look  at the contemporary art as well and I liked a lot of things. Last time Gergö and I loved the big pile of shredded money and a room that was extremely quiet. It was insulated with wool all around. Very strange feeling.

This time there was a former record shop that the owner, Ben, had turned into a museum of everything. I was impressed enough to try to google the art work with only this information. I found it on the Centre Pompidou website. There’s a picture of the whole thing, go look at it!

I also saw the meat dress for the first time. The one Lady Gaga got into trouble with PETA for wearing. I didn’t recognise it at all at first, because it’s all dried and odd looking.

But we didn’t only look at art, we also used almost every meal to have fancy food and drinks in nice locations. And most of it wasn’t too crowded because Paris really is empty in August, except for a few tourist hot spots.

In between all the food and apéro I managed to play quite a bit of Pokemon Go – There are raids now, where several people have to fight an arena boss together in order to defeat them and to get a chance to catch them. During the last couple of weeks legendary pokemon were released this way. These are birds that don’t occur in the wild, so your only chance of getting one is a raid. You need  about 8 people or more to defeat them. So if you are not in a group of players, you show up to centrally located raids and hope other people will show up too.

That’s what I did for a raid in my neighbourhood and because it’s the summer there were enough people in the middle of the day to defeat the boss. Then a few people decided to go on another raid, across the river and I tagged along. It happened to be in the rue René Goscinny. I’d been there once before, where I took the photo of “Ils sont fous, ces Romains!”. Turns out there are more of those signs along the street and a tile on the ground with one of the more famous quotes attributed to Julius Caesar.

The last free day I spent playing Pokemon with a friend who was passing through the city. We wandered around town looking for rare Pokemon and raids.

In other news, the elevator still isn’t repaired. I though the notice inside said August 1st-31st in order to be on the safe side. But it really takes this long, apparently. Every time I leave and every time I come back, I hopefully push the elevator button. Since Friday it glows green when pushed, but nothing further happens. By the end of August I might get used to the 7 flights of stairs (I won’t).

 


Allons enfants!

We are having a long weekend. Friday was Bastille Day, French independence day.

I asked my colleagues at work what is traditional to do on this day, but they just shrugged and said get drunk on champagne. When I asked again in our chat a couple of my colleagues tried to convince me it’s tradition to give presents to your coworkers. I am naive, but I didn’t fall for that one.

Recently a coworker said something in French with a fake American accent. I laughed, because I found it funny that he can do French with American accent but not American with an American accent. I asked him if he can do German accents as well. He sheepishly replied he did fake German accents several times but I never noticed. I can totally believe this and found it very funny. He even made the gesture that says “it went right over your head” to explain how I never noticed anyone speaking with a German accent. Since then I heard him do the accent and noticed it, but to me it sounds more like a Dutch accent. I strongly deny that my v’s sound like f’s! Another colleague who learned German in school and can still quote Beethoven’s Ode an die Freude does a better German accent, I thought. The other colleagues think it doesn’t count since he knows some German.

Back to the holiday weekend: as we learned on “What the fuck, France“, on the night before July 14th there are often firefighter balls. We went to the one in Palaiseau last year. It had a band that played French hits,sausages, and a VIP lounge for the mayor, and they were really proud of a productinvented in Palaiseau: plastic bags that fit a wine bottle. You freeze them to keep your wine cold.

I found it quite an authentic thing – like a Jahrmarkt or Feuerwehrfest would be in Austria. So we visited the bal de pompiers in the 12th district. They emptied out the fire station to make room for the main stage, the junk food truck and the beer and champagne bar. And they parked the fire trucks outside, so the garage could double as a disco. So far, so identical with anything comparable in Austria. Only the firefighters are indeed very fit in France and there’s no grilled chicken.

The band played a lot of film themed cover songs with costumes and choreography. I learned that there is a Lucky Luke song, only it’s pronounced Lüky Lük in French and not Löcky lük, as I would have expected.

We also checked out the “disco” and it was awesome. There was a group of teenage boys who showed up and danced. They impressed the girls so much, they got applause and were cheered on. At some point there was breakdancing. The crowd cheered! A white haired lady joined them on the dancefloor – Not breakdancing, but showing off her moves. She got a big round of applause. A little girl wearing a white dress, she can’t have been older than 10, did a split on the dancefloor. The teenage boys, middle aged ladies and little girls were a lot cooler than I remember my adolescence.

The other thing we tried out on Thursday night, even before ogling the pompiers and seamen, was the terrace of the hotel opposite our house. We’d been walking past the terrace several times but it was always closed. It’s in the backyard of an ugly Ibis hotel, looking out over the park. It has food trucks and furniture made from palettes and potted pear trees – what’s not to like?

I finally gave up just showing up there and hoping it would be open and googled the place. Turns out they made this fancy terrace but hate money so much that they only open it once a week – on Thursdays.

To be honest: fried maki won’t be my new favourite food.

On July 14th Gergö and I both had a moment where we thought “The train station is loud today, and sounds different from normal.” At about the same time we realised that it’s the air show over the Champs Elysees that went past our house as well.

In the evening we met up with a German friend and had our own little barbecue: there’s a place on Rue du Pot de Fer that offers barbecue on a hot stone. While we sat and ate a photographer with a big fancy camera walked around our table neighbours and took a million photos of them eating. Or possibly close ups of the hot stone.

Halfway during our meal the group left only to settle down at a bar across the street, still followed by the photographer. We don’t know any French celebrities, so we just said “must be an instagram star” and kept on eating. Right as we were leaving a young man bearing flowers walked past. He was also followed by photographers. He disappeared pretty quickly but a little further down the road we heard a crowd cheering and finally the young man in a woman’s embrace. There was kissing, and clapping and two people filming everything. I wonder if it’s up on YouTube yet.

We made our way to the Seine – we sort of wanted to see the fireworks, but really wanted to avoid the crowd. Along the Seine and on various bridges across people were already gathering at 10 pm. There were picknicks, beer, and champagne. We walked past a fairly busy area and settled down across the Musée d’Orsay.

I don’t include a picture of the Eiffel Tower on purpose – the light show is under copyright and you are not supposed to publish pictures of the Eiffel Tower lit up. The law of freedom of panorama (Panoramafreiheit) is limited in France (and Belgium, as far as I know).

Only at 11pm, when the fireworks started, did we realise why so many people were sitting a little further away: the firework was not actually higher than the Eiffel Tower, but about at the same height. So when you can only see the top third of the tower and the rest is covered by buildings and trees, you don’t see a lot of fireworks either. Oh well, we did our civic duty of watching the fireworks even if it was only a little bit of it.


Que reste-t-il de nos amours?

I’m still very much in love with Paris in summer.

Street art in Paris is so fucking classy.

I took a photo of the discarded matress as we were on our way to the cinema. Lost in Frenchlation shows a French film with English subtitles every week. That way I get to enjoy a bit of French culture, get to feel like I understand French (because of the subtitles) and broaden my horizon, because it’s not films I’s usually choose, I think.

I also posted this image on facebook and only because my sister commented: “beautiful song” it occurred to me to google it and so I found out it’s a song title, not just someone cleverly making a statement about consumerism and the transience of feelings in our modern time.

The cinema is in Montmartre and they always say that the cinema scene from Amélie was shot in this cinema. It’s a just 5 minutes from the tourist masses of Pigalle. In a quieter side street were people hung out outside with their wine and pastis all classy and Parisian.

Because we walked along the other Seine bank with my mum, we found out about all the bars that opened up over there. On a particularly warm and sunny evening we decided to try out one of those places. Most were already full as we showed up around 7. We ended up on a boat – the petit bain. It’s so hip, it has its own tattoo artist and massage therapist that does quantum therapy (We couldn’t figure out what that means, which adds to the hiness factor, doesn’t it?). There was also a DJ and not enough tables, so we ended up on a few chairs looking out over the Seine bank drinking beer and eating wraps prepared by two refugee chefs.

The place is very photogenis, but I think we are unfortunately too old / unhip for the loud music and lack of tables. And too sceptical for quantum healing.

After dinner in the evening sun we walked past a sorbet stall that advertised that it would freshly prepare your sorbet. Of course I had to get one.

Et voilà rasperry strawberry sorbet with oreo cookie, to be enjoyed ice cold on the Seine bank.

It’s not all food porn and ice cream, though. Once we met up in the 11th district (okay, it was for dinner, but I didn’t take a photo of the food, so it was probably not as pretty) and on my way to the meeting place I took photos of all the street art.

 


Des balades Parisiennes

I was in such a hurry to post something, anything, I forgot to include my favourite stories from my visit to Austria:

When we all met up in our holiday apartment with Pizza on our first night my sister told us about their drive from Vienna. The triplets don’t enjoy car rides much, so there was a lot of complaining and they took a long break at Mondsee. There were swans at the lake and my nieces I and H ran up to them all shouty and ready to play. A on the other hand, approached them slowly and greeted them shily: “Hallo Mingo!”

She thought they are flamingos like the ones she knows from the zoo. Hallo Mingo is now my family’s new favourite thing. The other two can’t say H yet, and also often drop the first syllable of words. When I joined them for breakfast on the second morning H happily shouted “‘Allo Arena!”

Now, back in Paris, I’m back to taking cell phone pictures of everything. Most recently: street art again. I had stopped off at the city center on my way home from work when a friend called. The phone reception on the subway isn’t great, so I decided to walk for a little bit. The call lasted much longer than expected, and I ended up taking the bus from Saint Michel to Place d’Italie and then walking home all the way from Place d’Italie.

It’s basically straight ahead, along one big boulevard, le Boulevard Vincent Auriol. I had seen street art from the métro windows before but never taken photos – they go by too fast. Apparently the giant murals are a project that was realised in 2016. The mairie (city hall) of the 13th district seems to be quite proud of their new “open air museum” and there’s a website dedicated to the street art of the 13th. You can look up the route and download a map that lists all the murals and artists.

Another day I just walked around the city center, not doing anything in particular. I just really enjoyed the sun and the city. And I still discover new mosaics every time I take a walk. I take photos of most of them, but I’m far too disorganised to actually collect them all in one place. As I typed this, I thought “surely people have done that already”. As it turns out there’s even a smartphone game, that lets you collect the mosaics. Maybe that’s a project for me for when Pokemon Go becomes boring. And you can buy his art as well.

These past two days I’ve been comlaining about the unseasonal heat (over 30 degrees in May!) but looking at the photos and choosing the ones for the next blog post I have to say I look forward to the summer. But that’s just my optimism speaking – I caught a climatised subway today – not my usual line, so unfortunately just a fluke.


Dehors!

I had another one of those terrible métro rides this morning. The platform was so full I couldn’t even get anywhere near the train. Before every single métro arrives the announcer will say “Let people get off the train” and the person on the platform says the same and keeps people from getting on the train after the beep. This morning this wasn’t necessary, because the train was far too full long before the the doors closed.

I thought there’d be trouble when a young man jumped the queue or rather side-stepped the scrum and walked up right the little aisle for people leaving and waited for the train to arrive in the most inconvenient spot for imaginable. I expected trouble and texted Gergö “Shit’s going down!”. But contrary to my expectations people didn’t tear him apart, they just shook their heads and tutted and huffed. The platform agent talked to him but he didn’t budge. Unfortunately there doesn’t to be a special RATP security force for queue jumpers.

I am reading the newest Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London book at the moment and love the colourful London language employed by the main character / story teller. For a second I considered emulating him and shouting something a long the lines of “You can fuck right off, you little toerag!” but my inner librarian is a lot stronger than my inner Peter Grant. Plus nobody would have understood anyway.

The consequence of one single person ignoring the instructions was of course even more jostling and shoving than usual to get on the train. I got on the third train and ended up squeezed between several people. I was staring at somebody holding a newspaper with the title “GET OUT” while being elbowed in the boob.

But the weird and uncomfortable situation also finally gave me an opportunity to take a photo I’ve been meaning to take. I’ve been wanting to make a “What people think I do / What I really do” for me in Paris  for a while now and the cramped platform was the missing motive:

Honestly, I’ve been doing all of it, lately – taking photos of Parisian streets

rocking horse on a rainy parisian street

s’il vous plaît – souriez au passage

…and of food and my earrings

But we also had a visitor on the weekend, and we finally found out how to turn our couch into a bed. The most important aspect of the transformation is protecting your eyes before you take off the cover.

OMGWTFBBQ

We didn’t do do any sightseeing, because my friend already knows Paris and we wanted to avoid crowds and stress. But we went for a lovely walk in the park, (because we are middle aged now) where the heron is a regular guest.

“My” heron and turtles from the park across from our house. The heron often sits on the “peche interdit” sign but for this photo op it settled on the chair sculpture in the pond.

We also had lunch in the sun (!!) or, as I like to call it “lönch in the sön”, and went to about 3 different comic book stores, because they have the best stuff.

Obelix mug – I can’t believe i resisted the temptation. I can’t wait for the next visitor who wants to make a tour of the comic book stores.

We also stopped off at the lego store. They had a sign saying that you could press a button and they’d create a photo of you in lego bricks. Of course I wanted to check it out. We didn’t see the button at first, because it was placed for a different sort of target group. One about half a meter shorter than I am. But that rarely deterrs me, so I kneeled and got a lego portrait.


Le parc floral

We have been having a very nice and mild spring. In fact, this March was the warmest on record since 1900, equaled only by 1957. We have have made use of the nice weather (and the fact that we no longer have to sit on a train for half an hour to get anywhere) to explore a bit more of Paris. For the last few weeks we visited a different food market every weekend. They are all great, with excellent selections of cheeses.

cheeses

Mimolette cheese. The holes in the crust are made by tiny cheese mites living in it.

Another thing to explore are the two big parks on either end of Paris that look like two green ears on the map. The one that’s closer to us is the bois de Vincennes, and we decided to go there first. We have only visited it before to go to the zoo, but there is a lot more to see. Since Sunday’s weather forecast predicted 26 degrees and sunshine, we decided to check out the parc floral located inside the bois the Vincennes. I had read about it before; it’s a public park that also doubles as a botanical garden. There is also a big stage where concerts are sometimes held in the summer.

We packed sandwiches and beers for a picnic. The city of Paris has a detailed web sites about the rules and amenities for picnics in public parks; you are only supposed to walk or sit on lawns between April 15 and October 15 to leave the grass time to regenerate, but there are exactly 38 picnic benches available in the parc floral. When we got there it turned out that we had been the only ones to study the rules and/or to care about them. Some of the lawns were halfheartedly cordoned off, but the Parisans are a rebellious people and not that easily discouraged.

We walked around, munched on our sandwiches and beers, hunted Pokémon and were impressed by the large variety of tulips on display.

At the park’s entry we had noticed signs announcing something called “Resto Expérience”, of which we had never heard before. While we were wondering if it was the sort of food festival that seems to exist in every European city except Paris, two people came up to us to confirm that indeed it is one, and they gave us a leaflet with some information and, because we expressed interest, free tickets. It turned out afterwards that the organizers had combined an almost complete absence of marketing with the ridiculous idea of charging 13 to 17 Euro in admission to a remote location just to be allowed to spend money on food. Accordingly, there were not too many visitors at the expérience when we got there. We had some good food anyway, and we will be back next year, hoping the organizers learn from the mistakes they made on this first attempt.

After eating and drinking we were ready to head home for coffee and dessert. On the way back we passed a Quidditch match and found that yes, it really is as silly as it sounds.