Le café des chats, le café matcha, le canal St Martin et mes aventures Pokémon Go

I haven’t been blogging in a while, but it’s not because I haven’t been keeping busy.

I announced that we’d be visiting the cat café and that’s what we did. We had brunch there a few weeks ago. It was different from what I expected. Mostly because it smelled of littler box. I don’t why I didn’t expect that, but it really took me by surprise. I think I might have thought it’s a place with tiles that’s hosed down every day. Or maybe I just didn’t expect old upholstered wooden furniture.

After disinfecting our hands, we were sat at a table and the cats started to fight, with hissing and screaming and everything. I had forgotten about that part of cat ownership as well. There was a post in the middle of the room covered in rope and one of the cats climbed up it. That’s when the waitress came back to reseat us, telling us there had been an accident. The cat that had climbed the post during the fight had pooped on the cross beam. They got out a ladder and cleaned it up. I guess my memory sanitised having cats and I’m fine with that.

We also tried out another different café: the matcha café. I liked it. I think Gergö liked it as well and we might have to go back there to buy more of the black fermented garlic we got in the store that goes with the café.

That same weekend we also went to the flea market in the south of Paris, marché de Montreuil. It has a reputation of being cheaper and less touristy. Well, I loved it.

I have also been playing a lot of Pokemon Go. I joined a messenger group for the 18th district, so I can find out if people are getting together in my neighbourhood to do a raid. You need five or more people to defeat a raid boss, so people organise in groups to coordinate.

It’s a good way to see more of my district.

ZAD stands for Zone à défendre and are squats / occupations of areas by people who want to block developments.

One of the newer things introduced by Pokémon Go are community days. Once a month for three hours one particular Pokémon will pop up very often and there will be a shiny version of it as well. Shiny just means it has a different colour than usual. For the April community day I went to the shopping mall at la Défense. They have sponsored Pokéstops and there are always lots of people and Pokémons there. I knew what to expect, I had been there before for a Pokemon event but whoa, it was busy.

Another new thing in Pokemon Go are what they call research quests. Completing 8 quests would give you a chance to capture Mew, a legendary Pokemon that you can’t get any other way in the game. The problem being that one of the quests was to evolve a magicarp. It’s a useless orange fish that needs 400 candy to evolve into a fierce blue dragon called gyarados. Catching one magicarp gets you 3 candy.

Fish Pokémon are more common close to water and so we also took a lot of walks around the canal St. Martin. There were a couple of very nice warm weekends and people were out and about playing Petanque and putting up slacklines and drinking wine and eating cheese.

We got a beer from the German bar and sat down on a bench and 5 minutes later two Americans walked up to the bench and sat down with their backs to us. They were on a date and started discussing their lives in Paris, ex-partners and open relationships. I want to say “Why do they assume nobody understands them when they are talking English” but a) seems fair, b) they probably didn’t care that much and assumed we were just German tourists. In a situation like this I always feel torn – on the one hand I find the awkwardness difficult, on the other hand I loooove to eavesdrop on conversations.

Il pleut beaucoup

The last two weekends were depressingly rainy. Despite our best intentions we didn’t took any of the Saturday walks we planned.

Instead we went on a short bus ride up to Sacre Cœur. There’s an electric bus that goes up all the way to the church, making a long, winding ascent on narrow roads.

It was raining so strongly, we didn’t see anything of the view from up on Montmartre. The bus windows were completely fogged up and it poured down, so we stayed on the bus and took it right back home. You’ll have to look at the photos I took of Sacre Cœur and the view in Octobre 2015, when the weather was much nicer.

To be honest, we mostly took the bus to catch pokemon while making a few kilometers. But even if you don’t play Pokemon Go, it’s a good bus line. It leaves right across from the merry-go-round that still plays Christmas songs at the Mairie du 18ème – (all arrondissements have their own city hall). It’s 5 minutes from our place and you can stop by a bakery to buy croissants for your bus ride. It stops right in front of Sacre Cœur and then goes on to Pigalle, which is a metro stop and also an area that has all the dodgy bars and strip clubs. If you get out at Sacre Cœur you can take the funicular down and check out the fabric shops that cluster around the east side of the foot of Montmartre.

We did something fun on Friday night, though (your mileage may vary): two of my colleagues and a friend from Gergö’s work and Gergö and I all raided Pokemon together. It was freezing and windy, and I finally caught a legendary pokemon that had been missing from my Pokedex. Gergö also caught one. It’s his strongest pokemon and he uses it in all raids now. He is already a level 25 player, despite only having played for 2 weeks.

What you see when you spend Friday night raiding legendary Pokemon

This Monday I missed boxing class because I hadn’t been feeling well. So I finally located the marché des biffins (vaguely translates to ragpicker’s market) that I usually miss by going directly boxing after work. It’s a small side street before the underpass where I always see the street vendors on Monday mornings. It was dark but it looked like it was well visited, so I had a look.


The street starts with the same kind of vendors like in the underpass: people who sell shoes, clothes, electronics from a big cloth they have spread on the floor. Some illuminate their wares with their cell phone flashlights. I also saw someone looking over a pair of winter boots with using his phone as a flashlight. People were starting to pack up, but it was still pretty busy. At one moment I noticed that I was the only woman on the street, but there were plenty of people on the street, there was nothing threatening going on and no one seemed to pay any attention beyond advertising their wares.

As the street goes on, the vendors get more professional looking and more substantial in their set up – tables and furniture, tarp roofs to protect the wares. One one side people were selling right from their rather run down looking warehouses. Still further on the street goes past marché Malik and then Dauphine and Malassis. On that level most vendors have real stalls and most of them sell sportswear, tennis shoes and printed t-shirts.

I love the pigeon wearing swag

Today a friend from work told me that a colleague was assaulted on Monday night on his way to the metro line 4, which is pretty much where I walk every day. I don’t know any details other than he got a fist in his face. But I think it’s the first time I heard of anything happening despite people at work saying how dangerous and dodgy St Ouen is. I refuse to be scared, though. Ok, I might put my phone away and not whip it out all the time to take pictures of swag wearing pigeon graffiti, but I refuse to be scared.

I was going to hit post on this entry but then I realised that I hadn’t included a single food photo. Well, I didn’t want to post the one of the tartare I had a the (best, according to tripadvisor) burger place because the day after I got sick and missed boxing class.

But I wanted to tell you about the fancy brunch at Chez Claus, a small breakfast place. I was invited for my birthday! I had delicious scones, followed by a tartine with mushrooms, avocado and a poached egg. I think that constitutes a 7 on the Verena food preference scale. They also make a big mug of coffee to my taste: usually they add 2 double espresso, but for me it was 1 single espresso. The rest is milk.

It looked as good as it tasted

My friends also gave me present: An escape game set in an airplane. I think the hardest part won’t be escaping but trying to find a date when it’s open and free and everyone has time and coordinating that on facebook messenger.

Bonne Année, bonne santé

Gergö and I tried out the Fondue/Raclette Restaurant around the corner on New Year’s day. We figured it would be empty because of the date, but we got one of the last tables. Entering the restaurant we were hit by a wave of cheese. It was a smell even stronger than our fridge on its worst days (or best, depending on your point of view). The place is also really warm, because all the tables have built in grills to keep the cheese warm. (Keeping the cheese warm needs to become an expression for something.)

After we got home I noticed that my scarf and coat smelled of cheese. I told this to our friends at brunch today, and they immediately assumed Gergö spent that night cuddling with my coat, using it like a doudou. They know him well. He didn’t, obviously, because my hair smelled of cheese as well.

On the weekend I wanted to go visit the marché aux puces, the flea market of St. Ouen. We’d been there before and I wrote about it twice (with my dad and with our very first visitor in France). We only live about a 15 minute walk away from the market now. Actually it’s markets – there are several and they all have different names.

At work all of our meeting rooms are called after St Ouen flea markets. The one we used most frequently used to be Biron. Now that we are on the third floor we have new ones. We had to choose new names for them and settled for Malassis, which sounds like “sitting badly” to me and l’Usine (the factory).

I didn’t find what I was looking for – I’m still/again crocheting carpets from cut up t-shirts (like this one). But I don’t want to spend too much money on tshirts I’m only going to cut up.

Once a week I walk past a very dodgy market at the underpass of the Boulevard peripherique. It’s mostly just piles of clothes on large sheets on the floor. I think it probably has exactly what I’m looking for, but I’m too timid to go in there and negotiate. Plus it’s in the morning and I don’t want to show up at work with my dodgy, potentially smelly flea market bounty and explain yet another weird thing I do to my colleagues.

Anyway: if you are thinking of throwing away old t-shirts or other clothes in stretchy cotton jersey material, keep them for me instead! I don’t mind if there are stains or holes, I cut them up anyway.

On my birthday, a Sunday, we tried out Brunch at the Recyclerie, an alternative café. I really liked the food, but the room is very big and high and gets very loud. I like all the alternative/eco things the place does. You can become member of an association that collects kitchen waste. If you join, you can take a bucket from their little hut and return it filled with things like coffee grains and vegetable peel and they use it to make humus (topsoil, not the chick pea paste) for the Jardin Ruisseau, a shared urban garden project.

Sunday was also the day I finally started to use my new mobile. For a while I didn’t dare use it for fear of scratching its beautiful screen or dropping it. But I actually sat down and moved most of my accounts to the new phone. And in the process turned Gergö into a Pokemon Go player!

We started a new account on the old phone and now he also plays. We live on top of a Pokestop now and a lot of things changed inside the game. He already has level 19 after a week and I keep telling him how we veteran players (Level 37 soon!) had to walk barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways to fight for a place in the arena. He also does the things he complained to me about when I first started playing: stopping randomly in the middle of the street to catch something, going really slowly because there are too many Pokemon to catch, etc.

My birthday present arrived Sunday evening: an invitation for an exclusive raid. The weird part: My colleague F suggested we go raiding in the city center. According to internet rumours, the sponsored gyms around Les Halles give a better chance of receiving an invitation for an exclusive raid. And he really wants one. I went along with him and another colleague and invited another friend. And my friend and I got an invitation and my colleagues didn’t.

The bad part: it’s on Tuesday at 12:30. My lunch break doesn’t start until 1pm and the gym is a few minutes walk from place de la concorde. And you’d have to be there on time, or they start without you. So I asked Gergö to do the raid in my place. I’m sorry to miss it, but I don’t want to miss an hour and a half of work for a virtual monster I might not even catch. I have no idea how I got to level 36 with that kind of attitude.

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


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).


Versailles en automne

Pile of stones with coffe cup on top

Déjà presque décembre

Another week has gone by in a blink and December is almost upon us!

This week I went to Paris to work in a café called le Cairn, close to the Eiffel Tower. When I looked at the website I was sure, I’d heard the word before. I just couldn’t place it. It’s not menhir, it’s not henge. Then I visited the café to work and voilà. It’s the same in French as in English apparently.

Pile of stones with coffe cup on top

When a nearby building site took out the jackhammer, I packed up and rewarded myself with a little Pokemon Go. I wandered to my usual spot at the north west corner, where there are three Pokéstops usually with active lures. In between catching Pokémon I looked up at the little pond and saw yet another heron. In the middle of Paris, right next to the Eiffel Tower. I’ve mentioned before how much these birds amaze me. I looked around to see if anyone else noticed, so I could share my delight and amazement. But everyone was intently looking into their phone, playing Pokémon. So I just enjoyed the moment and took a photo of a far away away heron.

heron at the eiffel tower

I went back to the city center, to catch a train home.

My day of unexpected delights didn’t end there. Next to Centre Pompidou I saw a Mongolian throat singing band playing horse hair violins. I didn’t dare film them, though I would have loved to share the music with my dad, who gets a kick out of good buskers. I did take a photo though.

Mongolian Band playing and singing overtone at Centre Pompidou

On Thursday I went to my French grammar class. One of my colleagues would have liked to join a conversation class, but since they are all full, our teacher instead suggested to spend some minutes of our grammar class talking every week.

She started off with a conversation about politics, because it was the week of the presidential primaries of the conservative and center parties of France. I think my colleague wasn’t thrilled about the development. She didn’t seem to be interested in politics much. Our teacher wanted to get us to talk about our countries presidential elections and asked me, what it’s like in Austria.

I think she only asked if we elect our president directly or indirecty. Instead of an answer I gave a summary of this year’s 4 past and future election (attempt)s. She praised me, because I used so much election specific vocabulary. And I was proud. Until I realised why I know all these words. I looked them all up to explain how fucked up the whole process was in Austria this year.

I learned something very interesting about the French voting process, however: They don’t have ballots with all the candidates in which you punch a hole or which you mark with a cross. They have individual papers for each candidate. Every voter takes all of the little papers, disappears behind a curtain and only puts one of the papers inside the envelope. The other candidate’s papers are discarded, or you put them in your pocket to discard at home. Our teacher claimed it invalidates the vote if you write on the ballot. At least that does away with the magic ink conspiracy theories, I guess.

After class I helped another colleague with her computer. It had gotten terribly slow and I said I’d have a look. Only after I had offered it occurred to me to ask about the language of her operating system. She assured me it wasn’t Cantonese, but French. Azerty keyboard layout is very confusing. I might be able to get used to swapped A, Z, and Q but having the M on the wrong row makes it completely impossible.

Looking at her machine I also found out that my computer vocabulary is non-existent in French. There are a few words I have in my passive vocabulary, like ecran and clavier, but I didn’t recognise start/reboot (re/demarrer) and was confused by gerer (manage), supprimer (delete) and éteindre (turn off).

As a thank you gift I got a little bag containing sesame honey sweets. They tasted delicious and exactly like the only sweets we got when we were kids and my parents didn’t let us have much sugar. I still know the name of the shop (a Reformhaus) where we got them and everything!

vacuum coffee makerMy favourite café is gearing up for Christmas shopping and has a very fancy new coffee maker in the window. The owner explained that this type of machine used to be a traditional wedding gift in the 1950s. She said that the brewing method is a mix of the Italian stove top espresso machines, the French press and the drip. The water goes into the bottom glass. The burner heats the water which is then forced into the upper container where it brews for a while and then is pushed down again through the filter when it cools off.

After some googling I think it’s a vaccuum coffee maker. The wikipedia article contains photos and a thorough explanation of the process. (And I wouldn’t expect anything less). So far I haven’t found out anything about its role as a traditional wedding gift but I’ve mostly read German and English sources so far, because the French results took me to Cafés you can hire to celebrate your wedding.

I still prefer my warm milk with only a drop of coffee. I probably could drink it with instant coffee and wouldn’t notice. But I love the look of the coffee maker. Very elegant!


Quoi de neuf, automne?

As I mentioned before, autumn makes me sleepy. In order to fight the urge to sleep, I have started going to Paris. I want to try out different cafés to work at. And when I’ve worked enough I can go hunt Pokémon and refill my Pokéball storage. Palaiseau doesn’t have enough stops to bide me over for longer than a few days.

CascaraI started some time in September, when I went to a café that serves Cascara, a drink that is made from the coffee cherry, that is the fruit that surrounds the coffee bean. It tastes like weak coffee but fruitier and was served cold. I was a little proud for once to be a tiny bit ahead of the hipster drink curve. It will be disappointing to find out that it’s not a hip drink after all, just ridiculously expensive watered down coffee.

I’ve also met up with two different people I know from the internet® (that is the Techniktagebuch), to hunt Pokémon together. They were visiting Paris and had some time on their hands. And I’ve since discovered that the best spot in Paris is underneath Eiffel Tower. So I also tried to find cafés close by that are not just for tourists. I’ve even figured out the best route to take from my train (RER B). It’s an overground metro that passes by enough Pokéstops to refill your bag.

I have to admit, it all sounds terribly nerdy and like a waste of time, but on the other hand, I walked hundreds of kilometers since I began in early July. My app says it’s 489 km, to be exact. The down side of all this walking is that every kilometer walked without tracking feels like a terrible waste of precious hatching opportunity and my feet started to hurt again. I already have a prescription for new insoles. But I need to visit a Podologist to get them made and they don’t have opening hours. I have to call and make an appointment. So depending on how badly my feet hurt, I might never get those insoles made.

Another down side of playing so much Pokémon is that I usually have the app open. It’s much more stable now than it was in the beginning, but I’m still loathe to close it and reopen it, because it takes a long time to load. So I don’t take as many photos with my phone as I used to.

That’s a pity, because the opportunities are still there. There are always dozens of people taking photos on Place Trocadero, but I think this photo shoot was the best I whitnessed so far:

dog in a tutu

My bird identifying skills are non-existent (other than great tits and black birds), so I was super excited but clueless, when I saw this one as I crossed the bridge from the Eiffel Tower to Place Trocadero. A bit of googling and I think it’s a starling. I’m surprised that there are animals other than rats and pidgeons around the Eiffel Tower, but there you go.


There are lots of crows on the Champs de Mars, the little park underneath and to the South of the Eiffel Tower. I saw two tearing open a rubbish bag in order to get to the banana peel that was in there. Sometimes they are not acting all smart and problem solving and just hang out in trees.

crows perched in a tree

“Paris est trop petit pour ceux qui s’aiment d’un aussi grand amour.” – Random poetry I’d probably not like in German, but think very romantic in French. I think it’s also from Champs de Mars.


Quite unromantic, on the other hand: François Hollande. France is warming up for the presidential elections next year. I’m not even sure who made these stickers, but I love the facial expression. From reading the facebook about page I think it’s socialists who want a more socialist president but I might be wrong.

merci pour ce moment mais maintenant tu dégages

“Thanks for now, but it’s time to piss off”


Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

We had visitors again, this time with a little kid. It was the first time we had a toddler here! In order to be able to stay up later than an 18 month old, we let them take the bedroom and slept on the couch for the week. I have to say it’s not bad at all. The couch is comfy and I can spend all day in my current bed without appearing too lazy or anti-social.

Our guests enjoy walking through Paris (who doesn’t?) and were very tolerant of my Pokémon catching and egg hatching. I think that they are former Ingress players might have something to with it. One day we walked along the South bank from Notre Dame to Musée d’Orsay.

Along the way there’s a place I call coffee porn:

walking around Paris, I like the glimpses I get of shop windows and courtyards. This one is a bit WTF though.

Walking around Paris, I like the glimpses I get of shop windows and courtyards. This one is a bit WTF though.

Mona Lisa on the other hand is pretty neat.

Mona Lisa on the other hand is pretty neat.

The area around Musee d'Orsay is really pretty.

The area around Musee d’Orsay is really pretty.

It's not just the art, though. Also bank windows can be impressive.

It’s not just the art, though. Also bank windows can be impressive.

On a different day, we walked from Notre Dame all the way to the arc de triomphe. We wandered along the north bank of the Seine, researching Macarons. I opted for matcha ice cream instead. In this one fancy patisserie we found, they dunk it into liquid chocolate icing for you. I opted for the matcha chocolate icing.

matcha ice cream

many green, very matcha, wow!

We also strolled along the Seine beach for a little while.

circulation alternée

Because it’s the rentrée (back to school!) there were empty chairs and hardly any oncoming traffic at all, much less crocodiles. Nor alligators.

Champs Elysées is much longer than I remember, every single time. We made a stop at the Disney store.

There are no silly hat selfies this time, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to make this hat is supposed to fit.

There are no silly hat selfies this time, mostly because I couldn’t figure out how to make this hat is supposed to fit.

Other than large chain stores, there are also a couple of surprising places on Champs Elysées.

like this courtyard of maison Denmark

like this courtyard of maison Denmark


In the end we didn’t go up to the arc because, as this picture nicely illustrates, you need to walk down stairs in order to get up again and we didn’t want to carry the pram down. Instead we opted for a playground break to dry out the toddler after a water bottle related accident. It always amazes me how such a small amount of water can get an entire baby and their pram soaking wet.

From the étoile we walked to the Eiffel Tower. Since we moved here, I had never approached it from this direction. It makes for really nice photos, though.

Nice view of the Eiffel Tower from the direction of place de la concorde.

Nice view of the Eiffel Tower from the direction of place Trocadéro (I wrote place de la concorde earlier, oops).

It’s also a great place for hunting Pokémon – I caught an Onix there and the last Magicarp I needed for the Gyrados. Today we discussed that we think it’s only a matter of time until the selfie stick vendors start selling battery packs as well.

We took a photo and crêpe break on place Trocadéro. The pigeons had brioche crumbs, hand fed by a fearless toddler.

let them eat brioche

When I realised what was going on, I started giggling and taking photos of pigeons being fed brioche, while repeating “Let them eat brioche!”. It all started making sense, when I explained that brioche is what Marie Antoinette allegedly said in the “Let them eat cake” quote.

Edited to correct place de la concorde – it was place Trocadéro, of course.



On mange bien à Paris

I spent my first night at home in Palaiseau with a nasty cold passed on to me by my niece Heidi. On top of that I also had been waking up to a swollen itchy eye every morning for the last couple of days.

Friday morning I realised that it might be the last opportunity to  see a doctor before all of France goes on holiday for the week of August 15. So I walked to my doctor, who prodded at my swollen eye, tutted and sighed and declared it an eye infection.
I learned that ointment is called pommade in French. Instead of a swollen eye I now walk around with a a shiny eye that makes me look like I just stopped crying. But anything is better than itchy eyes.

We went out for dinner in Paris with Gergö’s colleague Michele and his partner on Friday night. They suggested a very good Italian restaurant which doesn’t take reservations. You have to be there before they open, queue and ask for a table and return at the time given (sometimes to queue again).


We were offered a table at 10.30 pm or a place at a bar at 7. We took the place at the bar and it was an excellent choice, even better than a table. The seats were with a view to the kitchen. So basically all through dinner I could watch people prepare food. Heaven!



20160812_200351We tried fish’n’kif for starters – fried fish with polenta sticks and tomatoes. Kif is used in French to mean either hasish or as kif-kif it means it doesn’t matter one way or the other. Gehupft wie Gesprungen, as we say.

The Pizza was delicious as well. We also tried the Burrata and the ham our friends ordered. Totally worth the queue.

I also liked the decor – the waiters all wore different tshirt designs. Our waiter had a woman on the back who was singing, using an artichoke as a microphone. The bathrooms used barrels instead of sinks. The one way mirrored doors were pretty weird, I have to say. You couldn’t see in but you could see out. I could watch people outside wash their hands while I was in the stall. That needs getting used to and I’m not sure I want that.

Even though the cakes were recommended and I had just spent half an evening watch a chef prepare desserts with two different bowls of cream, we were too full to try. Instead we had coffee, like Italians drink it (espresso, black), not like German and Austrian tourists (Café Latte after dinner).

after dinner espresso

I stole all the unused sugar packs, because I liked the design on the back and because one mentioned the tomatoes they use for their sauce. Gergö and I both commented on how rich it tasted and our friend just shrugged and said yes, they use this Neapolitan kind, very good.

The night ended on quite a different note, though – we got home to a blackout. The lobby smelled of burned cable, but the lights were still working. Our apartment didn’t have any electricity though. Gergö checked the fuses and went back outside to see if anyone else had their lights on but it was late and most of the blinds were down.

We decided that we couldn’t do anything about it now anyway and went to sleep. We woke up to the flashing lights of a firetruck at 3 am. There was some police as well. The people in uniform seemed busy, but there was no urgency that suggested we would be evacuated any second. I was dying to find out what was going on, but neither of us wanted to get dressed and be the nosy neighbour (even though we evidently are).

Around five am the electricity came back on, but remained unreliable for a few more hours. I only noticed it whenever the wireless connection disappeared. In the morning there was a piece of paper on the building’s entrance door saying the panne éléctrique had been repaired. I thought it means something like accident, but it’s just French for power outage. Later that day our neighbour rang our door bell to ask if our tv signal is also gone, but we don’t have a tv. I was hoping for juicy gossip but I had the hardest time understanding him and he didn’t seem to be better informed either.

I had ordered power banks for playing Pokémon and charged them both during the day. They came in really handy during this strange night. I also used the battery for playing Pokémon since – our current visitor V. had the game installed on her phone but only caught a couple of Pokémons. My interest in the game was contagious to motivate her to catch ’em all. Even after a long wander around Paris with ice cream, drinks in the shade, a wander along Paris plage (the sandy beach they put up along the Seine) and the quartier latin she was happy to go for a final Pokéhunt along the Yvette after dinner.