Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The view from the top

The view from the top
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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The Eiffel tower as seen from the top of the ferris wheel in the Jardin de Tuileries

Monday, July 24, 2006

Fave B-day prezzies

New Vanessa Bruno sac cabas

A lovely mini-rose-filled jardinière that Eddie planted in the afternoon

B-day present to myself: ipod cozy that I knit last week


In addition, I received birthday greetings from a few readers and fellow bloggers, which was really heartwarming. Thanks again for those...

Well, except for the eyeball

I have to admit that reading this article yesterday morning gave me a pang of homesickness for several things, including that beautiful oceanside stretch of Highway One between Santa Barbara and San Francisco, Taqueria Vallarta on Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, and of course, my mouth is still watering at the thought of a taco, good ones of which are just so sadly few and far between in these parts. And yes, I've been to that colorful crowded place on the rue Dante in the Latin Quarter. It's good. It will do in a pinch. But it's just not the same...

Chasing the Perfect Taco up the California Coast
(registration required)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

It's my birthday, and I'll cry, if I want to

I'm thirty-two years old today.

This week two years ago, I was panicking in a big way. That terrible fate that strikes fear in the hearts of twentysomethings the world over was crashing towards me at lightning speed. Lord have mercy on us all, I was only days away from The Big Three-Oh. Few events in my life had been as nerve wracking as that.

For I wasn't ready. I hadn't done nearly as much as I thought I would have by the age of thirty. Where were my two point five kids and dog? (Ok, I had the dog already at least). Where was my house with a picket fence? (Granted, I lived in Paris, there aren't any picket fences for miles in these parts. Nor houses, for that matter). Most depressingly of all, I was approaching that time crutch with no husband and no prospect of one. (At least that what's I thought at the time. As it turned out, I had met my future husband already and didn't even know it. But that's a blog for a rainy day).

That list of things that women should have done by the time they were thirty loomed over me. I had the eight matching wine glasses and plates but couldn't cook for crap. Why should I, I had no husband. And anyway, it's not like eight people could even stand up in my tiny little chambre de bonne. I had several black lace bras but no idea how to use a cordless drill, let alone have one packed away in my little chambre de bonne. And while I was content with my youth up until that point, I wasn't at all ready to move past it.

I woke up that hot july morning that was my thirtieth birthday, and there are two things I remember about that morning:

One: the cherries I had bought the night before were the sweetest and juiciest and ripest I had tasted that summer.

Two: As I was walking down the stone steps of my old building to go to work, I slipped in my flip flops on a puddle of water that the gardien had left while cleaning the staircase, and fell smack on my buttocks, leaving a huge bruise. As I watched my apartment building flip upside down and I found myself staring up at the sky through the courtyard, two things went through my mind:

1. "That didn't hurt as much as it should have. Better cut back on the croissants."


2. "Today I am thirty years old, I don't have too many more years left in which I can fall like that without snapping any osteoporosis-stricken bones in two."

I picked myself up calmly and as with as much elegance as I could muster and slid gingerly down the rest of the steps on my backside, wincing all the way.

I got through the rest of the day with no more tumbles and I celebrated the momentous event with a couple of friends while drinking a bottle of wine by the Seine at Paris Plage. And then I woke up the next morning, and poof, the thirty thing was gone. It was over and done with. All the anxiety that had led up to the date was over with. I was no longer in my late twenties, I was now a woman in her early thirties. For some reason I woke up feeling younger than I had in a while, not older.

Two years on, I have come to realize that I didn't really have much to worry about. I actually prefer being in my thirties than I ever did being in my twenties. My twenties were a time filled with pressures from everywhere. Pressure from family about what to do with my life, school pressures, career pressures, pressure to find the love of my life, pressure to go out and enjoy my fleeting youth because one day I would turn thirty and it would all be over with.

There's pressure, of course, in one's thirties of a different kind, but what I've come to realize is that things are not so absolute, as they seem when one is in one's twenties. At thirty-two, I feel like I have more knowledge and experience than I did at twenty-two, but I still feel young enough to take advantage of that knowledge and experience. At thirty-two, I'm still not exactly certain what my life's calling is, but I do have a better idea of what kind of life I want, as well as what kind of life I don't want. I think the most important thing that I learned in my twenties is that things aren't always absolute, that you are allowed to change your mind even if it's towards something you once completely shunned. And also, that miraculous things do happen, both good and bad. Life can throw you the most horrible curveballs, but it can also dish you, in the blink of an eye, the most amazing turn of events, that are sometimes even better than you ever dared wish for.

At thirty-two, and this part is weird, I feel more comfortable in my body than I ever did when I was in my teens and twenties. I find this odd considering I've arguably got more of a backside on which to cushion my fall down the stairs than I ever did when I was a slender nineteen year old eating everything in sight. I still long for those twig days, but at the same time, I'm more comfortable flaunting it than I was back then. I have no explanation for this. I don't know why this is.

With all this in mind, I'd like to revisit a previous post of The Bold Soul, in which on the eve of her 45th birthday she recounts 44 things she has enjoyed up in her life up till now. I'm cheating a little bit though, because I'm just picking 32 things that I like off of my list of 100 things I like:

32 things I've enjoyed so far:

1. I have to start with Bold Soul's number 1: Chocolate. Hands down.
2. Bit 'o champagne with my chocolate, and I'm good to go.
3. If I'm eating by candlelight, whoa mama!
4. the sound of snow crunching under your feet
5. purple sunflowers
6. the view, after the hike
7. sinking into a hot bath
8. the smell of night blooming jasmine in the summer months in Los Angeles
9. coming across old pictures of friends and family
10. opening the mailbox and finding a postcard by snail mail
11. having a real good laugh, so hard your side splits and you aren't sure if you are laughing or crying
12. the 360 degree view of the ocean at Point Reyes in Northern California
13. the smell of christmas trees at the end of november
14. swimming in the mediterreanean
15. Italy. Everything. The food. The art. The architecture. The language. The food.
16. Friday afternoons, knowing you have the whole weekend ahead of you
17. foot massages
18. getting a baguette that is still warm
19. when the fog rolls in at four pm in San Francisco
20. Vietnamese spring rolls
21. Speaking French, especially while sitting at a café….with an espresso… in the Latin Quarter…while smoking a gauloise…wearing a beret….ok I've gone too far.
22. the first strawberries, apricots, cherries and basil of the season
23. shiny, metallic toenail polish
24. the sound of hair being cut
25. the sound of the Xylon voices in the original Battlestar Galactica tv show.: "By. Your. Command". (Did I just admit that out loud?)
26. The Eiffel tower when it's doing its hourly sparkling dance
27. spooning
28. thunderstorms in summer
29. watching the sun come up (A rare treat, let me tell you).
30. picking up right where you left off after not seeing eachother for a while


30. my very good friends, the ones I've known for most of my life, who are more like family at this point


31. having had the good fortune to come across the World's Greatest Dog ten years ago, whom someone had thoughtlessly abandoned along the 101 freeway near Salinas. Their loss.


of course

32. having had the great fortune to come across the World's Greatest Husband, thousands of miles from both our roots, who brings me breakfast in bed on my birthday.

Today on this maddeningly humid July day in Paris, I am thirty-two years old, and I feel inclined to reflect upon and celebrate this event with a bottle of wine consumed by the river at Paris Plage. And to continue to take advantage of being Old Enough To Know Better, but Young Enough To Seem Like I Don't.

But I'm still not yet ready to move past my youth. Get back to me on that one when I'm forty.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


It's hot out there, I'm not going to say anything to the contrary, and a lot of people have asked me how on earth does one cope in a country that does not have ubiquitous air conditioning. For some reason though, the heat in Paris has never bothered me too awful much. Granted, you are talking to someone who grew up in a desert climate. Also, I spent the summer of 2003 in San Diego and therefore missed out on the horrendous heat of that year. But I find summers in Paris to be bearable, even without air conditioning. I personally find that the two or three weeks of really intense heat are offset by the several months of cold gray damp winter. In fact, whenever I feel too warm, I think of how I shivered in my big winter coat in the month of February, and suddenly I'm not unbearably hot anymore. There are several ways to cope with the 34 degree celsius type weather such as we are experiencing today:

-Draw the curtains and blinds closed in the late morning, turn off the lights and turn on the fan during the heat of the afternoon. As soon as the sun begins to go down, open up all the windows again and leave them open at night.
-Get outdoors in the evening, go sit on a patio somewhere or go to the park. Eat outside. The buildings retain the heat so it's usually warmer inside than outside.
-Avoid cooking.
-Carry one of those lovely silk japanese fans with flowers on it, the ones you've always loved but never could actually get any use out of without looking pompous, and fan yourself on the bus.
-Take advantage of the summer hours of the municipal swimming pools.
-Leave town in the month of August.
-Go to the beach for the weekend.
-If all else fails, make an extended afternoon shopping trip to Picard for a few hours...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bols, cidre et pichet

Bols, cidre et pichet
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.

I've always loved these bowls that are used to drink cider in Brittany, as well as creperies throughout the world (my favorite Ti Couz in the Mission in San Francisco immediately springs to mind)


Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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Bois de Boulogne

Friday, July 14, 2006

Paris je t'aime

Oh wow, I just saw the nicest movie, I didn't even realize it was out until I read a review earlier in the week in the Village Voice and said to myself, I must see this movie RIGHT NOW. It's called Paris je t'aime, and it's a collection of eighteen short films, each taking place in a different neighborhood of Paris and each directed by a different director, including Alfonso Cuaron, Tom Twyker, the Cohen brothers, Olivier Assayas, Wes Craven, Gus Van Sant, Christopher Doyle and others. It has an equally impressive cast including Gena Rowlands, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, Emily Mortimer, Steve Buscemi, Ludivine Saignier, Nick Nolte, and a whole lot of others. It's based on the age old theme of Love in Paris, but in varying forms. It does a wonderful job of accurately showing Paris as a multicultural patchwork of a city, with the shorts taking place in posh areas such as the 16th as well as violence in the downtrodden suburbs. My favorites were a sequence with mimes, and a sequence with Natalie Portman as an American actress living in Paris with her blind boyfriend, directed by Tom Twyker, which had some of the flashiness of Run Lola Run. I also enjoyed the sequence with Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara as an aging couple who are divorcing, directed in part by Gerard Depardieu, which I'm told was supposed to be an homage to John Cassavetes, whose films were distributed and promoted in France by Depardieu. And quite a few others.

I'm not sure if the film is in the US yet but I highly recommend it to francofiles when it arrives. Even if most of it is in French, a few of the shorts are in English, and some of the ones with American actors had them not speaking at all, such as Steve Buscemi entangled in a lovers' quarrel inside the Tuileries metro station in the Cohen brothers sequence, and Elijah Wood's encounter with a vampire in "Quartier de la Madeleine". Maitresse reviewed the film here, I love and agree with her ending words: "If I were still living in the States, frustrated and longing to move to Paris, seeing this film would have put me over the edge. Good thing I'm already here." Be forewarned, francofiles, this is very very true...

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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Rue des Moines, Batignolles

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Somewhere in time

Because he left the US in 1986 at the impressionable age of 13, Eddie is a walking time capsule of TV commercial jingles that date from the time he left in the mid-80s. From that point on, his brain then began filling with French jingles from the past twenty years. Therefore, the last American commercials that he saw have remained in a remarkable state of preservation, ready to pop up by the slightest trigger. Because we grew up in the same city, these are jingles that lurk somewhere in dark recesses of my memory, but as my mind has been polluted by commercials from the 90s and aughts as well, they have a few more layers to push through and therefore I have forgotton most of them. But every once in a while, he will randomly sing one and I will immediately remember it, and it will take me back to the days of Hubba-Bubba and Keds, of being a latchkey kid growing up in southern California in the 1980s.

"Oh oh oh, ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie" he absent-mindedly sings as we tear into a bag purchased at the Gourmet section of Galeries Lafayette.

It's an odd reaction I have when one of these pops out of him. An immediate wave of recognition washes over me, followed by a practically visual transportation back in time, a feeling of childhood revisited.

I look at him. "Keeps your milk from getting lonely", I say. "I haven't thought about that commercial in decades."

We spend the next half hour trying unsuccessfully to remember the rest of the lyrics, but the only thing we can come up with is the last line, in which the name of the cookie is musically spelled out: "O-R-E-O". Then we try to think of others we had forgotton about.

Penguin's Frozen Yogurt (tastes like it's bad for you).

Wendy's (Where's the Beef?!).

Whatever it is I think I see
Becomes a Tootsie Roll to me.

A sure sign of a childhood spent in southern California, we decide, is being able to recite catchy tunes from car lots in the southland cities.

Pete Ellis Ford
Long Beach freeway
Firestone exit

and of course, the ever famous Cal Worthington Ford jingle, "Howdy folks, I'm Cal Worthington and this is my dog Spot!" (Oddly enough, I don't remember seeing him with a dog, only a big scary looking tiger, and I think he was riding Shamu at some point too):

If you need a brand new car, go see Cal
If you need a brand new car, go see Cal
Go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal!

Or something along those lines.

It never fails to amaze me, that thousands of miles away, I would have found someone who makes me feel like I am right at home...

"They forever go together, what a classic combination..."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shoes of summer

Shoes of summer
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
Two of everything, for different occasions...


Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
All I can say is, the man was under some serious pressure and thoroughly exhausted and therefore just snapped. I think most of us would have too. Not that that's any excuse. Eight plus years of glory, forever altered in something like the last five minutes of his career. I just find it too bad he couldn't have redirected his anger into winning the game...

Well, at least those firecrackers outside our windows have finally stopped and I don't have to sit through another one of those matches. Try as she might, La page française is just not nuts about soccer (sorry, I mean football)

Monday, July 10, 2006

There goes the neighborhood

A new cafe has opened up downstairs from us. When I say downstairs from us, I mean, as in directly downstairs from us. As in the people who work in the back have to use our entryhall to get into the kitchen. As in, our wireless connection on the fourth floor reaches the cafe, I can blog over an afternoon espresso, which how about that, I just happen to be doing at the moment. For those in the US, you might say, big whoop, but as finding a cafe in France that has a wireless connection is still not very common, this is definitely a big plus of having this cafe downstairs.

The cafe replaced a former bar that looked so depressing that I never stepped into it. It was dark and had no windows, and had old mustachioed fat men drinking cognac at seven in the morning and reading Le Parisien. I don't think women were welcome, in any case I certainly never tried. The new place is airy, with those wonderful windows that French cafes have that open up in summer so that you can sit inside but still feel like you are sitting outside, or else in winter you can still people watch. It has a beautiful mahogany bar, horse wallpaper, quiches (including a vegetarian offering) and decently priced coffee and wine by the glass. It also has tattooed waiters.

Now, I have nothing whatsoever against tattooed waiters, it's just that in my experience the arrival of tattooed waiters in cafes means a possible Silverlake-ization of the area could occur in the near future.

On a recent Saturday morning, while enjoying a coffee on the terrasse of said cafe, we suddenly jumped as trombones started blaring. The dog, sitting otherwise quietly underneath our table at our feet, began to bark at three men across the street, wearing funny straw hats and suspenders and playing instruments. After about a minute of music, one of the men picked up a loudspeaker, greeted the residents of the neighborhood, and proceeded to talk about the difficulties of the area and how the increase in rent has caused twenty percent of the local businesses to shut down in the last three years, and how important it is that we the people of our neighborhood patronize our local shops. The Tunisian bakery that closed in February immediately sprung to mind.

That, added to this recent article, means I have a feeling that the times they are a-changing up here in our cozy little corner of the seventeenth arrondissement....

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What I did on my teutonic vacation

A last minute decision to hop on a plane and visit family and friends in southern Germany led to some very summery activities such as bicycling to lakes in order to swim in them, taking breakfast, lunch and dinner outdoors in the garden while swatting some very persistent mosquitos, watching some soccer (sorry, I mean football), going through a gallon of sunscreen in a week and BBQ-ing in the backyard:

Lunch in the garden with a view of the Alps:

Reading and napping under a grape covered trellis with a view of a beautiful garden and the mountains on both sides:

Stopping to smell the roses:

Backyard bbqs:

More swimming in lakes:

This lake has a section off to the side where people can swim and sunbathe nude. I didn't realize this until after I took this picture*

It was quite hot and humid, but then a huge thunderstorm came in the afternoon and broke the heat:

We watched the wind and rain howl while having afternoon kaffee und kuchen under the glass-covered cactus-filled porch:

Revitalized and refreshed, arriving early in the morning in drizzly Paris, La Page Allemande became La Page Française once again...

*Riddle me this, dear Reader: Why is it never the people you actually would want to see naked, who choose to go to nude beaches??

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bike, Isar and Covered Bridge

Bike, Isar and Covered Bridge
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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Cycling along the banks of the Isar river. Munich, Germany

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Polizei and Gendarmerie

Polizei and Gendarmerie
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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I was surprised to see a few French police mingling with German police on the Marienplatz in Munich, it seems they must have imported some for the games

Vive la France

Vive la France
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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French football supporters for the France-Portugal game. Kaufinger Strasse, downtown Munich

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bavarian Lake two

Bavarian Lake two
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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In the forest, somewhere near the Austrian border...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bavarian lake

Bavarian lake
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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Bicycling and swimming on a gorgeous sunny day in Munich, Germany

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ah les vacances...

Ah les vacances...
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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A la plage...

A la plage...
Originally uploaded by Frenchpage.
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