Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Le Métro

Paris' Métro (underground train system) is an excellent means of getting around. Unless you are pushing a baby stroller. See, the métro is full of these irritating things called steps which are a real pain in the derrière to navigate. Especially while pushing a tiny human being in a four wheeled device. If you have a baby, then don't even attempt le métro. Just stay home. Another handy tip to remember is that the underground walkways linking stations together double as public toilets in a pinch. Just look for the big "M" signs all over the city. Oh, and don't worry if you end up in a McDonald's by mistake. They're also only good for urinating in.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter at the Embassy

Every year the Embassy hosts an annual egg hunt for all the children on the spacious lawn behind the Ambassador’s residence. There are cookies and milk on offer and even the Easter bunny makes an appearance. They get one of the marines to wear a giant bunny costume and go around hugging the kids and taking photos with them. Carole is happy to see the Easter Bunny, but he scares the heck out of Evelyn and I have to agree. The costume they got is NOT a cute and cuddly looking Easter bunny. It is an EVIL looking Easter Bunny. If the villain from the ‘Scream’ movies was reincarnated as a giant bunny this is what he would look like. And this year’s version is actually slightly improved upon from last year when his tongue was bright, blood red. They painted it pink this year in the hopes of softening his look a bit. It didn’t work. I had to spend the entire morning shuttling Evelyn from one end of the giant backyard to the other in an effort to stay AWAY from Evil Easter Bunny. If he was ANYwhere in her peripheral vision, she would start screaming bloody murder. Oh, well, until next year. Joyeuses Pâques!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paris Loves Hookers

A lovely place to hang around in Paris is the Pigalle area. Actually, I am being sarcastic, it is a horrible place to hang around. La Place de Pigalle is the epicenter of peep shows, sex shops, strip clubs, and other X-rated, adults-only adventures. But the Mairie de Paris must think it is a great place to drive around, very, very slowly because they have recently reduced a three lane road down to just one. Obviously, the sex shops and prostitutes have been suffering from a decline in business and these traffic slowing measures have been introduced to increase the levels of curb-crawling.
Thanks to an observant and astute friend, Amy, I need to ammend this post.
Amy pointed out, and rightly so, that the French government is actually doing
people a favor by making them drive incredibly slow, because choosing a hooker should NEVER be a hasty decision. Touché, my friend,touché.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Handy French Phrases

We get this a lot. Visitors always ask us to write down a few 'key' French phrases that can help them get by during their brief visit to the City of Lights. The following is my personal list of the six essential ones:

1) “Faites attention à la crotte de chien sur le trottoir!” –Watch out for that dog crap on the sidewalk !

2) « Où est-ce que tu a appris à conduire ? » - Where did you learn to drive ?

3) « Il n’y a plus de papier dans les toilettes » -There’s no more toilet paper in the bathroom.

4) « Ça fait une heure que j’attends mon entrée » I’ve been waiting for my appetizer for an hour.

5) “Est-ce que c’est de la viande de cheval?” – Is that horse meat ?

6) « Si vous croyez que vous allez recevoir un pourboire, vous allez être déçu » -If you think you’re getting a tip, you’re mistaken.

Although if any of these phrases don’t seem to be working, you should simply start to shout and wave your arms around. It’s what the Parisians do.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

To Speedo or Not To Speedo? That Is The Question

So, the rule here in France (and pretty much everywhere in Europe) is that guys wear teeny Speedo bathing suits. Nobody, but nobody owns the bathing trunks so popular in the United States. And while you can wear anything you want in the ocean, at public pools if you are a male of the species you are required, yes I said required, to wear a Speedo (also known as a Banana Hammock). My husband, the incredibly macho military guy absolutely REFUSES to even entertain the idea of wearing a Speedo. And, it's not because he's not in shape. It is because he is extremely modest and prefers the extra coverage of his swim trunks. Of course, this creates a dilema because I cannot very well supervise two children who are just learning to swim by myself. So, my daughters' pleas to go to Aquaboulevard (the awesome, indoor water park in Paris) will have to be quelled for yet another year. Quel dommage!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Law and Order

I just can't seem to find a French person who will accept that the existence of a justice system is essential for a society to run smoothly. If pressed, they willl grudgingly agree that laws are neccessary, but they resent them. A lot. Take traffic regulations for example. In 2004 the government started a very aggressive campaign to crack down on drunk driving. Since then, accidents due to drunk drivers have been drastically reduced (a very good thing). But the French don't see it that way. They see speed cameras and drunk driving check points as an infringement on their liberties! While living in America, if I got a ticket for speeding I pretty much grumbled and swore but I simply paid up (what else can one do, right?) No so in France. If you get a traffic ticket for any reason you try and avoid the consequences of your actions at all costs. Standard procedure is to start calling all your friends and relatives to see if anyone knows someone at the prefet who can help you out because for a bottle of whisky your file will be lost. Really. This sort of thing disgusts me because I believe that everyone should be equal in the eyes of the law regardless of who you are, who you know or how much money you have.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Priorité à droite

When we first arrived here, I was very intimidated by driving in the city. I would refuse to go anywhere unless I knew exactly how to get there and back. There and back because the French have this annoying habit of making almost every freakin' road in this city a one way. So, while it may be smooth sailing getting somewhere, when you go to take the same route home, you're screwed. DH decided that the best way for me to get comfortable driving in Paris was to practice...a lot. Problem is, on any given day there is a plethora of impatient Parisians on the road, which means within one minute of starting my 'driving lesson' we have a line of honking cars trailing along behind us. Then DH came up with a brilliant idea: Sunday morning driving lessons. No one in Paris does much of anything on Sundays so the roads were clear for me to 'experiment' with different routes. Turns out, I needed not be so nervous after all, 'cause apparently there is only ONE rule of the road in Paris: priorité à droite which basically means you must yield to anyone coming from your right. Remember all those pesky rules they made us memorize in Driver's Education? pass only on the left, yield to pedestrians, look before you back up. Well, they don't exist here.