Monday, January 30, 2006

Mr Bingsley and Mr Wickham

Two cuties

Simon Woods

I prefer him with long hair:

Rupert Friend:


Sunday, January 29, 2006


Recently, I was complaining about the inconvenient delivery schedule of Le Monde with a friend who is currently interning there. Somedays it comes with the mail, somedays it comes the night before (like it should: for example on Wednesday evening I will get Thursday's paper), sometimes it comes the day after, sometimes it doesn't come at all. Exasperated, I asked, "Why can't y'all just have paperboys?"

And it was like a blur went over his eyes as he grasped for the word...paperboy...paperboy...paperboy

Until finally he responded, "Ah! Like the game!"

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, I present a screenshot of one of my favorite games ever:

This game rocks. I should get an old Genesis just to play it (along with Mortal Kombat). My favorite character was the Grim Reaper.

Anyways. We got into a funny discussion of the game, how much we loved it, and how yes, there really are paperboys in the US. Although now at home it's a paper...person? In a car, not on a bike. But nevertheless, the paper comes in the morning! Rain, snow, or shine! And even on (gasp) Sundays! (side rant: Sunday papers are my favorite. I hate the Weekend/Saturday-Sunday editions with no comics or sales ads. Boo.)

And since we're on the topic of all-time favorite old school video games, how could I forget about Wolfenstein?!

Now I must go peruse CL for Genesis systems in the Paris region...
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Friday, January 27, 2006

Guess who's on the cover of Elle this month

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Sooner or later I knew I was going to have to do a post about Angelina's. Angelina's is, quite simply, where you can have the best hot chocolate in the whole wide world. The african hot chocolate is incredible. Thick, insanely rich (enough to be breakfast AND lunch), it is accompanied with a little bowl of authentic crème chantilly, a glass of water, and if you're lucky enough (I was), an incredible view of Rue de Rivoli and the Jardin des Tuileries.
Feast your eyes:

My friend got some sort of coffee:

It was late afternoon on a clear, sunny day; the kind of day that brings out all of the glory of Paris. I passed through Place de la Concorde on my way to Angelina's, and the view at that time of day was breathtaking. Looking at the Obelisk from the viewpoint of the Hotel Crillon, for example. In front of you is the obelisk; right after that you have the Seine and the Assemblée Nationale; further back on the right you have the sun reflecting off the golden roof of Les Invalides. Wow. We walked along Rue de Rivoli for a bit afterwards, passing by the Louvre (on the right), the Conseil d'état (on the left), and finally turning towards Les Halles where we got to see Ste-Eustache in all her splendor:

Days like help me forget all the stuff I hate about Paris.

226 Rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris

The hot chocolate is 6€20, which is quite reasonable for what you get. Normal price runs at about 3€50; here you get a pitcher with about that gives you about 2+ cups, real crème chantilly, and the amazing location. An indulgence, but well worth it!
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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mme Chirac, les Guignols d'info, et les pièces jaunes

Last night I happened to catch the Guignols d'info on Canal+. Canal+ is like HBO over here, except non-subscribers can watch it during certain periods of the day as well, around lunch time and in the evening until about 9 pm. I don't usually watch the Guignols: it's a 5 minute puppet show poking fun at various politicians and current events, and you have to be very up-to-date on the news and have a good understanding of politics in general (which I don't) to get most of the jokes. Sometimes, however, I "get" something and actually laugh out loud. The parodies of George Bush are always amusing, as are the sketches featuring the "typical" American as personified by Sylvester Stallone (ie, there is a group of the president's advisors, all of them clones of Slyvester Stallone; he is the typical businessman, director of "World Company, Inc", and all the American soldiers are always Sylverster Stallone twins).

So, last night I caught a parody of "Who wants to be a millionaire?" ("Qui veut gagner des millions?"), with Bernadette Chirac answering questions about her husband's dodgy finances as Mayor of Paris. (The link to watch it yourself is here ). I thought it was pretty funny, but I didn't get half of the joke until I realized that on the same night there would be a special edition of "Qui veut gagner des millions?" WITH Bernadette,with all proceeds going to her charity Pièces Jaunes. This I couldn't miss. There were some people on there who I like, such as Corneille and
Pierre Palmade, a few I had never heard of, and of course dear Bernadette, watching over the festivities like a queen. She was so funny, she was wearing these ginormous glasses the entire time. I did a Getty Images search and she's been wearing the same pair for DECADES people. I can totally see her sporting those while driving the old 500SL that I imagine her to have. (More likely, a brand spankin' new black limo with a driver, but in my mind I see her with those glasses and the top down). I was so disappointed to find out that she didn't actually play the game! Especially after having missed the Sound of Music (dubbed in French!) to watch it!

Here is a picture of her with the host of the show:

Enjoy the old clips of the Guignols on the official site, they're pretty funny.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Always check the cap!

Today I bought a liter of milk from Franprix. No big deal. Til a couple hours later when I went to open it...and it was already opened! Again, no big deal, if I was back in the US I would just return to my friendly neighborhood Publix, the best grocery store chain ever, and exchange it out, no questions asked. I knew what I was getting into on my walk back to the store, and I even debated whether it was worth the 1.11€, but then I just decided to go with it.

I now feel like I shouldn't go back to Franprix in the next, oh, month or two. The ladies who work there didn't believe me. They thought that I had opened it myself and was exchanging it out for some reason unbeknownst to them. They did it, but all the while reminding me that it was not the policy, only this one time, that the bottle of milk was ruined, etc. When I tried to explain that I bought it opened, and that I did not realize until I got home, emphasizing that I did not open it myself, they told me that it was my responsibility to verify the bottles and that they didn't want to know about anything else. I am certainly going to do that from now on; I already scrutinize the expiration dates because I have found products that are already out of date on their shelves, now it's just a matter of verifying every seal of every container.

The presumption of guilt is what annoys me the most. Ugh. And the mystery: why would I open a bottle of milk, not drink any of it, and exchange it for the exact same type of milk on the same day?

And why do I go to the ridiculously expensive, badly stocked, corner Franprix anyways? Because the nearest "real" grocery store requires a full morning for the metro ride and "experience" of shopping there, plus the always uncomfortable lugging of bags through the metro. But I think I have discovered a solution to the unpleasant and time consuming business of grocery shopping: getting your groceries delivered! Auchan online has a promo code "relax" that gives you free delivery with any purchase over 120€ (normally it's 10€, or free with 150€+). So I placed my order over the weekend, chose a delivery time tomorrow evening, and we'll see how it turns out. The prices aren't that bad - a bit more expensive than at Auchan itself but still cheaper than any of the grocers in the 'hood - and their selection is pretty darn good, with the exception of fruits and veggies. My roomie and I had to push it to make the limit, but it will feel great to have a full fridge again. And at reasonable prices with no stress! Hooray for free grocery delivery.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Random Links

Some funny things I've come across:

This guy has a funny blog: I especially like the entry about boudin noir ::shivers::

This is a great page with translations and explanations of idiomatic sayings...published by the State Department?!

A spoof of the FriendsReunited sites.

This guy has a HILARIOUS blog; my favorite entry is this one

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Funny French names

or Parents have pity on your children
or Kids I feel sorry for

Théophile (show me a Théophobe and I'll take this off the list)

Enola (reminds me of Ebola virus)
Salomé (reminds me of salami)

These are kids I actually know, sometimes a few of them with the same name. Some of them (like Salomé and Capucine) are even the "trendy" names of the moment, comparable to the likes of Madison, McKenzie, Dakota, Montana, Pace, and other ridiculousness in the US. I feel really sorry for Hippolyte. Good thing he's not fat, otherwise we know what his nickname would be...

or the French version...

Friday, January 20, 2006

More on Soldes

So today I decided to brave Forum Les Halles, one of the few real malls - by which I mean indoor and enclosed - in Paris, along with the one at Place d'Italie. I love the Place d'Italie mall because it is so clean and shiny, no smoking, has "relaxation" lounges with free water, and the Petit Bateau is my favorite because the people are so nice and it has a special new design. Les Halles is like Place d'Italie's ugly stepbrother. It's dirty, the froggies can't help smoking even though it's prohibited, very confusing to navigate (there are 3 different levels with different named wings), and at night it gets kinda dodgy: full of drunks, SDFs, and who knows what else. I had to return something so I decided to check in on a few stores. I was shocked to see discounts of 60% off at La Rédoute. Even FNAC had tons of CDs at 8.99€. Maybe not the greatest CDs, but some classics mixed in; I picked up a Bob Marley CD. I also had no idea that perfume went on sale. That never happens in America! At Sephora they had a few tables of discounted perfumes, but not just the Jessica Simpson line (barf), also normal stuff like Calvin Klein, Burberry and Hugo Boss. And Nocibé, another perfume/makeup store had 10 - 20% off of almost all the perfumes in the store. And at Sephora I saw someone get caught stealing! A big white guy! I don't know why he was stealing the way I think it was J-P Gaultier for men, not sure (as if that explains it :/). He tried to run away but I guess they have undercover shoppers because one of the guys that stopped him was not in uniform. It got kinda physical too! First time I've witnessed a shoplifting. Exciting stuff.

ps I forgot to mention reason #xxx of most irritating things about living in France. I'm in FNAC, on the 2nd floor, going to pay at the cashier. There is nobody in line, the cashier is waiting, doing nothing. Instead of going through the waiting space (you know, with the ropes and everything), I just walk straight up to the cashier. She looks straight at me, points to another lady that is making her way through the rope maze, and tells me that she got here first and that I have to go back and go through the rope part. Bitch. Big deal if I didn't walk through the rope maze, there was no reason to do so because there was no one waiting! This lady was yards behind me! It's not like I saw her coming and dodged around to get to the cashier first! Typical of the (aggravating) French attitude. And even though I think my French is pretty good, I'm not comfortable being confrontational especially with bitchy French salespeople. I just have to remember to avoid the cashier to the far right in the "Carnets" section of FNAC aux halles. whew.

Also, remember how I mentioned L'ENA a few posts back when talking about Ségolène Royal? Here's a great article that was in Monday's Wall Street Journal that tells more about L'ENA and its interesting relationship with French politicians and society.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Must stay away from bookstores

I have a very bad habit. I can't stop buying books. Even when I have many unread, or half-started books waiting on the shelves at home. So I have a new rule: no more new books until I've finished all the ones I already have. The problems is that books are so cheap here, and to top it all off, two of the major chains offer new and used books side-by-side. This makes it easy to find good bargains, and thus hard to resist buying (gently) used books. I love Gibert Joseph and Gibert Jeune precisely because of this: it is so easy to find the books you want. All of the used books stores I know back in the US are unorganized messes, with triple rows of books on the same shelf, usually organized only in categories. You can't actually go to these bookstores trying to look for something, you can only hope to stumble across something that might interest you. Not so with the two GJs! My only irritation is with Gibert Jeune specifically, because often they will display only the new copies on the shelves, when multiple used copies are in the reserve.

Today was my last big book splurge for a long time, I hope. I was delighted to find a used copy of "Histoires Inédites du Petit Nicolas", hilarious short stories (for kids) about Nicolas and his band of friends, illustrated by Sempé, one of my favorite comic book artists.

I also got two more Fred Vargas policiers, my first Romain Gary book ("La Vie Devant Soi"), and another Jean-Christophe Rufin book, "Rouge Brésil" (I'm almost done with "La Salamandre" and loving it). Enough to last me a while ;) Any recommendations for favorite books (in English or French) are always appreciated!

l'Opéra Garnier

Despite having lived in Paris for a year and a half now, I still have a long list of things I want to do or visit here. Sainte-Chapelle, La Comédie Française, a meal at the Tour d'Argent...the list goes on. Last week I got to mark one thing off the list as I finally went to the opera! And not the ugly modern Bastille one, the old, beautiful, Garnier operahouse. Granted, I attended a modern ballet that was like watching yoga in slow motion without music (the only sound was the squeaking of bare feet on the floor), but the tickets were well worth entrance to the operahouse itself. And I swear I saw Jessica Biel two rows in front of us - if it wasn't her it was someone who could seriously be her twin.

Unfortunately, my photos SUCK. They are either too dark or too blurry or both, so you'll have to do a google images search to see the amazing Marc Chagall rotunda. The only ones that did come out are the following.

The ceiling in the lobby:

The opera boxes in the back left corner (when facing the stage):

And a detail of the opera boxes:

Talk about luxury.

Monday, January 16, 2006

France's Hillary Clinton? Or Mimi Rogers?

I was reading a blurb in the free daily "Métro" when I learned that Ségolène Royal is apparently the most popular French politician. She has been compared to Hillary, for a number of reasons: she's a woman, she's a member of the Socialist Party (ok, Hillary's not a socialist, but you know, left-leaning), and she's PACSed with another politician, François Holland, who is currently Secretary General of the Socialist Party. Funny that they are pacsed (PACS: civil union created in response to calls for gay marriage, but also open to male/female couples). Also of note is that she graduated from L'ENA, the end-all be-all, most elite of institutions for any wanna-be politician or bureacrat. (Note: here in France, mothers want their daughters to marry bureaucrats, not the traditional American hope of a doctor or a lawyer). In the paper there was only a itty bitty picture of her, but tonight I happened to catch her interview on TV5. And I couldn't help but notice her uncanny resemblance to America's favorite scientologist (after Tom Cruise, of course): Mimi Rogers!

Check it out for yourself:

Ségolène's the top photo. And don't you just love her first name?! Say-go-leen. If TV5 posts clips of the interview I'll try to get a link up.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Just a little tidbit about Saint-Malo:

One of the main songs of the Star Academy 5, along with "Love Generation", is "Santiano". "Santiano" mentions Saint-Malo in the lyrics, and I believe that the music video was filmed there, as well. Here is the clip, check it out for yourself:

ps For any of you StarAc fans out there, watch carefully. Notice how Magalie (this year's winner) is barely present in the video?! Especially when compared with the other favorites like Ely and Emilie.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Here in Paris, the sales period has begun. Unlike in the US, where there is always a sales rack with discounted merchandise and where there are multiple big-sales periods (I'm thinking Thanksgiving, after Christmas, July 4th, Memorial Day, and every other holiday that the stores tack sales onto), in France sales only comes twice a year: January and July. So imagine all the stress and waiting in lines and people cramming into the stores and stressed out salespeople, but packed into a month. And for - gasp - 30% off the retail price! Welcome to French sales.

I guess if you never get to buy anything on sale 20 or 30% off sounds like a big deal, and it is true that as the sales period goes on they might even reach 40% off, but I can't stand the crowding and the ginourmous lines for such little discounts. Today I was near a shopping center so I decided to drop in a Petit Bateau to check it out. The merchandise was only discounted between 20 and 30%, and there was a line with about that many people in it! And this is a TINY store, with usually 2 saleswomen max (I think today they might have had 3). But this was the grand opening day of sales, and I'm sure I'll check it out in a few weeks when everything has calmed down. Last year I got a great coat from Comptoir des Cotonniers for about 40% off towards the end of the sales period when it was no longer stressful to go shopping. And one upside of it is that stores that don't do Soldes, like bookstores or electronic stores (I'm thinking of Gibert Jeune and FNAC) are eerily empty when usually they would be packed.
But for now, I am steering clear of Parisian boutiques!

Monday, January 09, 2006


For New Year's I went to Saint-Malo, a tiny port city in the north of France, in Bretagne. It was the first time I have been in this region, and I made sure to take advantage of the specialties: crêpes, apple cider, caramels made with sea-salted butter (the best EVER), kouign amann (sounds like "queen aman", it's a delicious, buttery, pastry) and of course plenty of fresh seafood. Here as some photos of the town.

This is one of the main roads in the old town. As you can see, it is lined with creperies. I have never seen so many creperies in such a tiny space, but no complaints, they are one of my favorite foods here!

Here is the port. On the right you can see the walls of the old town, which both enclose it and protect it from the high tide, and provide a great walk and view.

Chateaubriand, who was from Saint-Malo (a Malouin), is buried here. I wouldn't call it an island, but it is only accessible during low tide. Unfortunately everytime I wanted to go visit it was high tide! The rainbow was amazing and I felt fortunate to see one on the first day of 2006. The picture was taken from the roof of the Musée d'Histoire de la Ville, itself a beautiful old building.

Another one of the old forts at Saint-Malo, on a rare sunny day!

A view of the beach. This seems to be some sort of make-shift pool, perhaps for kiddies in the summer? I have never seen anything like this before. And do you think the steps are for a lifeguard, or a diving board to jump into the ocean? I have no clue. In any case, the water was beautiful - a clear green or a blue depending upon the weather. Thanks to my upbringing near two heavily polluted bodies of water I am always surprised when I see an ocean or river that is not brown, and I tend to comment, "Wow, the water's really blue!". As you can see from the picture, I repeated this comment quite a few times while at Saint-Malo.

I would definitely recommend Saint-Malo for a day or weekend maximum, that's more than enough time to visit and "escape" from Paris. But I would not recommend it on a holiday, especially New Years, due to the same reason: its size! There was absolutely nothing going on, no fireworks, nada. Everytime we asked about it (at the tourist office, at restaurants, at our hotel) the people just laughed at us. Stupid Parisians, thinking that they would find festivities in Saint-Malo.

I will try to do another post on the restaurants, cafés, and bars that we visited. Because that's another advantage to Saint-Malo: you can eat SO well for SO cheap!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Bonne Année!

Yeah, I know it's been forever. What can I say. I got caught up with the holidays, but now I'm back. I'll have a long post on where I went for the holidays, complete with fabulous pictures, but in the meantime, some random thoughts:

*I laughed everytime I read a news article about the transport strikes in NYC. How often does that happen there? And how long did it last? Please, people, over here in France that's just a monthly occurrence. Welcome to my world! And consider yourself lucky that it was only public transport, so far I have experienced a post office strike, a garbagemen strike, multiple teacher strikes, multiple train strikes, and I'm sure many more that I can't think of/didn't really affect me. Now imagine all of those AT THE SAME TIME. Ah, France.

*Back in the US I was surprised to learn that Joann Sfar, one of my favorite comic book artists of all time, has been translated to English. And probably for a long time, I just never noticed til my younger sibling mentioned his series "The Little Vampire". A few of his other series have been translated as well, but I don't think they've gotten around to his Carnets yet (published by l'association here in France) which are sublime. Hilarious, and cute, and moving, and I love the watercolors. The link to his page is on the right, definitely check it out. Though I can't recommend any of his kids stuff, just because I haven't read it (yet).

*I got the new Madonna CD and am lovin' it (ie, playing it OVER and OVER and OVER again, much to my roommate's dismay).

*I got a lot of reading in over break (yay!) including: A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr, OneL by Scott Turow, True Notebooks by Mark Salzman, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling. Currently in the middle of a policier and a Suze Orman book.

*Also caught up (kinda) on movies - Must Love Dogs, The Aviator, March of the Penguins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and saw some old ones - Bonfire of the Vanities (I thought it was hilarious!), Before Sunrise & Before Sunset and The Secretary.

Will update with pics soon!