We didn't try all of these pastries when we were in town so we'll have something to do when we next visit!
I went to McDonald’s this morning to get on their free wireless since our hotel’s wireless is “en panne” (broken). As we walked to our table an elderly lady asked us “Vous êtes américain?” - “You are Americans?”. I said “oui” and she gave us both a big thumbs-up. This was just one example of how welcome I have always felt in France.
Yesterday, while we were in a bistro down the road from our hotel we made a little mistake at our table during ordering and I said to the waiter in French “Nous sommes américain” – We are Americans – as a way to poke fun at the mistake we just made. The waiter, with a huge grin on his face, replied in French “Oui, j’ai vu” - “I noticed”. Talk about funny.
My point is simply that by using a few words of French and remembering that I’m in a different country and therefore everyday customs may be different has really made my trips to France delightful. Here’s a concrete example of remembering that customs can be different…
A few times I have been in a shop or the bakery and the person serving me looks at me and says “Je vous ecoute!” If you directly translate this into English you get: I am listening to you. Now, the first time I heard this, I was a little bit surprised and mildly insulted. In all honesty, I felt that if I was in the US and someone in a shop addressed me in this way I would walk out. However, I noted it happening to French people – not just me the American – and it happened in different situations to me around Paris. I finally realized that the literal translation was not really accurate. What the person was really communicating was: “I am at your service – you have my attention”. The fact that I was being addressed formally (“vous”) is what started to tip me off. In French, you are normally addressed formally if you are a parent (by your children), someone you have recently met, if you are older than the person that is talking to you or if you are being served by someone. My light bulb moment was realizing that rather than the person being surly they were actually being formal with me.
My “bad” experiences in Paris have been no different than my “bad” experiences in Manhattan but they are experiences nonetheless!
Windows Café will open on Oct. 22, the Windows 7 launch date. One report said it will be in the crowded Châtelet-Les Halles metro station.If you've been to Les Halles you know it is a very crowded metro station. The article doesn't quite explain if the café is on the metro platform itself, up the escalators or in the Les Halles shopping center. If you've been to Les Halles you know they already have a very busy Starbucks right beside the UGC cinemas (Cine Cite Les Halles) so they might have some competition. That said, I guess this is all about trying out Windows7 versus having a coffee.
Bouquet de Provence is a favorite that we added to vegetables and other dishes to give a different yet unique flavoring. Yesterday I managed to find some more at the Franprix and added it to my supplies to bring back home. It's just one of the many things on my re-supply shopping list. Too bad I can't bring back a few cases of wine!
On Friday we took pictures from La Defense to the Arc de Triomphe. Today, we visited the Arc de Triomphe and took pictures of La Defense. You have to love the symmetry of the major boulevards here in Paris - thank you Baron Haussmann!