Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Visit to Paris in July 2007

We were fortunate to have an opportunity to visit Paris in July 2007. One highlight is that they have reopened the Mudee de l'Orangerie which features Monet's wonderful water lillies!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Parc Monceau

Parisians love their parks -- and they have beautiful parks. On sunny days, you can see all of Paris out at the parks, enjoying the sun. One of my favorites is Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement. It was created in the 18th century for Philippe Egalité, the cousin of Louis XVI and the father of King Louis-Philippe I. There is a small playground for young children, a skateboarding/rollerblading area for older kids (and adults!), a cafe, a merry-go-round, and swings. There is a pond with ducks and a nice path around the perimeter which we used for jogging when we lived there -- each lap is about 1/4 mile. There is a large grassy open area in the middle of the park where our kids would frequently meet for squirt gun fights or to launch "stomp" rockets or play frisbee. We even tried a pick-up game of American football with some other Americans, but it was a bit cramped! I highly recommend visiting Parc Monceau on a sunny day with the Herald Tribune and an espresso from the cafe.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Le Tour De France, up close and personal

I had the opportunity to watch the final stage of Le Tour de France in July, 2002, on the Champs Elysees. The fun started early in the day, long before the riders had actually started the final stage. The weather was great -- sunny, clear skies, temperatures in the low 80s. We enjoyed walking the length of the Champs Elysees, watching the crowds gather, and enjoying the festivities. There were bands playing, a dance group performing, lots of new/fancy cars being driven (sponsors cars, I imagine), and several large Jumbo-Tron screens setup which were broadcasting the race "live" from the race course. It looked like the riders were all enjoying themselves immensely.

As is customary in the Tour de France, the team with the yellow jersey led the way into Paris -- in this case US Postal led the way with Lance Armstrong firmly in control of the yellow jersey. When they reached the underpass at the Louvre, the final sprint to the finish began. The final sprint is 8 laps around the Champs Elysees, racing from the Louvre up to the Arc de Triomphe and turning back towards the Louvre. It was pretty clear that Lance and the rest of the team were in no hurry to join the wild sprint and they dropped back near the back of the peloton. As they raced by my spot, about 50 feet from the finish line, it was a blur. My photos were pretty terrible, so there is not much to post here.

This year I'm following the tour over the Internet using the live tracker found here:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Buying Appliances in Paris

We had such good success buying new (but slightly dented) appliances that had been show-room models, that I thought I would share the contact info here.

Nestri Menager
Electro Menager TV Video
85, Rue d'Amsterdam
75008 Paris

Tel +33 (0)1 40 16 01 07

Located very near the Place de Clichy metro, it is a great place to shop for appliances, TV or video.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Learning French Culture

Our first months in Paris was the "honeymoon" period. As we discovered new and interesting places, foods and met some fascinating people, we were constantly on a "high" and loved every minute.

Reality quickly set in as we went through the motions of completing the kitchen in our apartment. In France, it is not unusual for the previous tenants to strip the kitchen of everything, leaving only a sink -- this includes removing all appliances, all cabinets, window coverings, etc. You are basically given a room with a sink, and hookups for the range, refrigerator, washer and dryer. You are expected to bring all appliances, cabinetry, window coverings, etc. To accomodate this, the French have standardized the widths of all appliances and cabinets at 60cm. This makes it very practical to move your appliances and cabinets from one apartment to another.

However, for a family such as ours that was moving to France from the US, we needed to obtain all appliances and cabinets. This can quickly become a very expensive proposition! We were fortunate to find an appliance outlet store off the Place de la Bastille in Paris which sold new (but slightly dented) appliances which had been floor models at steeply discounted prices and offered free delivery and installation.

We were not so fortunate with the cabinets. We decided to purchase new cabinets from one of the large upscale department stores in Paris just off the Champs Elysees. We worked with the kitchen designer to design a perfect kitchen. However, after placing the order and paying in full, we then discovered that the cabinets would be delivered one or two at a time over a period of 2-3 months! We called them daily and worked our way up the management chain but to no avail. Each call resulted in increasing frustration and confusion. This ordeal soured our first year in Paris.

We later discovered that there is a "code" to communicating in France and we had probably violated every one of the rules in that code in our exchanges with this large upscale department store. As we later learned this code and became adept in it, we found ourselves increasingly effective in negotiating French culture and the French workplace.

For those of you who want to avoid the pitfalls we encountered and learn this "code" early in your transition to France, I highly recommend the books by Polly Platt on the subject of French culture. These were invaluable to us as we transitioned to France.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Roland Garros

We had the privilege several years while we lived in Paris of seeing the French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros. Among the many current stars we bumped into in the back practice courts were James Blake and Andy Roddick, when both were relatively unknown. We also spent several hours watching Justine Henin (now Henin-Hardenne) working out with here coaches. Justine was very gracious and came over to chat with us after her practice session and give us her autograph. We also bumped into a young shy player who was standing with his coach off to the side relatively unattended -- it turned out to be Roger Federer, though we didn't know it at the time. I had my autograph book with me but decided not to get his autograph because he didn't look like a very important player!

Our favorite day of the tournament was the day before it opened, which was a day when many of the players played 1 set matches "for fun" and the ticket proceeds benefited a local charity. For the incredibly low price of 15 euros, we had access to all the events and managed to get front row seats to see Michael Chang, Anna Kournikova, and Fabrice Santoro, play in their various exhibition matches.

All in all, the Fench Open is an exciting venue -- you can rub shoulders with the best names in tennis, the atmosphere is fun and lively and the players are very accessible.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

English speaking churches in Paris

There are several really good English speaking churches in Paris.

The first one to mention is The American Church in Paris at 65 Quai d'Orsay in the 7th. This was the first American church established on foreign soil. Begun in 1814, it was officially chartered and the first sanctuary built in 1857. From the beginning, the American Church has been an interdenominational fellowship, theologically situated in the historic Christian tradition as symbolized by the Apostles' Creed. It serves not only the American expatriate community, but also many internationals seeking an English language service.

There is also The American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris, which offers services at 9 and 11 with a Sunday School at 10:45. The mission statement of the American Cathedral describes their focus: "The mission of the American Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris is to share the good news of God in Christ by worship, word and example, as a parish church in the city of Paris and as a cathedral in Europe, living our faith and serving the common good, inspired by our American, Episcopal, and Anglican heritage and open to the cultures, languages and faiths that surround us. We pursue this mission through prayer, observance of the sacraments, fellowship,
education, stewardship, and outreach to our community and the world beyond."

The church my family and I attended was Trinity International Church of Paris, which is pictured above. This church draws not only from the American expatriate community, but also from the wide variety of internationals in Paris who seek an English language service. There are also many students who are studying in Paris who attend the services, leading to a very upbeat and lively worship experience.