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Paris Notes (2)



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 26th, 2004, 11:51 AM
Padraig Breathnach
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Default Paris Notes (2)

More observations and thoughts triggered by our recent short visit:

Strolling:
Paris has given us a word: boulevardier. It conveys something
particular about the city. Paris is a place which offers much to the
visitor who simply rambles about. We rambled, and found lively
neighbourhoods, interesting buildings and monuments, parks, and
pleasant cafés in which to sit for a while to rest the feet. Wherever
you ramble, you are likely to come on some guide-book attraction. But
most of all, the appeal of wandering about is to see vignettes of the
life of the city and its people.

Paris chic:
The idea of the parisienne chic is something of a cliché, but when I
first visited Paris it appeared to me that it had some basis in fact:
the city seemed to have more than its fair share of well-groomed,
well-dressed women. It no longer appears so. Yes, there are still
beautifully turned-out women, but their numbers seem to have
diminished. Crumpled casual is the new black.
One exception that struck me was Galeries Lafayette, one of the
"grands magasins". Most of the staff, who are presumably moderately
paid rather than wealthy, are very well dressed, and put their
customers to shame. If you want to identify a sales assistant there,
look for the best-dressed people.

Frenchmen in suits:
In Ireland, a suit is usually business uniform, and wearing one is
almost a means of self-effacement, a way of blending with others of
one's ilk. But there is something distinctive about the way men in
Paris wear suits. The suits themselves are fine, usually very good and
apparently expensive. But, more than elsewhere, it seems that a
persona is donned with the garb. The suit says "Je suis un homme
d'affaires, quelqu'un d'importance ; il faut me respecter". Non,
monsieur, I don't buy it: you have no right to occupy two seats in the
métro, and I will not deviate from my path so that can proceed without
accommodating me -- I'll make a little room for you, and you make some
for me.

Bloody tourists:
I am sure that many Parisians resent the numbers of tourists who
throng their city. They should not, as tourism pays the wages of many
of their fellow-citizens.
But there are problems, not in the numbers of tourists, but in the way
that some comport themselves.
First, there are those who are mindlessly obstructive -- at least I
hope that it is merely mindlessness, but it can feel as if the
obstruction is malevolent. These people move slowly in large groups
(it is amazing how two people can constitute themselves into a large
group) and make it difficult for other pedestrians to make reasonable
progress. When they stop, they form a defensive circle, fully closing
off as many routes as possible.
Then there are those to whom la politesse means nothing in a country
where it means a lot. A few "bonjours" and "si'l vous plaits" and
"mercis" cost nothing, and it is easy to learn to ask "parlez-vous
anglais?", but not many seem to bother. Even a smile and "do you speak
English" will do much to avert French ire. A good tourist should be
culturally sensitive: you visit Paris to experience a little of French
life, and not your own way of doing things at home, wherever that home
may be.
There are tourists who generate antipathy, and I suspect that they are
the sort who go home and complain about how rude the French people
are.

An outing to Giverny:
Herself had been given a book depicting Monet's house and garden at
Giverny, and expressed a wish to go there. Initial research brought up
several coach tour options, costing €60 - €70 each.This led to more
determined research, and we found that we could do the visit using
train and bus connections for about half the cost. And we like trains.
So that's the way we did it.
The garden is indeed lovely, and the famed lily pond is well worth
seeing. But the visitor is confined to fenced pathways, and there are
not many opportunities to sit and enjoy the views (to be fair, I
should say that there were so many visitors there that it is difficult
to see how this could be arranged without cutting large chunks out of
the garden).
The house, too, is interesting, probably little changed since Monet's
day. It is surprisingly small, being only one room deep, and again the
number of visitors was a problem: we were swept through it in minutes
by the throng.
A visit which we had supposed might take three hours was completed in
less than half the time. Had we spent €70 each, we might have felt
hard done by, but it was fair value at less then €30 each.

The bad bit: the airport
Airports are a necessary evil for those who travel. Soulless,
characterless places. I would sooner wait in a railway station than an
airport (especially, in Paris, the Gare de Lyon).
We were due to take an evening flight, and decided to go to CDG early,
check in and get the bags out of the way, and then have some food
before boarding the plane. Check-in completed, we looked for a
restaurant. The only sign we found pointed towards the boarding area,
but that was all right; we went through. After some searching about,
we found a small restaurant on an upper floor -- but it was not
serving food. All the catering we could find airside was sandwiches,
and I wanted real food.
We asked a AdP staff member where we might get food, and he told us
that the restaurants were on the lower floor landside. Could he let us
through? He indicated the exit for passengers who had just landed --
where there was a long queue being processed carefully by a single
immigration officer. I made my displeasure known (politely, as I
presumed the problem was not of his making), and he smiled, shrugged,
and said "This is Paris". How much that says about the French attitude
to bad bureaucratic arrangements: an official, rather than trying to
find a solution to a problem, limits himself to explaining what the
problem is. Not everything in France is perfect.
It would round off my account nicely if I could report that we were
rewarded for our pains with a superb meal but, sadly, airport food is
airport food -- expensive and not particularly good.

And then home to contemplate our next trip (Madrid).

--
PB
The return address has been MUNGED
  #2  
Old July 26th, 2004, 11:56 AM
Miss L. Toe
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Default Paris Notes (2)

Paris chic:
The idea of the parisienne chic is something of a clich, but when I
first visited Paris it appeared to me that it had some basis in fact:
the city seemed to have more than its fair share of well-groomed,
well-dressed women. It no longer appears so.


You should visit Milan, maybe Milan is the new Paris.


And then home to contemplate our next trip (Madrid).


It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four business trips
there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.

(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the main square).


  #3  
Old July 26th, 2004, 11:56 AM
Miss L. Toe
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Posts: n/a
Default Paris Notes (2)

Paris chic:
The idea of the parisienne chic is something of a clich, but when I
first visited Paris it appeared to me that it had some basis in fact:
the city seemed to have more than its fair share of well-groomed,
well-dressed women. It no longer appears so.


You should visit Milan, maybe Milan is the new Paris.


And then home to contemplate our next trip (Madrid).


It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four business trips
there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.

(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the main square).


  #4  
Old July 26th, 2004, 04:44 PM
Richard
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Default Paris Notes (2)

"Miss L. Toe" wrote in message
...

It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four
business trips there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.


(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the
main square).


Do you remember the restaurant's name? One thing that struck me about Madrid
was that their attempts at Mexican food were downright pathetic. It seemed
as if though no Mexican with any sort of culinary ability had ever set foot
in the Spanish capital.

Richard


  #5  
Old July 26th, 2004, 04:44 PM
Richard
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Paris Notes (2)

"Miss L. Toe" wrote in message
...

It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four
business trips there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.


(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the
main square).


Do you remember the restaurant's name? One thing that struck me about Madrid
was that their attempts at Mexican food were downright pathetic. It seemed
as if though no Mexican with any sort of culinary ability had ever set foot
in the Spanish capital.

Richard


  #6  
Old July 26th, 2004, 04:44 PM
Richard
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Paris Notes (2)

"Miss L. Toe" wrote in message
...

It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four
business trips there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.


(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the
main square).


Do you remember the restaurant's name? One thing that struck me about Madrid
was that their attempts at Mexican food were downright pathetic. It seemed
as if though no Mexican with any sort of culinary ability had ever set foot
in the Spanish capital.

Richard


  #7  
Old July 26th, 2004, 04:44 PM
Richard
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Paris Notes (2)

"Miss L. Toe" wrote in message
...

It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four
business trips there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.


(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the
main square).


Do you remember the restaurant's name? One thing that struck me about Madrid
was that their attempts at Mexican food were downright pathetic. It seemed
as if though no Mexican with any sort of culinary ability had ever set foot
in the Spanish capital.

Richard


  #8  
Old July 26th, 2004, 05:00 PM
Padraig Breathnach
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Posts: n/a
Default Paris Notes (2)

"Miss L. Toe" wrote:

Paris chic:
The idea of the parisienne chic is something of a clich, but when I
first visited Paris it appeared to me that it had some basis in fact:
the city seemed to have more than its fair share of well-groomed,
well-dressed women. It no longer appears so.


You should visit Milan, maybe Milan is the new Paris.

Perhaps if I wanted to seek out such women. But I prefer informality.

And then home to contemplate our next trip (Madrid).


It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four business trips
there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.

We don't go until late October; I hope that you can bear the wait.

(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the main square).

You mean food with loads of chillis, burn-your-mouth-off stuff? Nah.
I'll settle for Spanish.

--
PB
The return address has been MUNGED
  #9  
Old July 26th, 2004, 05:00 PM
Padraig Breathnach
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Paris Notes (2)

"Miss L. Toe" wrote:

Paris chic:
The idea of the parisienne chic is something of a clich, but when I
first visited Paris it appeared to me that it had some basis in fact:
the city seemed to have more than its fair share of well-groomed,
well-dressed women. It no longer appears so.


You should visit Milan, maybe Milan is the new Paris.

Perhaps if I wanted to seek out such women. But I prefer informality.

And then home to contemplate our next trip (Madrid).


It'll be interesting to see what you make of Madrid, on four business trips
there I saw no reason to go back as a tourist.

We don't go until late October; I hope that you can bear the wait.

(But there was a very good Mexican restaurant just off the main square).

You mean food with loads of chillis, burn-your-mouth-off stuff? Nah.
I'll settle for Spanish.

--
PB
The return address has been MUNGED
  #10  
Old July 26th, 2004, 05:03 PM
Olivers
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Paris Notes (2)

Magda extrapolated from data available...



School trips are my pet peeve.
They seem to always invade the metro at rush hours, push everyone
around, and every single one of them simply *has* to talk to a friend
who happens to be on the opposite side of the carriage - same
behaviour when they enter a shop or a supermarket; Pavarotti singing
at the top of his lungs would NOT be heard.
These are everything but "mindlessly obstructive", believe me.


Well, they should certainly all be killed, alleviating both immediate and
future problems from continued breeding of the species.

The dearth of politness by the young, especially by the young in groups in
public these days, is not simply a "student" problem, but greatly
ascribable to their chicken-hearted, lily-livered parents who have been
conditioned that empowerment and entitlement are due to each and all of
their scabrous offspring. Children require substantial mistreatment, and
profit from occasional or even routine denial of of the most basic
privileges and pleasures.

As a great philosopher once noted..."Nobody promised you a rose garden."

Seriously, society in its toleration of others has developed the mistaken
impression that our culture demands the tolerance of rude, impolite and
discomforting performances by the young. So sensitive are retailers that
they might "offend" a breed of customers that they allow the breed to
routinely offend others.

Can you imagine the positive pleasurable reaction that would be yours if,
while dining in a restaurant where a particularly loud, awkward offensive
child was demonstrating the weakness of character and selfishness of his
parents, the proprietor walked up to the table, announced that he was
picking up the check, and demanded that they take their rude brat and
depart without letting the front door hit their butts on the way out.

How about a step further...A museum satffer who waked up to a techer with a
ob of unruly and obstructive students and ushered them out the door.

Over a few years, I watched the "conversion" of a modest local shopping
mall into a gathering place for adolescents (often ejectees from the lobby
area of a nearby multi-screen theater. Unfortunately, the flood of
teenagers caused the regular customers of a number of the stores within to
go elsewhere. The stores closed, leaving only a handful whose trade came
from the teens. With vacant space and partial rents, the mall closed and
was bulldozed, replaced by annother "Big Box", this time a Target, which
certainly doesn't provide a gathering spot for the young.

I suppose travelers (and others) have been bemoaning the conduct of the
young since the dawn of history, but it's obviously too late to act.

A parent whose daughers have reached adulthood not painlessly for him but
at least without major trauma.

TMO
 




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