Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Orangutan-Sized Chocolate


Can you imagine waking up on Christmas morn to discover this guy under your tree? He was solid
c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t...

Didn't catch the pricetag. I'm sure it would send me into sugar shock...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Beautiful Sight...


How about lunch on the Eiffel Tower? My guess is that this would be a mite bit cheaper than the Jules Verne, the famed restaurant on the second floor of the tower... (Lunch appetizers begin at 54€).

This was along the Champs Elysees, Paris' most famous street for shopping, where the Louis Vittons and Abercrombie and Fitches reside...


There was a waiting line for Abercrombie and Fitch... We didn't join the masses.


And of course Mickey has a space along this famous rue.



The streets were all lined with little kiosks selling trinkets and goodies. We got some hot wine which was really welcome since it was chilly and misty... Check out the Ferris wheel... That's not usually there...


I rarely get to the city, so this was a treat to go close to Christmas...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Scammed... Sort of...


So if someone in a tourist area of Paris claims to find a nice-looking ring at your feet then hands it to you, beware. Apparently, this is a well-known scheme where the "donor" is looking for money.

While visiting the city on Friday, a scraggly-looking man showed us a men's gold band which he "found" at our feet as we were walking near the Arc de Triomphe. He showed it to me and pointed out the carving on the inside that said it was gold. He then placed it on my finger, while telling me in his broken French that I had brought him good luck and that I should keep it. He said he was from Bosnia and asked where I was from. I told him Canada. He kissed my hand as well as the hands of the man and woman I was traveling with (ick) then kissed my cheek (traditional French thing). (Way more ick.)

As he walked away, I thought, "Was this stolen? Is someone watching? What kind of a setup is this?" Then, he came right back and said that since he'd given me something of value, might I spare some change for a sandwich for him? All of a sudden, my French got much worse as you might say, and I made like I didn't understand him. I told him to take the ring and just sell it for money if he needed it. "No, no, the ring is for you," insisted.

Then we noticed some men in fatigues and I think he did too, thankfully. I passed him the ring and told him I would not give him money. When he was just out of earshot I told the others this was clearly a scam, they agreed and we wondered was the ring real? Was he scoping out our hands when he was kissing them? Does he succeed in removing some people's rings when putting on the other one? (He put it on my middle finger and my wedding ring fits snugly.)

I snapped his photo while he was across the street, before we crossed. (It's amazing how people back off from harassing you or someone nearby when they know their mug's on your camera.) Then I told the others, "Let's just run." And we did a jog over to a side street, and then another, just in case we were being watched.

Later, at the Eiffel Tower, another American heard us talking about this and said she'd heard of this ring scam in one of Rick Steves' books... Here's a thread of conversation on this from his website... Apparently, this is an oldie but goodie...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

For the Birds?


I think he thought this sign was for him...

A word to the wise: in Paris, I think if you want a clean toilet, it's just best to pay. I've found clean ones for 50 cents at Gare de Austerlitz and Gare de Lyon (train stations). A bargain at twice the price...

Oh, and I think some restaurants put signs up saying that their toilets are for customers only because they know if you used the restrooms before eating there, you wouldn't eat there.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sign of the Times?


This Paris sign translates to, "I love my neighborhood. I pick up."

But according to the evidence on the sidewalk, the folks around here weren't exactly loving their surroundings...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Flour Delivery


I thought I was hearing a leaf vaccum, until I rounded the corner yesterday morning... This is a flour truck making its delivery round to a bakery (in the lit window in the middle).


The flour got sent in by the side of the building... The cashier told me they get all their white flour this way, and the specialty ones still come in large sacks... How efficient!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tom's Here!


Thanks to Bernard's, Tom the turkey arrived ready to be cooked this morning... I was thrilled to find a whole turkey, because in the Orléans area we often had to scramble or just make due with turkey parts... I was able to get a fresh whole bird....

A quick comparative check tells me that even though turkey prices reportedly have risen 20 percent this year in the US, we're still paying more in France, as is typical for most things. The stats: a 5.5 kg turkey (12.1 pounds) rings in a 35.50€ ($47.67), which compares with the average American price of $1.35 per pound (American Farm Bureau). That comes out to $16.20 or 12.06€.

I keep checking the math... Sometimes, over here, it's just better not to make the pricing comparisons! But this is how it is. I heard that I could have gotten one cheaper at a local grocery store, whole, but frozen.

Regardless, I am thankful that Tom is here, and very soon, the rest of our guests will be too!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This Morning's Excitement


We finally collected enough stickers to get a free Tintin figurine from one of the local grocery stores. Ellie has been keeping up with the stickers, and was thrilled to have enough this morning to get the two police detectives figurine. (It's just one item.)

Then after all her fanfare of asking me for this or that product each time we've been to the store over three weeks' time so she could get stickers, she told me she doesn't really want it. 

Now she's wrapped it up for Alex for Christmas. (???)

This has been a big film here as there are many, many Tintin fans. My kids and husband have read most of the books and we've got some in both English and French... We saw the movie this weekend, but I must say for me, there was an awful lot of sword fighting.... Another reason it has gone over well here!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You Know it's Thanksgiving...


When egg rolls are on sale at your local grocery store... Actually, I am pleased to report that I found a boucherie (butcher) that sells whole turkeys... And I don't have to wait for December!

This sign has popped up all over the neighborhood and I can't look at it without thinking of, "This one time at band camp..." and other lines and scenes I don't want to remember from the movie American Pie...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Paris Fashion...


...for when you're feeling a bit sheepish? 

...or for that person on your gift list who's like a wolf in sheep's clothing?

Okay, okay, wipe the sheepish grin off your face, you know ewe want to laugh!

<Perhaps at me, but not with me...>



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pour les Chats les Plus Gâtés


For the most spoiled cats out there, Santa Paws offers you...an advent calendar for your kitty...

It says, "Each day, a different pleasure." And how much will this treat-a-day for your feline friend set you back? A whopping 9.90€!

I was puzzled about something: with France being such country of dog lovers, why didn't the store have an equivalent holiday gift for les chiens?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Somebody Help Me!


French is already a foreign language for me, so texting just adds another dimension. I likely won't ever reach the level where I am tapping away notes like these, found on a wall at a local KFC...

In the photo above, "Jv1 de croiser 1 meuf Knon !"  means "Je viens de croiser une meuf canon !" A.k.a., "I just came across a beautiful girl!"

In the photo below, "Dzolé jserai à la bourre..." means "Désolé je serai à la bourre..." or
"Desolée je serai en retard..." In English that's, "Sorry I'll be late..."

 
 If I had to respond to someone sending me this, I'd surely be late.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Wine O'Clock!


Corks were popping all across France yesterday as it was the third Thursday in November, also known as "Beaujolais Nouveau Day." It's the release date a purple-pink young wine that is bottled six to eight weeks after harvest. It's intended to be drunk within the year.

Oops. 

I still have the Pisse Dru from last year in the cave downstairs, so I put this one back. You're supposed to uncork some with friends, so why did they put it on a Thursday? Many cities often plan special festivities for this day...

Maybe we'll finally crack open that bottle tonight... 

Happy Vendredi (Friday) everyone!



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Great French Smokeout


As far as I can tell, the Great American Smokeout (held today) has not made it to France yet.... It's been awhile, but I've also seen the candy cigarettes since I've been here. Don't ask me what possessed me to buy these chocolate cookies above, other than my intense love of chocolate, especially hazelnut. I planned to remove the wrappings and put them in a bowl, but time got the best of me when I had guests over recently and I set them on the table right in the box. I should have taken the time... One of my young guests began "smoking" his... Yikes. I felt so bad. Especially when his mom scolded him.

Perhaps they could rename them? Chocostix? Hazelnut batons? Anything but cigarettes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Asterix: The Rides


As promised, here are a few photos of Asterix's attractions. This is the exit to the haunted house... Many people thought it was the entrance and were trying to go in this way... I found it to be on the same level of interest/scariness to the Disney one...


This was a pedaling ride that offered a great view of the park...


Doesn't every amusement park have a car ride? Ellie drove our crew to "Siberia."


This was the view while waiting in line for "Le Défi de César," also known as "Caesar's Challenge."


We were supposed to be Caesar's recruits. After a few motivating words from him, we went through a few rooms including one where we could have our photo snapped and see ourselves in Gaul headgear. I'm sure you can tell that's me equipped with the spear in the front...


Then there's that one that the kids just aren't ready for yet...


The triple loop... Next year, I'm sure!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Signs and Scenes from Asterix



More photos today from Parc Asterix, an amusement park outside Paris that we visited over the weekend... Below, this is César, a.k.a. Julius Caesar, at the entrance of a ride called, "Le Défi de César," or "Caesar's Challenge." 


No explanation needed here...


Attention, vikings crossing...


This translates to The Trojan Pony... permits you to discreetly invade villages of three or four inhabitants...


I guess this is Asterix's answer to the Princess Castle...


Tomorrow I will show some of the rides!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Parc Asterix


About a half hour outside Paris, there sits a famous amusement park. No, not that big American one, the other one.

Parc Asterix. This is him, sitting upon a mountaintop at the entrance...

The park is well-known in France, but not so much to Americans... Unlike Disney, where we'd hear English, German, Spanish, etc. everywhere we walked, we didn't hear much other than French the whole day!

This was a great experience as the rides were all new to us and the park is all based on popular French comic books that are favorites in our family... Asterix and his sidekick Obelix are Gauls who are resisting Roman occupation of their small village. Thirteen films have been made from the books, most recently in 2008. Several star the popular French actor Gérard Depardieu... The latest, Asterix and Obelix: On Her Majesty's Serice will be released in 2012, with another to follow in 2014 called Asterix: The Land of the Gods.

More on the park itself in the coming days! I took lots of photos!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Breakfast Chez Les Robics


I love it when Bernard sets the table for breakfast when we have guests...

This is pretty much a typical French breakfast... Coffee and/or hot chocolate along with plenty of croissants and pain au chocolat for dipping into our drinks... (Well, not into the OJ.)

And don't forget his mom's homemade jellies at the bottom of the photo... a great way to start la journée...


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scallops--Scrumptious!


I adore scallops, a.k.a. Coquilles Saint Jacques, and Bernard makes them in so many ways for us. This cream sauce is among my favorite... It went nicely with the Sancerre, a white here, that is from the eastern part of the Loire valley, southeast of Orléans.

We have guests coming from the U.S. again soon, so more food photos are surely to follow...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crumbling with Cracks?


Check out the sign "A louer." For rent. It always cracks me up when I see "Appartement Standing." As opposed to falling down? Actually, it means luxury, in line with the sense of being in good standing...

PS. I don't think there's a time we've passed by this place that one of the kids haven't said, "Mom can we check out the Japanese restaurant next time we go out?" This is along the main stretch in Avon...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Un Tournesol Triste...


A sad sunflower...

This plant just looked to me like he'd been plotting his escape beyond the wall, deemed it futile, and was now hanging his head in frustration....

We could use some more sunshine these days around here! But hey, it is November...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Doctor is In...


Just a short post today to share a tidbit... Some French doctors actually still make house calls... We've only used this option once, back when Alex was a baby and we were visiting relatives in Grenoble. But it's nice to know that if you're really too sick to get out, or to take your child out, someone still can come to you....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An IKEA morning...


Here's yet another reason I like IKEA... We're on the same page about wanting clean restrooms. No text required on this handy gadget found in one of their stalls...

Oh, the one-euro pricetag for a coffee, orange juice and croissant (total!) this morning wasn't bad either... Photo not available... Perhaps because I'm embarrassed that I totally made a child-like mess. If anyone's got advice on how to eat a flaky crossiant without churning out a trillion crumbs, I'm all ears....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stamp of (Dis)Approval


So I'm off to the Post Office to mail, among other things, two letters to URSSAF, an administrative office that deals with French benefits. And the woman behind the counter offers me these stamps. Considering that I was writing to URSSAF because the Orléans office had sent me the same form I mailed to them last month (with a new deadline on it) and the Melun office has not acknowledged my request to transfer my file to their office since it's in my new department, I wasn't sure which of these to choose. Perhaps the upper right? "I like to write." Bottom right: "I've got something to say?"

Or how about ones from this panel?


Upper left: "Words are the life." Yeah, I've got all the time in the world to keep writing to you. Upper right: "Between us." Non. I won't be quiet if I don't get this finalized. How about the lower left? "Words of love." A good choice in the bottom right one: "This is a letter." Like, send me one now.

This was the selection in the last group:


Upper right: "For the moment, all is well." I wasn't sending that one. Perhaps I should have sent the bottom left. It doesn't appear to be French. But it looks like "Keep your morale." And I could not have sent the last: "You are wonderful."

These were created by an artist named Benjamin Vautier, a.k.a. Ben, who was born in Naples in 1935, and emigrated to Nice in 1949.

Kudos to anyone who can decipher the one on the bottom left of the last panel...

And a final thought: If you're sending your son's letter to his friend and the last stamp left is "Mots d'Amour," do you affix it, send it and say nothing? LOL...

These are surely going to be tricky to use... Next time I'll go for the standard red ones with Marianne on them...




Sunday, November 6, 2011

Les Feuilles! (Leaves)


These photos don't do justice to the Fontainebleau Forest...

Fall is my favorite season and I'm really enjoying the school drive at the moment with this kind of scenery. One of these days, I will finally stop to take a walk and enjoy it by foot... You can't smell the leaves while driving...



Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Disney Halloweeeeen....


Thanks to some friends, we got tickets to go to Disney on Halloween night! Although Disney is usually all about the rides for me, this time the best thing was looking at all the costumes! Sometimes, it was hard to tell who was part of the show, and who wasn't...


Okay, so this guy and several others like him were definitely part of the show...

 

Not sure about this dude. I passed by him quickly without asking.
 

These jokers above were quite the hams and were undoubtedly part of the Disney clan...


There were a few characters like this on stilts that made me soooo nervous for them. What kind of protection did that costume offer their heads if they tipped over? Especially in crowds of people pushing strollers and wheelchairs or not paying attention. There was a woman going around saying, "Attention, s'il vous plaît," but it was not enough. He was inching along... I'd have been petrified...


Mr. Silver pants above: your guess is as good as mine as to whether he's official or not... These people below said they were just average park visitors like us! May the Force be With Them! They posed for several photos. I bet they didn't get on many rides either.


And so how did I dress for the occasion? I was Madame Lame. I had a black and silver witch hat and a jack o'lantern pinned to my jacket... In a sea of thousands of likely French people, I was clearly among the least dressed for Halloween. 

Lesson learned for next time!