Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mail dis-order!

The postal system and deliveries in general in Paris are a complete mystery to us. Way back when we first moved in, we ordered a printer to be delivered. We were given a time window on a Saturday  - 8am to 1pm. We waited. Nothing arrived.

At 1pm we got an email to say that the printer had been delivered. But not to us... And signed for. But not by us...

Nothing on the door step, at the mail box nor even at street level.

We needed to go out at this stage but when we returned there was the printer sitting up at the door of the apartment (the inside door - not the street door). We still don't know who signed for it or who left it there.

I ordered spring-loaded curtain rods from Amazon. They only cost €4. After 6 weeks I gave up waiting on them and contacted Amazon who immediately and without question refunded the money. No harm done and I'd sourced them already in a nearby bricoche department in BVH Marais! Oh how I love that store... It may turn me into a shopper yet.

The mail is as baffling.

I got a notice one day in our mail box down stairs - it said we were not home (we were) and so .... well not sure ... the rest was in French and goggle translate was having cryptic convulsions trying to translate. There where scribbles on one side so I figured no need to even bother translating that and focus on the other instruction... but that address was way far away outside of Paris...

Was I expected to spend a fortune and spend day travelling to collect a parcel.  I didn't even know what the delivery was either. We weren't expecting anything...except the missing curtain rods. And what about that "la date de votre choice?" That sounded nice. At "Le bureau de poste de votre choix?" Except I didn't know how to make the "choix" and that big green sticker slapped over it seemed to null all that.

I brought it to a French teacher (at a class that I attended but only for a week because it was rubbish - a whole other story) and she told me to go to the place beneath the scribble.

"But it's scribbled out!" I said.

"It's okay," she insisted. "If you don't go there before 5 today you will 'ave to go to the far away place!"

Good Lord! Not the far away place! And, yes, she did speak like the girl from "Allo, Allo." It was really cute.

So, I went to the scribbled out place. It was a 25 minutes walk through the Marais and a lovely walk too. And wonder of wonders our post was actually at the scribbled out place. I signed for the parcel. It didn't look like our missing curtain poles. Turned out it was our cheque books from the bank which I thought I was going to collect when they contacted me to say they were ready. Confused? Yep - welcome to our world!

But the nicest thing about that walk is that on the way home I found Le Gay Choc. A bakery with interestingly shaped baguettes. Checkout their website.

There's always a silver lining.

And guess what turned up - eventually - our curtain rods. Free at this stage but sadly unusable.

Well I suppose how else could the post man fit them in our post box - yep they were in the post box! Oh well, we didn't need them anyways!

On a happier note, here's some yummy pastries we bough on New Years Day when absolutely everything else was shut. What the French lack in logic they most certainly make up for in treats!

Happy days! Never worry - have a pastry...

Byddi Lee

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dining up the Eiffel Tower

Originally built as a temporary structure at the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, the Eiffel Tower still stands and has become an iconic representation of all things Paris. For me, it defies reason, this lattice of wrought iron that should be ugly, but which, no matter when I see it takes my breath away with it's beauty. It glows with spectacular golden light at night.

The tower is equally magnificent in the cold light of day.

My Sister gifted us a voucher for a meal for two in 58 Eiffel Tower, the restaurant on the first "floor" (that large platform atop the 'legs' of the tower.)

It was a great present, not least because it was the kind of thing we may never have actually splurged on for ourselves. So we got ourselves dolled up and headed out for an evening of getting up close and personal with this gigantic mechano set!

You can pay extra to have a seat at the window, which is exactly what my generous sister did. This was the view from our seat, overlooking the seine and the Trocadero.

The meal is a set dinner and you get to choose from four or five options for starter, main course and  desert as you sip on the glass of champers that's included.

You also get two glasses of wine per person - your choice of red or white. The white was a sauvignon blanc which I actually liked. The red was a Bordeaux and My Husband chose that. There didn't seem to be a choice other than that and we were happy with their selection. More discerning wine buffs might have an issue here.

The menu had what I would describe as "safe" options. The food was fresh and cooked to perfection. The portions were small but satisfying. There were two sittings an evening 6.30pm and a later one at 9pm. Possibly because everyone was seated at the same time, there was a sense of mass catering.  Everything was nice but nothing spectacular when compared to the meal we'd had almost a year ago in Singapore at the top of the  Marina Bay Sands, in the restaurant called (ironically) Ce La Vi.

But really, we weren't there solely for the food, and the staff were nice, giving my husband a lovely fruit salad for desert when he couldn't find a menu option without cream. 

After dinner we took in the views, climbing up the stairs (even though the lift ticket was included in the price) to the second "floor" which, as My Husband kept pointing out, was more than one floor in a conventional building up.

We arrived there just in time to see the moon pop out from behind cloud.


And there it is!

Despite the chilly night the views were amazing! Above on the left, you can see the big wheel at Place de  la Concorde (where Marie Antoinette lost her head)  and the Pantheon on the right.

Below, that's the Pantheon to the left and the building with the blue lights at the top Mountparnasse Tower.

The Seine, with Sacre Coeur on the horizon just right of center.

The top of the Eiffel Tower was closed. I'm not sure if it was because it was night time or if it is closed right now.

The most magical moment was when the lights all sparkled in the on-the-hour light show!

Back inside for a warm up and a nosy through the shops. The Parisians love their Eiffel Tower and their macaroons so this was a double whammy of their amour!

A great evening out - thanks to My Sister. Next time we go up the Eiffel tower hopefully she'll be with us.

Byddi Lee

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Keys to Living in France

It's Paris. It's complicated. Yup - I've said it before and I'll say it again, most likely.... But all things can be figured out...

Like the time we bought a new keyboard.

We left our old one in San Jose because I wanted a European one with money symbols on it for real money like £ and € and not just dollar signs. Other things, like quotation marks, where in the wrong place too, but over time I'd gotten used to that. It was the money signs I wanted...

So we went shopping. Strangely enough, electronics shops had been one of the first types of shops we'd sussed out here. That's what comes of being married to a nerd! (And of being one myself, if truth be told.) 

We sourced a keyboard and brought it home only to discover some of the keys were not were I expected them to be. Not quite a qwerty keyboard - or rather - ?ore q azerty keyboqrd:::

I tried to use it on the French setting but kept typing q instead of a, which became quite frustrating. There was however a USA setting... which left me right back where I'd started, except the keys were labeled differently for a handful of keys and some that my fingers didn't know how to find by themselves. It was enough to drive me batty!

But I found a solution to the problem.

Now everyone who sees my keyboard (my study is just a desk in the living room) wants to know the story of the weird looking keyboard!

I'm such a nitwit really! Should have kept the other keyboard...

Byddi Lee

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Cherry on the Top!

It's Paris. There are many little (and big) frustrations, but overall, we're loving being here. It feels like a privilege to have this experience, so I really don't want to complain... Please, consider these next few posts as a description of our adjustment to French life rather than a whinging session!

Everything is complicated - even simple things like buying chickens and even cherries! I was passing a fruit shop one day.

Everything looked delicious. I filled my shopping bag. Later at home, I re-examined the bill and discovered that the fruit had come to a total of €42.66! The cherries alone had cost
€16.72 just for a wee punnet. (Okay, the dattes, (dates) were expensive too - I was expecting that.)

I remembered that the cherries had said "499." Obviously the cashier had typed an extra zero when typing in the price...right?

So, armed with the French vocabulary to say, ever so politely, "I think you've made a mistake and overcharged me..." I headed back to the shop. But to my horror, I realized when I saw the sign close up that, in fact, the cherries really were that price.

They were €49.90 per kilo.

Now, I don't know about you but wasn't that sign somewhat misleading? Wouldn't you think you were getting a punnet of cherries for €4.99?

However, as a French friend did point out, it's not exactly cherry season. These cherries have come all the way from Chile, and judging by their price, flew first class on Air France!

I suppose it pays to read the small print. Quite a task when it's in scribbles that are half rubbed off the chalk board and in French.

Oh well, you win some, you get robbed some. They did taste good and sure isn't that the main thing (even if we are broke now!)

Byddi Lee