Monday, April 28, 2008


Today we (Mum and I) went to Montmartre, which is the cool, artistic(ish) area of Paris. We followed a walking guide from a guide book (not the Janet). The walking track we followed was great and we passed a lot of amazing sites, buildings, streets, etc. We stopped for lunch at a creperie, where the crepes were delicious, and then headed over to see the Sacre Coeur. I'd seen it before, of course, but I'd never made the trek to the top of the dome, through tight spiral staircases before, so we went to the top. Not surprisingly, my legs are very sore right now. The view from the top was great, all over Paris, and like yesterday, the weather was perfect for such an expedition.
After Montmartre, we went to meet Nat, Clair and Ruby for dinner at a restaurant called Chartier, which is a traditional, cheap, French establishment, which has been in operation since 1896 (I think). The food was great, and not too expensive. The waiter wrote our order on the table cloth and then wrote the cost there too as he added up the final bill. I think it would be amusing if you needed to take the receipt home to claim the cost back. If you want to see photos of the day click here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mum, La Défense, and the Champs Élysées

Mum arrived in Paris this morning. At 7am. This meant that I had to make my way to the airport to meet her. On a Saturday. This was cruel.

After returning to my apartment and having a cup of tea, we headed over to La Défense, specifically to go up to the top of La Grande Arche. Photos are here. The view from the top of the Grande Arche is magnificent, and the weather was fantastic, which also helped. Inside, on the top floor, there are several exhibition spaces. One of these was occupied by a museum of computers and IT. It was really well-done, and interesting. It's amusing to note that many of the "old" computers date back to the 80's, or even earlier - ancient history in the computer world!
Another space was host to a gallery of cool paintings of the sort that you look at for 30 seconds and then look away, at a blank section of the wall, to see the real image. It was quite effective, and a novelty at first, so I tried with many of them, but I couldn't be bothered doing the whole collection.

After La Défense, we caught the métro back to Charles de Gaulle-Étoile, which is the top of the Avenue des Champs Élysées, which we proceeded to walk down, heading back to my apartment. This walk went down the entire avenue, then through the Tuileries Garden, and then along the Seine before going grocery shopping (how exciting!) and back home. Photos taken during the walk are here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I agree

This photo/postcard is part of the published postcards on PostSecret this week. Someone has left this comment: "Your father's success was raising four children who can think for themselves."

I couldn't agree more.

I was high with my students

Today my two students who work in the Montparnasse Tower invited me to lunch with them and two of their colleagues. The food was great and these students are friendly, as are their colleagues. After lunch they took me to the top of the tower because people who work there are given free tickets to the observation deck. The weather was fairly nice (though there was a little bit of a glare) and the view from the top of the tower is fantastic.

It's the tallest tower/building in Paris (210m) and the 9th tallest in the EU, and so you can expect the view to be impressive. I've posted the album, so you can see the photos from the day over there, on the right-hand side of this blog. The first three pictures were taken from my student's office, and then you can see a picture of my lunch, followed by the pictures taken in the tourist area (observation floor and deck).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What I did on my weekend

What I did on my weekend:
(I don't think this blog post is going to become a revolutionary document that plunges the entire empire into turmoil. It's a weekend, not a holiday, after all.)

On Saturday night I went to the cinema at UGC Cité, Les Halles, to see The Spiderwick Chronicles (VO, of course). I wasn't expecting it to be a brilliant piece of cinema, but I enjoyed it. There was at least one obvious Harry Potter reference/incident of plagiarism. The special effects were good and the child actors weren't bad. I was worried that the actors would be a problem as chold actors often are in films in general.

On Sunday morning I went to the laudrette, which isn't terribly exciting, and to show how boring it was, there was a woman asleep on the couch in there. It was 10am.

After lunch I caught up with Nat, Clair and Ruby who were in Paris for a night before heading off to the south of France for about a week. It was great to see them again. We walked around Ile de la Cité (the island in the Seine with the Notre Dame). After an hour or so, we parted because I had a rendez-vous with a French friend, which was only a brief meeting, so afterwards I visited the abovementioned family and their friends at their hotel for dinner, so I got to hang out for a few more hours with them. It rained on the walk from their hotel to the métro.

So that was my weekend. It was nice, but not revolutionary.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

La Poste

Several weeks ago, I was told of a site called cdiscount. I was warned that sometimes the purchases never arrive, so not to buy expensive items from the site. I've made two purchases and I haven't yet had a problem, and the items arrived very quickly both times. The only thing that has surprised me is the size of the packaging that they use. I think it must be packed by a machine, as it looks like two large pieces or cardboard are just glued together with the items inside.

Here's a photo of the package as it arrived today:

and here's a photo with a DVD on top to show the scale of the package. Bear in mind that it contained just 2 DVD's and a CD:

The first time I bought from this site, the packaging was about the same. It seems excessive for the size of the items inside, but they arrived in good condition, so I'm happy.

This time I bought, as I said above, 2 DVD's and a CD. The CD is Amy Winehouse, Back to Black and the DVD's are The Others and It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (which is the title that can be seen in the above photo).

Update on Le Chat Noir

The dismantling of Le Chat Noir has finished and renovations are taking place. The windows have acquired A4 signs informing us that it will reopen on the 21st of April. The old decor wasn't exactly anything worth writing home about, so it won't take much to improve it.

Metro Issues

Aside from the strikes, my experiences with the metro here have been mostly positive - the trains are efficient and regular, it's convenient, inexpensive, etc. However, on Wednesday, I experienced two separate problems.

The first of these problems occurred on line 9 (direction: Mairie de Montreuil) on my way from Meudon to the Champs Elysees, as I had a French lesson. The train stopped at La Muette and stayed there for quite some time. The driver announced that we were waiting because of an "Incident maladie voyageur" (a sick commuter). This announcement was made several times during the 15 minutes that we had to wait at the station. The station itself made a similar announcement, but instead of blaming a sick persion, they said that it was due to a technical problem. Hmmm... The term "technical problem" is often used as a euphemism for "some git jumped in front of the train", which would also be covered by "maladie voyageur".

The second problem was on RER A, as I was trying to get home from my French lesson. I hopped on the train at Charles de Gaulle-Etoile and waited on the train for about 10 minutes before it left the station. Once again the official reason was a "technical problem". The train then came to a holt about halfway between Etoile and Auber and sat there for a few minutes. Upon finally arriving at Auber, we were informed that there'd be a 10-minute delay before the train would be able to move on towards Chatelet, so I decided to get off and head for line 7, which also goes from Auber (technically from Opera, but the two stations are linked) to Chatelet, though normally it's slower because there are more stations. Thankfully line 7 was devoid of problems.

Today, once again on the way home from Meudon, I was on line 9. I get on line 9 at Pont de Sevres (the start/end of the line, depending on your direction), which is good because I always get a seat. Anyway, today before the train left the station, there was an announcement saying that the traffic was experiencing delays over the whole line due to another technical problem. The problem must have been solved before I got there though, as I didn't notice anything abnormal, fortunately.

I don't know if any or all three cases were due to suicides, or suicide attemps, but I've been told by many people that jumping in front of a train (metro, RER, or Grandes Lignes) is the most common method of topping oneself in Paris and its suburbs, so I wouldn't be surprised. I can't find any statistics to support this claim, aside from an average of 61 people per year, 41% of whom are women.

Friday, April 18, 2008


So, I was on TV. A channel called TF1. I go each Tuesday night to a meeting of people who do language exchanges. It has significantly helped my French, and I help others with their English. I've also spoken a bit of Polish there.

Last Tuesday night, the 15th of April, there were television cameras there to film it, for some reason. I didn't really want to be shown on TV, so I tried to avoid the cameras, as did a friend. This friend was successful, but I wasn't. In fact, there's quite an obvious shot of me.

Here's the link.
The link is to the entire 30min news broadcast, and the segment about my group starts at about the 16min40 mark. Sometimes the time is shown, otherwise not. Anyway, if you scroll along to about the middle of the progress bar, you should be able to find it.
Here's a screen shot showing a view of me:

(oh, by the way, the name tags that they show with our names and which languages we speak only appeared as a special thing for the news cameras, we normally don't bother.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Delicates or Permanent Press?

I found the following two warning labels on a washing machine (they're on the same machine) at my local laundromat. Obviously the major difference is that one's in English and one's in French.

It looks like French speakers are more sensible than English speakers, because the French speakers apparently don't need to be told not to put people into the washer. Perhaps some English speakers forget to remove their clothes before putting the clothes in the machine.

(The pics are a little blurry because I took them with my phone, as I don't often take my camera with me to the laundromat.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Scorpion: Une démonstration d'affection inattendue viendra bouleverser tous vos préjugés concernant une personne que vous ne connaissez que peu finalement.

Le Chat Noir...

... is disappearing.

The Chat Noir is the cafe that used to exist on the bottom floor of my building. I didn't even notice that it had closed and stopped operating as a cafe until this evening when I walked past it (as I have to to get to my door, seen to the right of the cafe) and noticed that the exterior section has been almost completely dismantled and it looked like there wasn't much left inside either. I'll take some pictures tomorrow and post them, if I get a chance.

I know it's spring, but they've taken the concept of "spring cleaning" to the extreme.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Eurostar, jeszcze raz

Na prawdę - Będę jechać do Londynia z Eurostar'em. Czy chcesz wiedzić, będę w Anglii na 3 lipca, o 17:34 godzina. Będę wyjechać od Londynia i jechać do Cold Ash następnego dnia, ale nie wiem o ktorej. To jest mniej trudny i tańszy niż lot, bo mieszkam blisko do Gare du Nord, kto jest dworzec Eurostary'ego w Paryziu.


C'est confirmé ; Je voyagerai à Londres avec l'Eurostar. Pour ceux qui veulent savoir, je serai en Angleterre le 3 juillet, à 17:34. Je quitterai Londres pour aller à Cold Ash le lendemain, mais je n'ai pas choisi mon train pour ce voyage. C'est plus facile et moins cher que voler, surtout parce que j'habite près de Gare du Nord, qui est la station d'Eurostar à Paris.

Moja Sobota

My Saturday was quite busy, and fun too, which is a bonus.
In the morning, I caught up with two friends from Brisbane who are currently gallivanting around Europe. They came bearing gifts, which was nice (and not dangerous because they aren't Greek). They gave me two packets of original TimTams!

After that rendez-vous, I went to the Musée du Luxembourg which currently has a Vlaminck exhibition. I didn't know much about Vlaminck beforehand, and definitely didn't realise that he lived around Chatou, Nanterre, etc.
I liked a lot of yer man's paintings, and the audio guide was sufficiently pompous enough to allow cynical comments, which was another definite bonus.

After the musée, we went to a crepe restaurant for late lunch/early dinner. The food was good, though we weren't really happy about the cat that was allowed to wander around the restaurant, including under the table and on the laps of various diners. I had une "Crèpe Italienne" which was a crepe with vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce, and a piece of tiramisu. After the restaurant, we ended up at an Irish pub where we spent a good couple of hours, before finally heading home.
I met them at the museum at 2pm and got home at about 12:30am.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Je suis allé au theâtre

Yes, it's true.
I went to see a play called "La Vie en Kit" on Friday night with a group of friends. The play was entirely in French, which made it more difficult to understand than if it had've been in English. I understood most of it, but there were times when I had to concentrate on what was being said. It was funny, and I enjoyed it. I was given the ticket as a thank-you for some translating (I translated a friend's CV into English for her).

Before the theatre, we went to a restaurant for dinner. It was a nice restaurant, and the food was delicious, but I think the meal sizes could have been a little bigger considering the prices we paid for them. I had "Magret de canard au café" (Duck filet in coffee sauce).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mes Voisins?

I think someone is occupying the apartment next to mine. This is a new development, as for at least the past 5 months, I've heard no noises from within the apartment, seen no signs of life, and not heard people walking past my apartment (which they have todo to get to the next one, unless they can fly).
Right now I can hear human, high-heeled, steps outside, and either a small dog, or a very strange yappy child.

Friday, April 04, 2008

This should not be allowed

Some 80's and 90's bands should know that reforming is not a good idea. NKOTB will soon be back. They're going to release a new album, and also go on tour.

(from The Stranger)

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Today's date is a geometric progression! Exciting! I noticed this fact because I had four classes today, which meant writing the date down 8 times (I need to write it twice for each class, once on the attendance sheet and once on the lesson plan sheet).
It's the only day this year that will be one, so it should be a bit special. The next one will be the first of March next year (01-03-09).

Today started off annoyingly, in spite of it being a geometric progression. I left home at the right time to allow 20 mins at the other end to have my regular hot chocolate and brioche for breakfast. This is a bit of a habit for me now when I go to Meudon-La-Forêt. This morning, however, there was a traffic jam on the RN118 (the highway between Sèvres and Meudon) and so I didn't arrive until about 10 mins before my first lesson, and there was a queue in the Brioche Dorée, which frustrated me even more. The next annoyance came when I got to the front of the queue to be told that they'd sold out of brioche. I chose a croissant instead, but it's just not the same. After that, I went across the road, with about 5 mins to spare, only to wait in the reception area for 15 mins while the receptionist tried to find a room for me for the day. I understand that they're busy and have a room shortage, but there's an English teacher there every day of the week, for the same timeslot each day, so it shouldn't really come as a surprise when we arrive, and so, I feel, they should have had enough warning to organise a room.
Anyway, one of the students from the first class turned up at reception to find out where the classroom was as well, and that really meant that I didn't get enough time to have breakfast. After finally being found a room, I decided to leave the croissant until later because they're a bit messy to eat, and just drank my hot chocolate. Things picked up after that, and the rest of the day was okay. I'd like to say that the day became exponentially more enjoyable, but I don't think this was truly the case, and I don't think there's a reliable way to quantitatively measure it.