Saturday, 28 February 2009

Silly brand names #1345-1348

Shopping at my local Shopi the other night I found some wonderfully named products.Such as...



I do like my cookies to be friendly and cheerful.



Even a year on,there's still something hilarious about anything with the word "Crack" (or any spelling variant) in the name.The superfluous apostrophe is a bonus.

And my favourite...



What does Oh! Ouizz even mean?!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Metro Station Stories #1: Guy Môquet

Yesterday I was moaning about line 13.It wasn't so bad today,I actually got a seat!Anyway,some of the stations I go through every day stick out in my mind for various reasons,and I quite like to know the stories behind them.

Guy Môquet is on line 13 and is one I don't like because lots of people tend to get on there.There are lots of metro stations named after people- Franklin D.Roosevelt,George V...But I've never heard of Guy Môquet as I suppose not many non-French people have.It turns out he was a Communist militant back in WW2 and protested against the Nazi Occupation of France and the Vichy Government.He was arrested for this in 1940,and executed a year later at Châteaubriant.26 other prisoners were also shot (kind of revenge killings for the assasination of the regional Nazi leader),but Môquet is the most famous of them because he was the youngest,being only 17.The letter he wrote to his parents before his death is also very famous here,and after being made into a short film in 2007,was apparantly read in every French high school on the request of Nicolas Sarkozy.



Letter:
My dear, sweet mother, my little baby brother that I adore, my dear father that I love-I am going to die! What I ask of you, especially my dear mother, is to be courageous. I am, and I want to be as courageous as those who went before me.

Sure, I would have liked to have lived. But what I wish for, with all my heart, is that my death means something. I didn't have time to hug Jean. I hugged my two brothers Roger and Rino. As for you, I'm afraid that I can't! I hope that all my things will be sent to you-Serge can use them; I trust he will be proud to wear them one day. To you, dear father, if I ever gave you or dear mother any trouble, I praise you one last time. Know that I did the best to follow the path you set out for me.

One last goodbye to all of my friends, to my brother whom I love dearly. He should study hard so that one day he will become a man. Seventeen and a half years old-my life was short, I have no regrets,other than leaving you all. I will die with Tintin, Michels. Mother, what I ask of you, what I want you to promise me, is to be courageous and to rise above your pain.

JC Watch: Part 1

I'm not actually stalking him.I'm not really going to find his house and go through his bins hoping to find a yogurt pot lid which I will then laminate and wear around my neck forever.(If you haven't been watching Eastenders lately,you won't get that.But never mind).But it is a liiiittle bit exciting knowing that you live like 20 minutes away from one of your Europop heroes :)

Anyway,Mr C is in this week's edition of free Metro paper ParuVendu,along with the other peeps in the Aznavour musical which I really will go and see sometime soon.



He's on the end.On the right.

That's ParuVendu's Picture of the Week apparantly.The musical recently celebrated it's 100th performance,and so they had a cake with sparklers in it to mark the occasion obviously.

Meet my housemate

This is Anton...



He's fabulous isn't he?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Regarde!

This post on the charmingly titled blog Fucking Paris shows exactly what I was talking about with Saint Lazare.That was what I had to go through yesterday!

Travail

Donc...Today I had a small emotional crisis at work.Well,no,you can't call it that really.I've already fit quite nicely into Parisian culture and no longer really care about anything.But I got miffed at lunchtime because I couldn't understand anything anyone said.It's not so much that,it's the fact that I couldn't join in the conversation because it takes me about 4 hours to put a sentence together in my mind.Although I am better than last week,which is something.But anyway that annoyed me.That and the fact that I'm so bored and have nothing to do there.Which isn't uncommon at all,it seems none of the other placement peeps have anything to do either.But at least they have the internet to waste time with,I don't have that yet.It's a good company to work for (apart from the fact they're paying me a hell of a lot for doing nothing,I chose them because they're internationally known,especially in the UK these days),but it's certainly a step down from going to meetings at parliament and meeting EU politicians and Danish councillors and the likes.

There are a lot of differences between the way businesses work in France and Germany that I've noticed so far.Or should that be,between a big government owned business full of Parisians and a big government owned business full of people from Former East Germany.It's been interesting to see.In Business Studies at school we learnt about the Laissez-Faire style of management.It's easy to see why they gave it a French name.

Getting to work is also problematic.As someone I have lunch with said yesterday "line 13 is full of arseholes".Couldn't put it better myself.Today it was line 3 that was the problem,there was a "suspect package" at Réaumur-Sébastopol so everything was a bit late and full up.But it's Saint-Lazare where I change lines that's usually the nightmare.Yesterday I attempted to get on 3 consecutive trains but missed them every time because of the masses and masses of people.When I finally got on,I was pushed up so far to the door that when we stopped at Liège (more about Liège another time...),I very nearly fell out of the train.Still.I don't care how long it takes me and how troublesome it is.Travelling time (as well as lunch and any other breaks you have) are included in your working hours.So really,I "work" about 5 hours a day.Which isn't bad.At least it wouldn't be if I had something to do.Grrrr.

Anyway.Even my office buddy was quite busy today and so wasn't very chatty and didn't accompany me for coffee.And my other regular coffee buddy wasn't there,so I even had to do that on my own.Citing a bank appointment as a reason,I left early and went on down to FNAC.I remembered where it was!It's a small miracle...But I didn't find anything I wanted there,so settled for some wash stuff from Yves Rocher and this amazing dress thing from Promod...



It looks better in real life.Honest.And it was only 10 Euros in a sale.I'm doing OK at Paris shopping so far I think.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

And another thing

I'm loving this blog at the minute.Shiny Happy Blog it's called.If you know me at all you'll see from the minute the page opens why I became attracted to it :) Anyway,it's about films,fit men and books and the likes.And there happens to be some rather lovely pictures of the rather lovely aforementioned Gael Garcia Bernal on there somewhere too.What more could you want in a blog I ask? :)

I don't wanna be a spaghetti

So.Today...

Get up at about 12,decide I can't be bothered to go to Levallois,seeing as I end up there most days after work anyway.Do some washing and open the window so I can listen to the bells from the church opposite.I kid you not,at one point they were playing While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks By Night.Have a small crisis on the metro on the way to meet Sophie and Maria (Trocadéro isn't being served by line 6 at the minute,I forget this and have to think fast about what to do).Go on boat trip along the Seine discussing work and French men and the possibility that we might be sinking.Decide on going to Saint-Michel and subsequently get on wrong platform for RER.Not wanting to use another one of my metro tickets,I get through the barrier on Maria's Navigo pass at the same time as she does,thus testing the limits of said barriers :) Do touristy pictures at Notre Dame just to prove we've actually done something and can add it to our dismal amount of Paris pictures on Facebook.Find little quirky bookshop called Shakespeare...something,full of English books of all ages.Get baguette in little bakery where I'm told off on behalf of all 3 of us for eating in when we paid takeaway prices.C'est la vie :)

This evening I watched La Science des Rêves,or The Science of Sleep as it's known in English speaking countries.Keira told me about it last week so I thought I'd have a watch.I can't say I understood much of it,but it's so visually pleasing (and not just because of Gael Garcia Bernal either) that I wasn't too bothered I didn't understand.Stéphane's dreams are quite amusing at times (I love the one where he and his colleagues dress as kittens and make a music video) and all are pretty surreal.He is a lucid dreamer (a concept I've been quite interested in for a while now) and tries all sorts of things to control the contents of his dreams.Dream and reality get very blurred throughout the film though,which is one of the reasons why it's quite difficult to understand.And there's lots of language switching as well,which adds to the confusion.But it's an enjoyable film and Stéphane is a really likeable character,as is his love interest/non love interest Stéphanie.I can't quite remember where the quote "I don't wanna be a spaghetti" came into it,but it's definitely there somewhere :) Oh,and the film also happens to have the prettiest ending ever.So I think you should watch it.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Je n'ai pas mis très longtemps à trouver mon chemin

Sadly there was no sign of Jonatan in the 18th today,although I did come across that café he's in in the video I posted this morning :) I really love Montmartre,and I seemed to remember my way around it better than I have other parts of Paris.I did intend on living there (or somewhere in the 18th anyway),as it's more reasonably priced than I expected,but decided against it quite early on when I remembered how hilly it is.Still,now I live at the top of 152 steps,it probably wouldn't have bothered me so much.

Anyway,today (wanting to keep away from Abbesses metro station on account of the steps),I went to Barbès-Rochechouart where I found my local Tati.I spent forever in there,it's a really cool shop.Not many clothes,although I did buy a very cute pink stripy top,amazing stripy stockings/socks and cow print slippers.But there's all sorts of homeware things there- they have the prettiest towels ever,floral bedspreads and very nice glassware indeed.Since shopping in Denmark and Flensburg,I've become obsessed with glassware...There are some other nice shops along the Boulevard de Rochechouart where you can get some good bargains if you can be bothered to root around and if you can find your size (what does size 3 mean anyway?!).But it certainly isn't the most select of areas,so I was quite glad when I looked to the right at one point and saw the Sacré Coeur not too far away.

After grabbing some lunch at Ed (THE best supermarket in France,as everyone should know),I ate it halfway up the steps to the Sacré Coeur (more steps,I just can't get enough steps) and tried to look as French as possible to avoid the very friendly but annoying men trying to sell you things.I went into the church eventually,and discovered it's pretty strange doing your church business when there's a load of tourists walking around.The Sankt Nikolai in Flensburg it ain't :)

After that I found Abbesses and it was very nice.It has nice little Italian speciality shops which make me happy.There are lots of Italian restaurants around,but these were the first actual Italian food shops I've seen.I must go back sometime,eating Alsacien pasta just isn't right.

There's not much else to say really- I went into the 9th which looks like one of the grubbiest arrondissements of Paris.Walked right in to the red light district,which although isn't half as scary as the Reeperbahn (an experience I'm still trying to forget),it's pretty ropey.However,I did come across the Moulin Rouge and had to take a picture of it for Shabana,who was obsessed with the film a while ago.

From there I found the 17th again,spent ages in the cutest little stationery and quirky gift shop ever,and got lost again.I eventually found the Rome metro station though,and came home to bed.I've decided that the best thing about living in Paris is exactly that- you live here and therefore have loads of time to do things.It's OK to have a sleep and a few days off from sightseeing because you'll always be here and so will the things to see.

Saying that though,I'm meeting Maria Teresa and Sophie tomorrow to go for a boat trip along the Seine,which I'm rather excited about even if the weather is still meant to be a bit grim.

Update

The weather is a bit grim this weekend,so I don't know if I'll meet up with my Guildford peeps after all.But I have to do something.Yesterday I thought all I did was go round the other side of my building,to the supermarket,but I ended up near the Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe and it took forever to get home.That's what happens when you try going into real Paris I suppose...Actually it's not that far from me,but I had to stop and check the maps on every bus stop just to make sure I was going the right way.Anyway,I found a big massive FNAC where I bought one of Raphael Haroche's albums (inspired after hearing Le Vent d'Hiver in the supermarket earlier).Not sure which one it is and I haven't listened to it yet,but methinks there'll be many trips to FNAC in the future.There's a whole plethora of lovely shops on the Boulevard de Courcelles,but I had chicken defrosting in my bag so wanted to get home as quick as possible :)

And today...Well.I need clothes.I could bring hardly anything with me and because everyone here is so fabulous I don't fancy recycling the same 4 outfits over and over again.So I'm going to find a Tati,as that's the only cheap chain that I've heard of.My nearest is in Montmartre (what a shame I'm going to have to spend the afternoon buying clothes in my favorite part of Paris...) And I wanted to go to the 18th anyway- despite having a pretty nice massive church right opposite my flat,I haven't been yet,so I guess going to the Sacré-Coeur should make up for it :) And I really must see the café from Amélie this time (we somehow missed it last year).

Oh,and guess who lives in Abbesses.....?



:) :) :)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Heute soir

So we didn't go out in the end,we went to my friend's friend's (my neighbour's) room and ate lots of salad and cheese (and gazpacho :/ ). It was nice though,and convenient for me,as I live about 3 metres away :) Turns out my neighbour is from Latvia,and her boyfriend (who's French) lives here too.It was really nice to speak English for a while,and not just for my benefit.I think I wrote once before about feeling guilty in Germany about the odd occasions that anyone spoke English to me.But this evening English was the only common language to all of us,even though there was French,German,Russian,Italian and a bit of Ivory Coast dialect going on at various times.It was a linguistic dream! :)

Miscellaneous post #3

So not only did I see my friend from Guildford (well,Venezuela really) by chance in the canteen at work today after discussing last night that we should do something sometime soon- I just opened my door to find that my friend from Kiel (who used to live here) is back to visit someone she knows here.How cool! Having spent most of my time in Germany on the phone to her,I thought I recognised her voice,so thought I'd check it out...So this evening we're going out for cocktails before she goes back to Belgium tomorrow.And on Saturday I'm going to do touristy things with two of my friends from Guildford.How very exciting!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Oh yeah

And another thing.

I live on the 8th floor in a building which has no lift for the likes of us in the attic.This means I have 152 steps to go down every morning (takes 3 minutes- they're spiral and I'm pretty terrified of spiral steps) and crawl up every evening.As I'm here til the middle of July,this means that just going up and down them once a day,I'll be going up and down 23,256 steps in the next 5 months.My legs are going to be...well,even more butch looking than they are already :/

At least the Eurostar is comfortable...

...it's murder on the Orient Express.(I watched a lot of Tim Vine videos last night)

So I guess you'll be wanting to know what I've been doing in France so far.It really feels like I've been here more than 2 days.Well it hasn't even been 2 days yet,it's 35 hours.But I've been busy already.

Here's my adorable tiny room...







Yep,my shower is next to my wardrobe,is next to my bed.I found out this evening that it doesn't actually turn off.Which is quite scary.You have to use an impossible amount of force to turn the hot tap off,which resulted in a burnt leg earlier.Oops.The door is broken too,but I have been assured that I'll get a new one some time this week.

Anyway.I live in Central Paris (17th arrondissement,metro Porte de Champerret,line 3, 2 bus stops from the Eiffel Tower,quite near Montmartre).However,right opposite my building is the Boulevard Périphérique,the ringroad that sets Paris' city limits,meaning that if I walk for about 3 minutes west,I'm out of Paris and in Levallois-Perret,which is a very nice town indeed.Here's its Hôtel de Ville (City Hall).



And part 2 of my series of cute shop signs (part 1 being the "Open" sign on the pub in Schleswig)



A tiny T-shirt,what a cool idea!

There's an indoor and outdoor market in Levallois on Sundays,although I was a bit late for it yesterday.But it does sell nice cashmere jumpers,really nice ceramics (teapots that remind me of my teashop trip in Kiel) and bags.Nice bags.

Anyway,I started work today in the slums of St-Denis.Alright it didn't seem that bad,although I do work in a very high security building.No one spoke English to me all day (well OK,once) and I spoke a lot of German.Well someone did say the word "Wurst",what do you expect?I ate a weird sausage that I think had cow innards inside it (or some farm animal,either way I'm sure I ate tongue),I had a really nice cappucino from a machine and I met some Popos.I also learnt that the Corona Effect happens when -due to high voltage- electrons are attracted to the ground and have enough energy to ionise air.And that busbars are strips of metal that conduct electricity within a switchboard or a substation and that their shape allows heat to dissipate more efficiently due to their high surface area to cross-sectional area ratio.

Well actually I looked that up afterwards,seeing as I had no internet in my office and won't do for the next week.Grrrr.But I did read a big engineering dictionary and was surprised how interesting I found it.I'm starting to accept that science/technology is probably my destiny,as these things keep coming up wherever I go.Ever since I wrote essays in school about energy politics in France and Germany,I haven't got away from renewables and insulation and turbines.

May I also just say that engineers of the short,French,geeky variety are rather lovely :)

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Storre planer

I'm losing the will to live after 3 days back in Britain and 2 of those being filled with reports,statistics and warnings about snow.OK,I haven't seen snow this heavy for quite a long time,but come on,it's hardly Siberia is it! Actually I know someone who's just come back from 5 months in Siberia,and she said -37 degrees is common,and that you have to cover your face and nose because it's very likely that your breath will freeze and your nose will fall off if you don't.OK,maybe not the nose thing.She didn't say that.But still.Even in Kiel a few weeks ago it was -6 and ice everywhere,but we still all went to work,no one would have dreamed of having the day off (if they so much as sneeze once,that's a different matter altogether),and actually we all agreed it was rather nice weather.

But no,here it's all over the telly and the newspapers and the radio,and well,now my blog too so I suppose I'm just as much to blame.Then again,I guess with everyone staying at home for the last 2 days there's not much other news to report.

I did intend on going to Guildford yesterday,and had been looking forward to it for a whole week and a half,but no,Southeastern had other ideas.There were no trains going into London from Kent at all yesterday- how stupid is that?! Yet our local commuter coach firm Kings Ferry managed to get all their 36 coaches into the capital when they were supposed to be there.The manager was on the local news just now and said they knew for ages what the weather was going to be like,so they prepared for it.Why can't everyone be like that?Grrr!

God willing (or should I say,trains willing),I'm going to Guildford tomorrow.I have some admin things to do,admin things which are multiplying by the minute,and I'm seeing my one and only friend left in Guildford this year (my Europe-hating but closet Work Your Magic fan ex :) ) Oh,and most importantly,I need to get to the milkshake shop.Of course there's always the possibility that I might get there,but won't be able to get further than Clapham Junction on the way back- it won't surprise me at all.Schau'n wir mal,as they say in Bavaria.Apparantly.

Oh,after 5 months of eating out and generally not doing very much for myself,the thought of making a sandwich was completely implausible today,so I went up to the sandwich shop on the A2.One of the ladies there was talking to me about the snow (what else?) and said that yesterday she made a snowman,before disappointedly adding "but it looked more like a rabbit wearing a dress than anything." That amused me all the way home,I would have loved to have seen it :)