Tuesday, January 25, 2011

French museums, movies, churches, lunch, tea time, and tubes

Life in Paris has been good. Though life without continuous access to the internet is difficult!

FRIDAY (January 21st)
The Louvre continues to be be a fascination. I went with a friend so I wasn't able to ponder the beauty of the masterpieces and take a photo of everyone, but instead was amused by aspects of some pieces through the opinion of my friend.

We then walked through the Latin Quarters to get to a famous Crepes place. I took pictures of the process.


SATURDAY (January 22nd) 
I went to a movie theater with a few friends I had just recently met. The movie tickets were the equivalent of 5 dollars per person for those under 26!!!  I think I will go every weekend! No? But I do miss my movie partners!!!!! :-)

We went to this movie thinking it would be in English but it turned out to be in French and Arabic. My friend was so nice to translate the French parts to me throughout the movie. We did have complainers but they were nice and understanding..

The movie is called Incendies. Click on that link to be taken to the youtube trailer. I do recommend it though it is a little harsh for my taste.

 There was a lot of people. I was impressed by the amount of people that showed up.
I was also carded on my way to the theater room. Do I look older than 26? :-p

SUNDAY (January 23rd)

I woke up a little late on Sunday morning so I had to go to a nearby church. It was in French, so the experience was quite enlightening. I could follow the whole French liturgy because it was the same as the English Divine Liturgy I know quite well.

 We went for lunch at a nearby restaurant where I had raw meat as the French like to have it. I really enjoyed it!

We then went to a tea place that was so classy and so wonderful with all it's tea scents.
I also loved seeing all the quite expensive teapots and took a few pictures because my mom collects teapots.

 We ordered Marco Polo tea and Caramel Orange tea with cake and Macarons.

And yes, in case you were wondering, I am gaining those pounds! But I will only be in Paris for 3 months and 1 week more. The dieting will start soon after but while I am here, yes, I will indulge!

MONDAY (January 24th) 

A month after Christmas holiday. I miss my family!!
Nonetheless, I met up with a friend after work and enjoyed another movie at that theater that likes those who aren't 26 yet! (I won't claim that they are ageists until I turn 26!)

On the way back, I was told that the metro train was operated automatically so we went to the front end of the subway train where I was dumbfounded to find what I was told to be true!

 If you look closely, you could see the tracks! I stepped back so you could see how there is NO operator actually ON the train!

This is what you see behind where the operator is supposed to sit. There are no doors or sections within this subway train. You can go from the front of the train to the back without having to open any doors or get off. This way, the subway company can maximize passenger space! It looks so clean and sophisticated too.

I hope you have been doing well. Please bear with me as I currently don't have internet access at home. I MISS HOME!! (Canada and family!)

Till the next,


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I am a chef in Paris!

Yes, you heard right. I am a chef in Paris. I thought I was one in Saudi Arabia, Canada, and even amongst my maternal grandma and eldest aunt in Lebanon, but I am not. In those locations, I was accustomed to going to a grocery store or the house fridge to collect my goods so that I could create something that looks and tastes superb.  Yes, I can still attempt to make a good meal wherever I am, but the difference in Paris is the act of going from store to store collecting the right ingredients. That is what I am talking about. That is what makes you feel like a chef!

Yesterday night, I walked the streets of Paris choosing the right Patisserie, vegetable place, cheese place etc. to collect the best ingredients to put together. I was so proud of myself for the sandwich I made in the evening, even though it was just a sandwich. The baguette was wonderous and the cheese, so flavourful!
I no longer am a fan of the grocery stores though they offer the competitive quality of convenience. I am now a committed fan to being picky about the ingredients I buy and the copious amounts of walking/traveling required to make the best meal concoction ever.

I believe this is the Fromagerie. I ended up buying a block of cheese from that that big yellow one show at the top of the first picture. Goes wonderfully with baguettes.

This is the second time I go to this Patisserie/Boulangerie. The baguette was for 1 euro and tasted like gold!! I think that sandwich tasted so good because I had made that extra effort NOT to go to the grocery store. Or maybe it's because I went to stores that specialized in creating what they're good at creating.

I also bought a vanille macaron. I'm telling you, this addiction to macarons is not good!

 There was even a food shop that specialized in selling frozen foods. They're all freezers inside! I'll get back to you on how frozen food tastes here in Paris.

On an exciting note, I finally got my bank card today! LCL is a great bank for students who plan to stay in France for less than a year. It took me a week to get this card, which is also a Credit Card (Carte Bleue) when I don't have money in the account.

 The following is a picture of a popular Lebanese restaurant in Paris. I will have to try it soon but I wanted to post it here because it reminded me of a good friend of mine! Miss you Noora.

Till the next,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Je débrouiller en Francais

It's been a while since I have added a new entry because the internet access at my studio is unreliable.
However, this last weekend was quite a wonderful, laid back second weekend in Paris that contributed to allowing me to get to know new acquaintances better.

Saturday started with a visit to my tenant's place who is almost 70 years old. She told me that she stays this healthy from eating an apple a day. She even invited me to a slice. It was wonderful chatting with her for a little bit in her ancient little apartment right across from the Louvre. Her antique furniture and the painting on the wall of her great great grandmother allowed me to imagine how it would've been like 100 to 150 years ago in Paris.

I took the subway after that visit to meet up with a friend who has been kind enough to give me lessons in French. I learned to say the phrase that makes up the title of this post. I hope I used it correctly!

A picture of the tube station as I wait for the tube. (I hope I said that correctly!)

Finally, I joined a bunch of new friends for a fun night of Crépes, fooseball, singing, and dancing. I was reacquainted with the Lebanese vivacious and quite contagious love of life since it was a gathering of several masters/phd students and young professionals from Lebanon and other Arabic, Mediterranean countries.
This took place at the Cité Universitaire; the residence compound for foreign students in Paris. It's great because the houses are arranged by country and there's even a Maison du Liban (Lebanese House) for students of Lebanese Origin.

This first picture is the grand entrance of the Cité Universitaire and the second is the map.

I was accompanies by two friends on my way home. I am glad that they came with me because the subway train on the way back carried along a bald man with a very short stature that had a major attitude problem possibly ignited by an excessive amount of alcohol. He seemed around 40 years and he yelled at several passengers on the train for being too loud, for eating near him, and laughing/ talking about him. Such a short man, yet he still proceeded to slap the guy eating because the guy refused to move to another location. With one blow, the guys he attacked could have knocked him out, but they all refrained from doing that because this short and very tough man could have pulled out a knife. When he got off the train, the passengers all clapped with joy and that angered him even more so he got back on to threaten them before the train departed. I guess it's one of those situations where I have to say you would have to be there to understand the lunacy of the whole occurrence. I hope I never see him again!

Sunday was more of a chore day for me as I cleaned my studio and did the laundry at the local laudromat.
 I was worried someone would come in and steal my precious clothes so I stayed in the laudromat until my clothes were done. It cost me 6 euros to do the whole deed and my clothes came out smelling wonderful as a result.

Monday was back to work for me. But has it ever happened to you that you see a recurring thing that makes you think that there may be some practical joke being played on you? Well, Monday morning, as I walked to work, all I kept seeing were these workers pushing carts full of mail. I saw about 6 or 7 on my short 15 minute walk to the office. It was quite amusing considering I hadn't even known they existed before those 15 minutes!
I had to take a picture! From far they look like men pushing baby carriages, but I guess for the average Parisian, they are just another characteristic of Paris that doesn't usually take notice, along with the mini cars and the small portioned but delightful meals.

On my way home yesterday, I was quite saddened when I saw graffiti on the fountain monument that sits in the square outside my building. The Fontaine des Innocents is a structure built in the 16th century and now it has graffiti on it!!! It says 'Ston' on either side and it even glows in the dark!

Till the next,


Saturday, January 15, 2011

When in Paris, too much chocolate is too much

This morning I started my day with two slices of toast and Nutella spread. The first meeting of the day has a box of truffles present in the room, teasing me to try- which of course I did with my coffee. Then, there was a wonderful little cafe restaurant that my manager recommended, and I had the most delicious Pain au Chocolat I ever had from there. I headed to the BPI headquarters and bought a wonderful crepe with melted cheese. I then had two chocolate truffles with the coffee that followed and a dessert of fromage blanc when Helene was having her lunch. I then had another French sweet, un galette framboise- almost like a cake/pie/pastry mix. I was full for the rest of the day at work until I was heading home to prepare for my weekly trip to the Lourve and laid my eyes on a bunch of sweets:

So I think that I have a problem.. Because, I just had to see that Chocolate pie thing right there in the center, and I bought it. I am a chocoholic and living in Paris doesn't help. BTW, photos are for you Jo! I'll make sure I take many more! I don't mean to make this blog a food diary or whatever some people do these days, but this chocolate addiction is out of hand, wouldn't you agree?

So I had a very wonderful day! I saw the Place de la Bastille- A prison used to stand there before it was destroyed in the French Revolution. 

When I took the subway today to get to work from the meeting in the morning, I saw this woman speaking on the phone while her baby sat there in her little 'area' sucking happily. I was so amused by this baby's wide eyes watching the exciting world of the subway and so patiently waiting to get to her destination. It was as if the baby was used to this way of life and still watched everything around her. Maybe she was her mommy's body guard watching whether any pickpockets were around. The baby didn't move but her eyes rolled around to her heart's desire.  I couldn't resist taking a picture. 

 So contrary to last week, I wanted to get as many pictures of me as possible. I asked different people take these pictures and it's so nice to see what comes out as the result. I particularly like the last one since I distinctly remember being fascinated by the story that the statue has been made to imitate. It is of the Greek runner who ran the first marathon to tell a town in Greece that they had won the war. He died after telling them the news from the speed and amount of running.

 I was very much inspired by several students all throughout the Louvre who were practicing their Art skills and drawing images of the statues from different angles. Maybe I'll do that next week- but with no instruction.. I liked this second picture so much because I felt like I could take this baby fro under his arms and make him feel better... It is a statues of St. John the Baptist when he was a baby. I don't know why they portray him to be sad here. This last picture is yet another picture of me as I look at other Art Objects that were owned by people in the 10th to the 13th century.

I love the courtyards in the Louvre. I feel like a rich Roman daughter when I walk among the statues. Their environment is very suiting with the glass roofing.
The second two images are of Mosaics. My mother loves mosaics so I had to take these pictures. I was impressed by how small the mosaics were and put my hand there to give you a reference point.  Beautiful!

Even though the Louvre seems to say that Napoleon the third owned this apartment. It is not true. I am the owner of this apartment. It is my home here in Paris. As you can see, that's me in the lobby. I usually put friends' children here when they come to visit me. That way they have nothing to break since there is really nothing in these rooms. It's a free space for them to run free.

 That is my fire place. It is grand and it is turned on every night but tonight I wanted you to focus on me in the picture-not the fire... That is the courtyard right outside my apartment. It is well kept by my neighbors, the Louvre. As you can see, the last picture is of me in the sitting room. I love chandeliers so I had them installed throughout. I hate it when people walk on my carpet with their shoes, so I prohibited the camera men from entering my sitting room by putting those poles and rope- less cleaning for me, I mean my servants!

This statue to the left is so nice! At first glance, it looked as though it was of a naked man checking his messages on his smart phone. I had to take another glance to see exactly what he was holding - a twig perhaps. Maybe he had the idea for the smart phone but didn't know exactly how to make it work. Planning is as important as making it happen! It made me smile in amusement at myself for thinking for that very brief second that he was checking his emails..

That's a picture of me and my favorite China. It's only for VIP guests so if you visit me, I'll make sure to take them out of the cupboard to use them!

 This picture is of my main Salon. The room is so big that I had to have two pictures taken. I had that famous Michael Angelo come over and paint the Sisteen Chapel on my ceiling. He said that masterpieces are not repainted so he proposed to paint my more recent ancestors instead. I agreed. I love the rouge on that gold. Only the best for my place in Paris. Please do visit!

This is the dining room table. I like to sit at the head when I have guests coming from all over the world. Also, the chandelier above my seat there makes it easier to see what I am eating. The lighting is not as good for guests sitting in the other seats. Don't worry, I'll feed you well. I just need to see that I don't eat too much Chocolate...

 This is where I sit on my throne when I rule my little world.

 This mirror was for a countess I believe in the 18th century. Those jewel crowns are of emerald and diamond. Which one should I wear next?

 That seat is the throne of Napoleon I. I wish I could have sat where he sat!
That third picture has all the Louvre employees in the distance. To empty out the museum when they are set to close, all the Louvre employees move from room to room collecting othe Louvre employees and visitors. They are a swarm of people dressed in black pushing the visitors out. I don't like it because I feel like I am being attacked or targeted by a cult. As soon as they start to gather, I try to resist and then try to go ahead of them by a lot so that I could comfortably 'decide' to leave.

Under the pyramid of the Louvre. You can see one of the parts of the Louvre as I take the picture from below the ground. 

So much more to see at this museum. Can't wait to visit it next!

Till the next,