Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tom’s Close Shave

Thursday, November 13th, 2014
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Alain Explains the Procedure

Alain Explains the Procedure
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

In the last blog (about the cocktail party at Nose, a perfume shop for men and women), we left Tom in the hands of master barber Alain for a shave with a straight-edge razor. In the photograph above, Tom listens to his reassuring words such as, “This won’t hurt a bit.” Spoken in French, they sounded much more comforting than they do in English.

Alain Prepares His Paraphernalia

Alain Prepares His Paraphernalia
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Alain then stepped over to the sink where he prepared a blaireau (shaving brush).

Lathering the Face

Lathering the Face
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

He began carefully lathering Tom’s face. As the old saying goes, Une barbe bien savonnée est une barbe à moitié rasée. (A good soapy beard is a beard half shaved.)

Alain Prepares to Shave

Alain Prepares to Shave
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Then Alain stepped back to admire his work, holding the straight-edge razor in a fighter’s stance. This pose might have sent chills down the spine of lesser men, but Tom put on a brave face!

Alain Begins the Shave

Alain Begins the Shave
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Alain began carefully shaving the three-day old beard. In French, the word for straight edge is “coupe-chou”, which means “cabbage cutter.” It’s not very reassuring!

Tap Dancing in the Front Room

Tap Dancing in the Front Room
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

While this drama was playing out in the back room, a man was gaily tap dancing in the front of the store.

Monique at Nose

Monique at Nose
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Monique was in the front room, too, getting her photograph taken. What were her thoughts about the dangers that her husband might be facing alone in the back room? She doesn’t seem to be showing much concern in this photo.

Alain Applying Alum

Alain Applying Alum
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

In the back room, following the shave, Alain passed an alum block over Tom’s face to sooth skin irritation. He then applied a hydrating lotion.

Final Massage

Final Massage
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

A final massage to the face, and the shave was over. Tom was looking good!

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Cocktail Party at Nose

Sunday, November 9th, 2014
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Nose

Nose
20, rue Bachaumont 75002 Paris

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Two weeks ago, Monique and I attended a cocktail party at Nose, a perfume shop for men and women.

Made in Movember

The event had been organized to raise money for Movember, a men’s health organization.

A Hip Crowd

A Hip Crowd
Photograph by www.ParisInsights.com

We got there a bit early, just before the hip crowd arrived, and were able to make our way up to the bar almost unimpeded.

Bartender Serving a Souviens-toi d'Acapulco

Bartender Serving a Souviens-toi d’Acapulco?
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

I ordered a beverage called Souviens-toi d’Acapulco? (Do You Remember Acapulco?), a cocktail made with Monkey Shoulder whiskey, for each of us. It was a refreshing drink, and although I couldn’t recall having ever been to Acapulco, I returned to the bar to order another. Might a second one jog my memory?

Monique Sniffing Dr. Vranjes Perfume

Monique Sniffing Dr. Vranjes Perfume
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Then we strolled about sniffing perfume. I had already purchased a bottle of D.R. Harris Arlington Cologne from Nose a few weeks before. That’s how I got an invitation to the event.

Margot from the Marketing Department

Margot from the Marketing Department
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We met Margot, who works in the Nose marketing department.

Reporter Taking Notes

Man in a Top Hat Taking Notes
Reporter or Poet?

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We saw a man who I thought might be portraying a journalist because he was taking notes. I learned later that he was there to recite poetry. We didn’t stay long enough to hear him.

Brice and Régis Abby

Brice and Régis Abby
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We met Brice and Régis Abby, a pair of twins who seemed to be enjoying life as lookalikes.

Oysters

Oysters
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

A man circulated through the store selling fresh oysters at 2€ each. Proceeds went to the Movember cancer research fund.

Tap Dancing

Tap Dancing
Photograph by DiscoverParis.net

And while Monique went to the front of the store to watch a man tap dancing to the music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington…

Preparing for a Shave

Preparing for a Shave
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

…I was in the back, preparing for a shave.

Coming up next: a blog in which I recount my close encounter with a straight-edge razor. (Caution: not for the timid!)

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Paris Has Become a Den of Thieves

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
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Paris Metro on Pont Bir Hakeim

Paris Metro on Pont Bir Hakeim
©Paris Tourist Office – Photographer: Marc Bertrand

Entering onto the platform for eastbound trains of metro line 7 at the Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre station, one can often see groups of girls of slight stature – young teenagers – milling about. Their behavior is strangely childlike for girls of their ages. They move about playfully and noisily, and roughhouse as they grab each other by the necks as if to whisper secrets. They move in circles or move erratically making it difficult for passersby to walk through the group. Sometimes one of them freezes in her tracks when a person tries to pass by, forming a temporary impediment to the traveler’s forward motion.

I encountered such a group just a few days ago when my wife and I entered onto the platform to take the metro. I recognized the girls, not individually, but by their comportment and appearance. I said to my wife, “Here are the thieves.” We passed through the group and my wife later told me that one of the girls froze in front of her, hindering her passage.

As we moved mid-way down the platform, I thought that that would be the last I would see of them. However, when the train came into the station, the girls moved toward us and made a movement as if to board the car behind the car that we were about to board. Then, they collectively changed their minds and rushed to the door that we were about to step through, boarding ahead of us. A man who accompanied them boarded, too.

I sensed trouble, but my wife had already stepped aboard, so I followed. She walked to the other side of the car and stood with her back to the far door, a vigilant posture when riding the train. I followed to fill up the space next to her, but as I tried to enter the space, the man who accompanied the girls stood in the middle of the car, partially blocking my way. He stiffened his body as I tried to pass by. It was an obvious attempt to force me to stand in the middle of the car in front of him where, as soon as the train doors closed, I would be an easy target for the girls.

I forcefully pushed by the man and took the space between him and my wife. He seemed interested in the bag and camera that I was carrying, both of which were slung over my shoulder and which I gripped tightly with my right hand. I looked like a tourist with my baseball cap, my camera, and my bag, and I suspected that he and his gang of girls had targeted me for robbery.

The girls entered into a nearby space at the back of the car and made a lot of giggling noises. Whether they robbed anyone there, I don’t know, but when they emerged from the space one of them was carrying a purse that she passed to one of her cohorts. No one in the space protested, so I suppose that the purse belonged to one of the girls.

The girls and the man exited the train at Pont Neuf, the next station down the line.

I was lucky to have been able to squeeze into the space between my wife and the man, because this is what I believe would have happened if I had stayed in the middle of the car: the girls would have emerged from the back of the car and surrounded me, playing their “innocent” games, running around me, bumping into me, distracting me, and finally robbing me. I would not have been able to retreat from them, because the man or one of the girls would surely have blocked me.

Although I have never seen this technique of thievery in action, I have heard about it. I remember the words of a dazed man who stepped from a train at the Pyramides station with his companion saying, “They cleaned me out!” At the time, I remember hoping that that would never happen to me.

I’ve also encountered the following over the years:

• A girl with another group once tried to pick my pocket on the same metro line at the same station.
• A distraught American man in the Pont Neuf metro station cried out to some girls, whose cohort apparently had stolen a camera from his young son. He tried to elicit their support to find the culprit to get the camera back, and succeeded in getting them to follow him out of the station.
• Once, when I was riding metro line 6, a group of girls entered the train. As they entered, I wondered to which adult they belonged, and I wondered why they all had blank stares on their faces. They got off at the next station, the doors closed, and a woman shouted, “They got my passport!” She and her companion got off at the following station, but it was too late to do anything but report the incident to the police.
• Once, when riding metro line 1, a group of about ten girls got on the last car and then walked rapidly in single file to the front car. (Line 1 trains are designed to allow free access from one car to the next.) They brushed people as they walked by, and brushed me even though I had allowed sufficient space for them to pass. One of the girls feigned interest in looking out the window every few feet. At the next station, the girls got out and, laughing and giggling, ran down the platform to the last car to begin their game again.

Paris, alas, has become a den of thieves, and tourists and residents alike are victims of this scourge.

For more information on this increasingly worrisome phenomenon, consult these articles:

17 Paris Scams Gypsies and Thieves Revealed
The Art of the Scam: The ‘Artsy’ Side of Paris You Don’t Want to See
Caught on camera: Moment brazen cashpoint thieves swarm around tourist near Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

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African Women Entrepreneurs Shine at Paris Press Conference

Friday, July 11th, 2014
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Women Entrepreneurs Who Participated at the Press Conference

Women Entrepreneurs Who Participated at the Press Conference
Photographs by www.DiscoverParis.net

Last Tuesday, a French association called CECAMI organized a press conference in Paris to announce an upcoming seminar on the promotion and empowerment of African women in entrepreneurial and leadership roles. During the conference, as many as 24 women entrepreneurs came forward to give brief presentations of their plans to launch a new business or to expand an existing one.

Eric Marty - Princesse Altermath-Nyogol-Massing and Marie-Reine Hassen

Eric Marty, Co-founder of afineety
Princesse Altermath-Nyogol-Massing, President of Conseil des Mariannes de la République et d’Europe
Marie-Reine Hassen, Marriane de la JIFA

Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Presiding over the press conference were Princesse Altermath-Nyogol-Massing, president of the Conseil des Mariannes de la République et d’Europe, and Marie-Reine Hassen, marriane (sponsor) of the upcoming International Day of the African Woman (JIFA). They both affirmed the importance of nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of African women who want to create companies or take on roles as leaders in their communities. Also present was Eric Marty, one of the founders of a crowd-funding platform for African entrepreneurs called afineety.

The half-day-long seminar will be held on Saturday, July 12 at the French National Assembly. (Reservations for attending the event have closed.)

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Global Day of Service

Thursday, January 30th, 2014
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Pam Pappas Stanoch

Pam Pappas Stanoch
Books for Africa
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

In celebration of the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Global Day of Service, the Union of Overseas Voters sponsored a talk at the Foundation des Etats-Unis yesterday evening.  Pam Stanoch, gave a presentation on Books for Africa, an organization that collects, sorts, ships, and distributes books to students of all ages in Africa.

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44 rue Vivienne
Part I – The Apartment

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
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44 Rue Vivienne

44 Rue Vivienne
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

We were recently contacted by Habitat Parisien, an agency that rents apartments for short-term stays in Paris. Would we, they asked, be interested in staying in one of their apartments for a weekend in November in exchange for a blog about the experience?

Seizing an opportunity to explore a Parisian neighborhood that we knew little about, we replied affirmatively. We selected a large (68m2) apartment on rue Vivienne in the 2nd arrondissement, an area in which we rarely venture.

One of the charming aspects about the apartment that we selected is that rue Vivienne, lined with shops that trade in bullion and gold coins, doesn’t look like a street on which anybody lives. The façades look old, and we learned later that the street and a number of buildings on it date from the 17th century. An acquaintance, whom we happened to bump into on our last day and who lives in the neighborhood, affirmed that he likes the area precisely because it looks uninhabited. “You push through old doors, climb creaky stairs, and find yourself in a beautiful apartment.”

Mathais Presenting Monique with Roses

Mathais Presenting Monique with Roses
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

Mathias, who works for Habitat Parisien, greeted us at 5:00 o’clock on Friday evening in front of the building and ushered us two flights up a well-worn, wooden stairway to the second-floor landing. There, two heavy, imposing doors stood directly in front of us. Mathias unlocked one of them, we pushed through, and voilà!…we stepped into a large, handsome apartment.

Mathias presented Monique with the key to the apartment and followed by giving her two long-stemmed roses. A lovely gesture! He walked us through the apartment, pointing out its features, and took care to explain how the different appliances worked. He helped us connect our computer to the apartment’s WiFi and tested the phone before leaving us to enjoy our evening.

“Vivienne,” as the apartment is called, is equipped with a dishwasher, clothes washer, Jacuzzi tub, and wide-screen television. There is also a large enclosed balcony that provides a lovely view of rue Vivienne and its intersection with boulevard Montmartre. We didn’t use it much, but that first evening we learned that it serves as an effective buffer against traffic noise. The apartment was quiet and we slept well.

The bare, hardwood, herring-bone floor made wonderful creaking noises as we stepped on it — it was a pleasure to walk across in bare feet. Because of the high ceilings, we were concerned that we might not be warm enough, particularly because the weather was cold and damp on that first day. We were pleased to learn that two electric heaters on the wall adjacent to the balcony worked extremely well — we were quite warm and didn’t need to turn on the third heater located near the kitchen.

The Jacuzzi gave a great massage and we appreciated the towel warmer in the bathroom. The open kitchen was adequate, with a dishwasher, coffee maker, microwave, and toaster. Although we chose to eat out rather than prepare our own meals, we noted that there were plenty of plates and glassware.

Tomorrow…the party that we threw for our friends.

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Paris – Just in Time for Father’s Day!

Thursday, June 13th, 2013
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Does your father yearn for Paris? We have two publications that will stir his passion for the city! The first is our monthly newsletter Paris Insights, written to present an insider’s view of the fascinating history, culture, and contemporary life of the City of Light.

The second is our book Paris Insights – An Anthology, a compilation of a number of our most popular newsletters. Travel writer Jim Calio has called our book Paris Insights – An Anthology “…a witty, incisive and always informative compilation of sights, sounds and good advice about enjoying the City of Light…” Better than a power drill, a necktie, or even a shaving kit, it is a gift that offers an insider’s view of the things to love about Paris.

Just in time for Father’s Day, the Kindle edition of Paris Insights – An Anthology can be purchased and downloaded immediately! And remember…he doesn’t need a Kindle device to read the Kindle edition of Paris Insights – An Anthology! Amazon.com provides Kindle reader apps that work on every major tablet, smartphone, and computer so that he can read Kindle books on whatever type of device he owns. These apps are 100% free. If he needs one, click HERE to go to the Web page for the application that he needs.

Click HERE to order Paris Insights – An Anthology now. Click HERE to enter an annual subscription to our newsletter.

Give your father the gift of Paris on Father’s Day!

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Sacred Music Concerts at Notre Dame Cathedral
By A.D. McKenzie

Thursday, March 7th, 2013
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Lionel Sow

Lionel Sow
Director of Notre Dame Choir

Notre Dame Cathedral is celebrating its 850th anniversary with a year of “sacred music” concerts that run until December of this year.

The world’s most famous church traces its history back to 1163 when construction first began, and music has always been a part of its tradition, says Lionel Sow, head of the Notre Dame Choir and artistic director of the sacred music project.

“We’re having 25 concerts this season and the public will get to explore this rich tradition of ancient music,” he told Paris Insights.

Starting with polyphony and covering music up to the 20th century, the concerts include various orchestras in joint projects with the choir. Leading soloists will also be performing a variety of pieces.

This week, the acclaimed Chamber Orchestra of Paris (OCP) performed Haydn’s “The Creation,” conducted by Thomas Zehetmair and featuring soprano Sophie Karthäuser, tenor Werner Güra, and bass baritone Matthew Brook.

The OCP said that Haydn’s masterpiece oratorio is a “true celebration and glorification of the universe” and that the work was “at home” under the “celestial vaults” of the cathedral. The soaring voices of 60 singers from the Notre Dame Choir added to the uplifting pull of the 18th century composition, which was written for orchestra, choir, and soloists.

Sow says that the choir is not only presenting known works but that it also wants to help the public to “re-discover” rare or unjustly forgotten repertoires such as “La Vierge” oratorio by French composer Jules Massenet, which retells the story of the Virgin Mary.

The cathedral’s recently renovated grand organ will also have a starring role when Notre Dame’s small and select group of organists show off their talents during the year of celebration. On March 19th, Johann Vexo will present works by Franck, Dupré, Duruflé, and Vierne, while on May 28th, the organ recital will be by Olivier Latry, who is also a professor at the Conservatoire de Paris.

The public will get to see the relationship between music and architecture when the church’s acoustic qualities are put to good use for Gregorian chants, Pentecostal music, and a performance by Les Sacqueboutiers, an award-winning brass ensemble from Toulouse that focuses on early music.

The year began with Claudio Monteverdi’s Les Vêpres à la Vierge (Vespers for the Blessed Virgin) and will end in December with a specially commissioned work of the same name by Rome-born French composer Philippe Hersant. This will comprise the full Notre Dame Choir, Les Sacqueboutiers, two organs, and several soloists for a “truly dazzling sound,” promises conductor Sow.

We wish to thank A. D. McKenzie, a Paris-based author and journalist, for her contribution to the Paris Insights blog.

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A Day in the Cemetery
By Robin Glasser

Saturday, December 15th, 2012
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New York writer Robin Glasser moved to Paris for three years to live with her French lover. Later, she wrote about the experience in her book My Life as a Concubine, available at Smashwords. During her time there, her lover’s loathsome brother Pierre and his dog Racine came to stay with them. The following account of her encounter with Pierre and her walk through the Père Lachaise cemetery is adapted from the chapter entitled “Pierre Moves Out.”

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Escaping the hellish house guests—my lover’s smelly brother Pierre and Racine, his ancient, incontinent mutt—I decided a trip to Père Lachaise would calm me down. After all, what could be more relaxing than a walk in a cemetery and Père Lachaise happened to be among my favorites. It was roughly an hour’s walk from our apartment house to the dead zone. The July day was hot but not unbearable—like some fungus-footed canine lover I knew. The exercise would do me good and clear my head.

Père Lachaise

Père Lachaise Cemetery
Photograph by Peter Poradisch
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The vast plot of land was originally owned by Père Lachaise, Louis XIV’s confessor. In 1804, the estate became a burial ground. Urban planner Nicolas Frochot, who developed the cemetery, persuaded authorities to replant Molière, La Fontaine, and Abélard and Héloïse there and the bone yard quickly became a symbol of the rich and famous.

Horoscopically speaking, if your planets are aligned you might luck out, find a ghostly guardian, and get a free plan of this monumental resting place. Even with a map, it’s difficult to find your way around the immense necropolis. The first time I visited this city of the dead sans lover, I was fortunate to attract the attention of a groundskeeper who gave me a guided tour. Being French, he wanted to give me more, but that’s another story. The map shows all the stellar grave sites. It’s a virtual Who’s Who of the dead, featuring such luminaries as Victor Hugo, Maria Callas, Colette, Gertrude Stein, Chopin, Proust, and Jim Morrison.

Morrison Grave by SuzanneGW

Jim Morrison’s Grave
Photograph by SuzanneGW
Source: Wikimedia Commons

For those of you not in the know, the infamous American rock star’s shrine is a major tourist attraction—on par with le Tour Eiffel. The French being, well French, aren’t too pleased. Pilgrims to Morrison’s tombstone are not exactly religious types. Rather, they’re the pot-smoking, flower-stealing, let’s-get-down-and-dirty sort of worshipers who know how to party. In fact, the guardians of Père Lachaise have concealed a camera inside an old gas lamppost to keep tabs on the rock-and-unholy-rollers. A chain-smoking policeman has also been posted to keep the uproar under control. Personally, I doubt that there’s any film in said camera and the bodyguard, euphemistically speaking, is usually elsewhere, doing something better with his time.

Like any cemetery lover, I had priorities—the older the final resting place, the better. An impressive number of the departed reside in mausoleums big enough to house an army! Many of these deluxe dwellings for the dead are constructed of imported Italian marble. They contain stained glass windows, museum-quality statuary, obelisks, cherubs, angels, and other such funerary folderol. Wrought-iron fences, serving as deterrents for trespassers, surround the lavish domains.

As I stumbled along the cobbled streets of the cemetery, gazing at the incredible array of corpse chalets, an idea struck me. Pierre could live here. Several of the tombs made our apartment seem about the size of a pup tent. It was quiet. There were plenty of trees for Racine. To me, this plot of paradise had to be a thousand times better than squatting in an abandoned building. I decided that a visit to Oscar Wilde’s grave would be the perfect place for me to mull things over.

As usual, the rapier-witted writer’s tombstone was littered with mementos. Most of the offerings were from gays. However, lipstick stains, which I surmised had been left by women, smeared the smooth stone. Notes—some clever, some not—candles, flowers, even articles of clothing added color and fragrance to the Irishman’s burial plot. I later discovered that the prominent penis of an angel guarding Oscar’s tomb had literally been hacked off, never to be seen again.

Victor Noir

Tomb of Victor Noir
Photograph by MRW
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Another tomb that I found interesting was the burial plot of obscure journalist Victor Noir. His monument featured the sculpture of a man lying as if shot—which he was—in a duel. There appears to be a healthy erection inside the trousers of the bronzed body. Legend has it that by rubbing the crotch and placing a flower in the sculpted hat next to Noir’s effigy, a woman is guaranteed to get married within the year. The shiny spot definitely stands out, signaling that legions of women have fondled this area in hopes of waltzing down the petal-strewn aisle.

Although I wasn’t happy about facing my house guests from Hades, I took le Métro home. Luck was on my side. The place was deserted—quiet as any tomb, with the exception of Jim Morrison’s.

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A Michael Jackson Look-alike Practices His Moves

Friday, September 28th, 2012
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Returning to Paris from a Sunday excursion in mid-September, I spotted a Michael Jackson look-alike practicing his moves while he waited for a train at the Gare de Lyon. He was checking his look in his reflection on the vending machines.

Michael Jackson Look-alike Sighted at the Gare de Lyon

Michael Jackson Look-alike Sighted at the Gare de Lyon
Photograph by www.DiscoverParis.net

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