Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Designer Outlet Shopping – My Paris Experience

Sunday, August 11th, 2019
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Polo Trousers – Figaret Sweater

There are a few designer outlet stores in Paris where fashionable, ready-to-wear clothes are sold, but they are located in various parts of town.  Because we did not want to spend time crossing and re-crossing the city to visit these far-flung shops, my wife and I decided to make an excursion to an outlet mall that lies about 40 km to the east of Paris.  Called La Vallée Village, this mall boasts about 70 boutiques selling ready-to-wear designer brands, such as Hugo Boss, Kenzo, and Calvin Klein.  I thought for sure that I would find some shirts and slacks there at prices within my budget.

Monique at Paris City Vision Pick-up Point

We booked round-trip passage on a shuttle bus that whisks shoppers from central Paris to the mall in about one hour.  Called Paris City Vision, the bus leaves from 2 rue des Pyramides.  Arriving at 9:15 a.m. for a 9:30 a.m. departure time, we saw that there was already a long line of eager shoppers, most of whom seemed to be tourists from foreign lands, waiting to board the bus.  The first bus filled up and we got a front-row seat on the second that pulled up to the curb.  As we boarded, we were given a voucher for our return trip.

The ride to La Vallée Village was uneventful.  I remarked about how quiet the engine of the Mercedes-Benz vehicle was and how comfortable the seats were. 

Stepping off the bus at La Vallée Village, we were grateful to be handed a map of the mall by a young, smartly-dressed woman who worked for the mall’s welcome center.  Examining the map, I saw that it was practically useless because the numbers identifying the shops were printed in non-contrasting ink on a grey background. 

La Vallée Village

As the welcome center is located at one end of the mall, it was a simple matter to follow the walkway set with flat paving stones to explore the shops that lie on either side.  Village-like in appearance, the boutiques are interspersed with an occasional shop for coffee (Starbucks), pastries (Ladurée), and other food services. Food carts are located at strategic spots along the sidewalk for additional gourmet pleasure.

Sidewalk Installation

We found contemporary sculpture and art installations along the sidewalk as well and were intrigued by a small exhibition space located down a side passage where additional pieces of the artists’ work were shown.

My goal was to find short- and long-sleeve shirts equipped with a breast pocket.  Entering the first men’s shop that I came to, I quickly learned how fruitless my quest would be.  Most of the shirts that I found had no pocket at all or the pocket was small, rendering the garment completely useless for my needs.

I quickly re-purposed my mission and began looking for trousers.  Error!  Most of the pants that I found were tapered or otherwise form-fitting.

After considerable browsing in all the men’s stores, I found and purchased two items that pleased me:

A khaki-colored pair of Polo trousers by Ralph Lauren, originally priced at 145€ selling for 99€ and a beautiful dark-grey merino wool sweater by Figaret Paris, originally priced at 165€ selling at 110€.

I saw other items that I would have purchased had they been in the color that I wanted, or, in the case of shirts, been equipped with a breast pocket:

A Timberland windbreaker originally selling for 170€ priced at 110€, a Timberland shirt originally selling for 89€ priced at 60€, and a pair of Ted Baker pants, originally selling for 115€ priced at 75€. 

The best bargain that I spotted was a Dunhill shirt, originally selling for 230€ priced at 65€.

Le Menu Palais Restaurant

My wife and I stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Le Menu Palais where we dined on a three-course meal.  We were comfortably seated in the attractive, spacious dining room and waited on by an attentive staff.  Our only distractions were sparrows that flitted about the room and whooping children whose voices seemed to rise from every point in the restaurant.  Otherwise, I enjoyed my breaded deep-fried fish served with mixed-green salad and my wife enjoyed her osso bucco served with tagliatelle pasta.  The bill for two starters, two main courses, one dessert, two glasses of wine, and one bottle of beer came to 89.80€.

At 3:15 p.m. we walked back to the welcome center to board the bus for the return trip to Paris. 

The day had been quite an experience for me.  I learned that my taste in clothes was horribly out of date and that I couldn’t fit into the new styles anyway.  In each shop we were waited on by a gracious staff of mostly young men and women who didn’t seem to mind helping an old man whose fashion sense was archaic.

Our Walk – Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden

Thursday, October 5th, 2017
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Jacqueline Morgan and Craig Craft
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Jacqueline Morgan and Craig Craft from Evergreen Park, Illinois joined me today for our “Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden” walk.

Are you coming to Paris soon? Click here to learn about the walk: http://discoverparis.net/black-history-in-and-around-the-luxembourg-garden.

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Our Walk – Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017
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Loretta Jefferson
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Loretta Jefferson joined me for our “Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden” walk this morning. She came to Paris to see Toni Morrison’s “Bench by the Side of the Road,” located in the 20th arrondissement.

Are you coming to Paris soon? Click here to view our schedule: http://discoverparis.net/scheduled-walking-tours.

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Raymond and Tamella Trapp Celebrate Their 10th Wedding Anniversary in Paris

Friday, July 21st, 2017
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Raymond and Tamella Trapp with Monique Y. Wells
Photograph by Discover Paris!

Raymond and Tamella Trapp pose with our own Monique Y. Wells in front of the obelisk at place de la Concorde. Monique led the Trapps and their friends (not pictured) on our black history tour called “On the Grandest of Avenues” yesterday. Mr. and Mrs Trapp came to Paris to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

A good time was had by all!

Click here for information about our black history in Paris tours and our gourmet activities: discoverparis.net.

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Best Blog Posts for 2014

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014
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We published blogs on a wide variety of topics in 2014. Here is a list of some of our best:

Book Reviews
Le Guide Hachette des Bières
Are We There Yet? – 90+ Ways You Know You’re Becoming French
Angels of Paris

Wine
Tasting Greek Wines at Mavrommatis
Thierry Givone Opens New Wine-tasting Room
Neige – An Apple Ice Wine from Quebec

Chocolate
Santiago Peralta Talks about His Chocolates at Mococha
Whisky and Chocolate Paring at Maison Claudel
Chocolat Elot from Martinique
Champagne and Chocolate at Mococha

Food Festivals
Noël Gourmand
I Love Italian Food – The Furoi Show
Les Delices d’Haïti at the Foire de Paris
Paris Street Food Festival
A Visit to the French Overseas Departments at the Paris International Agriculture Show

Miscellaneous Fun
Cocktail Party at Nose
52 Martinis Paris Cocktails Meet-up at Club Rayé
CitizenM’s Launch Party
How to Find a Party in Paris
Tropical Stars Shine over Paris
A Hands-on Pastry Workshop in the Town of Saint-Ouen

Bonne lecture et Bonne Année!

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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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