Monday, August 1, 2005
World Cup Beach Volleyball tournaments were held this past week near us on the Champ de Mars.
Happy old lady feeding the pigeons at the Place d’Anvers in the 9th arrondissement.
entertains a small boy near a café on
Well, I’ve been
very good this year about working on my French, and last night I got my
reward. After a visit to
A bit later, he
came to take our order. I ordered
first, in one fluent flowing sentence that even impressed me. He smiled and opened his eyes wide and said
that I spoke very, very good French. I
said thanks, but I speak very, very slowly (Merci, mais je parle
lentement.). He went on to say just
exactly what I did right, and he listed a number of things people who are
learning French do wrong, or things that they say that seem awkward because
the French don’t really talk that way.
Example: It sounds awkward to
them if you say “je voudrais” (I would like) when you order. It took me a while to figure this out, but
it is something I had already concluded.
(What you DO say, when the waiter comes to the table and says “je vous
ecoute” [I’m listening to you], is
something like “S’il vous plait, le filet de boeuf cuit à point avec
frites. Et un cinquante de
Bordeaux.” [Please, the filet mignon
cooked medium rare, with fries. And a
50-centiliter carafe of
The waiter was so complimentary about my French that Tom was envious.
And let me tell
you now before I forget, that filet mignon at La Gauloise is as good as the
best filet mignon you can get at a fancy Chicago steakhouse. This is extraordinary in
Then I made another great discovery on the La Gauloise menu. I normally do not eat dessert, but Tom wanted some. So I was gazing at the dessert menu and noticed that La Gauloise serves tea from Mariage Frères! This is the elegant tea shop I wrote about last year. I ordered it, served with milk. After the red wine, the tea gave me that nice, glowing, happy feeling that only red wine plus caffeine can give you. And it was served with a little plate full of dark chocolate morsels, and two tiny chocolate cookies. I shared these with Tom, of course, who also was indulging in a rich, dark chocolate terrine served in a crème anglaise.
We are in that
slow quiet time of August now. The
Parisians, many of them, have taken their cars and left the city. The sidewalks on rue du Commerce aren’t so
crowded anymore. Many shops and
restaurants are closed. The métro isn’t packed at rush hour. Dinner reservations aren’t so
necessary. Eighty percent of the parking
spaces on the streets of
We follow the
news closely, reading two French newspapers and one English paper every
day. I also watch the French news,
which I am now able to understand.
Yesterday, they announced on the news that the British are looking for
a third terrorist cell in
There have been false bomb alerts. The day before yesterday, a 26-year-old man was questioned following a call made Friday evening to the police of the 10th arrondissement. The anonymous caller said there was going to be a big bang in front of the police station. Somehow the police figured out who it was, and the man admitted making the call. He did it for revenge; the police had questioned him about a minor matter during the preceding week.
A homeless young man made a false bomb threat on the Gare de L’Est (train station) near the beginning of last month. He has been sent to prison for 8 months.
Last Wednesday, the Gare du Nord had to be evacuated because of an anonymous threat against the Eurostar train. That threat was made by a 43-year-old Belgian woman. She is now in a psychiatric hospital.
Life must go on. We don’t let any of this change what we do. I do, however, pay great attention to what is happening around us when we are out.