Lips are for Lovers

“So,” a friend told me, “My friend was told off by a French lady for kissing her baby on the lips. Apparently, ‘lips are for lovers’”.

We were not sure whether to laugh or scoff, so we did both.

I came home and told Mr S this, laughing. He replied, laughing, “Well, it’s true.”

Mr S has a great sense of humour. It’s the sort where the recipient of the joke is often offended, or everyone sitting around the table laughs politely, if he’s lucky, while casting sideways glances at their neighbours, the air heavy with, “Is he serious, or is that a joke?”

Of course, he was joking, I’d seen him kissing Chicklet on the lips before. Just to be sure, over the next few days I checked him kissing Chicklet. I suddenly realised that the Gaelic nose acts a screen when it comes to pinpointing the “kissing spot”. After a few days of surrepticiously observing, so as to not change the subject’s behaviour (hey, I’m not an amateur anthropologist for nothing), I concluded that this latest joke, was indeed not a joke.

“Kiss him on the lips.” I suggested playfully.

“Nope. We don’t do that,” “We”, you understand, is French People, “And Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t be Wrong.” That’s the name of a good, but irritatingly titled, oft-cited, book.

“Breastfeeding.” I replied, “Breastfeeding was unfashionable until recently, because of the French argument that ‘breasts are for lovers’ and look now, everybody’s talking about and doing it.”

He was stumped (a good moment in Franco-British relations). It seems I may have proven that Sixty Million Frenchmen can, sometimes, be Wrong.

And there is, sometimes, a grain of delight in at winning the small battles. As for Chicklet’s  lips, he’ll just have to make do with millions of kisses from Mama instead.

 

 

A bit of steel

There she is, there she is!

Last year I was chatting with a Parisian friend who told me that the “loves the Eiffel Tower”. I looked a bit puzzled. I didn’t really believe that she could “love” it, but she was adament.

Now, despite watching tourists in their hundreds, every day, pour into the Champs de Mars to photograph themselves with their fingers “pinching” the tower, or jumping in front of her or some other such apparently essential holiday snap, I thought my friend was a bit odd.

Somewhere, somehow, as winter slowly gave way to a bright and sunny spring, spring into a rainy summer, when I walked past the steel skeleton in the early morning, at high noon or waited with visitors to watch the flickering bulbs, she grew on me. I love that she’s a different colour at the top than at the bottom. I adore checking her out against a steely grey sky and in brilliant sunshine. I wait with excitement in the dark for her bulbs to twinkle, I find it funny when her head disappears in the mist.

So that’s it folks: TG loves Paris.

Words I’m a bit scared to utter, because I’m sure that that will set the wheels in motion for another move…

People watching in Paris

pink socks top

I love to watch people. How they walk, how they move, what they’re wearing and where they’re from have always fascinated me. Usually I just drink it all in and enjoy, rather like watching a film. Occasionally though, somebody surprises me (like intergalactic Grandma) and I’m shaken out of my reverie. This takes quite some doing as I have been consciously people watching for at least fifteen years, everywhere I’ve been.

I’m not sure if this man was a scout leader, something that only ocurred to me when I got the photo onto a bigger screen and saw the inverted triangle on his t-shirt and payed more attention to his hat.

Think about it though, what do you expect him to be wearing below the knees?

Think hard. Harder.

Here you go:

pink socks

Now I BET you weren’t thinking of pink knee-high socks and orange shoes!

Intergalactic fashion in Paris

spaceage granny - top

Paris is not a fashion-forward city. Stylish, chic, classic, yes, but there are not enough risk-takers in the attire department to make it a trend-driver. This does not seem to differ whether people are in the older or younger generations: everybody dresses like their peers.

So look at the photo above. It’s taken in mid-July at around noon. Our Parisian lady moved deceptively quickly past my lunch companion and I. In a pillarbox red coat* and black berret, she already stood out – red is not a typical colour to see on a Parisian, especially a coat and more especially on a lady who is probably a grandmother, as they usually (read: always) opt for black or beige.

Sometimes all this sameness can get a bit boring.

A French Grandma with intergalactic boots

 

So imagine our squeals of delight when we spotted her utterly fabulous intergalactic boots!

 

*I haven’t altered these pictures, they were taken with the iPhone in a hurry so a bit blurred, but the coat really was that bright!

A big, fat chicken

Ssssh! You don’t know I’m here.

I’m in hiding.

Somebody put a notice up in our apartment building recently announcing a “building party and bbq”. Excellent idea.

Are those things that are just announced? Perhaps there’s a core of people who all know each other and they decided and the rest of us are expected to attend.

Expected, because how on earth do you hide in your apartment pretending you’re not there? It’s not as if letting the phone ring will cut it – the party-goers can see the lights on!

I can’t enter or leave the building because the entrance hall and garden courtyard is the party location!

And why is it that I’m so terribly anti-social? First there’s the food: I can’t eat it (have you tried to have meat well-cooked in France? Pregnant women are also not allowed salad in France. Not much else to eat at a bbq!). Second there’s the wine: I can’t drink it. Third there’s the language: I can’t speak it well enough to socialise with people I don’t know but kind of have to see everyday. If I were to never meet them again, I wouldn’t mind, but that’s not exactly the case with neighbours. Which brings me to my fourth point: I don’t actually want to socialise with the horrifically noisy neighbours from the apartment below. It’s hard to avoid it because I have no real idea what they look like. If the father decided to shout in the aggressive, military manner he does every single evening to his four year old twin sons (who I’ve also never met), I would know who he was. If the mother decided to scream, as she does every second afternoon, I’d know immediately she’s someone to avoid. The chances of them showing their ‘home’ faces are rather slim – which is fine, I hear them often enough!

Finally, point number five: Mr S is away tonight for work.

I’m a big, fat chicken and don’t want to face everybody in my faltering French (did I mention that one of our neighbours regularly corrects the grammar on announcements and notices put in the elevator?) alone.

Gelato Paris – Vasavasa

Vasavasa Paris

Vasavasa

 

I recently discovered that there is a new gelateria in Paris called Vasavasa – Gelateria Siciliana. It is right on one of my main routes. My waist is screaming at me to find a new route. My tastebuds are in heaven!

Vasavasa sorbet

Strawberry and lemon sorbets with gelato making machine in background.

All the gelato is handmade in the shop (from what I understand) and it tastes amazingly fresh. The shop is open until 11pm – from what I remember – so it is perfect for a post dinner walk and treat! It is also a great location for anyone visiting the Eiffel Tower (and who comes to Paris without doing that – ok, me before I moved here, but had I known that I could have great ice cream, that may have been different!) and/or for a cool dessert after picnicking by the Seine or in Champs de Mars.

Just before writing, I did a quick Google, to see if there is a website. It seems that there is..and it’s in Italian. And you know what I discovered? They have four branches in Italy (Milan and Turin)! Yes, folks, that means it’s eaten-in-Italy real gelato. To be honest, that’s not hugely important to me, because what I have had has all tasted fantastic, but it is nice to know.

Vasavasa Paris

What they serve...yum!

It’s also a pretty gelateria. That matters to some of us. Stainless steel, clean lines of marble and a (non-tacky) chandelier. More Parisian looking than a lot of Parisian places. That’s also a delight for some of us (probably the non-Parisians!).

Vasavasa Paris
34 Avenue de la Bourdonnais, 75007 Paris
Tel. 33147058430

On the map here (it shows it as being in the right place, but wrong side of road!).

 

Unfortunately, I have not been asked to write about Vasavasa. I am, however, completely open to tokens of gratitude from Vasavasa in any gelato form. Just sayin’.

 

 

Fashion or soft porn?

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Operation SBAM is underway. As the weather seems to be staying sunny, I’ve become secure in the knowledge that summer clothes will actually be useful. So I thought it a good idea to do some research (no point being an unfashionable non-minger).

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

I picked up a copy of the ultimate style bible: Vogue Paris. It seemed even more appropriate as it had a section on Greece, and being Vogue, what to wear in Greece – and I’m heading off there soon.

I wasn’t sure about the red dress as I can’t actually make much out from this photo. Not sure I’m really into pleasuring myself on an old discarded mattress (doesn’t Vogue Paris know about fleas and bedbugs?), so I flicked through for more fashion information.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Well, I guess there is a red theme. Ok, I can go on that. Perhaps I could stretch to a stop watch. But the Borat-come-Baywatch swimsuit: an absolute no go.

(The perfect skin and physical shape: let’s just not go there!).

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

For day wear, it seems I don’t need to bother about t-shirts, nor a bra..nor underwear? High waisted shorts that don’t do up? Well, I’m sure I won’t have a problem finding some of those! Phew – something I can be ‘on trend’ in.

But really, Greece is all about swimming. What am I going to wear in the water? Does Vogue Paris have any other suggestions? It seems they do.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Ummm..perhaps if I looked like that naked, I would think this the best trend ever – it’s probably the cheapest ever promoted by Vogue, anywhere in the world. But I don’t. Ok, so I give up on buying new swimming attire. I’m going to get my old one piece out and perhaps the ‘retro’, aka granny pants, bikini.

Next to swimming is: boats. What do I wear when I’m sailing on my Greek holiday?

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

WFT?! Are people in Greece just naked all the time? Is this what happens when your country has an economic crisis: people can’t afford clothes and then beautiful nudists flock there to pole dance on the water ?

(I hope they wash that sail frequently).

But no, hang on a second. It seems Vogue Paris is reaching out an olive branch to those of use who want a bit more coverage than a boat’s mast provides.

Vogue Paris June/July 2011

Yay! I think I could even make these myself from some random supermarket elastic and the old sheet I have waiting to be torn up for dusting rags.

Think I’ll go without the wedgie though.

 

All photos from Vogue Paris June/July 2011.

 

 

The best thing about Paris

Ok, one of the best things..is this:

 

Good logo, but upside down!

 

There are many of them. Hundreds, possibly thousands, but not all taste as good as this one.

So, why am I excited (apart from being on the sort of chocolate high that the likes of Cadbury’s can never approach)? Because I just ate Chloé. This is one of Pierre Hermé‘s delights. I shall let the chocolate speak:

“Chocolats au macaron Chloé (ganache au chocolat et framboise, biscuit macaron framboise, pâte d’amande fondante au macaron framboise, enrobés de chocolat noir)”

If you’d like that in English: Chloé macaron chocolates: (chocolate and raspberry ganache, raspberry macaron biscuit, soft raspberry macaron marzipan, enrobed [delightful word!] in dark chocolate).

All of that in one small chocolate!

There is only one in the bag because I was supposed to buy buying a gift for someone else…

So, as if all this wasn’t good enough, one chocolate like this costs €1.90 (US$2.70). Why is that good? Because it makes it VERY easy to just buy one when you’re trying to watch the waistline!

 

Stunted conversations

Down to business in France and it can be very impersonal. What many consider the language of romance leaves me rather underwhelmed when I start translating from Arabic.

Take a mundane situation: I call my nice physio to make an appointment. I haven’t seen him for about two months and spent about 3 months having appointments with him prior to that. Let’s call him Physio French.

“Hello, is that Mr Physio French?”

“Yes.”

“Hello, it is Trailing Grouse.”

“Aah, hello Madame Grouse.”

[Pause while I think what I can say next, can I ask how he is, or should I just continue?] “I would like to make an appointment please.”

“Which day?”

With my, also nice, Egyptian physio (let’s call him Physio Egyptian), it would go something like this.

“Hello, is that Physio?”

“Yes.”

“Hi, it’s Trailing here, how are you?”

“Aaah Trailing! I’m fine, how are you? Everything good?”

“Yes thanks, I’d just like to make a new appointment.”

“Ok, when?”

First name terms and personal questions such as “How are you?” are not deemed intrusive, or personal. It may not seem very professional, but it is much nicer I find. I miss Egypt and the people that were in my life when I have what feels like stunted interactions here.

But the sun’s still shining, so it’s all good!

 

Wrinkled Grouse

I’ve been studying my quickly forming wrinkles increasingly frequently lately. To Bo or not to Tox? Is it a modern day necessary evil, or just downright ridiculous? I feel the answer will be formed the day a wrinkle can’t be removed by contorting my face…

In the meantime, an alternative strategy has made itself apparent: nice cashiers.

As I went to pay for entrance to a museum, the cashier asked, “Are you under 27?”

The correct answer, I soon discovered, is “Yes, of course!” said with the casual, bored arrogance of a 16 year old.

The wrong answer is something along the lines of , “Umm..[look left, look right]..uh..[grin like a Cheshire cat]..yes?”

Entrance fee paid: full price.

But the possibility of being under 27? Priceless!