Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cool Website, Brief Post


Photos of Paris now and a long time ago….


In the words of anyone who has ever tried to keep a blog: "I've been busy." Seems as though things have been moving along at the apartment.  Philippe was over to take some pictures, and it seems like the basic activity is getting the walls roughed in.  Yikes, it's tough to position images in a blog post!  Some people have beautifully designed posts, there must be a better way to do it. 


The only minor issue that we have to get resolved involves doors.  The doors in the apartment were all unpainted varnished wood, which I actually kind of liked, but the consensus is that they are too dark and would be better off white.  In Philippe’s recent pictures it looks as though they have been rehung unpainted. And the front door to the apartment had a  a row of big hooks along the top of it, where the previous owners, in the French style, had hung a curtain over it.  I’m not sure why French people do that.  We had asked for the hooks to come down, but it looks like they are still there.  The door on the right is to the toilet, the one that will be forever be separated from the rest of the bathroom….


The other thing Philippe accomplished was finally making contact with T., the woman on the first floor who (as it turns out) cleans the building, and whose husband does the maintenance.  Apparently T. used to be the gardienne, a typical French role kind of like a live-in doorman.  She no longer is, there is no gardienne anymore, although the distinction between a gardienne and a person who lives on the first floor and cleans is a little lost on me.  Anyway Philippe chatted her up, offered her a little holiday tip from us, and generally spread good will.  It will be nice to have her on our side if it works out that way.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

2009 Quality of Life Index

2009 Quality of Life Index: "For the fourth year running, France comes first in our annual Quality of Life Index.

For all my complaining about the complexities of conducting business long-distance, I love France!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Subfloor Progress (pictures)

Not much has happened over the holiday, but they did get down new concrete subfloors….. Work is supposed to start up again tomorrow.

Living Room

living room







Also, the bank paid the contractor!  They never did send the confirmation I asked for, though.

Visit to Paris 3

that evening we ate at Au Gout Dujour, another restaurant close by the Rue d’Ouessant apartment.  CAM had potage potiron (Pumpkin soup again.  Pumpkin in one form or another is all the rage in Paris restaurants these days.  AuGoutduJourOne of the fun things about eating here is following the little fashion trends that come and go.)  She then had magret du canard (duck breast) and mont blanc (chestnut cream with meringue) for dessert.  I had an appetizer that I have lost track of… a salad with mache (kind of a field green), artichoke puree and something, but I forget what the something was… boudin noir, and cheese for dessert.  It was good, but frankly not as good as Le Marcab the night before. 

AuGoutDuJour Menu

The next morning we headed out to Monsieur P’s office, also in the 15eme.  It looked like an architect's office: big glassed-in rooms with drafting tables, big Macs with enormous screens.  Like the day before, the process was familiar:  pick paint colors, pick this, pick that.

It took a while, and by the time we were done, we were pressed to make it to our next stop, at ParisPerfect, the rental agency we hope to use to rent the apartment once the renovations are complete.  One of the staff people there, a young American woman married to a Frenchman, was going to show us around a few of their apartments.  CAM had already seen a few on a previous visit.  Most of their apartments are in the fancy parts of the 7eme.  I was worried that when we saw the apartments we would feel like ours wouldn’t hold up, but I was pleasantly surprised on all counts.  Their apartments are beautiful, and a few of them have heart-stopping views of the tower, but our apartment, or at least my image of what our place is going to look like, stood up very well.  Among other things, the lobby and stairway to our building is nicer than most of what we saw.  A funny thing about Parisian buildings is that even very fancy buildings can have dark, unappealing lobbies.  I presume that is because they are very old, and because there is often no clear collective way to pay for the upkeep.  Another very positive sign about ParisPerfect is that the cleaning crews were in a couple of the apartments we visited, and they seemed serious.  The head of the cleaning staff was full of suggestions about materials we should and shouldn’t use in the apartment.

OK, I am going to finish this up.  Another general writing rule is that once you get behind on this sort of thing it’s all over.  descartes The one other fun part I want to make sure to get down is dinner with Sandy and Philippe than night at Descartes, a little Bistro around the corner from them in the 5eme.  It’s more a bar than anything else, I see now they call it a brasserie, which is just that.  The word brasserie means brewery.  Anyway it was packed with young people at the bar, they looked like students, or like people you would see in a young-people neighborhood in New York.  The waitress was dressed in jeans and informal.  Anywhere else, a place like this would just have bar food, but here it was wonderful.  Their specialty is a think vegetable soup that comes in big tureens, really it would have been fine for dinner all by itself.  I also had the “AAA” rated andouillette, another sausage, served in the traditional way with lentils.  It was wonderful eating with Sandy and and Philippe, mostly for their wonderful company, but also because I always learn more about being in France, watching what they do and how they talk.  They are so friendly and extraverted that they are regulars everywhere they go.  My fun fact for the evening involved ordering wine in a fillette, which is a special bottle with a heavy bottom into which wine is decanted like a carafe.  fillette I am always confused in restaurants about ordering wine in a bottle (expensive, and too much, as CAM usually doesn’t have any), or a half-bottle, or a glass (restaurants often don’t list their wines by the glass) or a carafe (which they usually have but don’t usually list) or a pichet, or pitcher.  Plus French waiters don’t respond well to a request for “red” wine, they look at you like you just asked for “something to drink.”  It makes no sense to them that we don’t have a more specific idea of what we want. 

I am no different than any other American in this regard.  As much as I love food and wine, I am completely hopeless at keeping track of differences among kinds of wine.  I love good wine when I drink it, but the truth is it resides in my memory mostly as good and not-so-good, red and white.  Maybe also as robust and light, which is one of the questions the waiter will ask you if you just ask for red wine.  I should look up the French words for that, I can’t remember them at the moment.  Frankly, when confronted with a wine list, I just pick something by price and the availability heuristic (i.e., I have seen it before) and fake it.  Oh well.