Archive for March, 2010

Chocolate Revolution

Just in time for Easter

On Saturday Jerome checked out the “No Sarkosy Day” protest. I went on a chocolate factory tour. Not that I wasn’t interested in experiencing both, but sometimes you have to set your priorities.

In the morning as we were discussing plans, I told Jerome I’d call him after my tour. Maybe I’d meet him later – provided I could still move after ingesting a mountain of sweets.

“Sure,” he said. “But if I don’t pick up the phone, don’t worry. I’ll just be in prison.”

Oh, ok, not worried at all. Have a good day, honey!

Jerome can be dramatic – obviously he did not end up in jail. By most accounts there were more people at the chocolate lab than at the demonstration.

Everyday has so many different possibilities, doesn’t it? We could choose one of a million things to do. In a city like Paris, the possibilities are almost paralyzing. Sometimes I need to force myself out the door (from whence do you come, inertia?) to go exploring.

But then I do, and free-flowing rivers of chocolate beckon. What more could one ask?

To be honest, the chocolate place wasn’t as exciting as it sounds, actually (Though what was I expecting? Willy Wonka? Well, maybe. Don’t judge).

For five euros (their site says 4 euros – don’t be fooled!) you get to sample some hot chocolate and (if you’re sneaky) as much chocolate as you want (just keep passing by for more).

The place did smell heavenly, but the chocolates seemed a bit too sweet (Too sweet? What, am I crazy?)

They were going all out for Easter, so perhaps it was just the cocoa bells and bunnies that were a bit much for me.

Packaged and ready to go!

But the smell – oh the smell! Melted chocolate’s wonderful aroma wafting through your workplace – can you imagine? Our guide confirmed that they *do* need to sample the goods as part of the job. (I should rethink careers.)

For you, dear readers, I did something I dislike: I called them up afterward for a few questions that I didn’t think to ask at the time (French on the phone – the horror!)

Turns out, they run tours by season (and they are very nice on the phone). October-January are the biggest times to tour (Les Fetes!). And some in March/April (Easter!)

After that, they start turning their lab over to making ice cream, so a visit “wouldn’t be very interesting,” claimed the chocolate man (hang on, ice cream factory? Oh I’m interested!)

If you like window-shopping, their petite boutique is on Rue des Archives.

If you want to go behind the scenes, head to 5 rue de la Tacherie, not too far from there.

Chocolate man said that while they don’t usually do tours off-season, if I had, for example, 50 Americans who wanted to visit, they could make an exception and even offer the tour in English. (My tour Saturday was a group of 16 in French).

So if you and your 49 friends want a sneak peek, you can go anytime! Otherwise, reserve tours during their high season for a (sinfully) sweet treat.

Chocolats Girard
4 Rue des Archives (boutique)
5 Rue de la Tacherie (lab)
75004 Paris
01 42 72 39 62
Metro Hotel de Ville

Quick facts:
Chocolats Girard produces:
9 tons of chocolate October-December
2.5 tons for Easter
3 tons the whole rest of the year
(Anyone else notice that for one weekend almost the same amount is produced as for the entire off-season? Gourmandise!)

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Faux Pas Friday: Beware the Bise!

Honey, ‘come take me in your arms’! Oh, just give me a ‘hug’!

kiss

I was horrified to learn in my first French course that there existed no word for “hug.”
“But embrasser?” we naively asked. “Surely that must mean to embrace?”

“No,” our kind teacher informed us, “embrasser means to kiss.”

“So this,” we said, wrapping our arms around ourselves. “What do you call this?”
Surely a simple demonstration would quickly clear up the matter.

“Prendre quelqu’un dans les bras”, Madame Julie said.

“Come on,” we snorted. “You must have a word for ‘taking someone in your arms.’” French is supposed to be lyrical – what’s with this unwieldy phrase?

Calin, she offered, but I have since gotten wise to that, too. A calin is a cuddle, and a cuddle does not a hug make or vice versa (though both are nice).

This should have served as (one of) my warning(s) about France – what kind of place doesn’t have a word for hug?

The missing word is not the only cause for concern. It’s missing the hugs, period. I grew up on big bear hugs. Hugs are used as greeting, comfort, congratulations, and more where I’m from. Getting used to la bise was a whole other story.

Ah yes, la bise. After 3 1/2 years I still find la bise awkward: Do I touch your cheek or don’t I? Must I make a kissing noise to accompany the air kiss? I’ve moved in too close, my face is too far. No matter how many times I do it, I never get it right.

Readers Shannon and Piglet in France also did not get something right: one kissed a banker, the other a priest.

I feel their pain. In a country where you can kiss even your colleagues, and every entrance and exit you make is a half hour marathon of giving la bise, one’s natural tendency might be to give everyone a kiss. Apparently even your financial and religious advisors.

I guess you’re not supposed to do that.

Kiss
As always, I am here to make them feel better by sharing my own big bise faux pas.

There might be no word for hug, but there are many for kiss. In addition to embrasser, a bisous is a kiss. Un baiser is a kiss. But beware the latter – danger lurks!

After our first three dates, Jerome had still not made a move. Shy and sweet, he was the perfect gentleman – by that point, I was ready for him to take a step towards not being one.

Hours into date three, we’re listening to Nina Simone, drinking sweet white wine. I – eyelashes batting – finally ask, coy as can be, “so, don’t you want to kiss me?”

Only, my formulation was woefully wrong. If un baiser is a kiss, I had reasoned, baiser must mean to kiss (whoa! big leap! whatever gave me that idea?)

Well, friends, it was the wrong conclusion. Baiser means to f***.

My coy question turned instantly into a crude proposition. Reserved Jerome, however, did not let on.

“Yes, I want to kiss you,” he said correcting me (though I didn’t notice the correction). Because he did kiss me. And I melted.

Only months later did Jerome tell me what I had actually asked him. Americans really are direct, he must have thought. No doubt about it.

Shout-outs this week also to Adam for sharing how his romantic tete a tete turned into a table of 10 (deux and dix can sound awfully similar depending on whose pronouncing the words) and French teacher Marie for clearing up excite and chaude. It’s great feeling excited, but in French you better be ready to mean ‘sexually aroused.’ Now Jerome tells me I should still feel free to say excitee, but I won’t take his word for it. He’s just a little too good at keeping a straight face.

Poll: Are you more a hug person or a kiss person?
Plus: Funny faux pas always welcome. The best examples always get free shout-outs.

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TIP: The Fantastic World of Flateurville


Tucked away in a discreet passageway in Paris’ 10th arrondissement is the weirdly fantastical Flateurville, an imaginary city with a real-world address. Artist Laurent Godard has created an entire history and narrative for his fake village, and the space feels truly out of this world. If you didn’t think it possible to step inside someone else’s creative mind, come give this place a try.

When you first enter Flateurville, you’ll feel a moment of confusion. The first room is small and somber; there probably won’t be anyone lingering here. A TV might be playing, a few art objects scattered about, but otherwise the room’s a bit suffocating.

Head through the small hallway, however, and you’ll enter a room with a small stage, Christmas trees and other foliage (yeah, you read that right). This is where bands and other performers are invited to play.

Les Elles du Tambour - fabulous all-female percussion group

But the exploration has just begun. Next is a brightly lit room with paintings on every wall and a large vault in the center of the room. So many random elements, though you get the impression everything is there for a reason.

Frolic in the “playroom” on one side or head to the room on the other. Old black and white photographs, paintings, and machines; the first time I visited, I didn’t know where to set my eyes, there’s so much to see.

The largest room features not only Godard’s artwork, but also temporary exhibitions. It’s big enough to house cars, pianos, motorcycles, and bathtubs, too. On expo nights, enjoy cheap drinks and free snacks.

When writing in English I try not to slip into Franglais. But two French words seem the most apt to describe the feeling of wonder when I discovered this place: delirant, hallucinant. (Delirious and hallucinating – not an elegant translation, but believe me, those are the words that spring to mind).

If you’re looking for a different experience in Paris, head to Flateurville on Thursdays to see what’s on. You might not understand what world you’ve stumbled into, but you probably won’t forget it.

Flateurville
24 cours des petits ecuries
Paris 75010
Metro Strasbourg St. Denis

Note: Thursdays are open to the public starting at 6:30 PM, though it’s more animated later on. You can also visit by appointment – information available on their website. I’ve walked from the metro to Flateurville solo before, but it feels more comfortable walking in that area with friends.

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(A)typical Paris Weekend

Who couldn’t use a little more honky-tonk in their lives?

It’s not every weekend in Paris that you discover delicious vegan Chinese food then see hipsters swaying to Hank Williams. Throw in a wedding and a friend visiting from out-of-town and you’ve got yourself a party.

Bringing country music to the Parisian masses

Let me stick with the honky-tonk for a moment, though. You’ll find plenty of jazz in Paris. Rock, chanson, electro, too. But rare is the honky-tonk venue (actually, are there any? please let me know!)

I can’t say I really grew up on country music. But I can tell you that hearing it in Paris gave me a nostalgic pang. It’s a uniquely American sound, somehow even more familiar when you’re far from home.

My new friend Ericka brought a group called The Brocanteers to the Cafe Courant, a buzzing bar on Rue du Faubourg Sainte-Antoine (at Rue de Cotte). A bit surprised to see the house packed for honky-tonk, I quickly entered into the fray.

Ericka writes plenty of her own songs, but did many crowd-pleasing covers, too. (Who doesn’t have a Johnny Cash favorite?) With special guest Sal Bernardi, a frequent guitarist for Ricki Lee Jones, the music had a magic spark. My friend Dani remarked that hearing the slide guitar reminded her of home.

So much is in the lyrics – that aching heart sentiment is probably what stirred my wistful longing. I wondered how much the audience could really appreciate it without understanding the words, but it made me happy to see them getting into the groove.

Comfort for a homesick heart on a rainy Friday night: If the Parisians can get down with honky-tonk, there is definitely plenty of promise left in this town.

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Faux Pas Friday: Madame Massage

About this time last year, I passed a small Chinese massage parlor in my neighborhood and noticed a sign proclaiming a Special Discount in Honor of International Women’s Day. A one-hour massage for 35 euros.

Hmm, that sounds nice, I thought.

Nevermind that some of these ‘massage parlors’ are code for something else. Not all of them are. Right? (Right?) If they were celebrating women’s day, perhaps this one was on the up and up, I figured.

My first clue should have been when I passed by with Jerome later in the day. We were doing errands and I said, tiens, I am going to go get that massage! How often do I treat myself?

We walked in and the woman immediately started talking to Jerome.

“Actually, I would like the massage,” I said. “The special discount? Women’s Day?”

“Oh yes,” she said, and we made an appointment for later in the afternoon. “And for the monsieur?”

“No, just me,” I said.

“You are sure? Nothing for the monsieur?” she said, keeping her eyes on Jerome.

Huh.

Den of iniquity

I won’t say I didn’t have my doubts at this point (and I started rethinking those lace curtains that completely covered the windows and the odd human body diagrams on the door), but it must be that impulse that can so easily propel me : yeah, but either it’s a cheap massage or a good story. How can I go wrong?

Oh, it can go wrong. I came back at 6 PM and that’s when it really got hairy. Once shown to my room – a small, sketchy little hole – the “masseuse” walked in wearing a miniskirt. Uh-oh. Where was the exit again?

She asked whether I had ever had a massage before.

“Yes,” I said. At very reputable institutions, I wanted to add. How to let her know I knew what a professional massage was? That I certainly didn’t want any funny business? (And how do you even say funny business in French? Or Chinese? Or whatever planet I had suddenly found myself in, naked and afraid?)

Well, it was an uncomfortable hour. Nothing torrid happened, but as you realized much earlier than I did, I really shouldn’t have been there. I remained tense throughout the (what passed for a) massage – this might have been a clue to the woman that I really, really did not want her to touch me in any unprescribed ways.

As I was leaving I told them they might want to take down the Women’s Day special promotion as I thought it was kind of misleading. Besides, was it even working (besides on stupid little me?) I heard only men come in and out during my entire ordeal. (Shudder).

Sometimes I amaze myself. How I’ve lived nearly 10 years in large cities (New York + Paris), normally have street smarts, and yet occasionally display a naivete beyond words. Be kind, though. A dash of gullibility with the city veneer can be charming, right? (Right?)

This little episode might have stayed buried deep in my memory, quietly tucked away under layers of shame if I had not passed another one of these places on the way to the library (who knew! my library outings are so racy!) and seen an older gentleman duck furtively into it.

It’s all served its purpose, though. Material for today’s post!

Ok, so I have not only shared my verbal faux pas now, but also – well, things I probably shouldn’t share. The flood gates are open! Feel free to send in anything you deem appropriate (or inappropriate) for Faux Pas Fridays and receive a free shout-out!

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Green Party

St. Patrick’s Day may not be a big deal in Paris, but I’m having my own little celebration. Sun, warmth, blue sky! How I thought you’d forsaken me, and yet here you all are again.

Oui, ça sent le printemps, remarked many people at the market today. Spring has finally arrived.

Verdant green hills and fields of blooming flowers. (Ok, there are no verdant green hills in Paris, but it’s so nice out there it feels like there could be). Picnics in the park, aperos by the canal – these things are possibilities again.

Life has officially recommenced.
Four Leaf Clover 068
I’m pleased to note that I had a St. Paddy’s-related article out this month. “From Ireland, with love” reviews a few contemporary Irish novels and appears in Today in English. (My original title “Good Reads from the Green Isle” got nixed, but I’m still quite fond of it).

A publication is always cause for celebration in my book, but this also serves as something of a milestone: it’s the first thing I’ve written that my husband can actually read.

You see, Today in English is a magazine geared towards French-speakers learning English, so the articles help with vocabulary, idioms, and grammar. It’s funny to see what words they pulled out to elaborate: “Keen insight”, “tenuous grip on reality”, “unrelenting”… “Whatever” (ah yes, a classic Americanism!).

I can see why Jerome had some trouble with it, but he made his way through. I’ve grown accustomed, but it is quite something when you think about it: one of my main identities is that of a writer and yet my husband can’t access that part of me.

He sees me pass hours behind the computer screen or curled up with books. Or in a huff, doing everything but writing, but berating myself for not. In short, he knows this is who I am – he just has no idea what I’m saying.

There are times I wish I could share this part of myself with him. Other times when having something so important of my own is a gift.

We’ve had to create our own common interests, things we can share, from scratch, in a language that sometimes only the two of us understand. It can be frustrating, but it’s also illuminating. Two people together always construct their own reality, their own private world. Ours is different than anything I might have imagined for myself, yet it is undoubtedly that: ours.

The Globe (78 / 365)

Other fun writing news: I found out yesterday that a flash fiction story I submitted to an anthology has been accepted. Hooray!

And for those of you who read this on email, I don’t think you had the link to a very nice review of this blog by A Taste of Garlic.

(Other note for email subscribers, the videos don’t seem to appear in emails. If you’re dying to hear some Indochine clips from yesterday, head on over to the blog!)

Ok, enough with the pats on the back. Now onto some….green beer? (Maybe not. After fantastic champagne, I really don’t think I could). Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Indochine in Epernay

We interrupt Tuesday’s normally scheduled programming (Paris TIPs) with a general tip: the best champagne can be found in Champagne.

Ok, not such a secret.

In classic (random) fashion, my first visit to the Champagne region this past weekend actually had nothing to do with champagne.

Instead we were stalking a French new wave/rock band from the ‘80s. (But of course!)

1985, baby:

If you don’t know Indochine, apparently you’ve missed something, because all concerts on their current Meteor Tour are sold out country-wide. (Don’t worry, I had never heard of them until I moved to France, either).

My husband is a big fan, so for his birthday (which is coming up quick), I was lucky enough to snag some tickets to the Indochine concert in Epernay. (Getting into the Paris show wasn’t even a possibility).

I know that giving gifts should be about the other person, but in this case I thought we’d both benefit: Jerome sees his childhood dream band, and I get a weekend visiting vineyards.

We compromised on a hurried day and a half.

Less than 2 hours from Paris by car if the traffic gods are with you, Epernay is the capital of the Champagne region. As is our luck recently, we rolled in Sunday afternoon to gray skies, a bit of drizzle, and freezing temperatures.

Thankfully I found the sweetest B&B on earth called Au Coeur des Vignes and would have been happy just curled up in its cuteness the entire time. In fact, I almost feel I should write a separate post just on the B&B – such lovely people should not be mixed up in my bumbling adventures.

We stayed in the Pinot Noir room, with a view over the vineyards. Unfortunately at this time of year there’s not much to look at. You’d think champagne derives from small, knobby bits of wood if this were the only time you saw a field.

No matter, the place was spotless, the bed large and comfy, and the bathroom equipped with a hydromassage shower (which sounded more exciting than it actually was, but still). Even more awesome was the proprietor(ess), Chantal.

The lovely Chantal

When she first met us, I thought she was a pixie with her pointed elf shoes and little flared dress. The next morning, she looked all classy, with a warp-around vest/dress/scarf article that I couldn’t quite understand but completely coveted. Chameleon as she was in style, she was consistently cheerful and helpful. If I’m ever back in the area, I’m definitely staying there again.

But the main event? After waiting in the longest line I’ve ever been part of, we entered the Millesium with a whole cross-generational subsection of France. (The band itself formed in 1981 so you can do the math). I had just as much fun looking at the crowd as I did listening to the music. Little kids to senior citizens and every one in between represented.

Next to me was a rather robust man in his late 40s/early 50s sporting a sweater tied around his shoulders, as only French men seem to do. He whistled, pumped his fist in the air, rocked the “rock on” hand gesture and generally did everything to make the preppy sweater around the shoulders seem incongruous.

On my other side was an even older man – balding, glasses – who stood motionless the entire time but mouthed all of the words to every song.

It made me think about how we never outgrow certain music no matter how much we’ve changed, or how much we’ve grown. The importance of music from a certain period of our lives is, simply, immeasurable.

Though I am not an emo goth girl, for example, I am forever wedded to The Cure. Though U2 have long since left the Joshua Tree, I stay in that desert. I am always open to discovering new music, but in some ways I stay stuck to the sounds from my childhood. (What does it mean that I remain an awkward teen in my musical tastes?)

Indochine was never a soundtrack to any part of my life so I was more spectator than active participant like the thousands of enthusiastic fans surrounding me.

But I recognized the feeling: You speak for me. (When I can’t always speak for myself).

Whenever I bemoan the difficulty of French or the difference in culture, I can think back on this as a good reminder: some things are universal.

I was able to join in the chorus of this song as the refrain is “woo-oo-oo-ooo”


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Faux Pas Friday: Nice Boules!

Shout-outs to Janet, Erica, Lydia, and Melanie for sending in some great faux pas. I’ll save my own stories for another time and give the spotlight over to them.

I feel a strange affinity for reader Lydia because we started blogging at the same time and she’s working on a novel, too. (Although, she actually seems to be working on hers, while I just imagine writing mine).

In any case, she’s deep in rural France where I’m sure faux pas become part of the local lore. People have long memories in small towns.

Picture her at a children’s birthday party, a large one, the entire village seems to be in attendance. Sugar rush, open lawns, the noise grows unbearable. Deciding it’s time for a “quiet game,” she wants to tell the children to lie down to begin a game called “sleeping lions.”

Only…”The trouble was, I couldn’t remember how to say ‘lie down.’ Unfortunately, in the tiny pocket dictionary I had on me, the word ‘lie’ was next to the word ‘lick.’ You can imagine the looks I got from all the assembled parents as I merrily shouted to all the children to ‘lick themselves.’ …Their amused faces and the fact that none of the children lay down as instructed, told me that something was very wrong…” Lydia

Well, Lydia still seems to be living in the same place, so I guess she wasn’t run out of town.

XMas Balls
Next we have Janet, who reminds me that as difficult as it is to learn France French, at least I have only one version to learn. While she’s currently in Belgium with one kind of French, she’s married to a French Canadian speaking a whole other kind.

One innocent Christmas vacation at her in-laws’ house, Janet decided to try out her French skills by commenting on the lovely decorations, especially the eye-catching Christmas balls hanging on the tree. Only boules is also slang for “boobs” in those parts – not exactly what she meant to say. (I’ll remember this for the next holiday).

Now this brings up an interesting point, as I’m pretty sure boules in French France is also slang for, well, you know, balls.

My husband will also sometimes exclaim, “oh les boules,” when something is wrong, or has caused shame, or is sad. (You’ve picked up the pitfalls of learning through immersion – since he can’t give me the English equivalent, I just kind of make “an educated guess” about a word or phrases’ true meaning).

Basically, unless I’m playing basketball or petanque or some other game involving balls, I’m just going to avoid using the word balls.

And finally Erica. Oh Erica. I think she might have a winner, but her story makes me blush too much to actually recount it. Let’s just say it’s a story involving farm animals that quickly goes astray.

What should give us courage is that this particular faux pas was made by a Francophone, trying to translate a French idiom into English. Pesky idioms. Those are definitely the hardest. The French make these mistakes, too! You’ll have to read the comments in the first post to find out the faux pas, as she really sets it up best.

Fancy art in here

After all that, I feel I must note that I have attended two readings, an art show, and finished an incredible book this week (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). It’s been a bit risque lately, what with lingerie sightings and library lust, and now these faux pas, but I can assure you, I’ve been cultivating my mind as well.

(Only, faux pas are faux pas because they’re inappropriate, right? So what can you expect? Keep sending them in. They’re so fun to read!”)

Next post, I’ll try to come up with something more highbrow…though who knows what will happen!

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Nothing but the Nylons

A post in honor of Keith over at A Taste of Garlic who gave my blog a wonderful review today. He did say I was missing a lingerie post, so here’s my version of one. Thanks, Keith!

It’s shaping up to be quite a week. I’m not sure if it’s because spring’s coming (it’s sunny, but still freezing!), but there’s a little friskiness in the air.

On the same day that I stumbled upon my interesting discovery at the library, Jerome also had a surprise as he walked back from his atelier (Jerome’s a metalsmith). Scene? Broad daylight, Rue de Pyrénées, a woman wearing no pants.

To be fair, he said, she was wearing pantyhouse and her underwear matched (both black, of course). They were not winter tights, however, but rather the thin, gauzy type that are nearly transparent.

Forgiving him for looking so closely (who wouldn’t?) I pressed for details. No pants? And no skirt, either? No, just the nylons, he insisted.

Was she wearing a coat? Yes, but a short and tiny one.

She must have been really cold, we agreed.

I wondered if she might be celebrating No Pants Day, but that’s in May. (And No Pants Subway Ride started in New York – miss you NYC – has already passed).

white shoes after Labor Day

To make the scene even more surreal, the woman was walking in the 20th, in a part of the neighborhood with a large Muslim population. It’s common to see women wearing a chador here. Quite a decalage.

“Is it even legal not to wear pants?” Jerome wondered. Nevermind the burqa debate in France, what about no bottoms?

The funniest part he said, was that the woman looked totally nonplussed, almost like she didn’t know why everyone was looking at her. “If a man walked around in public without pants, he would be arrested direct,” Jerome said.

Spring fever, you have plenty of takers this year…

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Library Lust

Library

My mom has been a librarian my whole life. I don’t know if this contributed to my writerly aspirations, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Our quality time often saw us curled up on our respective couches, good book in hand. Who said I needed to move to France to learn about the simple pleasures of life?

Just why it took me so long to go to the public library in Paris, then, I really can’t say. My source of English-language books has thus far been bookstores (and a semi-annual booksale where paperbacks are only a euro! Details below**)

My other English language escape is, of course, the Internet. I am simultaneously in love/in hate with the Internet. Living abroad I’m thankful for how easy it is to stay in touch with everyone and get news from home. But I also fall victim to the web’s siren song. Somehow a 2-minute email check turns into a 2-hour black hole, time disappearing into it.

I have a lot of writing I want to do. Yet my best laid plans are often interrupted by my (almost) addiction. (Or should I say my addiction is sometimes interrupted by writing).

Trying to get a handle on this, I’ve set up lots of little tricks. I’ve gone so far as to install a program called “Freedom” that makes it impossible for me to connect to the Internet for a set amount of time (thank you, Freedom!)

But it’s not only the Internet. Working at home I find a myriad of distractions, even away from the computer screen. (Why do I always decide I must eat when I can’t think of the next sentence?) So yesterday I decided to run away from my house. And the library was my savior.

Turns out you can’t actually run away from the Internet at a public library. (Don’t worry, I knew that. I’m not that behind the times). It does offer a more serious atmosphere, however, and it reminds me that I’m not there to play. (Though in my early Paris days, I was intrigued by the fact that many libraries were equipped with “discothèques”. When I learned this only meant a music collection and not strobe lights and disco balls, I was quietly disappointed).

Unassuming library book display...


As I was leaving the library, I noticed a display of women’s titles laid neatly on a table. I’m sure it had been in honor of International Women’s Day on Monday.

...until I saw this

And then I really noticed one of the books: Le Petit Bout de Bonheur (The Little Tip of Happiness). The extended title: Le Manuel de Clitology.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t think the clitoris is awesome (it is!). But some measure of American Puritanism must have lodged itself inside me because I immediately looked around, kind of embarrassed, like, um, excuse me, did you mean to leave this out?

Then I picked it up (see, I’m no prude!)…and then took a photo of the cover to share with you. (By this point, the woman browsing next to me must have really thought I was strange).

I just can’t imagine a Manual of Clitology being part of such a prominent display in a library back home – at least not in my hometown library. It was a very, ‘oh yeah, I’m in Paris’ kind of moment. (And really, is clitology actually a word?)

To find your nearest public library in Paris click here.

**Huge English-language booksale coming up on March 20. SOS Help offers an English-language listening line. Living abroad can be challenging, and it’s nice to know there’s a resource out there if you just need to talk. The booksale raises money for SOS. I love walking away with a whole new set of books – last year I walked away with 37 – and knowing I’m contributing to a worthy cause to boot. Info here if you’re interested. (And stock up for me – I have a wedding to go to and will miss the sale!)

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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