“Free WiFi, Free Bikes and Flirtatious Parisian Waiters”

“Freedom Bikes” in Paris

Free WiFi, Free Bikes and Flirtatious Parisian Waiters

Parler Paris…
Your taste of life in Paris and France

Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Paris, France

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

The first thing I did upon arrival, even before unpacking, was head to the corner café for lunch at an outdoor table and watch the world go by on rue de Bretagne. Le Café du Marché at the corner of rue Charlot has become a favorite spot for a great lunch special at a reasonable price, with a strong WiFi signal and plenty of electrical outlets for working on a computer. The young waiters there treat the female customers with special attention, flirting shamelessly, for which there are no complaints(!).

As I was reading a stack of mail from 12 days of absence and drinking a “noisette” (espresso with a dab of milk), it became apparent that the French style café life was blatantly missing on the American landscape. Even the New Orleans coffee houses that I love, such as “Café du Monde” and “Morning Call,” aren’t quite the same thing and Starbucks(!)…well, that’s a poor excuse, but comes closer than anything I can think of.

As of this past Monday, 105 new and free WiFi sites were launched in the city, thanks to a program initiated by Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, administered by Alcatel-Lucent. In the open air, you’ll now be able to connect your laptop at the Parvis of the Hôtel de Ville, at the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, Parc Monceau, the Jardin des Halles, Place des Vosges, Parc Georges Brassens and Parc Montsouris. In any one of 44 libraries, Espace des Blancs Manteaux, the Musée d’Art Moderne and the Maison de l’Emploi du 13ème Arrondissement are just a few of the municipal sites where you can surf away, free. For more complete information and a full list of sites, consult http://www.wifi.paris.fr

Let’s not forget, the first free WiFi in the city was provided by my neighborhood Mairie of the 3ème arrondissement thanks to Mayor Pierre Aidenbum…one of the many reasons the district has my devoted love and admiration.

Something else I just discovered is that the district has the highest share of the new “Vélib” (an abbreviation for “vélo” [bike] and “liberté”[freedom]) public bikes per inhabitant with 15 docking stations! A truck transporting a half-dozen or so stopped to let me take a photo as it passed in front of the café on rue de Bretagne and Mayor Aidenbaum was quoted in the International Herald Tribune on Monday as having said, “This is about revolutionizing urban culture.” (The article is online at http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/15/news/paris.php)

If you don’t already know about it, the new program is putting more than 10,000 rental bikes at 750 self-serving docking stations spotted all over the city every 300 meters. The plan is to have 1451 stations by the beginning of 2008. Saturday night, the stations were ready, willing and able to accept the new bikes and by Sunday morning, the slots were filled. One friend remarked that it was “like Christmas morning.”

American friends who tested it that first day had their photos taken by Agence Presse while trying to understand the system for paying and renting. They had trouble finding the instructions in English and difficulty
getting it to accept their foreign credit cards. Once they mastered it after much trial and error, they chuckled to themselves as they later assisted some French women having similar difficulties, realizing that it’s not just the foreigners who might need some time to become accustomed to it.

All in all, they were pleased with the concept and the bikes themselves, but felt that “foreigners will never get it.” The program isn’t meant for tourists necessarily, although that’s an obvious benefit to seeing the City of Light from a fresh perspective.

Will I ever use them? Likely not!…I’m more the “sit-in-the-café” type than the “get-killed-riding-a-bike” type. (For more information, visit http://www.velib.paris.fr)

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris



P.S. The Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group is open all Summer long. Join us Tuesday nights at La Pierre du Marais on rue de Bretagne, Wednesday afternoons at Eurocentres and Saturday mornings at Lutèce Langue. It’s free the first time you come! Visit http://www.parlerparlor.com for more information.

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This Week in French Property Insider…

The Mystery Theater in the Marais
By Adrian Leeds

Photo: Nouvel Observateur, Paris, Ile-de-France

I had seen it advertised in an agency window, but couldn’t believe it or fathom it…a theater of a substantial size, semi-circular, in wood, with two levels of balconies, partially under a roof of glass hidden within a rather banal building, at number 6 rue de Saintonge…

Learn how to buy property in France.
Visit /frenchproperty/insider

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Very Special Event!
Debra Martin – Medium

As one of the few Certified Research Mediums in the World, renowned Medium Debra Martin has been seeing spirits since she was a child and now demonstrates her unique gift and individual style of mediumship. Her Sitting Circles here in the United States have been such a success that she has decided to go international. Please join Debra in a “Connection with the Spirit World Sitting Circle”…

Thursday September 27th and Friday September 28th 2007, 7-9 p.m., Hotel Le Pavillon de la Reine in the heart of the historic Marais district at 28 Place des Vosges.

These two exclusive group sessions will be limited, so reserve your seat now! 100€

To register, email If you are interested in attending please email Debra Martin’s Office Debra Martin’s Office at: goldenmiracles@cox.net

We wanted better guides. So we wrote them.

Insider Paris Guides are written for people who love the City of Light. You’ll get a Paris insider perspective on Restaurants… Making a Life… Black Culture… Expat Writers…Visit http://www.insiderparisguides.com


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Parler Paris Après Midi

Come for a drink and to meet and chat with other readers in Paris…

The next gathering is September 11, 2007 and every second Tuesday of the month.

Note: There is no meeting in August.

Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group


Practice speaking French and English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily. Meets three times a week — come as often as you like!

NEW Saturday Location! And still meeting Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the same great locations!

For further details, visit http://www.parlerparlor.com

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