C’est la Vie Paris on a ‘Ratty’ Chinese New Year Day

Sun Shines on a Chinese Dragon in Front of the Hôtel de Ville

C’est la Vie Paris on a ‘Ratty’ Chinese New Year Day

Parler Paris…

Your taste of life in Paris and France
Monday, February 11, 2008
Paris, France

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

Every Saturday morning about 10:15 a.m., I head out for the weekly Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group that starts at 11 a.m. at Lutèce Langue on boulevard de Sébastopol near Châtelet, taking a different route each time. (Would you believe that Parler Parlor is about to celebrate it’s 10th anniversary March 17th?! Stay tuned for celebration details coming soon!)

That morning’s “trajet,” went straight down “rue du Temple” (not to be confused with “rue Vieille du Temple”) as I like to eventually turn right on rue Rambuteau to see and smell the fresh produce stands with their perfectly placed colorful inventory of seasonal offerings. Along the way, the red lanterns signifying the Chinese New Year hung high overhead from the classic Paris lanterns, dotting the street with red dots. Not many people were out at that hour and the sun was just starting to beam.

This is the Chinese year of 4706 and this is the year of the rat. Those born in the year of the rat, it is believed, have some of that animal’s personality. They claim that those born in rat years tend to be “leaders, pioneers, and conquerors…they are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking.” (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, William Shakespeare, and Mozart were all born in the year of the rat. Don’t laugh, but I’m a “Dragon Lady.” Somehow, it does seem to fit!)

On one corner of rue du Temple, a row of bikes had been burned to a crisp along with the door of the building just in front. It didn’t appear to be fresher than a day or two as there was little left of the charcoal odor. One pink bike had a bit of paint left to hint that it had once been a child’s and a child’s back seat was a shell of its former self. The event or cause of the vandalism was totally unknown by me, but it was a pathetically sad sight in contrast to the stunningly bright day.

Parler Parlor was hopping, having filled all the available classrooms, and everyone walked in beaming from the evidence of the beautiful sunny winter day ahead of us. Usually, the group, or at least a good portion of them go to lunch together — an excellent way for them to continue their conversations and have some social time together.

Normally I take a different direction, this time down “rue des Lombards” which changes name twice along the way, to “rue de la Verrerie” (impossible to pronounce correctly with all those
French “ERR’s” running together!) and then going west to “rue de Roi de Sicile.” Just before it arrives at that point is a tiny Vietnamese Restaurant (Minh Chau, number 10 rue de la Verrerie) that has become my favorite Saturday lunch spot, in spite of the wait outside to enter.

It’s both take-out and sit down, although it can’t be more than 15 square meters nor seat more than 20 people. The tables are tightly packed, making it a logistical nightmare for both the diners and the servers. None the less, a small selection of absolutely delicious Asian fare gets served hot for a ridiculously small price. It’s tough to spend more than 12 euros. No wonder there is always a line to get in! Dining Asian was in preparation for the Chinese New Year Parade scheduled to start one block away at 2 p.m.

We took a key spot at the corner of rue de Rivoli and rue du Temple, just where the parade begins from the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, with the warm sun on our faces, the Hôtel de Ville and the BHV (Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville) in our line of sight. The crowd was getting restless as the parade was an hour late starting. People where trying to cross the street by breaking between the front row of onlookers, which became annoying to say the least, and a fight broke out among a couple of ‘not-so-young’ men across from us.

The police put a quick end to the scuffle, but with too many errands on a long list of ‘to-do’s’ for the afternoon, we surrendered leaving our front row seats to the ‘die-hards’ behind us. I’d seen the parade many times before and the glimpse we got of the main dragon as he sauntered down rue du Temple prior to the parade was enough for one afternoon.

It’s the last week of my stay in “Le Provençal” while my apartment is under renovation and I prepare for leaving for Miami where we are holding the 20th Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference this coming weekend, leaving it to the next wave of vacation renters. (See /frenchproperty/conference for more information as there’s still time to register!)

It’s been such a delightful stay, that already the nostalgia is setting in. Saturday afternoon the flower-printed bedspread got a washing at the laundromat down the street and the housekeeper came to make the colorful tiles sparkle. It’s absolutely impossible to be depressed in the sunny apartment, mirroring the equally sunny day, but while she worked, I grabbed the laptop and headed to Le Café du Marché on the corner to work on the presentations for the conference and drink a frothy café crème.

There at the café were three little Chinese girls with big pink balloons and an overabundance of energy. The elders with them were not Chinese — not one that I could see and I wondered how they had come to be together. They were yet another ray of sunshine, disturbing my work, but adding another dimension to the already eventful day. These were three little Franco-Chinese “filles” speaking perfect French, full of life. We four ‘bonded’ over photos they could see on the laptop and their curiosity over my strong American accent. The youngest tried asked if I spoke English and desperately tried to get me to pronounce a French word correctly — to no avail, leaving her pouting with frustration.

What a rude awakening, that a Chinese five-year-old should upstage me in French. Oh well, “c’est la vie à Paris” on a ‘ratty’ Chinese New Year Day.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris



P.S. Don’t miss next week’s monthly coffee gathering at Parler Paris Après Midi, Tuesday 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for more information.

P.P.S. Yes, in the photo that’s my shadow walking right down the middle of the street prior to the parade, and yes, those are all those restless parade-goers. I chose not to be one of them.


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Visit /frenchproperty/consultation or email [email protected]

This Week in French Property Insider…

AutolibThe Future of Paris
By Adrian Leeds

Bertrand Delanöe, the Mayor of the City of Light, is campaigning for re-election this March. As part of his campaign, he has issued a special publication reporting on the future projects from 2008 to 2014 and on the front cover he has said, “I want each Parisian to play a role in his city, and that Paris plays a role in the world.”…Subscribers Read On…

Learn how to buy property in France!

French Property Insider is a weekly e-zine, sharing insights, recommendations, tips, and discoveries about Paris real estate and French property. Each information-packed issue is devoted to educating its readers on how to effectively, efficiently and profitably purchase property in France.

For more information visit /frenchproperty/insider or email [email protected]

This weekend! Join us in the sun, sand and surf of Miami…

Beat the winter blues…and learn everything you need to make your French property dream come true…

Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference!
February 16-17, 2008
Alliance Française, Miami, Florida

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own “pied-à-terre” in Paris or home in the Provinces of France, perhaps as a future retirement home or for now as investment property rented part of the year…this power-packed two-day conference is a MUST.

Hosted by Adrian Leeds, long time resident of Paris, Editor of the Parler Paris Nouvellettre® and French Property Insider weekly E-zine and John Howell, lead attorney for the International Law Partnership, London, these two days in Miami will point you in the right direction to make it really happen! Includes three course lunch and cocktail reception.

For more information and to register, visit: /frenchproperty/conference/

Or email Schuyler Hoffman at [email protected]

Writing from the Heart (In the Heart of Champagne)

Writing from the heart is a bold act. In writing truthfully we both confront and expose the most vulnerable part of ourselves, by discovering who we really are and sharing with others what we really believe.

Held in the inspiring village of Essoyes, in the heart of Champagne country, two and a half hours southeast of Paris, the workshop is led by Janet Hulstrand, a freelance writer, editor, and teacher. Janet’s essays and articles have been published in the Christian Science Monitor, International Educator, Guide to Retirement Living, and many other publications. She has taught writing and literature at Hunter and Queens Colleges of the City University of New York.

Dates: March 23-29, 2008

Cost: 1050 Euros + a nonrefundable $35 application fee includes tuition, six nights in the hotel, breakfast, and one other meal per day.

Register now! Cancellations received on or before February 14, 2008 will receive a full refund, less a $50 processing fee. Enrollment is limited to 10 people.

For more information or to register email [email protected] or call 1-202-744-7338.

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 Good Value Restaurants… Making a Life… Black Culture… Expat Writers…plus the newest guide, Practical Paris!

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Email: [email protected]

Welcome to your home in Paris. Home is how you will feel in a private apartment in Paris that has the “seal of approval” from Parler Paris Apartments and me, Adrian Leeds.


One-Bedroom, Sleeps up to 4

L’Aubergine sits tucked away on an historic and quiet Marais “cul de sac,” making it an oasis of peace and calm. This second floor apartment (two flights) has two large bright windows that face a classic Parisian courtyard. With digicode, intercom entry system and elevator, it has been completely renovated and professionally decorated to the height of luxury, with a soothing “aubergine” (eggplant) and taupe color scheme. Everything in the apartment is new, from the designer linens and towels, to the appliances and electronics.

Reserve now! Visit /parlerparis/apartments/rentals/aubergine.html
or email: [email protected]

Parler Paris Après Midi

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

The next gathering is February 12, 2008 and every second Tuesday of the month.

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!

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

Tuesdays 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
23, boulevard de Sébastopol (at the corner of rue de la Reynie), 1st arrondissement
3rd Floor on the Left (read notice on door to obtain entry code)
Métro Châtelet, Les Halles

Wednesdays 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
14 rue Mabillon, 6th arrondissement
(at rue Guisarde and Le Marché Saint-Germain) 1st Floor
Métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Mabillon, Odéon

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