Nuts And Bolts A La Vie Francaise

PARLER PARIS: NUTS AND BOLTS A LA VIE FRANCAISE


July 01, 2002


*** THE CITY OF BRICOLAGE ACROSS FROM THE CITY HALL


The layers of carpet came up, the old cabinets came out,
the tile floors were broken out and "quelle surprise!"–the
wiring was faulty, the plumbing ancient and everything that
had been there before was rotten from years of wear and
tear. What would you expect for a 350-year-old building!?


Doing any kind of renovation work in a Paris apartment is
an experience that if you’re in the midst of, becomes the
number one topic of conversation at any gathering of
residents. Almost all of us have been through it at one
time or another, even if it’s just to spruce up a furnished
rental apartment a bit to make things more convenient or
livable (typically American to go for easy rather than
esthetic.)


So, it’s no wonder that the first thing I learned upon
arrival in Paris and moving into a new apartment was about
the "sous sol" of the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville (more
commonly referred to as the "BHV"–bay-ach-vay). Friends
said "The BHV has everything and if you can’t find it
there, it doesn’t exist."


Having opened its doors in 1856 as the third department
store in Paris, it sits directly opposite the "Hôtel de
Ville," takes up one city block and has a "decent"
restaurant on the uppermost level with a beautiful view of
the city hall and the Seine. You can enter directly from
the Métro line 1 east exit or from the street level, then
just head for the stairs or escalator down, but be sure to
pick up a red "panier" to gather up all the goodies.


This past week, amidst the bargain hunters of the annual
sale days, my carpenter and I criss-crossed from department
to department working down our list of "petites choses" to
buy for the renovation work. It took three hours to amass
it all, and I learned a new vocabulary: "interrupteurs" are
light switches (there are literary thousands to choose
from), "moulure" is molding (stading upright in bins, there
are hundreds of sizes and types, both plastic and wood and
metal), "vis et chevilles" are screws and hinges (the
department is the size of my apartment, just for these tiny
things, in bins, boxes and plastic packages). It took
almost 20 minutes to decide on a toilet paper roll
holder…there must have been dozens to consider for size,
function and price.


Surrounding the BHV on the back and side streets, the store
has spilled out extenuating branches of departments found
in the store, in even greater detail. I bought the tile for
the kitchen at their shop on rue du Temple, and there is
also a bike shop and garden shop among others, as if the
one city blocks simply wasn’t enough.


In some of the neighboring hotels, such as the Axial
Beaubourg behind the BHV’s western corner, you can get a
10% discount coupon for tourists." All you need is your
foreign passport to prove it. Take the coupon to the
Welcome desk in the center of the "sous sol" to make use of
it. Good thing–as nothing is cheap here, although
long-time residents say it used to be.


To send a antique post card from the BHV, go to their site
at: http://www.bhv.fr/?r=Ecartes


Plus every day now at 4 p.m., the BHV offers a free
"course" given by a "bricolage" professional in what they
call "Le Bricolo Café." For the schedules, visit:
http://www.bhv.fr/index.php3?r=info#2


Christine Leonard, our caterer for the dinners "chez moi"
during the Travel Writers Workshops says that "You can’t
live in Paris without the BHV and if they had frequent
‘buyer’ points from the BHV, she’d never have to pay for
napkins again!"


A la procaine fois,


Adrian


P.S. To visit the BHV for real –


BHV RIVOLI
14, rue du Temple
75004 Paris
Tél : 01.42.74.90.00
Fax : 01.42.74.96.79
http://www.bhv.fr/


Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 7
p.m., Wednesday, Friday: 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Parler Paris
/parlerparis/
Written and Edited by Adrian Leeds


Published by International Living
http://www.internationalliving.com
mailto:[email protected]


Issue Number 45, July 1, 2002


In this issue:


*** From the Romantic Canals of France
*** The Women of Paris: Amelie, Gertrude and Sylvia
*** A Tropical Paradise on the Grass of Reuilly
*** Putting Yourself to the Test:
Learning to Drive in France
*** Easy to Find the Artistic Embellishments in Paris

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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


*** CRUISE THE LOIRE IN ULTIMATE LUXURY AND COMFORT


If you are looking for a wonderful and different way to
visit and explore France, a barge cruise is definitely the
way to go.


For Parler Paris readers, take advantage of an incredible
Booking Special and reserve any available 2002 departure
date of the Meanderer (regularly $3,450 to $3,850 per
person) for only US $2,450 per person!


You will discover many of the hidden treasures of France
that you can only see from these historical and romantic
canals. You will also experience gourmet cuisine, fine wine
and unique sightseeing excursions to ancient villages,
castles, cafes, markets…


It is the finest vacation experience of its kind for family
or friendship reunions, romantic getaways or business
incentives.


These unique cruises of carefree elegance and relaxation
can be reserved on an individual basis, or you can charter
the entire boat for your special group (for 4 to 50) for a
more personalized and intimate experience.


The French canals have many barges that offer cruises of
all types and prices and each vessel has its own style and
character.


France Cruises aims to be the most complete, independent
and informed one stop source for canal cruising in France.


To you, that means that you can now access the widest
selection of boats but most importantly, take advantage of
an objective, knowledgeable, personal and friendly
service.


For more information or to book your cruise, INTERNATIONAL
LIVING AND PARLER PARIS READERS, click
here:http://www.frenchwaterways.net/adrianleeds.html


For more information or to book your cruise, PARIS KEY CLUB
MEMBERS, WITH A SAVINGS OF $100 click here:
http://www.frenchwaterways.net/pariskeyclub.html


To visit the Parler Paris pages about France Cruises, click
here: /parlerparis/guidedtours/index.html or
/parlerparis/guidedtours/frenchcruises.html


Or for more information contact:
mailto:[email protected] or call +33 (0)
1.40.27.97.59 in Paris


If you are not a member of the Paris Key Club, and would
like to be, click here for more information:
http://www.agora-inc.com/reports/PKC/WPKCC523/


*** TOUR MONTMARTRE IN THE SPIRIT OF AMELIE POULAIN


Rediscover the romantic, authentic and whimsical 18th
arrondissement of Paris by seeing the locations in the
quirky French film "Amelie From Montmartre." Get a
different slant on this hilly "village," as residents call
it. The French movie, by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, has
been nominated for 5 Oscars, including Best Foreign
Language Film. It’s Jeunet’s homage to his neighborhood,
where he has lived since 1975. Thus, we’ll be seeing "le
quartier" through Jeunet’s eyes and following Amelie’s
footsteps.


The tour is guided by Rose Marie Burke, author of "The
Insider Guide to Working and Living in France," "The
Insider Guide to Good Value Paris Hotels" and "The Insider
Guide to Biking in Paris"
(http://www.insiderparisguides.com)


*** DISCOVER THE LITERARY LEFT BANK


Writers have been finding inspiration in Paris for
centuries, leaving unforgettable marks on the city’s cafés,
streets and hotels. The 1920s saw the greatest influx of
expatriate writers when the so-called Lost Generation group
set-up their homes-away-from-home throughout the Left
Bank.


Beginning at the picturesque Place Monge, our tour leads
you throughout the Latin Quarter, into the Luxembourg
Gardens, and down toward Montparnasse where we finish with
the famous cluster of literary cafés: Le Dome, Le Select,
Le Rotonde and Hemingway’s favorite, La Closerie des Lilas.
You will see the places where writers such as Gertrude
Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, bookstore owner
Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, and others, lived out their
infamous lives and written words, changing the face of
twentieth century literature.


*** DID YOU KNOW THAT PARIS IS A WOMAN?


Writers have always romanticized the City of Lights as a
woman, as a female topography one just can’t resist. Aragon
called Paris a "sleep-charmer," e.e. cummings a whore, "the
putain with the ivory throat." André Breton even referred
to the triangular Ile de la Cité as the sex of Paris. And
yet, throughout time, there have always been the real woman
of Paris, those writers whose stories have become part of
the very make-up that has made writing in the France’s
capital such a fantastic myth.


Starting from the Palais Royal and ending at the peaceful
Place St. Sulpice, our two-hour tour takes you to the
places loved by a handful of women writers who flocked to
Paris throughout the 20th century. We look at the lives of
Colette and Natalie Barney, visit the Hotel where Djuna
Barnes’s Nightwood was set, the home of New Yorker
correspondent Janet Flanner, and more.


* Both THE LITERARY LEFT BANK and PARIS IS A WOMAN Tours
are guided by Elizabeth Reichert, Vassar/Oxford graduate in
Literatu
re and author of "The Writers Insider Guide to
Paris" (http://www.insiderparisguides.com).


* Each of the above guided walking tours may be reserved by
an individual or a group of up to 20 scheduled at any time,
depending on the availability of the guide:


$200 1 to 10 people
$300 11 to 20 people


PARIS KEY CLUB MEMBERS RECEIVE A 10% DISCOUNT ON THE
BOOKING. If you are not a member of the Paris Key Club, and
would like to be, click here for more information:
http://www.agora-inc.com/reports/PKC/WPKCC523/


For more information or to reserve your tour visit:
/parlerparis/guidedtours/index.html or
/parlerparis/guidedtours/amelie-literary.html


Or contact the International Living Paris Office:
mailto:[email protected] or call +33 (0)
1.40.27.97.59 in Paris


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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


*** FAVORITE QUOTE FOR THE WEEK


About moving to France…


"Don’t look at the holes. Just look at the cheese."


Siri G., Journey Through France Tour


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


THE FOURTH IN PARIS
by David Applefield, My Mercredi


Some Americans in Paris ignore the 4th of July. Others try
to duck into an Anglo eatery for a burger and can of Bud.
Others yet have managed to get themselves onto the guest
list of the U.S. Embassy bash, which takes place on the
lawn of the Ambassador’s residence near the Elysées
Palace.


There are other options, though, and I’m particularly fond
of giving history an original twist. For example, you can
pick a few favorite patriats who spent quality time in the
French capital and track down their digs and their foreign
story. You can stalk the past lives of celebrated
expatriots (with an "o") and drink their favorite libation
on the very spot they themselves did.


For a few suggestions which should lend themselves to
highly amusing and original moments in Paris in honor of
our great day of independence, read this week’s "My
Mercredi":
http://www.paris-anglo.com/sign_up/preview.php?issuesID=32


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AND MORE


Get up-to-the-minute insider information on Paris:


* Discover the LITTLE-KNOWN corners of Paris you never knew
existed…


* Learn the ins and outs of maneuvering the French legal,
bureaucratic, and tax systems…


* Experience Paris as though you lived there EVERY DAY…


* Get the insider’s take on WORKING AND LIVING in Paris…


No trip to the bookstore, no shipping to pay:
http://www.insiderparisguides.com


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


*** PARTY ALL SUMMER IN PARIS


* July 4th Celebration at Parler Parlor


Come for conversation then stay for hot-dogs and beer to
celebrate American Independence Day. Conversation is free
the first time you come, dinner is 10 euro, plus receive a
10% discount on your membership registration.


For more information and to reserve your place on July 4th,
visit the site at: http://www.parlerparlor.com or email
mailto:[email protected] or call 01.44.19.76.61 or
01.40.27.97.59.


* Woody Allen Film Festival


Bananas–Wednesday 13h45, 15h45, 17h45, 19h45, 21h45.


Hannah and Her Sisters–Thursday 13h45, 15h45, 17h45,
19h45, 21h45.


Manhattan Murder Mystery–Friday 13h45, 15h45, 17h45,
19h45, 21h45.


The Purple Rose of Cairo–Saturday 13h45, 15h45, 17h45,
19h45, 21h45.


Annie Hall–Sunday 13h45, 15h45, 17h45, 19h45, 21h45.


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were
Afraid to Ask)–Monday 13h45, 15h45, 17h45, 19h45, 21h45.


Husbands and Wives–Tuesday 13h45, 15h45, 17h45, 19h45,
21h45.


Saint-André-des-Arts I
30, rue Saint-André-des-Arts, 6ème arrondissement
Métro: Saint-Michel, Odéon.
Tèl: 01.43.26.48.18


* Solidays July 6 and 7


2 days…40 concerts…100 associations at the Hippodrome
de Longshamp in the Bois de Boulogne…an international
youth festival of music and solidarity…in the fight
against AIDS.


For more information, visit the official site at:
http://www.solidays.com/


* Tropical Carnival July 6 and 7


On the Pelouse"" (Grass) de Reuilly
Métro Porte de Charenton


Expect a huge carnival of colorful floats (leaves Saturday,
July 6 at 2 p.m. from Place de la République) and concerts
in a tropical village until late at night.


*** WHAT IT TAKES TO GET A FRENCH DRIVING LICENSE


Practical Questions and Answers
by Jean Taquet
"The Insider Paris Guide to Practical Answers For Living in
France"
http://www.insiderparisguides.com/answers/index.html


QUESTION


I am studying for the French driving exam, both theory and
road test, because my American license does not come from
one of the approved U.S. states. I have been driving for
over 10 years, and I’m shocked at what I’ve been learning
in my French driving class (auto école.)


The French rules of the road seem extremely complex,
requiring the understanding of a complicated system of
signs and road markings. Analyzing and understanding a
given set of signs and markings requires a lot of time,
more than seems reasonable when one is in a car going 50 or
90 km an hour. There are different sets of rules for
parking, speed limits, passing, etc., depending on whether
you are in a city (agglomeration), in the countryside (ras
campagne), on a main road (route pour automobile) or on a
highway (autoroute). Some signs or markings have different
meanings depending on the context, something I find very
dangerous. In addition, a huge amount of memorization is
required.


Other things I find dangerous include priority to the
right, the fact that one can drive on a lighted street with
only the parking lights on, and slowing down at every
intersection or when passing an approaching vehicle.


The written exam requires knowledge of complex equations
for calculating blood alcohol level, stopping distances,
etc. In the States, we use simple "rules of thumb"
(stopping distance = one car length for each 10 mph; wait
one hour per drink before driving), which are more tied to
reality. The exam also asks questions on car maintenance,
how to seat children in the car, various deadlines for
administrative matters and so on, which I find irrelevant.


What is the reasoning behind all this? It seems to me that
people memorize a huge set of facts that they never put
into practice, to judge by the way the French drive in
Paris and the rest of the country.


ANSWER


Your question addresses several issues, some of which
probably stem from a hidden agenda: the fact that a
longtime driver like you must take a driver’s test again
before getting a valid license can be very hard to deal
with. It can seem both unfair and offensive – unfair
because you have already passed a test and you feel that
you are a safe driver (your record, I am sure, shows that);
offensive because you feel you have been discriminated
against because you are foreign.


Though they may not change the way you feel, bear a few
things in mind: first, France is quite willing to recognize
the driver’s licenses of many U.S. states. France is not
discriminating against you. Remember that drivers in most
states have to retake their license exams periodically, and
there nothing unfair or offensive in this requirement. I am
sure you would find such a requirement normal if you had
been living in one of those states.


Also, remember that the important thing in French life,
curriculum, studies–just about everything, in fact -is the
concept, the explanation, the type of logic used, the
method of reasoning chosen. The fact that a practical
solution may be needed at the end of the process does not
seem to matter to most French people.


Yes, learning to drive in France does require a fair amount
of memorization; this is the French way of doing things.
The exam, like taking any other written exam in France,
treats scientific data scientifically–the concept of "rule
of thumb" was simply unknown here until recently. Now some
public service ad campaigns aimed at drivers use "rules of
thumb" for drinking and for stopping distances, but the
message is often neither clear nor accurate. Can you be
sure, in fact, that the &qu
ot;rules of thumb" you cite are
accurate and really improve road safety?


I t
end to doubt that the French rules are more dangerous
than the American ones. I find the American rules safe and
coherent with the American way of life. I see the same
thing with France.


The last issue deals with something very different, which
again is a common phenomenon in France. There are many
rules and they are often strict, but it doesn’t seem anyone
is following or enforcing them. The explanation often heard
is that French people differentiate between "important"
rules that must be followed, and all the rest. This can
indeed lead confuse foreigners living in France, especially
those raised in a tradition of strict application of the
law. But when French legislators approve laws and
regulations, they don’t know which ones will be obeyed and
which will not.


Nevertheless, you can be sure that such things as vehicle
maintenance requirements and child safety rules do not
exist simply for sadistic reasons. For French people, the
system and these choices make sense. It can take years for
foreigners to understand fundamental French logic, and some
never get it. My advice is: comply with the requirements
without evaluating them. True, you may never use some of
your new knowledge, but this approach is what it takes to
learn the French way of life. By and large there is a right
way to do things in France and a right to do things in the
USA, and they are seldom similar.


On a personal note, the struggle my American wife went
through to obtain her French driver’s license enlightened
me on how wide the cultural gap was, and played a key role
in my starting this column almost eight years ago. I think
that says a lot.


* Jean Taquet’s "The Insider Guide to Practical Answers for
Living in France" contains real-life stories from those
confronted by practical situations that will inevitably
resemble those you might face when living abroad. Let their
situations give you a wealth of experiential information on
which you can build your Paris-life. Taquet’s Qs & As offer
a practical know-how you will soon find invaluable. Each
month, Jean’s latest Qs and As are added to the guide, so
the issue you receive is always the latest edition.


To read Jean Taquet’s complete monthly column posted each
month in Parler Paris, visit
/parlerparis/practicalanswers.html


To subscribe to Jean Taquet’s monthly column, email
mailto:[email protected]


To contact Jean Taquet:
ALLIAGE CONSEIL
4 rue Béranger
75003 PARIS
Phone: (33) (0)1.48.04.30.30
Phone: (33) (0)1.40.38.16.11
Fax: (33) (0)1.48.04.31.00


*** BUTTONS AND AND BOWS AND BEADS


* I am heading to Paris in July and have been unable to
find sources (shops or companies) for artistic
embellishments…i.e. buttons, beads, crystal fobs, and
antique or reproduction hardware for purses. I am a
needlepoint designer and in the business of creating
antique-looking special occasion bags…..Please help me if
you can…Many Thanks! Shelly T.


Shelly, Paris has lots of wonderful resources for you. Some
of my favorites for "artistic embellishments" are:


Greatest buttons in the world…
ENTRÉE DES FOURNISSEURS
8 RUE DES FRANCS BOURGEOIS
75003 PARIS
01 48 87 58 98


And for arts and crafts supplies…
ROUGIER ET PLÉ
13 BOULEVARD DES FILLES DU CALVAIRE
75003 PARIS
01 44 54 81 00


And for hardware…
B.H.V (Bazar de l’Hotel de Ville)
52 RUE DE RIVOLI
75004 PARIS
01 42 74 90 00


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


TO JOIN THE PARIS KEY CLUB:


If you are not a member of the Paris Key Club, and would
like to be, click
here for more information:
http://www.agora-inc.com/reports/PKC/WPKCC523/


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HAVE A SPECIAL MESSAGE? WANT TO EXCHANGE LINKS?


If you would like to have your message read by the
subscribers of the Parler Paris Nouvellettre®, please email me
at mailto:[email protected]


If you have links about Paris or France and would like
reciprocal links, please email me at
mailto:[email protected]


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