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Bargaining At The Brocante In Yiddish?

It’s cold, it’s gray and misty…it’s holiday time in Paris. The new ice-skating rink on the observation deck of the Eiffel Tower 188 feet above ground affording fabulous views of the City of Light made big news this past week — splashed on front pages of newspapers across the globe and headlines on CNN.

I remembered the first time I put on skates at Wollman’s Rink in Central Park…stood up on well-worn rented skates, sprained both ankles at once, only to be carried off and never to skate again. Ah, those were the days.

Safer to my physical being if not to my pocketbook, I meandered through the annual holiday “brocante” along rue de Bretagne and adjacent streets where bargains could be had on some of the most unlikely goods and artifacts! As usual, you could barely get down the sidewalks, in spite of their new double width. I made special note of how beautiful the once-shabby market street looks now that it’s lined with elegant lamp posts and planted trees (even though leafless and a bit spindly for the moment).

Before the year is over, there are two more rummage sales to practice your bargaining techniques — 1) next Saturday and Sunday the 18th and 19th in the 16th arrondissement at rues Gros and rue la Fontaine (Métro Eglise d’Auteuil) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 2) just after Christmas on the 27th and 28th on boulevard Richard Lenoir in the 11th arrondissement (Métro Oberkampf) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

That evening we took advantage of the few seats left at the Maison de la Culture Yiddish-Bibliotèque Medem located discreetly in the narrow long passage Saint-Pierre Amelot (number 18) in the 11th to hear Sylvie Braitman sing with a profound heart old Yiddish songs. Sylvie’s songs tell the tell of her grandmother’s immigration to France from the Polish town of Varsovie in 1929, naturally to meet the man of her dreams and together to live through the tough war years ahead. She was accompanied by an accomplished accordion player name Pierre Cleitman who played on an ancient and simple instrument, with tremendous style. I adored his upturned smile as he pumped out the notes.

Taking a place in the concert hall among fellow Yiddish aficionados wasn’t dissimilar from having dinner at Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse among themselves, as if they had known each other for years. Hecklers abounded and Sylvie held up well to answer them smartly. They were easily coaxed to sing along with her and she remarked that her U.S. audiences refrain from participating (she sang only last week in San Francisco!). Are the French less reserved?

A program of more activities here in Paris supporting the almost forgotten language of Yiddish can be picked up at the cultural center or visit for more information.

A Special Reminder: Tomorrow friends of Parler Paris gather at La Pierre du Marais between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. for coffee and conversation. Everyone is invited to come and share your questions and comments about what it takes to create a life here, own property and enjoy what France has to offer. It is also an opportunity to network with other Parler Paris readers. Visit /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for complete information. We hope to see you there!

A Special Note of Thanks: To The International Railway Traveller, a Publication of The Society of International Railway Travelers,, Louisville, Kentucky, for their article in the November 2004 issue quoting Parler Paris.

A Special Closing to Note: Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group will be closed December 25, 2004 to January 1, 2005, reopening Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at the 6:30 p.m. session, Berlitz Opéra. Visit for more information.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. See Paris by Night — Take a very private and personal tour with Vincent Dupont! Let Vincent Dupont, “hôtelier” with the four-star Les Jardins du Marais, guide you and only four others through the streets of the City of Light by night in his luxury van to see the stunning Holiday array of lights and spectacles…click here /frenchproperty/conference/IIF_Paris/IIF_Paris_by_Night.html for more information


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