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Chasing a Ball, a Train and a Movie

Erica in her soccer daysErica in her soccer days

Cristiano Ronaldo - at his best...Cristiano Ronaldo – at his best…

Ronaldo injured on the field - photo courtesy of APRonaldo injured on the field – courtesy of AP

Doisneau's Bercy VillageDoisneau’s Bercy Village

Bercy Village todayBercy Village today

Poster chemins de fer le Vesinet

Le VesinetLe Vesinet

The weather finally turned to summer and the city (the country, all of Europe and the world) geared up for last night’s soccer match…France vs Portugal in the Euro 2016 final match.

I might have been the only Parisian not at the Fan Zone or in the bars and cafés watching the game. Sports are simply not my thing, although I have no objection to watching beautiful men in a physical act (!)…it’s just that chasing a ball around a field seems rather inane. (No offense to all you millions of fans who feel very differently!)

My daughter played soccer in grammar school, but like a good Jewish mother, I told her that if she got hurt at all, her sports days were over. I did watch last night’s game, however, from the comfort of my own bedroom, and watched heart throb team captain Cristiano Ronaldo badly hurt his knee early on. I thought: he didn’t have a good Jewish mother to protect him from hurting himself chasing a ball around a field! (His own mother is likely happy he didn’t listen to me, since he “is the biggest star in the biggest sport on the planet, and he’s paid handsomely for being so. In the last 12 months he earned $88 million to rank as the world’s highest paid athlete, the first footballer to do so.” Forbes.com)

Because France lost the match, there wasn’t too much noise on the streets for which I was grateful so as to get some sleep, no offense to France, either…but someone had to win and that’s the way it goes. The way fans behave, you would think that a simple ball game was a territorial war between nations. Forty people were arrested ‘thanks’ to a conflict between fans and the police at the Fan Zone when they stopped letting them onto the Champ de Mars, ending up in clouds of tear gas to fend off those who started fires on the pavement and hurled objects at police. These guys didn’t have good Jewish mothers, either.

Saturday night prior to all this revelry, we were looking for something ‘out of our hood’ to do — perhaps combine a dinner and a movie. I’ve found that the easiest way to find out what’s playing where (movies, that is, not football games) is by visiting the Web sites of the largest cinemas in Paris and then choose among their large selection of films before determining where to see the film…which might end up being in some other cinema or part of town.

Twenty-one films are playing in the UGC Ciné Cité Bercy that houses 32 theaters. There are 35 films playing at the UGC Ciné Cité Les Halles. So, surely among this many movies, three girlfriends could settle on just one. Bercy Village was a great choice considering the beautiful warm weather, the strip of outdoor cafés and restaurants anchored by the cinema complex on one end. It’s also a part of Paris to which we don’t often have a chance to be.

This is an area of the city that was preserved and restored, revamping it into a kind of open urban mall. Strolling along the cobblestoned path lined by warehouses-turned-shops and restaurants, particularly in such beautiful summer weather, turned out to be a pretty perfect evening and decidedly different than strolling down any other Paris avenue. Between now and October 2nd, Robert Doisneau’s photos of Bercy Village, what once was the largest wine market in the world, are on display there.

Pre-match on Sunday afternoon, friends living in one of the city’s most beautiful suburbs, Le Vesinet, hosted an annual barbecue on the grounds of their large suburban home. Normally it’s “du gateau” to get there on the RER A line — about 22 minutes from central Paris. What seemed like a simple excursion got rather long and complicated thanks to one small mistake — boarding the wrong train. Unfortunately, we didn’t notice it until close to the end of the line and still never understood how we made the error.

To rectify our mistake, we descended, changed sides of the tracks and waited for a return train to take us back to the Nanterre-Préfecture stop where we could change to the correct train. That might have been easy, but we missed the train back by a split second (pressing the button to the door as it left the station), so the 22 minute ride turned into a door to door adventure of two hours. By the time we got to the barbecue, the pickin’s were slim and dessert was being served…but it was delicious and glorious and well worth the RER adventure.

A la prochaine…

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Harriet Welty Rochefort

P.S. Don’t miss tomorrow’s Après Midi with Harriet Welty Rochefort! “Of French Toast and Joie de Vivre” — A true Francophile, Harriet loves French cooking which she learned from her French mother-in-law who hailed from the Périgord, and has a particular affinity for cheese and wine and the pairing of them. Don’t miss it!!

*Special Note: Anyone attending Après Midi must be willing to have their photograph taken and a brief description written about them for publishing in Parler Paris. In addition, the café allows us to hold our meetings free as long as each person orders at least one drink, even as small as a coffee! Your presence indicates your willingness to participate.

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